Tomorrow, April 1st, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be holding a hearing on "Online Virtual Worlds: Applications and Avatars in a User-Generated Medium" starting at 9:30 am EST. On the one hand I’m glad that the subject of the hearing is not "Virtual Worlds : Dens of Ageplay, Gambling and Income We Should Be Taxing." On the other hand, this is the COMMERCE committee, which means there will likely be a strong emphasis on the economic implications of virtual worlds, rather than their applications for education, social action and civic engagement. So we’ll just have to see.
You can connect to the video webcast to watch it live. But even better, the nice folks at SL Capitol Hill say that if they can grab the video stream, they will show it live from their sim (click here to teleport.) How perfect would that be?
UPDATE 4/1/08: Reuters reports that the following people will be testifying later today: Philip Rosedale, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Linden Lab; my friend Susan Tenby, Senior Manager of Community Development at TechSoup; Dr. Larry Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of The New Media Consortium and Colin J. Parris, Ph.D., Vice President of Digital Convergence at IBM Corporation. These folks are well-placed to address the various applications of virtual worlds for business collaboration (IBM), education (NMC) and social / charitable action (Techsoup.)
Oh, and the hearings will be led by Rep. Ed Markey, a known defender of internet freedom and no stranger to virtual worlds. Should be very interesting.