In a multi participant video conference (VC), it can be intimidating to start socializing or open a new subject. The sequential nature of microphone-passing obliges a participant uninterested in the present topic to wait it out before attempting to change topics. On the contrary, in a physical gathering, small groups of people form naturally to discuss topics of local and temporary interest, evolve, then disband. This disclosure describes techniques to simulate within VCs the natural social behavior of humans. A virtual conference hall is defined where avatars of VC-attendees are displayed. An attendee can whisper to nearby avatars. Two or more avatars can retire to a corner to discuss a topic of mutual interest. An attendee can lurk (walk through) the conference hall listening to local discussions before deciding to join one. While local discussions occur in parallel, a principal speaker may continue to address, theatre-style, all participants.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.