On Writing

I’ve been bumming about my postings (or lack) lately. I want to write about cool possibilities and what they might mean, but most of what I do can’t be talked about until it is released. It seems like it shouldn’t matter whether you write about what you’re doing versus what you’ve done, but I think it does. I feel like everything I write about the latest cool thing my colleagues or I did ends up sounding like an ad. Not an effective and entertaining thing, but just that it sounds like I’m trying to sell something.

Sorry about that. As far as I am aware, I write to sort out ideas. I was taught that if I can’t name something or talk about it effectively, then I don’t understand it. And I write to to document my journey. In both cases, I should be discussing work in progress. But even the entries I made while working at the University of Wisconsin all seem to be about actual working results, rather than projects that I was still designing. And I’m not sure why, but it feels like the out-of-sync aspect is getting worse. There is a commercial relevance. For example, way more than a year ago I had been very happy when a new reader told me what a delight it was to find my blog, and he offered some interesting comments. But it turns out that this fellow was from a ginormous company that is now a (hopefully) happy repeat customer. While I don’t clear anything I write with anyone at work, I can’t pretend that I am unaware of any potential commercial impact. Not sure what to about all that.

The Innovation Engine

We seem to be wired to be able to solve difficult problems, but only in a community where we have support. To create that support, we have throughout history sung songs of heroes around the campfire. We are inspired by movies. Militaries breed close-knit groups and create splendid uniforms and other rituals. We go to church. With a support group, we overcome depression. We set our sports records before a stadium full of humans cheering us on.

Alone on Antarctic ice, we die.

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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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News from the Metaverse

Key invitation-only conference on the future of collaborative virtual worlds.

Metaverse Roadmap site

CNET story

A Microsoft blogger, with pictures

Good blog

A key thread in all this seems to be a desire for an open-source framework that works. It looks like the only concerns voiced about Croquet for this was a mistaken impression about the licensing. (See the comments in the “Good blog”, above.)

BTW, We’re still trying to set up cool demos over the now-released Croquet Software Developers Kit. The demo at Metaverse was actually the demo we produced at the University of Wisconsin for C5 ’05 in Kyoto, which was built over the Jasmine proof-of-concept. The current release is so much better, but lacking in some of the visible bells and whisles. We’re working on it…

Cultural Awareness

A little while ago we had a workshop discussing the use of Croquet by a group here at the University of Wisconsin. One participant raised the issue of cultural awareness. For example, the icons, avatars, metaphors and symbols used in Croquet might have different meanings for different people. After all, this is a world-wide communications tool.

I gave two answers. On a technical level, Brie would allow the users themselves to define different views of objects for different users, as suited to their needs and desires. But on a social level, I had no idea how such different views would be developed.

My four-year-old son just emphasized the importance of this. He was riding in the back seat as I took him home from pre-school. “Can I open this envelope we got in class?” he said. “It’s about poison stuff. Is that OK?”

“Yes,” I said, knowing that it was about poison, not that it was poison.

He opened it and I couldn’t see what he was doing in the back seat.

“Stickers!” he exclaimed. “Oh, and these are for putting on pirate medicine!”