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AVW ScreenshotThe Association of Virtual Worlds, a new social network / virtual world project, has announced plans to create a virtual world with a focus on business and professional use.

The companion social networking site (sign-up available here) has only been active for about a week, but already has about 200 members, and is growing quickly.

AVW’s Executive Director is Dave Elchoness, an employment attorney who started VRWorkplace. The organization’s founder, Edita Kaye, has written a book on virtual worlds and runs, a virtual world news site.

From the press release, currently available at the AVW home page:

‘The brand new Association of Virtual Worlds has as its mission to provide a leadership environment for companies and individuals passionate about the future of virtual worlds and as such it makes perfect sense to be the first such association to offer its members an exciting virtual world of their own,’ says founder Edita Kaye.

Dave Elchoness, Executive Director, explains ‘providing a virtual world environment is the next step—beyond Web 2.0 with its signature social networks—into Web 3-D. Why create a virtual world for members? To provide a real-time environment for meetings, conferences, collaboration, and social interaction and engagement with less cost, disruption, and environmental impact than physical travel. It doesn’t matter if you want to meet someone from around the world or the office next door, the Association of Virtual Worlds will help make it happen in a setting that feels ‘in-person’.’

AVW Logo

The Association has a lot of work to do, but appears to be rightly focused on making its virtual world genuinely accessible. It will be interesting to see where this goes; I’ve long felt that hyperspecialization is the future of the grid. Overused as the meme may be, virtual worlds really are better seen as the 3D web than an outgrowth of the gaming community, and in that light, this business-oriented “site” makes sense.

In the meantime, the discussions at the AVW social networking site are better than average, and it looks like a community that attorneys who are focusing on virtual worlds may want to join.

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3 Responses to “Association of Virtual Worlds Announces Plans for Business and Professional Virtual World”

  1. on 29 Feb 2008 at 5:14 pmAshcroft Burnham

    Hmm… a virtual world just for business? What about an internet just for fun, or e-mail just for hobbies…?

  2. on 13 Apr 2008 at 7:53 pmJane Doe


    There is a certain species of entrepreneur that capitalizes on the human desire for overnight solutions to intractable problems. Throughout human history, they have lurked in the shadows of the marketplace, eager to regale consumers with news of their miracle cures. In their haste to turn a profit, they often overlook minor details such as the product’s effectiveness and safety.

    One might hope that our scientifically saturated era would be immune to bogus pitches, but the opposite is true. Sadly, exaggerated marketing appeals are common in the computer industry. Indeed, they seem to thrive when emerging technologies are dimly understood by the general population.

    The myth of expertise camouflages holes in the huckster’s pitch, and problems remain hidden until the contract is signed and the check is cashed.

    A few highly publicized scams and failures can cripple a young industry before it even has a chance to get off the ground. As an entrepreneur who cares deeply about the future of virtual worlds, I was surprised to stumble across this hyperbolic “get rich quick” rhetoric in an advertisement for Edita Kaye’s book Virtual Worlds: The Next Big Thing. My curiosity sparked, I turned to Google. Here I found a long entrepreneurial road littered with controversial products such as The Skinny Pill for Kids.”

    The promotional blurb for Edita Kaye’s book breathlessly encourages readers to “Reinvent yourself. Start a business. Find a friend. Make a fortune…all this and more waits for you in virtual worlds. Join the tens of millions of virtual residents around the world who have already discovered this whole new metaverse. Everyone from kids, to corporations is going virtual!”

    A self-described “Internet entrepreneur,” Edita Kaye recently emerged on the virtual world landscape as the editor of an on-line publication called iVinnie.Com. Composed almost entirely of hyperlinks to stories found in other publications, Kaye’s web site bills itself as “the number ONE virtual world news network.” But this is not Kaye’s only project. She is also the founder of the Association of Virtual Worlds (AVW). Created earlier this year, the mission of the AVW “is to serve those companies and individuals who are dedicated to the advancement of this multi-billion dollar global industry and reach out to those who have not yet found virtual worlds.” Since the beginning of the year, the organization has pumped out countless press releases, declared August 20th to be “Virtual World Day,” and launched a remarkable member-get-member campaign that has swelled the entity to more than 1,100 members.

    Edita Kaye’s profile page on the AVW site describes her as the award-winning author of 16 books. Her list of publications includes Fountain of Youth: The Anti-Aging Weight Loss Program, The Skinny Pill, The Skinny Rules, and Cooking Skinny With Edita.

