This past weekend, I went to St. Louis and presented a paper at a very analog intellectual property law conference. A number of us sat around in a law school classroom and talked to one another for a while. There were some new ideas and some old ones. Good ideas and mediocre ones. Then we went out to take a look at the Gateway Arch at night, had dinner at a very nice restaurant, and resolved to do the whole thing again next year, in Pittsburgh. And it doesn’t get much more analog than that.
Meanwhile, also last weekend, a group of law faculty in New York City shared a mind-blowing digital academic conference. They were gathered in person, too, but they had avatars. How cool is that? There was much thoughtful disagreement about what it meant in any specific sense, but the excitement was palpable. Something very important is happening with virtual worlds, and they were there at the beginning.
Woody Allen was there, too, at the beginning of a world in which all interpersonal experience was perfectly mediated by technology. The question is: Are virtual worlds “the Internet of the 21st century”? Or the Orgasmatron of the 21st century? The State of Play -ers are serious, and smart, and thoughtful, people. It’s a serious question.