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Dec 30, 2006

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1.

I read this too, and I had trouble understanding who these guys are, and why they got to do this, and why there wasn't more visible public discussion about it before they announced themselves as the sole authority to hand out domain names. Explain?

2.

I don't want to jump to conclusions, but this smells like a rat to me. The IAVRT could be a fledgling organization that deserves discussion and potentially support, or it could be a scam. Right now, my money is sadly on the latter. I've never heard of this group, and it appears that were it not for the CNET article (based on the organization's widely distributed press release), no one else would have either (I've emailed the author of that article to see if he knows anything more about the organization than what was in the press release).

The IAVRT site is very professional... but the domain was registered just recently (12 November 2006) on GoDaddy, with a one-year term, and with the registrant listed as a company called "domainsbyproxy.com". And according to this blog commenting skeptically on the IAVRT, while the site says the organization is based in Vancouver, its IP address leads to Pontiac, Michigan. Another skeptical blogger (article worth reading) says that the organization's Vancouver address is home to a Mailboxes Etc, a local wifi hotspot, and several other Internet-only businesses. Overall, this is hardly the hallmark of a professional registration or organization.

Further, while the site looks professional and mentions, for example, a conference they appear to be sponsoring in Vancouver BC next September 30 to October 2, it also appears to be an empty shell. The site claims that the IAVRT is

"the leading organization dedicated to the development and commercialization of virtual reality networking technologies" and "is working with its member peers to create the roadmap and the framework of emerging VR technology worldwide."
But the organization appears to have no "member peers" or even an advisory board. They are currently "seeking qualified individuals so [sic] serve on its Advisory Board" and no current members are listed. Similarly they list about a dozen committees by name, but not who is working on them, if anyone is (which I doubt at this point). The only press release on the site is the one from which the CNET story was taken. And it's not at all clear to me what the problem is they're purportedly trying to solve: bandwidth is always a concern for virtual worlds, but mainly in terms of cost (even though it's fallen through the floor in recent years), not in terms of overall availability. I don't see a problem that needs solving with an ill-defined new sort of network.

So what's the deal here? The site is willing to take memberships ranging from $195 in annual dues for academics to $2995 for large corporations. And they say they're going to be offering "Neuronet domain names" that are supposed to have .vr or .cin domain suffixes... but are these domains even real? And how is the "Neuronet," which is supposed to launch in 2007 (by an organization formed in late 2006), going to differ from the good old Internet? The organization's open letter on Neuronet Domain Names (written by the unnamed "IAVRT Excutive Comittee") makes reference to the research-oriented Internet2, but without specifying how Neuronet is organized, similar, or specifically what problems it's supposed to solve.

Finally, there is only one email address listed on the site -- their membership address. No other contact information is available. The co-founder mentioned in the CNET article, Christopher Scully, is an unknown -- searching on his name and various references to VR didn't turn up anything useful.

Given the professionalism of the rest of the site, the omission of any named individuals or other contact information is a glaring deficiency. I don't know what's going on here, but this sure seems like a polished attempt to extract money from people for something that is either a pipe dream... or something more nefarious.

I'd like to find out that this isn't the case, and that somehow this organization emerged fully formed from the shadows without anyone in the virtual worlds or virtual reality communities talking about it beforehand. But the likelihood of that seems slim to me, to say the least.

3.

It's a domain registrant service selling itself as Internet 2?

4.

LOL, I am always the most gullible one in the room. ;-) But I'm only 3 hours from Vancouver, so I maybe I should go check them out...

5.

"Another skeptical blogger (article worth reading)"

Thank you, Mike.

(I've emailed the author of that [C|Net] article to see if he knows anything more about the organization than what was in the press release)

You might want to re-read the C|Net article as it appears you read the original; it was updated but not tagged as such.

After I caught the original piece and updated my blog entry to remark on C|Net's story, I traded emails with the author. He *did* get in touch with someone after I suggested he give them a call. That info was added to the article.

6.

Sounds interesting but I don't like the smell. What makes it look like a scam is that that they ask for a prepayment (2500$) of misterious neuronet development kit.

7.

If the email I received today is from someone behind this announcement, things appear to already be on shakey ground. From that (suspect) email:

Directly related to the false and damaging assertions you have made IAVRT has been forced to temporarily suspend its Sunrise pre-registration process effective immediately.

A few questions and they suspend part of their operation. That alone would make me think twice.

8.

Sorry. Should have included a link. Here it is: "Neuronet’s Scully Responds. Maybe."

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