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27 November 2006

Calling for the enclosure of virtual walls

We admit to a fascination in the abstract with the developments taking place in virtual immersive environments within the Parallel World, as corporate entities and knowledge workers come to terms with the capabilities of these new tools for collaboration and communication. Given that more than half of our working lives are mediated by networks, interacting with those we never see (and may never even be able to name due to cloaks of professional anonymity of group voice and official paranoia); anything that assists in managing distributed collaborative analysis and production (particularly given the importance of virtual simulations for training applications in other fields), is something we are eager to explore.

Regrettably, it is also impossible for a variety of reasons to replicate these experiments within the walls, even if a team of practitioners could be found which would be interested. The protocols and boundaries of the community’s strange intellectual spaces conspire against it.

It need not always be so, however. There are developments on the horizon, beyond the ever ready suggestion of a massive multi-agency or DNI funded GOTS effort doomed like most other attempts to replicate commercial innovations within the damned reaches of the bureaucracies. We shall see where such open source development tools lead.

We are not really asking for much, we think. Just a small, virtual environment for immersive collaboration with a limited number of peers, with appropriate security and certifications. Make it portable, and remote hosted with little to no IT intervention in any given location (the burden carried by the network service provider and host / sponsoring agency.) See where it takes us…

Call this a lazyweb post, for some bright young contractor team to come to the table with something already in proof of concept. Maybe hosted at the university level, to let the academics write their papers and push the idea at some conferences. Dig up some engineers to team with, to import CAD models and imagery of some cool and useful things. Spawn copies and competition and grow the space.

Call us once you have something to play with - we'd love to join you in the sandbox. Until then, we have our wine and our dreams, as the poet once said.

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