Talk to anyone who has tried internet chat, and rejected it. They are
offered a massive list of "rooms" or "channels". Half of them are sexually
oriented. They enter a non-sexually oriented room. Within the first
few minutes, people are asking them about cybersex. They walk away with
the impression: "there's nothing in here for me".
In contrast, the Being-there web site offers an organized catalog
of highly focused and passionate special-interest communities. Some
have a bearing on romantic relationships, but these are in their own
category - they are not distracting and diluting the focus away from
the themes of interest to the new visitor.
With most chat communities, there is only a "topic" phrase to give
the visitor an understanding of the focus of the room. When a new user
enters a link to a community on the Being-there web site, there
will be an entire web page or set of pages to further set the focus
and context of that community.
In the past, highly focused theme-based chat rooms have been unsuccessful
for the simple reason that there is nobody in the chat room at any given
time. Being-there overcomes these limitations with two techniques:
- Off-line Forums - here people leave messages to each other
in "threads", and these messages persist for weeks or months, so
that communities can create and sustain their relationships without
the requirement of being there at the same time.
- Schedules of Events - Each community will maintain a schedule
of chat events through an on-line calendar. Anyone can schedule
an event in a specified chat room, and designate a minimum number
of people required to make the event take place. Further, this
event can be given a very specific topic or focus for that one session.
Then, other visitors can sign up for the event if they have interest.
When the critical number of interested people is reached, each of
the participants will be notified through email or instant messages,
and reminded one day before, and at the time of, the event. Using
these techniques, highly focused groups will be empowered
to have live, real-time, interactions which had previously
been difficult to coordinate.
- Chat Archives - Sometimes, in live chat sessions, there
are magic moments - kernels of truth are discovered and dropped
into a chat room, and the whole room responds and elaborates a deep
realization. Minds are melded and for that special moment, they
experience community as something larger and beyond the sum
of the members. Then that moment is lost and forgotten. In Being-there
we will provide a way to save and archive those sessions to the
community web page, so that all visitors share the benefits for
months to come.
With all it's promise for enhanced communication, why does internet
chat seem to always degenerate into cybersex and "flame" wars? We believe
it is because a lack of context. In real life, people will act
one way in a church, another way at a dance, and still another way in
a beautiful forest of towering Redwood trees. Another view of context
is corporate culture. You deal with one multinational company,
and you are consistently treated with dignity and respect. You deal
with another large company, and you are constantly subject to exploitation.
These behaviors are persistant and consistent across the large corporations
due to the power of their unique corporate cultures.
What is the Context of Being-there?
At Being-there, we will also create a context and culture, and
this culture will be focused on the missions of our organization (promoting
interpersonal growth and cross-cultural communication).
It will be rooted in fundamental truths such as the "golden rule": "do
unto others as you would have them do unto you". It will reenforce honor
and support for the core entities that enrich lives everywhere, that
is, respect for: the individual, the family and the community.
It will further support the spiritual growth of the individual,
providing communities focused around each of the major religions.
How will Being-there Implement and Reinforce
The context of Being-there will be implemented and reinforced
through a variety of modalities, namely:
- The Being-there Home Page - The new user will first be
introduced to the context of Being-there through the home
page which will promote, through words and examples, the positive
context. This will be provided through "About us" pages, and through
the nature of the narrative introductions to each of the major categories
- Non-Profit Organization - Structurally, this means that
no one person or group of people will be enriched by an equity ownership
in this organization. From a practical viewpoint, it means that:
- Community Coordinators can willingly donate their time and effort
without feeling exploited by investors making a profit on their
labor. Without the voluntary donation of time and effort of coordinators
empassioned by the focus of their communities, the goals of Being-there
can never be realized.
- The organization need not compromise it's founding principals
in order to maximize financial return on investment to investors.
- Individual users need not be cynical about the underlying agenda
of the organization. We are encouraging users to deal with the most
personal issues of their lives, and we must not let them become
embitter with the thought that those issues are being exploited
for commercial profit.
- Community Coordinator Orientation - Being-there will provide
web-based reading material and interactive support to volunteers
who choose to coordinate communities. These coordinators will carry
the culture and context to their individual community members
- Community Web Pages, Forums and Chat Archives - The Community
Coordinators will enforce the context of their communities through
their choices of content on their web pages. Forums will be managed
to retain the threads that best characterize the purpose and culture
of the communities. Chat archives will be selectively retained that
provide the greatest educational experience and the greatest nurturing
of the desired culture.
