The State of the Metaverse

Grand Tour of the Virtual Landscape circa 1997 (60)
Where have we been, where are we going?
This panel will chronicle the early investment period in the on-line virtual worlds medium (1994-1996) and detail the notable successes and failures. The companies, strategies and the current state and future of online virtual worlds and tools will be the focal point of this session.
Bruce Damer, Contact Consortium - presenter and coordinator
Steve DiPaola,Saatchi and Saatchi
Tony Parisi, Intervista

Grassroots Virtual Community  (60)
What are the Citizens up to?

This session will take a close look at the virtual worlds citizenry. What are people really doing in these virtual worlds? What draws them back and keeps them committed? What are they telling us they want in their world, now and in the future?
Pascal Bauder, Cybertown
Rick Noll, Circle of Fire Studios
Fujitsu (speaker to be assigned)

Building the New Cyberspace

2D or not 2D, That is the Question (90)
This panel will feature another installment of the famous debate over the relative merits of 2D versus 2D interfaces? Does 3D just bring a lot of performance and navigation headaches? Is 2D simply not sexy enough? Do you always need to see your avatar or is first person point of view the natural way we primates interact?
Jim Bumgartner, The Palace - Coordinator
Randy Farmer, Electric Communities
Steve DiPaola, Saatchi and Saatchi
Fujitsu Speaker (TBC)

Designing Worlds that Work (90)
What makes a World Worth (re)Visiting?
This panel of experts will tackle the often missed point of: how do we make worlds that really draw people back. It turns out that some of the sexiest 3D worlds have a tiny fraction of the users that simple postage stamp avatar environments. Do you always need to be multi-user to attract visitors? Do you  have to allow users to leave their mark or otherwise build in the world for them to take ownership? How do gaming worlds compare with just plain social spaces? What about great episodic performance worlds, are they attracting viewers? Will sales-bots turn off the users or does your community need a really great bartender bot?
Amy Jo Kim, Naima coordinator and presenter,
Christina Allen, Electric Communities
Fujitsu speaker to be named
Fabrice Florin, Zenda Studios
Fred Davis? (see description under individual presentations below)

Roll Your Own Avatar
Ins and Outs of Avatar Design
Steve DiPaola, Moderator
Kirk Parsons, Attic Graphics
Mark Meadows, Construct Internet Design
Stasia McGehee

Text-Based Virtual Communities and Web Worlds
But Will they want to Wear Avatars?
Contrasting the experience and communities in text based virtual worlds with their visual counterparts, what is gained, what is lost?
Sandy Stone, ACTLab, U.T. Austin
Talkcity or Geocities or Placeware
Someone from the MUDShop Community?

Architecting the New Cyberspace
Kas Osterhous, the virtual architecture of Marcos Novak
SRT: The U Competition

No Business Like Snow(crash) Business

Show me the Revenue Stream
What is your user community prepared to pay for?
Nathan Wagoner, Duck Soup Information Systems - Coordinator -
David Hagel, Net Gain (TBC)
Reid Hoffman, (TBD)
Speaker from venture capital industry (TBC)

Dealing In-World
Money Systems, Token Economies, Transactions
Tim Oren, Electric Communities - Coordinator -
Fujitsu speaker to be named

Lets go Shopping at the Virtual Mall
Is Anyone Buying It?
Skuli Mogensen, OZ Interactive
Rick Noll, Circle of Fire Studios
??, Superscape
??, Sense8

Venture Capital and Virtual Communities
Where to Invest in the New Cyberspace?
Edward Ipser, SVASE - Coordinator -
Reid Hoffman (TBD)
Matt Burgess, Electric Communities (TBC)

The Big Apps

Episodic Performance Worlds
Mark Pesce, Blitcom
Ron Fisher or other presenter from Cosmo Software (TBC)
Protozoa or Atomic3D (TBD)

Avvywood: Avatars Meet Hollywood and Inhabit Your TV
Alex Lightman, Mike Yuen, Internet Hollyworlds
Kevin George, CyGaia talks about their MTV project
Charanjit Sidhu, BT Labs, talks about their recent Inhabited TV projects done in conjunction with the BBC (TBD)

Creature Worlds
Rich Gold, Xerox PARC - Coordinator -
Rob Fulop, PF Magic
Bruce Damer, CCon

The Virtual Workspace
Virtual worlds for training, education and collaboration in the corporate setting
Garry Hare of OZ Interactive will be speaking on "The Virtual Workspace", using OZ’s recently developed <i>Ericsson World</i> as an example of the types of 3D, navigable and functional community workspaces that can be developed for product showcasing, internal and external communications, retail sales and customer services. He will touch upon usability issues surrounding such an environment as well as the many features that can be included.

