I managed to make a couple of sessions at the MiT5 conference being streamed into Second Life (I had to stay awake til 4am to do it though!).
What was more interesting to me than the actual session was that of the conversations of several of the Second Life audience members who were actually physically there at the conference. It was like getting a whole back story to who the speakers were, what the general mood of the conference was, and criticisms and critiques that would likely never be aired in the physical public space. There was also discussion of some disturbing misconceptions about Second Life, criticism that the majority of speakers and commenters were “wise men” (in the sessions I went to there were two women speakers [out of nine people], see above image for proof, and two women [out of about twenty people] who asked questions or made comments).
I also disagreed with some of the comments – one was that we should treat technology as invisible and concentrate on the people, but I think that’s very dangerous, because each technology shapes discourse and constructs us as certain types of media subjects, and I think if we don’t critically think about that we’re only serving to reify stereotypes and marginalise certain groups in society. I was pretty shocked to hear some guy spouting that and even more shocked that nobody challenged it. If it hadn’t been 4am for me I would have said something myself.
In one way I am thrilled that more and more conferences are including virtual streaming of sessions, but I wasn’t so thrilled trying to work today after so little sleep!