Being There

We’ve all seen the cartoons of people sitting next to each other in silence and texting each other. I just picked up my daughter from a concert where she did exactly that.

At work, we meet for a few hours in-world at least twice a week. Usually at least one of us is in some other part of the world and a few at home, but sometimes we’re all in the same room with headphones on. It isn’t always better than being in the same room with someone, it isn’t always worse. It’s just different, although occasionally it isn’t even that.

For folks growing up with texting and ubiquitous computing, it seems working with others in a virtual world should not be an issue. But circumstances matter (context is king) in ways that I still don’t understand. I’m disappointed that even we are passing up some working relationships that are long distance even as we do others that are global.

Sometimes you text the person next to you and sometimes you have to get on a plane.

About Stearns

Howard Stearns works at High Fidelity, Inc., creating the metaverse. Mr. Stearns has a quarter century experience in systems engineering, applications consulting, and management of advanced software technologies. He was the technical lead of University of Wisconsin's Croquet project, an ambitious project convened by computing pioneer Alan Kay to transform collaboration through 3D graphics and real-time, persistent shared spaces. The CAD integration products Mr. Stearns created for expert system pioneer ICAD set the market standard through IPO and acquisition by Oracle. The embedded systems he wrote helped transform the industrial diamond market. In the early 2000s, Mr. Stearns was named Technology Strategist for Curl, the only startup founded by WWW pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. An expert on programming languages and operating systems, Mr. Stearns created the Eclipse commercial Common Lisp programming implementation. Mr. Stearns has two degrees from M.I.T., and has directed family businesses in early childhood education and publishing.


  1. Its not just texting, its phone abuse too. I have schlepped through airports and rode planes to meet a coworker face to face only to have them spend most of the ‘meeting’ with them talking on the phone. I got up went into their managers office and explained the situation. After the manager pulled them out of the conference room it was amazing the rapt attention offered when they returned.

    Its a discourteous attitude that I don’t tolerate anymore. Besides life is very short, one should take advantage of the face to face opportunities as some come all too rarely.

  2. We have something like that in-world, too. I’ll post soon about 3D application panels in-world vs 2D panels floating above an individual user’s view of the virtual world. When you’re working with other folks on something, the 3D shared stuff seems more social. When folks come to a meeting and use 2D apps in other windows — whether shared 2D apps from the world or something else entirely on their computer — it does seem a bit disconnect and sometimes a bit discourteous.

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