    The rapid growth of the Association for Virtual Worlds is particularly impressive since it has been less than six years since the organization’s founder was defending her Skinny Pill for Kids on such television programs as The Today Show and Connie Chung Tonight. It has been less than five years since she incurred the wrath of the Federal Trade Commission and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for marketing potentially dangerous nutritional supplements.

    Beginning in 2000, Kaye used her promotional savvy and web expertise to market a series of weight loss supplements with names such as Skinny Pill A.M., Skinny Pill P.M., and Skinny Carbs. In 2002, she targeted her Skinny Pill for Kids at overweight youngsters, arguing that the supplement was “the FIRST thermic and herbal formula ever developed for weight loss for children 6 to 12″ and announced that it had “been created to help our children win their battle with fat.”

    Such claims set off red flags, and nutritional experts soon chimed in with concerns that the pill’s ingredients (including the diuretics juniper berry and uva ursi) posed genuine risks for liver toxicity and kidney damage in children (Hopkins, 2004). On December 8, 2002, Kaye appeared on Connie Chung Tonight, defending her product against nutritional experts who characterized the supplement as “junk science.”

    “The same foods that made you fat are going to make you skinny,” explained Kaye. “All you need is to have a watch to be able to tell time. In the morning, have an orange. At night, have some peanut butter. Take some of these supplements.” (CNN Transcript, 2002).

    Other experts viewed things differently. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce initiated an investigation a few months later, and its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations conducted a hearing on dietary supplements in June 2004. In this hearing, Keith Nayoob, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Certified Nutritionist at the Albert Einstein Medical Center testified that the information on Kaye’s site was “scientifically baseless, blatantly exploitative, and potentially very harmful to children.”

    The FTC agreed with Nayoob. In a complaint filed against Kaye’s company (Fountain of Youth LLC) in a US District Court, the FTC argued that the “defendants’ law violations have injured consumers throughout the United States” and “defendants have been unjustly enriched as a result of their unlawful practices.” In Feburary 2004, a settlement with the FTC prohibited Kaye from “making any weight-loss or health benefit claims for the Skinny Pills and similar products” in the absence of “competent and reliable scientific evidence to support such claims.” The settlement included a $6 million judgment, which was suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay.

    To anyone who has worked in sales or marketing, aspects of this story may spark a twinge of recognition. Whether writing a research grant or selling a product, there is a very human temptation to puff one’s claims by stretching the limits of language.

    Edita Kaye has done a remarkable job of bringing people together in a very short time. In the interests of the community that she hopes to serve, it is crucial that she shy away from the hyperbolic rhetoric that characterized her past marketing efforts.

    In all sectors, is essential that virtual world proponents take great care when evangelizing the technology. This is a technology that many people view as sexist, violent, and potentially addictive. Explaining the power of virtual worlds to our colleagues and clients is a full time job in itself. The last thing we need is the additional burden of explaining away snake oil diet scams.

    Let’s try to get it right this time.

  3. on 15 Apr 2008 at 7:47 amDave Elchoness

    I am the Executive Director of the Association of Virtual Worlds. In other words, I helped Edita found the Association and now I lead and run it (and live and breathe it.) To learn about my years practicing law, advising global corporations on HR matters, and leading global IT functions for a Fortune 200 company, please take a look at

    Since I started exploring virtual worlds, I have been cited as one of the most knowledgeable legal experts in virtual worlds, quoted in Forrester Research reports, interviewed, and asked to speak to large audiences about virtual worlds. That all said, the Association of Virtual Worlds is not about any single person. It is about its membership, its content, and its mission.

    Edita Kaye is very engaged in virtual worlds study and follows developments religiously. In starting the Association she had a vision for a platform agnostic organization of people passionate about virtual worlds, with its own virtual headquarters for them to meet in and learn together. And that vision is coming true. In less than two months, the Association grown to nearly 1,300 members from or intrigued by virtual worlds of all shapes and sizes. The Association has announced its first title, The Virtual Corporation, a serious book on how virtual worlds technologies will impact the traditional corporate functions. The Association will be launching its virtual headquarters later this year. There are more developments to come for the benefit of the industry, but perhaps more importantly, that will deliver a compelling and thoughtful message about virtual worlds to a sometimes skeptical public.

    By the way, in my extensive dealings with Edita, I have found her to be a highly compassionate and intelligent person with integrity.

    I understand that people can say whatever they like in a public blog, and I absolutely treasure that right, but we need to focus on what’s happening in the here and now: a member focused organization, producing excellent discussions, and more to come, without any significant interference from any sort of hierarchy. Any questions, please contact me.

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