Richard Wojcik, will talk about Boeing's efforts to use virtual worlds to prototype business activities such as meetings, functional planning/status rooms, displays of product lines and support distance learning.

Nathan Wagoner,
of DuckSoup Information Systems will talk about a Palace environment designed to support field sales staff and training for FORE Systems

Managing Large Scale Virtual Worlds
Mitra, talks about Peoplespace
Rick Noll, Circle of Fire Studios, about managing AlphaWorld and the Active Worlds universe

Avatars at Play 1
a special session sponsored by the CGDA (Friday before lunch):

Ultima Online: pluses and minuses of a Big Multi-user Gaming World
Rusel DeMaria -
Alex Utterman -
Johnny Wilson (Rusel will try to recruit)
Possible participating companies: Ultima Online (Rusel Recruiting), *T.E.N., MPath

Avatars at Play 2
a special session sponsored by the CGDA (Friday after lunch):

Character Based Online Gaming: prospects for the medium
Sandy Jackson, CDGA - Coordinator -

Its a Kids' World
a special session sponsored by the CGDA
Lisa Lopuck, Electravision - Moderator
Larry Kay, Toonsmith - Coordinator -
J.M. Valera, a high school senior's view of life in avatar cyberspace


Power to the Matrix

Down at the Render Farm - Media APIs
Neil Trevett or Frederick Shaul, 3D Labs
Bill McCloskey, Cosmo Software
Paul Jensen, 3DFx (TBC)

The Need for Speed
3D Hardware and Software Acceleration
Michael Powers, In3D - moderator
3D Labs (speaker to be assigned)
NewFire (TBD)
RealNet (TBD)

Plumbing the Underworld
Infrastructure and Protocols for Worlds: Media Streaming, Abstraction, Databases
Mark Rudolph, Cosmo Software - Coordinator -
Doug Crockford/Dan Bornstein, Electric Communities
Speaker from NTT Software Corporation (TBC)
COF speaker (Roland?)

The Embodied Agent Character
Bartender Bots and Bouncer Daemons, what role will they play in your world?
Barbara Hayes-Roth, Extempo
Rob Fulop, PF Magic
Motion Factory (TBD)

Digital Biota
Biological Metaphor to Power the New Cyberspace
Bruce Damer, Contact Consortium - Coordinator
Karen Marcelo, Frank Revi,
Charles Ostman
Note: this panel must be held on Thursday

Culture Tranforms <--Cyberspace--> Transforms Culture

All the (Virtual) World's a Stage
Virtual Worlds for Role Playing, Storytelling and Theater
Mark Petrakis, Spoonman - Coordinator -
Misty West
Celia Pearce, see her essay on Narrative Environments in preparation for this session.

Ancient Rituals for a New Medium (FRIDAY)
Creation Myths, Rites of Passage, and Tribal Bonding in Online Communities
Michael Sellers, Studio 3DO - Moderator
Amy Jo Kim, Naima
Johnny Wilson, Computer Gaming World
Charles Cameron
Virtual worlds in Cyberspace are relatively new -- but the art of community-building is very old, and the basic social dynamics that bond human beings into groups are timeless. As designers and builders of online communities, we can learn powerful lessons by studying the ancient social rituals that have succesfully shaped real-world communities, and applying these lessons to our own work. Now more than ever, we need to understand the pivitol role that rituals, archetypes and mythology play in community development, to give our brave new worlds some history, depth, and soul.

