I like it. Qwaq was a kind of goofy Google/Twitter/Yahoo sort of thing into which you could project whatever you wanted. At first it was (theoretically) just as plausible that something would be made for kids as for companies. But the Qwaq named didn’t really play well. It was too empty a vessel — not suggestive of anything we did. Even our friends spelled it wrong. I often told people it was the corner letters of their keyboard, but they tended to just tilt their head at me like a confused dog. We have a great set of photos in the office of David, Andreas, and the gang discussing potential names with Alan Kay. “Oink? No. Too obvious.” Anyway, now we’re respectable, and the name suggests something about what we do.
Pages like this one make it easy to get information (e.g., documents) into or out of a forum without using the 3D collaborative client. Maybe you’re not at your usual laptop or desktop computer and only have Web access. Maybe you are an executive or assistant to someone working in the forum such that you can’t suit up and be seen.
I’ve been working with some test harnesses for our Croquet worlds. It’s been a real pain working outside of Croquet: getting things to happen across multiple platforms. Moving data around. It’s all so much easier in a virtual space that automatically replicates everything.
Anyway, we finally got it working enough that there are several machines in Qwaq’s Palo Alto office that are all running around as robots in a virtual world, doing various user activities to see what breaks. Being (still!) in Wisconsin, I have to peek on these machines via remote. I’m currently using Virtual Network Computing (VNC), but there’s also Windows Remote Desktop (RDP). These programs basically scrape the screen at some level, and send the pictures to me. So when these robots are buzzing around in-world, I get a screen repaint, and then another, and then another. And that’s just one machine. If I want to monitor what they’re all doing, I have to use have a VNC window open for each, scraping and repainting away. Yuck. If only there were a better way….
I think we normally speak of work being done “in Powerpoint,” “in Word,” and so forth. This morning I looked at a transcript of people discussing virtual worlds while in one. The words “Qwaq” and “Forums” appear once each. The word “here” appears 49 times. We are finally getting to the point of having discussion about the results, not the technology. The program itself disappears, in just the same same way as we usually discuss being “at a Web-site” rather than “in Firefox” or “in Safari.” (Internet Explorer users may indeed reflect their tool’s relative intrusion by thinking of their activity as being “in IE” more often.)
Here is some new-media content about Information Week’s Mitch Wagner and Gartner’s Steve Prentice vs SL’s CFO and even Prokofy Neva. It is mostly about Second Life’s power and problems and how that relates to others. Croquet’s Qwaq Forums comes up a lot.
You can probably get out of this whatever you’re predisposed to. (I took away that Geoffrey Moore is right.)
Do follow the link from there to the video. It’s long and not densely packed, but it is a good tour of the non-technical state of virtual worlds — i.e., the things that matter to most of the world. Ten years from now, this is going to be how archaeologists remember today.
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.
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.
Check out the movies of U.Minnesota’s neato language lab. They’re leveraging Croquet’s open architecture to produce custom behavior, and the unique core model to make everything efficiently recordable. The third movie blows me away. (But watch ’em all.)
Greenbush Labs (edu software) has a couple of movies showing what you can do right out of the box. Some of the stuff they guy tries isn’t working quite right, but it’s still cool as snot. Must be the tunes.