- Online Facilitation of Chat Events - The coordinators will
use their skills gained through their "orientation" to gently guide
the direction of online chat away from destructive behavior, and
in support of the positive, shared culture of Being-there.
- 3D, Visual Context - The use of 3D communities will provide
facilitators with an additional dimension (or 3 dimensions) of context
with which they can create environments that support the culture
of their communities and Being-there.
The technology of Being-there is singularly focused on facilitating
Access of the widest number of people to each other. With
these technologies, we anticipate expanding the access and availability
of community participation by several times of the number of people
currently participating in internet communities.
Internet chat is in it's infancy, with respect to it's potential for
facilitating easy, intuitive, natural access to other people.
Most chat software is painfully difficult to learn. Some proprietary
chat systems such as Yahoo Chat and AOL Chat have made great strides
in ease of use, providing an experience that can put a new user in a
chat room in seconds. Yet even in these system, most people need time
to oriented themselves, to ask the question "a/s/l", short for "What
is your age, sex and location?" Beyond that, when someone speaks, you
often ask yourself "are you talking to me?", "who are you talking to?"
With Being-there 3D chat, you immediately find yourself in a
3 dimensional virtual "room" with virtual "people" walking around the
room. When you walk up to someone, you immediately know what kind of
image (age, gender, mood) they wish to present to you, through their
customizable 3D characters or "avatars". If that person is standing
in fron t of you, facing you, when they say or type something, you know
they are "talking to you" and not "talking to someone else".
When someone speaks toyou with their voice, you have an enormous amount
of information to orient you, such as their approximate age, gender,
and mood. You can laugh, sing, or groan, not just type text at the keyboard.
When it all works, you are immersed in the virtual world, not
in your chair, and it is just like "being there".
Unlike other 3D software, everything we have done and will do in the
future will be focused on facilitating access of people to relate
to other people. It enhances access in the following ways:
- Near-zero Learning, Near-zero Barriers to Access - Upon
downloading the Being-there 3D Chat software, new users are one
click away from entering a friendly, immersive interactive community.
A primary focus of our development is on removing barriers
to participation in on-line communities.
- Optimal 3D Technology for Community Building - Unlike
most 3D software, Being-there 3D Chat works well on most
everyone's Windows-based computer. It does not use state-of-the-art
3D rendering technology, because this technology does not perform
well on slower, older computers. Instead, our 3D technology runs
just fine on your grandmother's computer. It produces a fluid, immersive
experience at around 20 frames per second on a Pentium 133 Mz processor
and no 3D accelerator hardware.
- Compatible with all existing IRC Chat Communities - The
IRC Chat protocol is one of the most widely used chat technologies
in existance, with approximately 500,000
people (as of May, 2001) on-line at the same time at any given
time. . Our chat software is compatible with those fast numbers
of existing communities, so that people can immediately share our
technologies without giving up their old friends.
- Free - to reach the widest possible range of international
communities, we are making Being-there free of charge to
individual users and non-commercial communities, though voluntary
donations will be encouraged. Sustaining revenue will come in part
from advertising published in the web pages and in the 3D worlds.
Additional revenue will be derived from licensing the technology
to 3rd party organizations who will adapt the community building
tools to their own goals. This advertising will be screened to comply
with ethical standards approved by the Board of Directors, and will
be focused on the needs and desires of the individual communities.
Capital development funds will come from major or minor donations
from philanthropic and educational foundations and individuals.
- Voice-enabled - some people don't type fast or don't type
at all. In traditional text-based chat, these people are left out
of the conversation. Using voice chat, Being-there enables
these people to participate, and enriches the expressive power of
the medium for everyone. This works even on the slowest computers
(133 MHz) and the slowest dial-up internet connections, because
the voice streams are compressed (using VoiceAge Acelp compression
technology) to no more than 616 bytes per second.
- Future Enhancements We have plans for extending the accessibility
of Being-there through the following enhancments:
- Natural language translation services - this will enable
communities crossing language barriers. Our chat software will send
text to language translation web sites to provided translated text
as need by other users in the chat room. We have made preliminary
discussions of such partnerships with amikai.com
- Instant Messaging - Free, open-source protocols such as
"jabber.com" offer technology for instant messaging so that community
members can be instantly informed when their friends are on-line,
even before launching the web browser or chat software.
In Being-there 3D chat, there is really only one feature - the
other people. There is no virtual reality software as complex, mysterious,
fascinating, surprising and inspiring than the behavior of real people.
Everything we do in Being-there web pages and chat technology
is to facilitate the access to these people, and empower the
creative expression of people toward each other. If we do this well,
it will enrich the lives of all of us.
How can I help?