The Avatar Body Politik
Community and Self Governance in the New Cyberspace
A special discussion with Governor Jerry Brown of We The People
Virtual World Cyberspace as a new constituency and a new tool for change in a world of rapidly shifting concepts of regional and national borders
Discussants: John Wentworth, Tandem Futures Lab, Rob Rothfarb NTT  Software Corporation  (?), Mike Sellers

Your Avatar, Your Ident
Who will I be today?
Your ident in the real world and cyberspace is becoming increasingly multifaceted. From the nom de plume to the IRC handle to articulated 3D avatar to the human cyborg, how our ident is being stretched!
Rob Rothfab, NTT  Software Corporation
Sandy Stone UT Austin ACTLab
Donna Haraway, UCSC
PF Magic?

Roll your own Reality: Choosing between Gibsonian, Stephensonian, Pescean, McKensian or Ostmonian Cyberspace
Mark Pesce
Terence McKenna  (TBD)
Charles Ostman

Social Lifecycles of Virtual Community
???, Oracle from Worldsaway
Pavel Curtis, PlaceWare
Gail Williams,
Randy Farmer, Electric Communities

Transcending Gender in Virtual Environments
Wendy Sue Noah, WEAVE and Fujitsu/WorldsAway - Coordinator
Other speakers TBD
The panel will be about the opportunities we have to transcend gender through the medium of the internet. For the first time in recent history, the internet offers us a neutral playing ground - everyone is equal, and there are no major barriers as to what your gender is or what you look like it's about the content - the heart and soul of the matter.

However, in the same breath, gender still plays out a tremendous role in our social reality, and gender is still an important piece of cyber-interactions - but how significant? And how can you trust that this avatar is really male, or this email correspondence is really female?

As chairperson of the Contact Consortium special interest group WEAVE (Women Entering Avatar Virtual Environments), I see great opportunity for gender unity through the means of the internet and beyond.

Legal Rights and Ethics in Virtual Communities
Carmen Hermosillo,

Mike Sellers
People from EFF we had last year?

Virtual Worlds as Healing Spaces
Galen Brandt, Moderator
Anthony Lloyd (BioMuse)
Tom Riess (augmented reality glasses which redress Parkinson's Disease)
Carrie Heeter (telepresence healing)
Tamiko Thiel (Starbright World)

The Avatar Psychologist
Sanford Rosenberg
Other speakers TBD


Standards Track

VRML Consortium 1: Avatar Standards in VRML
VRML Humanoid Animation Working Group
Bernie Roehl, U of Waterloo

VRML Consortium 2: Living Worlds
Living Worlds Working Group

Roster of Individual Presentations

Conversations with Angels
Andy Best and Merja Puustinen
A VRML 2 compliant (multiuser) world - we are using Sony's CP Bureau for multiuser communication. The world is populated with AI-type robot characters which are based on "real world" types - a depressed house wife, a serial killer, a survivalist, and a lesbian princess so far, though their appearances are very surreal! See it at

Avatars, the Evolution of a New Species
Fred Davis, noted journalist and cyber-futurist
Avatars represent the most highly evolved virtual life-form. But even so, it's still a very primitive species. Unlike biological evolution, which creeps imperceptibly along, technologic evolution occurs in leaps and bounds. In order to make avatars more meaningful, useful, and valuable, rapid evolution and even mutation needs to be encouraged. But the evolution of avatars is not merely technological, it's also sociological and psychological, and our own thinking about avatars needs to evolve considerably before we can address the magnitude of the problems and even hope to create meaningful solutions.

As a first step into increasing the evolutionary rate of avatar development, developers need to broaden their vision to consider a paradigm shift that places social evolution on equal par with technology development. How well an avatar is rendered is trivial compared with the
larger question of what the avatar's purpose is and how it can be used as a tool for human communication. Scripted environments, simulations, and psychodramas can be used to help evolve the sociological and psychological aspects of avatars and to help us learn how they can move beyond being merely a puppet show and instead become an important new
communications medium.


Advanced VRML 2.0 Course
Cosmo Software presents this in-depth course with newly released versions of its tools. Taught by the pros, it can't get any better than this!

Scheduled Demonstrations

Electric Communities
EC Habitats Habitat Beta Program annoucement and demonstration: 4:00pm Thursday

Canal Plus
Frederic Le Diberder
Canal Plus is running the first european virtual world called "The Second World". About 6.000 avatars are living in this virtual Paris for chating, playing games, experiencing new relationships. We are working on a new version of the Second World that will be launched in the beginning of November featuring new avatars, new places, new functionality.

