For those of you who could not attend the Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds 2012 Conference, the attendees, presenters, and keynote speakers at the conference were brilliant, diverse, and just as cool as I had imagined. The UW avalumni had the “most happening” table during lunch and breaks because classmates from all four years were represented at the conference. Meeting colleagues (Stylianos, Sicily, Zinnia, AgileBill, Skylar, Bev, Ashley, Jag, Vanessa, Kevin, Loki, Leah, and Randy-of course the best instructor in the virtual world!) was truly amazing. Stylianos (at minute 48) and I (at minute 54) asked questions after Randy’s keynote address. What amazed me most was the realization that I know these people without having ever been present in the same physical space.
I had met a few virtual classmates before because Zinnia, Jordanna, everart and I try to meet whenever I get to Seattle. I had also met virtual world librarians in person at library conferences. The essence of the person I know virtually is exactly the same, in my opinion, as the essence experienced when meeting them for the first time physically, having worked together on meaningful projects and having listened to their voices in both audio and text. Virtual experiences are often more intense than physical experiences because words must contain as much meaning as possible. There often is less time for trivial chit chat.
As a school librarian, wrapping up the final semester is the busiest time of the calendar year. So, I was reluctant to leave my campus to travel to Washington D.C. for the Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds 2012 Conference. Not only would I be away from my job during a busy time, I also would have the travel expenses (which are unnecessary at virtual world conferences- a huge advantage!). I had not planned to attend, but my husband encouraged me to go as a celebration of my PhD graduation and a chance to network with colleagues. Wow! I am so glad I did! The National Defense University was a gorgeous venue and I felt completely at home with virtual world colleagues surrounding me. AgileBill escorted Zinnia and me everywhere and even took us on a night-time tour of D.C.
Most Important Take-Away
But, what made the whole trip worthwhile was coming home with validation. I came home feeling honored to have spent time with exceptional individuals and having witnessed the work of high level intellectual and artistic pioneers in digital technology. Having spent the past five years building momentum, actively pursuing the digital revolution, I have met raised eyebrows over my dissertation topic “Factors Contributing to the Adoption of Virtual Worlds by Librarians”. My research may be perceived by some as unconventional or cutting edge, but colleagues at the UW Certificate in Virtual Worlds (avalumni) realize this is the future. The theme of FCVW 2012 was “What Will You Inspire?” I was truly inspired and my work was validated. Let’s continue to inspire.
Pictured (left to right): Valibrarian, Magnus, Chimera, Stylianos, Sklyar, Brenna, Zinnia, AgileBill, and Sicily