Magazine article New Zealand Management

IN TOUCH : A 'Newb' in Cyberspace

Magazine article New Zealand Management

IN TOUCH : A 'Newb' in Cyberspace

Article excerpt

I don't usually have a martini glass in my hand at 9am on a work day - particularly not when attending a public forum. But then standing on the bar is also just a tad out of character. I blame Vicki Jaxxon. She was the avatar attendee, alter ego, bad twin who enabled me to teleport in to last year's Digital Futures Summit. And despite her ditzy behaviour, she's probably a part of that future.

Created by the techno wizards at IBM, Jaxxon was the curvy, jeans-wearing brunette through which I attended the Second Life version of this event. Although hosted in a virtual setting, it was designed to emulate the real thing - complete with podium, speaker, signage, big screen for closer viewing, rows of comfy chairs, the nearby bar, the palm trees, the soft waves washing on the beach.... Okay, perhaps it didn't strictly adhere to its physical original. But then neither did the delegates - one was wearing a dashing pair of angel wings and some were quite openly asleep, which is what happens to avatars when their real-life equivalents go work-a-bout.

As a 'newb' in cyberspace, I did get some basic training before being let loose at the forum and my more experienced minders issued a general warning they were hosting guests with the cyber equivalent of 'L' plates. Just as well. I didn't feel quite so conspicuous about my avatar's several failed attempts to sit down, somewhat alarming tendency to leap several feet in the air for no good reason or her attempt to go for the birds' eye view of events - by spontaneously flying across the auditorium.

That I could both be her - and also see her often bizarre behaviour from a third-party perspective on a shared big screen was a bit unnerving. So, although having trouble hearing the presentation from the back of the room, I didn't dare go too close in case I found myself inadvertently on stage - vigorously tossing back the martini I hadn't quite managed to get rid of.

All of which would be distracting enough in terms of getting to grips with the summit content without the added degree of difficulty offered by poor sound - partially rectified with the use of speakers - and the odd dropped web link. But with better broadband connections...

Which in large part was what the summit was about. Getting to the next level, fulfilling the intention expressed by Communications/IT Minister David Cunliffe, to get "fibre" to every home. …

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