A neighbor and I were introducing ourselves to a third at a block party. The first made designer genes, while I made designer worlds. Everyone knew what we were talking about.
Then, once there are folks who get the concept, there’s another long period of validation for tiny companies like mine and my neighbor’s. Without such support, people feel like they might like to get involved – someday, but not yet. It takes a lot of support in a lot of areas. Qwaq has for some time had HP, Intel, and Fuji-Xerox as partners investing serious time. We’ve had good press from the WSJ, Business Week and Information Week and good reports from Forrester and Gartner. We’ve got lots of real paying customers that I still can’t talk about. (Although you’ve seen them in the news a lot lately.) 🙁
This week, one of those customers was awarded a National Science Foundation grant to use Qwaq Forums to develop and deploy a new way to teach science to seventh graders. While Open Source Croquet has had grants from the NSF and other agencies, this is the first time that major public funding has been set aside for actually delivering something that folks get to use. As I understand it, the students will get trained in 3D modeling and will be joined partway through the program by the science teachers. Both groups will then team up to produce projects, with the students as domain “experts” and teachers as educational experts. While my vision for Croquet is to turn users into builders, this project makes me appreciate that it’s also valuable for all to turn builders into users.