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Apr 01, 2008

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1.

I also found it interesting that the hearing was so SL-centric. I am sure there is an interesting story about how this hearing came about, and am almost as sure that we will never know the answer to this. But at least I know one way to try to find out: I will be asking Rep. Markey to join me on Metanomics !

I figure the odds on him coming on the show are maybe 1:2. The odds of hearing the backstory, probably not so good.

2.

There was an important undercurrent here.

They needed to discuss

a) are vw worlds relevant to US policy
b) if yes to a), then is this relevant to network neutrality policy
c) if yes to b), then how does it impact network neutrality?

I really felt that Rosedale fell down on the b and c.

3.

The bottom line is that it actually went pretty well. If you've read or seen congressional testimony before, you know it is going to be full of a lot of nonsense. That's how this game works. But at bottom, they "got it" better than one might have expected. Overall, I give Philip a solid A- on it -- and the minus is only because nobody told him that they were counting his video time against his overall time so they cut off his prepared remarks. Not his fault. I give the House committee members a B, mostly because of a couple of Reps' fairly obvious total unfamiliarity with the space, balanced out by Stearns and Markey's relatively clear, better-than-expected, understanding.

Going forward, I can only hope that this subcommittee is the one generating legislation (to the degree there is any, which, ideally, there won't be). It could have been a lot worse.

4.

Regarding the SL-centred nature of this hearing, a couple of thoughts. Firstly, for many people new to virtual worlds particularly those that have not come out of the gaming community, SL pretty much is the VW. Even if people are aware of other worlds, SL remains a sort of brand leader and as such tends to be the first port of call for people exploring VWs for the first time. The (free) publicity it gets through hearings such as this will only add to that. Secondly, listening to this from a British perspective, this is as much US-centred as anything else. You would of course expect this from a Congressional hearing examining US interests, but it raises again the peculiar regulatory geographies that VWs are opening up. Even though the hearing notes that 70% of SL members are non-US, they do not really get to grips with the limits of 'national' control over what 'we' both as companies and individuals do onine. And that is before we consider the ways in which something like Entropia Universe might develop with its new Chinese partners. I am, however, looking forward to the Sino-Swedish joint hearing on that one.....
Thirdly, I am a little disappointed at the rather limp approach of the panel - they are not exactly challenging are they? They seem quite content to gloss over some of the huge regulatory issues raised by VWs or to allow the witnesses, particularly Rosedale, to get away with some very bland assurances regarding things like money-laundering and child protection. I say this not to promote aggressive state intervention, but rather to promote a proper public debate which will benefit VWs. Fortunately, we have Terra Nova to do that for them.

5.

Here is the testimony I will be submitting through my organization, Global Kids:
http://www.holymeatballs.org/2008/04/staff_my_testimony_for_congres.html

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