Inventing the Future

The Other Road Ahead

Last time I argued that from a technical perspective, the “server”, “client”, and “P2P” labels were complicated. That narrow view deliberately ignored the roles that these technologies have on the user, and on communities and business built around them.

I’ve been looking back at Paul Graham’s 2001 essay on “The Other Road Ahead.” He laid out a bunch of benefits that accrued from his successful company’s use of what he called a server-based architecture. While Viaweb originally relied on generic “Web 1.0” clients not distributed by his company, his essay looked ahead to richer clients such as what would come to be known as “Web 2.0.” I think the essay applies just as well today to mixed-technology deployments like Google’s current development. And I think it applies to some Croquet deployments, including those by my employer Qwaq. A lot of what Paul describes turns out to be things we’re already doing. But by explicitly identifying the benefits and what enables them to be realized, even a peer/client-centric geek like me can appreciate the operational value of the different technologies I’d mentioned last time. From this perspective, I’d say we’re “half-server-based.”

Worth a read (as are his other essays). See if you don’t agree.

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Inventing the Future

If 100 people watch a PowerPoint together on the Internet, is it still boring?

My last post referenced a movie of a “talk show” in Second Life, prompting John to ask about the relationship of avatar richness to the experience. I think there’s a simple trick that’s worth making explicit.

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Inventing the Future

The Treachery of Images

< %image(20080327-Howarde_Avatar.jpg|230|201|Ceci n'est pas Howard)%>There’s a photo of me in the current Information Week. Only it isn’t a “photo,” and it isn’t “me.”

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Inventing the Future

Sex and the SimCity?

I had been working with an engineer from a large multi-national company. I had never met or conversed with this engineer except by email, but I understood from her name that she was female.

Having been married for 17 years to an MIT graduate, I like to think I have some appreciation of how women engineers behave and how they should be treated.

In the course of our work, this engineer created an avatar, and she commented on how it looked like her. Her model was based on a typical digital content industry product. Few people other than my wife look like these figures – Barbie dolls on steroids. By what turned out to be an accident of technology, this model arrived on my desktop stark naked – no clothes and no hair. But it was highly detailed, and artfully done.

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Inventing the Future

Intel, OLPC, and Croquet

It is interesting to compare Intel’s participation in Croquet vs. the One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC).

Intel is a corporate member of the Croquet consortium, along with HP and Qwaq. Intel’s CEO Justin Rattner demonstrated Croquet-based Qwaq Forums during his keynote at the big Intel Developers Forum, and they are building a joint product with Qwaq. This all makes complete sense for Intel. For example, this week the market research pundits at Forrester released a report that says the 3D Internet will be ubiquitous in business in the next few years and that Information & Knowledge specialists should get started now with Qwaq. But there’s an even deeper fit specifically for Intel, which does not apply to OLPC.

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Inventing the Future

And Croquet is good for the environment, too!

Nice article about teleconferencing (including Qwaq, which is based on Croquet) versus travel.

I wonder if there’s real data on the relative merits of the energy used in office buildings vs. telecommuting. Office buildings are potentially more efficient through scaling, although the economic incentives are so lacking that there’s usually a lot of waste. While homes are energy hogs, we do already have and heat them for our non-work time.

Posted in Inventing the Future, metaphysics | Also tagged | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

2008 Revolutions

Well, the new year is upon us and I’m already 3 days late with my new year’s revolutions. But I have a good excuse: I got laid off from the OpenLaszlo project on November 16, and so I’ve been very busy with the day job and the holidays. No, wait. I don’t have a day job. I must have been busy with something else. Perhaps I was busy thinking. Or raking the leaves. Or thinking while raking the leaves. Let me check my notes and get back to you on that. Rather, I suppose I should resolve not to bore yzall with formulaic blog posts, so let’s drop the whole subject. I hereby resolve to not resolve.

Resolutions aside, I do have a Wetmachine goal for 2008, and that’s to increase readership by at least a factor of ten over 2007. While leaf-raking, I came up with some startling ideas about how to do that–starting with a free toaster for every single one of you who clicks on a “Read More” link, and including:

* an upgrade of the Bonehead Computer Museum to Croquet 3-D space
* podcasts of my novels as radio plays featuring William Shatner, Kay Parker, and Tom Hulce
* “Bloggers of Wetmachine” swimsuit calendar
* switching to lolcat dialect for all entries about software or writing
* Videoblogging Harold Feld vs Kevin J. Martin in steel cage ultimate boxing match

Stay tuned, as somebody around here said. This is going to be the best year yet, for you, and you, and you! Amen.

P.S. Details on that toaster coming soon.

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Inventing the Future

Maturity

< %image(20071124-church.jpg|853|494|600K polygon model of church ruins produced by a laser-scan of the archaeological site.)%>

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Inventing the Future

The Virtual Gets Real

I figure there is no technology on earth to which the Chief Technical Officer of Intel Corp doesn’t have access. Today he chose to talk about Qwaq and Croquet during his closing keynote address to the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco’s huge Moscone Center.

< %image(20070920-smallhall.jpg|166|124|The auditorium at the Moscone Center.)%>< %image(20070920-virtualauditorium_sm.jpg|174|124|The virtual auditorium in Qwaq Forums, showing Intel's Miramar desktop on one virtual screen, a movie about virtual surgery on another, and in between is a model of the patient.)%>

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Inventing the Future

Croquet in the Economist (print edition!)

In this article, Linux entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth says, “We’ve started to use [Croquet] for planning and building Ubuntu.”

Linux works well. One of the hard parts with delivering on “Linux” (generically) is that there are a lot of variations. Croquet works on some combinations of kernel, libraries and device drivers, but not on others. I don’t have a Linux box myself, so I haven’t spent any time on it. (The Croquet Collaborative runs on FreeBSD, and does so as a graphicsless server.) It’s tough to be trying to accomplish something while wrestling with configuration issues.

But Plopp offers a consumer-market product on many flavors of Linux (as well as Windows/Mac), but it doesn’t (yet?) make use of the full collaborative Croquet SDK. Once it runs, it runs. I guess the Ubunto folks have got real Croquet running with their developer and business configurations, and are now starting to explore its use for doing real work.

Posted in history: external milestones and context, Inventing the Future | Tagged | 1 Comment (Comments closed)
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