The New York Times covers the trend toward using instant messaging and chat in lecture halls and conferences. Greg Elin doesn’t think we should consider this “virtual participation.”
My own contribution to this supposed conundrum of “real” v. “virtual” is that it is very hard that it may not really matter, at least not along the lines of “off line” v. “online.”
Let me explain. As we grow more accustomed to technologies, as they become more translucent and a part of everyday experience or a part of society’s infrastructure, we as humans simply integrate them into our overall social interactions. For example, I don’t think we consider something as familiar as a telephone conversation as “virtual.” It is just a telephone conversation.