The Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds is an initiative designed to bring together US Federal Government employees. The April 2008 event held by the Consortium shows the depth of discussion at that level in regard to virtual worlds, and the 2009 version is likely to go a step further. This is a body that’s developed through the motivation of public servants from a wide range of fields.
When comparing the efforts of the Consortium to local ones, the lack of action by key governmental departments becomes more obvious. The USA experience shows diverse departments like Defence, Energy and Health all examining virtual worlds closely. To be fair, there’s obviously a much greater critical mass of employees in the US, but it still does paint a stark contrast to what’s happening in Australia. The tertiary sector is leading the way with little indication of anyone following at the Federal level aside from independent bodies like the ABC and the Australia Council who’ve invested in some impressive projects.
The real risk is that governmental policy in virtual worlds in Australia is driven by the Australian Tax Office and other bodies focused on legislation and regulation. Creating law is a very important part of the evolution of virtual worlds, but a widespread discussion of opportunities is even more important if Australia is to show the level of innovation that the USA is.
Do you agree that the Australian government should be taking a more active role, or is this something that should be driven privately whilst the government considers legislation to create some “safeguards”?