Avatar Teleport Schedule

VOCE, Kevin George, and MTV presentation, teleporing with UT Austin ACTLab
Systems Whizzard   from texas, into Traveler

C. Scott Young

BOF/SIG and other meetings

Performance Animation Society Meeting, contact is: Ron Fischer

Peter Rosen
Hi Bruce, Thanks for scheduling me in for a BOF. Is there a possibility of being a panel member on a topic you might have about bridging real and cyberspace? My speaking engagement and teaching of a Digital Storytelling Workshop in Europe was exceptionally well received. Our KidCast is being considered for COMDEX Show floor. I hope to hear something definate this week. Things are popping! Later,

Exhibiting Artists

Steven Hanly
our Webmaster
C. Scott Young
Nathan Wagoner
Roger Zuidema

Unassigned proposals

Franz Buchenberger, Blaxxun, TBD

From: Charles Ostman

Asthetic Exlploration in Synthetic Environments - "Experiential Artforms" In whatever way this may be "morphed" into the evolving entity space of Avatars 97 event is welcomed with anticipation . . .

I am a featured artist at the COMA event in S.F. as part of the San Francisco Computer Museum project, and related activities. Also, I am developing some materials for the actual museum technical content, as per computing technologies of the future, of which the domains of experiential and immersive environments and computing processes are certainly a likely component thereof (my personal interest here is more in the nanocomputing development arena, and in experiential computing for advanced visualization purposes).

As for your earlier interests in possibly having my art (canvases, prints, etc) available for the Anon events, etc., this fits in just fine, as I will on display at the COMA event, then potentially at Avatars 97, with a brief sojourn of some of the pieces to Arcosonti, and then back to S.F.

I have just published an article with CGW (Computer Graphics World)  about the development and applications of 3D graphics acceleration chips and technologies for the P.C., relevant to the world of interactive 3D immersive environments, VRML, and so on. In that regards, I have just sent in a series of materials about Avatars, this conference and related events, and in general another article with thematic trajectory of:

"Experiential Artforms" - as evidenced by the Avatars 97 and Paradox conferences, the newly released "Avatars" book, etc. 
Also, I made note of the IEEE Spectrum cover article on "Sharing Virtual Worlds - Avatars, Agents, and Social Computing" appearing in the March '97 issue.

Theme of presentation as sent to CGW: "Asthetic Exploration in Synthetic Environments - Experiential Artforms"

Charles Ostman

Avatar entities, autonomous behavioral species components, and the  synthetic environments they flourish in need not be confined merely  to the "traditional" interpretations of vicarious experiential access  to the virtual terraform. These domains, as per contextual  portals to the "virtual terraform", and the environments they provide access to, can in fact be experiential and asthetic renderings of "alternative realities" of any scale, thematic content, or translational
content, to provide the potential visitor to such domains access to worlds, environments, even ecosystems that could not other wise be visualized or experienced.

Experiential technologies, and the enabling technology processes spawned by the implementation of the global internet system are rapidly converging into a new "existance matrix" which the human population will learn to adapt, and evolve into. At the heart of this realm will also be an entirely different definition of what constitutes "entertainment", and by what mechanisms a sense of recreational and asthetic fullfillment can be experienced.

The potential exists for an infinite variety of choices of experiential asthetic content, both as a singular experience for the individual, and a collective experience for "virtual communities". The quest for experiential asthetic "discovery" and conveyance, in whatever new forms become available, will continue to be an assential component of the next increment of societal evolution.

Articles focussing on the 3D graphics acceleration chips and related products are also appearing in Midnight Engineering, and MicroComputer Journal, with an application "interest" focussing on Avatars and "virtual environments". Theoretically, they should be in print in time for the conference.

From Mitra

There are two potential presentations - one would be People Space - the multi-user system we build in Japan. The other would be a Living Worlds - where are we now - presentation.

The PS presentation can be around 5 to 10 minutes, (I presume that's what all the systems would want?). LW could usefully be anywhere from 2 mins to 15, but I'd suggest 5 minutes to bring people up to speed with where its at?

