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Virtual Worlds conference opens to big questions

Most of the movers and shakers in the virtual-worlds community will be in San Jose this week for a second Virtual Worlds conference.

Starting Wednesday, most of the movers and shakers in the virtual-worlds business will be descending on San Jose for the Virtual Worlds conference.

I'm very interested to see how this show turns out. I covered and spoke at the spring edition of this show, which was held in New York, and I really wasn't overly impressed. At the time, I felt that the hundreds of people who attended weren't entirely sure why they were there, though they knew they should be.

On the other hand, as a veteran of such shows, maybe my standards were too high. The attendees may well have gotten more out of the show than I did.

And, in fairness, the show was absolutely packed, and I'm guessing this one will be too, for two reasons: First, because virtual worlds are hotter than ever right now. And second, because the show's organizers have been marketing it like I've never seen before, with almost daily e-mails, press releases, phone calls and other forms of outreach.

And, well, it worked. I'm going, as is my CNET colleague Stefanie Olsen.

But notwithstanding the organizers' success at filling up the venue, I am still wondering how valuable the show will be.

On the one hand, it is in San Jose, and it is being billed as a more technical conference than the spring one in New York. So there's a chance that it will appeal to the IT crowd, which of course is different than the advertising crowd the New York edition was after.

The problem is that, in looking at the agenda, I see many of the same panels that I've been seeing at various virtual-worlds and online-games conferences for four years. I do understand that for many people this conference will be a primer in the subject, but I still would like to see some of the basic panels that are repeated over and over retired once and for all.

What I am looking forward to, however, is demos. I have been led to believe that there will be a wider selection of exhibitors than were at the spring show, and that could well prove interesting.

And there's always the networking.