This poster session demo was probably the coolest thing I have seen here at the EDUCAUSE 2004 conference. It is so cool I do not think I can describe it, See the Croquet Project
…we were to create a new operating system and user interface knowing what we know today, how far could we go? What kinds of decisions would we make that we might have been unable to even consider 20 or 30 years ago, when the current set of operating systems were first created?
…we could collaborate with one another in an online dimension to create or simulate anything we wanted to?
…we had the robustness of a 3D immersive technology, the diversity of the Internet, and the degree of social interaction we have in the real world?
…a combination of open source computer software and network architecture that supports deep collaboration and resource sharing among large numbers of users. Such collaboration is carried out within the context of a large-scale distributed information system. The software and architecture define a framework for delivering a scalable, persistent, and extensible interface to network delivered resources.
The integrated 2D and 3D Croquet interface allows for co-creativity, knowledge sharing, and deep social presence among large numbers of people. Within Croquet’s 3D wide-area environments, participants enjoy synchronous telepresence with one another. Moreover, users enjoy secure, shared access to Internet and other network-deliverable information resources, as well as the ability to design complex spaces individually or while working with others. Every visualization and simulation within Croquet is a collaborative object, as Croquet is fully modifiable at all times.
There were two computers (PC and Mac) linked to each other and shared a virtual landscape of “portals” that were entrances to other VR worlds or application interfaces. Everything is the environment is described as “objects” with properties, and they demo-ed chanign the object properties dynamically while the environment was still running (no need to recompile). I think the whole thing is a peer to peer application and runs in SmallTalk.
Again, I cannot really describe it as it is so visual, but need to go back to the site and dig a bit more. It looks like a whole new way to organize your computer experience- away from the tired old desktop metaphors. It is out there!