Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Alan Kay was recently interviewed for CIO Insight magazine's Expert Voices feature. In this piece entitled Alan Kay: The PC Must Be Revamped—Now, Alan discusses the mindsets that stand in the way of real innovation - and what his not-for-profit VPRI is doing to address the issue. In the article, Alan defines Croquet as one of those efforts and as "a new way of doing an operating system, or as a layer over TCP/IP that automatically coordinates dynamic objects over the entire Internet in real time. This coordination is done efficiently enough so that people with just their computers, and no other central server, can work in the same virtual shared space in real time."
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Igrishe is a recently developed Croquet-based art installation tool. Essentially a distributed slideshow, it allows artists to build/run realtime performances/VJ sessions in theaters, art galleries, and learning labs. Its developer, Nikolay Suslov, is a Ph.D. student from Vologda State Technical University (Informational Systems and Technology Department)(Russian Federation, Vologda). The installation, running in Moscow at Russia State Tretyakov Gallery, involves the connection of a real-world space consisting of three walls with a virtual projection in 3D. Rendering is done by 3 computers (one per wall) connected in network with running Croquet image on every machine. Because it is built in Croquet, this system is scalable to any number of walls/projections. The effect is that an artist gets a full featured connected virtual/real space to manipulate. Above is a photo of the actual installation.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Croquet is initially being made available as an open source software developer's toolkit (the Croquet SDK) rather than as an application. However, this seems to be a bit of a difficult concept for a good many metaverse enthusiasts who have downloaded the Croquet SDK with the expectation of immediately using it as one would an application. This would be like someone downloading a C++ toolkit and then expecting to be able to easily create and navigate 3D spaces through an already existing and well developed GUI - without doing any additional coding beyond what were provided as examples with the C++ toolkit!
Part of the challenge here is that the Croquet SDK contains code examples (in the form of Squeak "objects") that when launched, actually produce somewhat navigable and moderately functional 3D spaces. In doing so, these components of the SDK give the misleading appearance that one is using a true application per se. These code example "objects" provided within the SDK are more akin to demonstration "applets". So, to consider the Croquet SDK an application would be to miss the point of what we are seeking to build at this point in the project.
In this sense, today's Croquet SDK is not equivalent to applications such as ViOS or Second Life. Instead, an appropriate analogy (or low-res comparison) is that the present Croquet SDK is to a future Croquet-based metaverse application as a C++ SDK is to ViOS or Second Life.
Monday, February 5, 2007
Given the relative public silence around the Croquet project in recent months, I've been getting lots of emails asking about what's been happening since last Spring's Beta release. Well, there's been a lot going on. Several of us have been hard at work developing the foundations for a larger and more inclusive public effort around the project. With the transitioning to Croquet 1.0, we are in the process of setting up a not-for-profit corporation to house the open source project. The corporation will provide the governance structure required to ensure that continued development of the open source technology and that local Croquet development efforts receive the support they need from a self-sustaining and growing community of peers.
On the technology side, there are many dedicated people who have also been hard at work debugging and hardening the system for its move out of Beta. For this, special thanks need to go to Howard Stearns, Mark P. McCahill and his team at Minnesota, David A. Smith, Andreas Raab, Joshua Gargus, Ed Boyce, and Dan Fakken, for doing what needed doing. We are now testing and working on documentation and our efforts are coming to a point where the silence will soon be broken.