Just back from lunch and had a bit of a discussion with a colleague who plays games a lot (say "hello" Joe) - shoot-em ups - erm, do "kids" even call it that these days ;)
I passed the ideas of meetings/conferences and so on in Second Life past him and he figured how could that be better than real life experiences. However, consider this:
- you can have any persona you wish
- you could peek at a conversation
- you could peek at what someone is writing
- you can get an immediate interests/history list
These are just some of the things that you can't do very well in the real world (other than the fact you also can't physically be in two distant places one right after the other). I suspect that even in a virual world people will forms crowds and the like, so the first point is less convincing. However, the idea that you could get involved in social converations in a room, along with the immediately available info on people in a room is pretty cool. Being able to see who has attended past events gives us talking points, being able to see what someone may be working on gives us a shared interest and so on.
I can imagine such events attracting real sponsorships for these virtual events, so perhaps the comments earlier about buying/selling are a bit off.
We also discussed the difference between SL and video conferencing software and so on. Firsly, i just liked the enviroment - i liked the idea of viewing objects when there is a break in the conference (or during one) and the possiblility of shared discussions through that alone. I also like the continuity and history that a SL environment could give you - video conferences start and stop - end of story. I judged some awards in the US two years back and it was all done online - SL awards could be very cool indeed.
I basically see an extension of real world conferences/meetings/chats, but adding all the cool JIT stuff you can get because you are actually online. As people use it - and as it becomes more usable - it will become very normal. After using it, I feel the SL experience offers real context rather than traditional 2D conversations.
I wonder how it compares to popular SIMS and the like. Also interested in what has been happening in this area in the last few years....... please mail me if you have any info - weblivz at hotmail dot com.