People Space Would probably be just me, or me+1, using a pair of laptops (two phone lines, or two internet or any combination). I could do it with one but there would be a risk of noone else in the space.

LW would be me+Honda from Sony if he's there. Standard power-point setup (my laptop).

From: Mitra


I'd be happy to put a panel (for example on standards) together. Maybe get the Panasonic people to show their H-anim based Virtual Kareoki etc. Also, I'm sure that I, or someone else, can show People Space.

From: Dara Schlissel

Per your request that I propose an area for OZ's presentation, I would like to suggest that OZ participate in the "The Big Apps" topic, either by speaking/presenting or sitting with others on a panel or round table discussion.

OZ has recently announced a partnership and product launch with Ericsson (see attached) and is in an ideal position to discuss issues such as "The Virtual Workspace: conferencing, work process visualization, data navigation, training." Skuli Mogensen and Garry Hare are the 2 people who are available to speak for this conference. Skuli, as you may know, is the President and one of the co-founders of OZ; Garry Hare, our COO, came to OZ in April of this year. Prior to joining OZ, he founded digital publishing companies in the United States and Europe including Fathom Pictures, Inc. and Philips Interactive Media ? Europe on behalf of Philips N. V.

From: (Don Oliver)

Thank you for taking the time to check out our Animated Chat! We are currently putting the finishing touches on our Java Client, which makes access and adminstration so much easier!

I would be very interested in becoming a speaker at Avatars 97. To whom should I correspond regarding this?

Gregory Little Professor of Art Oberlin College and Kent State Unversity

Greetings: I just heard about avatars97 from David Richards. I have been designing what are now called "avatars" since 1990, and am very interested in your 1997 conference.

Please send me any information, as I would be interested in speaking and or showing my avatars.

From: Hannes Vilhjalmsson To: contact consortium, Subject: Avatars '97 Participation

This is in response to your call for participation in the Avatars 97 conference in San Francisco.

Last June I submitted a Master's thesis to the program in Media Arts and Sciences at MIT titled "Autonomous Communicative Behaviors in Avatars". This thesis addresses a fundamental issue regarding the design and implementation of avatars, namely how avatars can best reflect the communicative intentions of their respective users.

I beleive I have an important message for the community and would appreciate the opportunity to give a talk or in some way present my work at your conference (a talk would be preferred). I had originally planned to give this presentation at the Lifelike Computer Characters 97 as a follow up to my presentation there last year, but the organizers just announecd that LCC was going bi-annual and that there would be no LCC '97!

To review my work, please visit my project web-site at:

From: Jim A Larson To: via our Webmaster Subject: Ideas about Earth to Avatars


Some ideas for the earth to avatars conference....

A virtual world contest: Get some "experts" to judge a collection of new virtual worlds and aware prizes for various categories: most fanticiful, popular, artistic, functional, etc.

A session devoted to legal issues (such as the one I'm facing now). Topics include how to protect against real world law suites over stuff in a virtual world. E.g., copywrite violations, harrasment, local porn laws, etc. Is a virtual world provider like a book publisher or a book distributer, or is a virtual world like a public park where the provider has minimal responsibility?

Migrating avatars: what can we do to enable avatars to cross worlds? What is the current status of the Universal Avatar working group? What minimal set of standards is sufficient for avatar migration among worlds?

Build it yourself avatars. How can average users construct and personalize their avatars. What tools are available? Show examples of cool avatars. Maybe a "cool" avatar contest.

Applications of virtual worlds: using virtual worlds for education, electronic commerce, just-in-time help, games, talk radio, auditorium/performance, etc.

I'm always interested in promoting IDMOO 2. Could I have a couple of hours for "how to construct your own virtual worlds using the Intel multi-user application development kit."

Birds of a feather session with topics suggested at the beginning of the conference

Other sessions might include awareness in virtual worlds, VRML 2 and beyond, audio in virtual worlds, scripting for virtual world users,

I think you should present a "intro to virtual worlds" for people new to the area (the "intro to chi" tutorial was vary popular) prior to the beginning of the conference.

