Being-there Offers Focus

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.

Being-there Offers Context

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

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 of communities.
    • 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.

Being-there Offers Access

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?