Yesterday evening I stumbled upon mention over on The Weekly Squeek blog (Link) of an Economist article interviewing millionaire space tourist and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth. Here’s an excerpt from that interview (Link):
But Mr Shuttleworth is most excited about free software’s potential to open up the third dimension in the display and navigation of information. â€œIn the space station there was no sensation of up or down,â€ he recalls. â€œYet if it was even slightly obvious which direction Earth was, everyone would point their feet in that direction. Our brain cannot reconfigure itself in a rational way. So we should exploit the irrationality to be productive.â€
One area where he sees this happening is in real-time collaboration. E-mail is widely used as a collaborative tool, but has severe limitations. When a team, such as a group of software developers, wants to work together on something in real time, something more elaborate is needed. Mr Shuttleworth points to an open-source platform called Croquet, an immersive environment that is similar in many ways to Second Life, a popular online virtual world. â€œYou can see your collaborators’ avatars looking at a spreadsheet in a virtual room,â€ he says. â€œPeople change things in different coloursâ€”newer stuff glows. We’ve started to use this for planning and building Ubuntu.â€
Imagine Shuttleworth throwing his money and influence behind a Linux-based, Croquet-networked virtual world. Food for thought.