I just spent a disappointing and frustrating weekend in Chicago for the third Second Life Community Conference. I’ve been to a lot of conferences of all kinds, at various levels of formality and informality, run by all kinds of organization or by no organization at all. I don’t think I’ve ever attended a conference where the substantive portion was as poorly organized an promoted as the SLCC2007.
First, no information was provided on the topics of the panels for the two-day conference. Even in the final printed program, there were no descriptions of the panels–only a one-line topic. It’s not because of lack of room in the printed program; it was filled with speaker biographies, but again, no indication which panel they were speaking on, or their topic. Even simple, obvious organizational and information matters were neglected: there was no index of speakers in the program, but that would have been useless since there were no page numbers.
My second objection was that there was no attempt to facilitate meetings of interested individuals outside of the program. One heard, through blogs or occasional in-world (in Second Life) chat, of meetups going on, but the organizers could easily have used a wiki for the community to post suggestions or requests for gatherings, BOF (birds of a feather) sessions, and the like. I knew only one or two people among the 800 registrants ahead of time. I’m sure there were many many more I would have liked to meet, but there was no way of doing so other than sheer chance.
Third, and most glaring, was the complete lack of transparency. It was never clear who was organizing the program, selecting the panelists, and so forth. For something promoted as a “community” conference, that was a major problem for me. Unless there are major changes in the way the conference is run next time, I won’t be going again.
At The Click Heard Round the World:
Historically, Quakers have tried to set themselves apart from others by wearing more modest, simple clothing, what we called “Plain Dress.” Now that Quakers are getting more active in virtual spaces like Second Life, how does our testimony of Simplicity and Plain Dress translate in this electronic realm? …
Today only a small percentage of Quakers practice this form of “radical” Plain Dress. Many other Quakers realized that strict Plain Dress in itself could be seen as a form of pride and ostentation, since it makes you stand out from the crowd in any modern environment. But still many Quakers practice some form of Plain Dress, whether it is simply abstaining from the latest, expensive fashion fads or wearing the most utilitarian clothing for whatever they are doing.
In the virtual world, there are no clear guides or precedents. My Second Life avatar, for the cost of a few pennies, can wear what appears to be an Armani suit, with blinged-out rings, necklace and watch. Does that make me ostentatious or just one of the crowd of similarly kipped out newbies? …
I don’t know any easy answers to these questions. For me, the testimony of Simplicity is not so much about my outward appearance. It’s about not letting my thoughts and desires around these material and virtual possessions supercede my quest to be a more loving, centered, spirit-led person, in whatever world I happen to be inhabiting.