Economist Interviews Spaceman Shuttleworth Who Talks “Croquet”

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. “In the space station there was no sensation of up or down,” he recalls. “Yet 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.”

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. “You can see your collaborators’ avatars looking at a spreadsheet in a virtual room,” he says. “People change things in different colours—newer stuff glows. We’ve started to use this for planning and building Ubuntu.”

Imagine Shuttleworth throwing his money and influence behind a Linux-based, Croquet-networked virtual world. Food for thought.