Unedited notes from Congressional Subcommittee hearing on Virtual Worlds (updated)

Rep. Ed Markey presides over the virtual hearing in Second Life

Representative Ed Markey presides over the virtual hearing in Second Life. Photo courtesy Rik Riel.

Update: Alan Levine at the New Media Consortium’s site just posted an audio link of the hearing. Thanks Alan!


Online Virtual Worlds: Applications and Avatars in a User-Generated Medium
Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet Hearing
9:30 a.m. in room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building

Witness List

Larry Johnson (SL: Larry Pixel) of the New Media Consortium’s statement: Mr. Pixel Goes to Washington

Rik Riel watches the virtual hearing in Second Life

Rik Riel watches Philip Rosedale testifying before Congress at the virtual reproduction of the hearing in Second Life. Photo courtesy Rik Riel.

Unedited notes (also un-spellchecked!):

Stearns, FL

– Will be highly regulated, highly competitive worlds
– Some believe will be the future of the internet
– Will be used in innovative ways, can be used as a storefront for real or virtual goods
– SL must protect its users without over regulation

Harman, CA

– Can be used for language training,
– Downside, mention crime and terrorism, press reports say that terrorists are using for online communities
– Should NOT cause us to advocate censorship, but a clear understanding of the potential of virtual worlds is essential for helping us understanding trends in terrorism

Missed this fellow’s name

– Have two teenage sons, they play in a virtual reality game called Runescape
– Word comes from Hindu word for gods, don’t think we’re gods

Eshoo, CA

– Can’t help but think of the phrase “Get a Life” and now we have a Second Life
– The possibilities seem to be endless, transformative nature of the tech allows individuals to connect in new ways, universities creating new ways for students to collaborate and create new environments, businesses using to
– Memorial created for Virginia Tech, created a place for anyone to leave a candle
– Taps into human beings need to connect, there are fun and serious applications


– Universities and business
– How is the industry ensuring children are protected online? In 2006 held 9 days of hearings on online child safety, nearly 1 in 5 children reported a sexual solicitation on the internet, the anonymity provided by the net and the lightning pace they can change identities to elude law enforcement
– Concerns about addictive nature of these applications

Green (?)

– Philanthropic, universities, etc. Today dozens of elected officials use virtual worlds, in the area of education, University of Houston created entrepreneurial classes to create virtual shops and practice virtual shopkeepers,
– None of these uses are possible without high speed broadband, encourage to continue supporting infrastructure to foster continued innovation

Doyle, PA

– SL isn’t the only virtual world, not the only one with avatars. We have lots of lives
– Autistics.org using online platforms to connect, ability for autism and aspergers

Rosedale, Linden Lab

– Virtual worlds fundamentally altering the way people and organizations are using the internet and changing the nature of communication itself.
– We believe we’re creating a part of the evolution of the internet as a new platform with vast scientific, educational, and commercial potential.
– About 900k used SL in the last month, at any one time 50-60k logged in together
– Servers support 390 square miles of virtual land, 6x the area of DC
– Why does this all matter? Virtual worlds hold great promise for america and our ability to compete globally, as well as how we can work despite geographical distance. Can work together as if you are together. (Voice, IM, chat)
– By making this kind of environment widely accessible, reduce communication cost, increase personal productivity tend to occur exponentially, think it is vital to American interests to lead the charge

Susan Tenby, TechSoup

– Non profits in SL – Second Life helps non-profits engage their communities, revolutionize the way people connect, work, and create.. allows users
– Philanthropic organizations leading the charge
– The Non-Profit commons, mixed reality events, feeding live audio and video into and out of virtual world, connecting the virtual world and

Colum Paris, IBM

– Entered a new era of internet technology, what we call the 3D internet, increase individual and team capacity
– Working with enterprise and government to unlock the business potential of these environments
– Emerging applications can be grouped into commerce, collaboration, training, and product and service management
– Enhanced pre-sale activities such as modeling a kitchen renovation can increase customer satisfaction
– Allow remotely distributed teams to develop and better communicate their needs and reduce speed to market
– The learning effectiveness of simulated environments and shared space

– Widespead adoption hinges on – improving the experience, improving infrastructure, and creating interoperability
– Avoid undue restrictions, allowing private innovation to continue with minimal regulation

Larry Johnson, NMC

[Phone call, missed parts of this]

Question to Rosedale: 70% of the users are outside the US, is there a correlation between the availability of high speed access overseas and its high growth overseas?

Rosedale: Yes, as you suggest the rate of growth of those users within dif marketplaces related to the pervasiveness of broadband and the kind of computers required to run SL, for example in Japan where broadband is universal in urban areas, broadband and 3D computing and social virtual worlds to be used.

What sorts of transactions raise red flags?

A: When users wish to convert SL currency to local currency, anything over $10, patterns of use that are relatively easy with appropriate software and systems, what looks like routine transactions. relatively easy to spot larger transactions, fraud rate on the billing systems a fraction of a percentage.02% thinkw e can act as a model of the type of fraud systems to keep virtual world transactions legitimate

Fraud protection for consumers?

[Had another phone call, missed the rest, sorry! Hope the archive will be available somewhere, will post when I find it.]


  1. Shame you missed Larry Johnson’s statement. It seemed to me that he was the one who best abstracted away from the specifics of the current technology and focused on the long term significance of what is happening.

    Guess that wasn’t really what congress wanted to talk about though. They (or at least some of them) seemed more interested in age verification, money laundering and terrorism… 🙂

  2. Larry’s full remarks (more than what he said- this is what he submitted to the committee) are online and commentable at http://wp.nmc.org/mrpixel

  3. […] There are some unedited notes over on Fleep’s Deep Thoughts […]