Jeff Vander Clute's
I graduated summa cum laude from Williams College last year with an
undergraduate degree in Mathematics. Since that time I have been working
for Tripod, a very successful startup company on the web
(http://www.tripod.com/). In fact, we were just included in "The Net"
magazine's list of the top 100 web sites as being one of the "10
best-loved avant-garde sites". We're pretty happy with that one...
The most interesting "avant-garde" project we have undertaken to date is a
graphical web-based MOO. Though the current version relies on a daemon cgi
interface to send data to a running LambdaMOO core and format output from
the MOO, we have high hopes of actually integrating MOO and httpd to
produce a more efficient and robust web MOO this summer. The original has
received rave reviews, but is unfortunately unavailable right now due to a
catastrophic hardware failure. :< You may be able to access it later today
As a content provider, we're not interested in simply having a web MOO.
We'd like to turn web pages into web spaces where users can interact while
viewing the same content. In fact, I believe strongly that static content
is better in a book than on a monitor unless some value is added along the
lines of page annotation and realtime chat. Some of what I envision has
already been implemented with client programs such as Ubique, but we want
something that every user with virtually any browser will be able to use
without having to download yet another Netscape plug-in or some such.
Right now, we're putting the finishing touches on a chat system that can
be placed on any previously static web page. We have looked at other chat
implementations and we are confident that ours is the smoothest and most
flexible thus far.
We've all read the cyberpunk treatises, e.g. _Snow Crash_ and
_Neuromancer_, and have been inspired by the Metaverse and by the concept
of life within Neuromancer's hardware. Ever ambitious, we look forward to
integrating, in the next six to twelve months, 3D rendering and VRML into
the MOO/chat server. We've lined up some SGI experts and programming
interns for the summer who will hopefully help us to do precisely that.
Along the way, we are going to have to settle on a standard for virtual
spaces that will presumably be at least one paradigm removed from the
current mess of HTTP, HTML and VRML. The biggest challenge as I see it
will come in elucidating an adequate standard for the development of VEs
in a *client-independent* manner. I look forward to demoing our MOO and
chat servers to other workshop attendees as examples of what can be done
when programmers aren't too lazy to solve their problems client side. (OK,
that was shameless...)
At any rate, I would very much like to hear what others have to say, and I
hope that my insights will prove useful in formulating the workshop's
recommendations toward an eventual standard for virtual environments.