On April 1st, the House Commerce Committee held what has been touted as one of the first real, live Congressional hearings in a virtual world. This begs the question "what is real?" Apparently, online virtual worlds like Second Life are becoming significant enough players to capture the attention of elected officials and their staff, according to a recent Washington Post article on the subject.
Citizens of Second Life (only a few of the "saner" ones, not the ones that have a tendency to fly around, it should be noted), sat in on the hearing. A few of the members of Congress even had their own avatars as part of the fun. Some recognized the irony of members of Congress being reflected as "avatars" (as in "gods"), although fortunately most of the members condescended to admit that they weren't ACTUALLY gods, lest any of us be confused.
Serious discussion topics included both the benefits and downside virtual worlds. But I think the real issue here is this: Who's scared that Congress is the "real world" in this scenario. I am, a little bit.