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Make love, not war!

Somewhere during early May 2009 there was a gathering in Melbourne of FTTH notables. The FTTH Council Asia Pacific had their annual conference with an exhibition, and a nice Gala Diner in the Melbourne Town Hall. Complete with a spooky performance of the resident organist as Phantom of the Opera and finishing of with fiercy songs by Lisa Edwards, a well known Australian entertainer.



The next FTTH Council Asia Pacific event will be during May 2010 in Soel, Korea.

The exhibition floors were as usual occupied by many hopeful vendors of FTTH equipment, cable, accessories and everything one would need to make the roll-out of National Broadband Networks a success. And with 43 billion dollars to spend, the appearance of Senator Conroy on the trading floor was something eagerly watched over by vendors and industry affiliates alike. Like the paparazzi on a good story. Or bees on the honey if you like.

Some exhibition theme was to demonstrate Internet applications showing why one should have a broadband connection at the home in the first place, what you can do with it, and what is the rationale to have it in every home in Australia. So, the organisers of the FTTH show got a couple of tables and chairs in the middle of the floor nominated for a multi-user computer game outfit. They put in the machines and the software, and it looks like they got some 'rent-a-crowd' players to man some of the the screens as well. It looked pretty busy and much in demand for both of the show days.

But guess what? On having a closer look at what games are actually on the screens, all were engaged in pretty tough looking 'shoot-em-up' style software with not even a smudge of a Lara Croft in sight to bring things to a more moderate and pleasing level. The blood was streaming freely over the screens, apparently to the great entertainment of the participants. And a win was pretty easy to have by just a point and click style approach. You just can't miss the target. Too easy.

Now, of course, those who want to engage in that sort of multi-user games should be able to do so. And the technology of bringing many participants network connected together to play a joint game is just a great achievement and a showcase of where we have gone with our IT. It is on similar levels as Skype and other packages that give many people all over the world the tools to connect in a meaningful way with friends and acquaintances. We have all just fallen in love with the technology that makes this all possible.

But why demonstrate this with "shoot-em-up" games? What about Sims, Second Life, The Utherverse or similar multi-user 3D Avatars driven games, which can build on the interaction by many thousands of geographically dispersed players in a common virtual world. And playing they do. Including all the trappings and implications of people who meet seemingly unintended but then start taking a liking to each other. Using all the modern ways to communicate with each other via broadband. This can get really complicated, but in a very nice way.

And it doesn't stop there. We now have so many networking technologies available to put up multi-party video conferences or multi-party 3D video games whereas each of the avatars is in fact a real person somewhere in the world, participating and communicating with the others. Go and see the movie "Avatar" to get the gist of being immersed into a virtual world. This movie, when experienced on a big theater screen, does a real good job of washing your brains. And this is just what these new generation multi-user games do. The combined experience of vision, sound and live communication with other players can be so totally overwhelming and realistic that many just fall in love and make it their favorite pastime.

Hopefully, the organisers of the Seoul FTTH show will have a better eye for these things. Seoul is a friendly city where people make a habit of liking each other. They have had enough of war with their northern neighbours and don't want anything more to do with it, let alone put a lot of blood and gore 'shoot-em-up' games on the floor. Soeul will most likely showcase many more human friendly and nation building applications for broadband, which is no surprise as Korea is probably the best connected broadband nation in the world today.

And the morale? Well, if it comes to Broadbanding Australia, try making love instead of making war.

May you all have a wonderful happy and broadminded 2010!