Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sorry, crystal ball is DCed

Today's session in the virtual-and-real conference was specifically not moderated, and all the questions were geared towards predictions. I repeat them here for illustration purposes:
1. Given that computer technology and Internet have stabilized, are current virtual worlds a technological dead end?

2. Other than WoW's are there really any long-term viable business models for virtual worlds?

3. Would standardization of software-data platforms be revolutionary, permitting migration across many worlds?

4. Could virtual worlds become living memorials for deceased persons, housing AI avatars of them?

5. Will virtual worlds create social and cultural alternatives that then thrive in the "real world?"

6. Which online games will become permanent features of human culture, like chess and Monopoly?

7. Will some virtual worlds declare political independence, like geographically based nations?

8. What as-yet unrecognized social functions could virtual worlds serve?

9. Could augmented reality (e.g. pervasive LARPs) be the next revolution, virtual and real world combined?

10. What will persist into the future from today's virtual worlds? Will they have a history?

The responses were, as I could have predicted without a crystal ball, all over the place. If not at least 20 guesses were right, I'll be very disappointed. But that's how a decent sooth-sayer works - make so many guesses there has to be a hit, then say: "That's exactly what I said!"

Personally, I just kept quiet, so all I can say in 10-15 years is: "Didn't I hear about this before?"

As a team building experience, this conference was interesting, it brought together a lot of people from all over the US, and some from beyond. As scholarship? Well, let's say: I know in which context I can use this experience :)

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