Singapore’s enthusiastic approach to technology adoption is well known and their sponsorship of the first State of Play conference held outside the US is typically entrepreneurial. The iN2015 Masterplan outlines a vision for Singapore as the world stock exchange for digital content. It’s a vision that includes virtual worlds, perhaps the first ‘whole of government’ approach to that technology. I look forward to an involvement.
One of the striking things about the virtual world conferences I’ve attended is their multi-disciplinary nature. Researchers, non-profits, business people, educators and here, a very strong legal contingent.
An objective of the conference was to bridge west and east and some progress was made behind the scenes. In the open sessions though it was very much the westerners giving forth and the asian groups sitting at the back of the room taking it all in. The panels on intellectual property in virtual worlds included the splendidly named western experts Roxanne Christ and M. Scott Boone. Using this protocol I would be B. Robert Treasure; it’s just not that impressive. I don’t mind BB Treasure or B. Winchester Treasure or B. (the Kiosk) Treasure but I’m drifting off-topic. Nick Abrahams was also on the panel; he really needs to be Nicholas Abrahams III.
The westerners expertly reviewed the shifting sands of IP law and sat back for questions. The first man to the microphone spoke through a translator. Judge Unggi Yoon outlined his thoughts on private and public ownership of IP in South Korea, where more time is spent gaming than watching television. Half way through his discourse the whole mood of the room changed. A collective humility descended on the westerners. It was as if we’d been discussing the future of the internet without the Americans. The panelists acknowledged the need to look at developments in South Korea more closely and another little dent appeared in the wall of western omniscience. Neils Clark from Gamasutra [K. Neils BOSON Clark] noticed the same effect in another session.
You had to feel sorry for Mike Wilson, CEO of Makena Technologies, a sponsor of the event. As principal of the virtual world, THERE, he had to sit through a conference dominated by discussions about his better known competitor, Second Life. Probably 80% of discussion was SL-centric. A number of people asked rhetorically which virtual environments will predominate in the future but for the most part, the future is created out of the conversations we are having now. Those conversations are about Second Life and they create their own momentum. To quote Harvard’s Charles Nesson on educational research, “Second Life is the best there’s out there. So you use the tool that cuts the sharpest”.