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12:06pm on Friday, 26th October, 2007:



The panel I was on at the Virtual Worlds Forum didn't go too well. Three of us finally made it to the panel, and we were asked to give a short introduction ourselves.

I was asked first, and spent about 15 seconds telling people who I was.

Robert Lai, from the Cyber Recreation District of Beijing, was asked next. He spent 8 minutes, maybe longer, giving us his vision of the future of virtual worlds, which by a remarkable coincidence was embodied as the Cyber Recreation District of Beijing bow down before me ye mortals for I am your master.

Poor Jason Stoddard, who was the final panellist, therefore had to tread the uneasy line of giving a short introduction to himself in a way that didn't make Robert Lai look like a self-aggrandizing publicist for his mighty organisation which will crush to dust the decadent worlds of the West. In the end, he spoke for about a minute, which was probably about the best compromise.

Now at the end of conferences, there's usually a form to fill in saying what you think of the various speakers. Judging by the business-oriented nature of the audience, I suspect Robert Lai would get triple the number of votes I'd get (ironic, given China's attitude to voting), but hey, I usually endeavour to fill the forms in anyway. I picked one up, and began to fill it in:


I read the rest of the form, and it turned out it wasn't about reporting on the speakers at all. I've no idea what it was about, other than obtaining some weird ethnic diversity information. Not being ethnically diverse (they never ask whether you're a northerner on these things), I declined to hand it in. I don't suppose many other people handed it in either.

It's a sad state of affairs when the decision as to whether to invite people to speak at conferences comes down not to what they have to say, but to what their ethnic background is.

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).