Engaged all week long

So this week is full of back to back virtual world events, catching up with friends in the industry, and making new ones. Mid-week kicked off the Engage! Expo 2009. Engage! Expo strives to be where companies learn how to combine their existing business with the unparalleled engagement opportunities and new revenue streams of user engagement online.

The expo had session throughout the day that were broken into the categories of:
*Virtual Goods Conference - the leading event for businesses seeking to understand and maximize business strategies using virtual goods, items and gifts;
*Digital Law Conference - provides a detailed examination of the legal issues raised by these technologies and offers key insight into where the industry is headed and what the associated legal implications are;
*Social Media Strategies - the social media track seeks to help business understand the best practices, current trends, and effective strategies of social media and user engagement
3D Training, Learning and Collaboration (3D TLC), - the leading event for businesses seeking to understand and maximize business strategies using virtual worlds.

I stayed mainly in the expo hall and didn't attend many sessions as they get redundant fast when one goes to the amount of these events as I do. Although asking others how the sessions were brought mixed reviews. I found that those new to virtual worlds or that played in them hung on to every word as gospel while the more technical attendee said only the occasional nuggets of wisdom would appear from time to time. I am upset I missed Corey Bridges session as the guy is a riot and always an entertaining panelist. In his session he gave the advice to, "talk to your lawyer with your pimp hand."

The show has grown smaller over the years with only about 18-20 booths in the exhibit hall. Part of that is a reflection of the economy but I feel a chunk can be contributed to the over-hype cycle for virtual worlds coming to an end. Regardless of size, the expo floor was a blast this year and quite the mix-up of sponsors. About a third of the booths were services (transactions, fraud protection, user metrics gathering, etc), followed by content creators, and a handful of actual platforms. I worked the Web3d Consortium booth and the bonus of the small size was that we got a chance to talk with a majority of the people attending. Our booth showcased the 3D web standard running various examples of web3D on iPhone, multi-user worlds, interactive 3D medical scans, augmented reality, digital earths, and more. Many a visitor was wowed by the power and reach of the 3D web standard and asked the right questions on how it could help their businesses.

It was an expo full of being amazed. I was amazed at the number of people knowledgeable about virtual worlds or even that had a business related to them, that knew nothing of the 3D web standards that have been around for so long. I was amazed by how far Telepresence (formerly Qwaq) as a platform has developed since I last looked at it. I highly recommend those interested in 3D multi-user worlds for business collaboration look at it as their VW solution. Their platform makes it easy for those not familiar with gaming (usually older audience) participate in virtual worlds with ease. I was amazed by Utherverse.net (.com is their adult site) for reasons that could only be seen in their handout material or at the booth. I was amazed at how far my wise-cracking friend put his foot in his mouth after calling an ER doctor a chiropractor. I was amazed by the technology I saw others working on in private chat sessions, and much more.

As always, a great show from Chris Sherman and his staff. I thank them for their support of the Web3D Consortium and look forward to representing the 3D web standard again at future events. For this round though, two full days of being "engaged", a decent amount of after parties, booth breakdown/set up and I am done. Well at least until the Fountain Blue event tomorrow.


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