I’m on a Second Life jag here, or SL as the natives call it. I went to an ALA SLymposium yesterday:
This was a meeting that was held entirely (or nearly so) in SL. The speakers did use an audio stream that was available on the Internet. Attendees, however, mostly used the text chat feature in SL. The interesting thing to me was how a constant stream of text chatter was going on while the speakers were making their comments in audio. This did not seem to interrupt or disrupt the proceedings at all. It was as though the whole group was a big jazz combo, constantly riffing and building and even joking on one another. There were all kinds of spirals of thought emanating from the central ideas of the main speakers.
The usefulness of this stream of consciousness to the attendees was that they could voice (or text) thoughts and ideas as they occurred, rather than waiting for the typical question and answer period, when the thought or its relevance may have vanished already. I could see actually attending a conference in real life, but logging into the Second Life simulcast and posting my thoughts as the conference progressed. It might really add to the richness of the experience. Of course, there are a lot of other interactive tools that conference presenters might also employ.