From: Keith Wescourt Subject: Re: Directions to Saturday CCon Meeting and RSVP


We are planning to participate in some way in Avatars '97: our CEO Barbara Hayes-Roth could speak on "Cybermask", as she did at the recent CGDC (Sue Wilcox told me she recommended this talk to you); in addition, we might exhibit this year.

From: Mike Sellers

Hey Bruce,

Doing something at Avatars sounds great. I'll be meeting with Amy Jo later this week; would you like me to mention it to her? I just read about your "Virtual Communities and Virtual Worlds" panel coming up on Oct 22 as part of the NTT New Media Minds Forum. Is that part of Avatars too?

Congrats on going to print with the book. I'd love to contribute something (quickly, I know). Did you have something particular in mind in terms of subject matter and/or length? Give me a call if you'd like to talk about this (I'm at (510) 461-1507), or I'll call you later today.

From: (Moses Ma)

(Bruce, if you need me for Avatar 97, I'd be happy to play!)

From: "Nathan Wagoner"

Bruce -

Judging from the Ccon WWW site, there's a lot of stuff I could either talk about, or organize a panel on, or participate in a panel on.... Are you looking to fill any particular niches at this point?

V-Worlds Biz: where are the $$ to build the new Cyberspace? Worlds that work: what makes a world worth revisiting? Designing the inhabited interface

Any of the above...

The Virtual Workspace: conferencing, work process visualization, data navigation, training.

The main project I am working on at the moment is a Palace designed to support field sales staff and training for FORE Systems...

The Art of Virtual Community: lessons from the WELL and other communities Virtual communities and the worlds they live in

and either/both of those as well - where do you need things?

Also - I really *would* be interested in showing the paintings I made for Palace environments, they are quite different than any other virtual worlds I know of - Randy Farmer liked them a lot too! :)

Let me know where I can help, and esspecially if there is any long distance help I can offer between now and then. And if, during the time I am out there, we could manage dinner or just some time to catch up, that would be great - I'll have Monday evening in SF as well.

From: oosterhuisassociates

Dear Bruce,

I visited the Avatars 97 website. I think our work could contribute to the notion of introducing virtual reality extensions to buildings. I found a preliminary progtram at the site, but not yet any information on keynote speakers. Do have a short-list already? I want you also to know that my work relates closely to that of my friend and collegue Marcos Novak of the UCLA. You can find him on several websites. He research is exclusively on virtual immersions (as far to the 4th dimension, ask him what he means by that), and my work tries to relate the immersion in physical environments with the immersion in virtual environments. In the waterpavilion we developed immersive sound-scapes, immersive lightscapes (lightmassage) both feeding upon data from a maritime board unit merged into a building sculpture.

Could you send me some more details on the list of speakers. First then I can judge if my work would fit into the Avatars 97 Conference!


Kas Oosterhuis

From: pascal baudar

I am sure it is too late but during your program there is a lot of mention regarding Virtual Communities. I was wondering why we did not get contacted and what are the opportunities to be part of the program.

The address is:

We have presently several thousands of residents.

From: Tony Ezzat

i might be interested in giving a talk at the upcoming Avatars 97 conference...could you send me information on the topics of the conference, current speaker schedule, deadline dates, etc...

i am a graduate student at MIT, and my research might have potential in the creation of 'photorealistic' avatars (ie, avatars that look like real humans)..

From: Fabrice Florin

I would like to present highlights of Zenda's accomplishments in bringing people together through persistent online environments, structured activities and systematic hosting. We have created and served a range of virtual communities last year, using both the Palace and Java technologies to offer party games, group discussions and comedy performances to a broad audience. Our comedy show received high marks from Entertainment Weekly, who called it a first in avatar-based virtual entertainment.

I am attaching an outline of the presentation I would like to make. Please let me know what you think. I can be reached directly at (415) 388-6688.

Franz Buchenberger, Blaxxun

Jerry McDonough


Timothy Childs or Linda Jacobson?

Wojcik, Richard H

Udi Shapiro or someone from VP?

Proposals out to


Terence McKenna

Jerry Brown

Charanjit Sidhu (Inhabited TV?)

Rick Noll, Circle of Fire

Rob Rothfarb and Tim Takeuichi, NTT