Inventing the Future

Asset Risk

Julian Lombardi makes some terrific points about asset risk for virtual worlds on his blog. I think the issue is a pretty fertile area for exploration as we all continue to invent new ways of working together, but Blogspot simply doesn’t allow that much content in discussion, so I’ll have to fork it here.

I see the asset risk issue-space as breaking out into at least two dimensions:
* Bit storage vs bit usage
* Point assets vs context

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Inventing the Future

Where We've Been

The Teleplace release is a mature application for getting work done in realtime collaboration with others. This makes a good occasion to look at some direct progenitors. The first two are the 1994 Interactive Collaboration Environment prototype by David Smith. The third is a 2007 Julian Lombardi demo of Croquet.

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Inventing the Future

Cobalt

Another Croquet-based project has been launched this week. Cobalt is the first such coding project to be done by Duke University, which is also the home of the Croquet Consortium.

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Inventing the Future

Cred on “The Street”

Yesterday Lockheed announced that it had bought Croquet simulations learning company 3D Solve. (3D Solve’s founding CTO is David Smith, who is Chief System Architect for the Croquet Consortium, and CTO of Qwaq. Consortium point-man Julian Lombardi is an advisor.) Being Lockheed, the news was carried by financial folks like CNN and Merrill Lynch, but I’m most excited by the release carried by Gamasutra and Serious Games Source, which is all about Croquet.

This comes on the heels this week of Cisco blogs about Qwaq.

I’m old enough to know that all of this should be taken with a grain of salt. But it certainly ain’t bad news, and it gives a lot of credibility to the Croquet platform. I hope that Croquet folks around the world are able to make good use of this news in setting up their own projects.


This week I had posted links to some cool new Croquet project movies, but I missed this somewhat cold one from 3D Solve.

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Inventing the Future

Ramble On…

My heart broke the day Julian left the University of Wisconsin: 11/1/05. We were struggling to get anything out the door. An amazing technology entrepreneur (and Lisp guy!) named Greg Nuyens was trying to hold startup Qwaq together with both hands. I knew it was going to be a tough time for Croquet.

Fast forward.

I have left the University of Wisconsin Division of Information Technology to work at Qwaq, Inc. Sweet!

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Inventing the Future

Brie Demos

I gave a demo of Brie at the OOPSLA Croquet workshop in October, and Julian gave one a couple weeks ago at C5. Alas, no video, but the Brie papers are here and here.

This terrific video of the Alternate Reality Kit was made at Xerox PARC in 1987. So, of course, it’s not actually Brie, but it does give a lot of the feel of what we’re going for. There are a few UI differences and the ARK is only 2D, but the main thing is that Brie is synchronously collaborative, and therefore eminently shareable.

Another related thing (without a cool video) was PARC’s Thing Lab.

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Inventing the Future

Collateral

It’s been heads-down hard work around here ever since OOPSLA in October. Haven’t even filed my expense report yet. (Coding is more fun.) So I’m pretty late in posting that…

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Inventing the Future

Eroica

Today was my boss’s last day, and, ironically, my first anniversary. Julian Lombardi will be Duke’s Assistant Vice President for Academic Services and Technology Support. He’ll be responsible for the university’s IT customer service and development.

They made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

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Inventing the Future

Summer Heat

I have no news. Or too much.

I thought summer was supposed to be “off season” in academia, but things have been incredibly busy. Some of the stuff we’ve been doing:

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Inventing the Future

communication modes

My wife is getting frustrated with the medium as she constantly checks for the latest in the raging debate in her favorite mailing-list. Meanwhile, writers and researchers lament the loss of the art and practice of writing letters.

There’s no spec for Croquet. Although the architects have mature experience and good taste in evaluating technologies for what does and doesn’t work, I don’t think they set out to achieve a particular set of characteristics. Yet one of the things that appeals to me about Croquet is the characteristic that it is agnostic about what mode of communication works best: Synchronous like face-to-face conversation and chat, or asynchronous like email or a handwritten letter; Seemingly anonymous like most of the Web and multi-player games, or full of social cues like voice and video communication. Croquet is equally facile at all.(*)

But what works best? When? In what ways? My boss, Julian, has been bringing together a very interesting group of educators and scientists as initial users of a Croquet Collaboratory that we are building. Although they come at it from perspectives that range as far as art, public health, and games, I think they are all vitally interested in this issue. By having a single medium that provides all – a meta-medium – they can study group interactions and observe how different communication techniques affect outcomes.

(*) I’m not quite sure what it says that I’m comfortable saying this, even though the effectiveness of both persistence and naturalistic voice and video have only been suggested in demonstrations, rather than proven in practice. Is it vision, confidence, or faith among the developers, or naiveté and the academic environment?

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