It's pretty easy to get confirmation of how completely fucking random my brain is. Just ask anyone who's met me. I have problems keeping on a subject for more than 2 minutes, much less months at a time.

So, even though I've got ton of backed up projects and writing (hi audio vibe people and fucktube people! I swear I'm working on it!), why not jump in and start a new one... Right now? Unfortunately, there's only one way to do this pure, and that's by starting it the second it hits my brain.

So. Croquet. I have chosen what is possibly the most unhelpful image ever to illustrate this because that is how I roll.

Croquet is a 3D collaborative development environment written by some very smart people. Very, very, very smart people. However, in easier to understand terms, think of it like Second Life (and if you don't know what Second Life is, um... shit.), except the major differences are:

  • Everything is open source

  • versus just Second Life's client being open source. For now. Gonna change. At some point.

  • You run your own server and host everything

  • versus Linden Lab running and maintaining all of the servers

  • and running your own isn't necessarily a good thing. Do you know how much bandwidth this shit takes? Well, you'll find out. Remember to dip your TiSP lines in some crisco to make things faster!

  • Everything is written on top of the Squeak platform, which is pretty much Smalltalk "with benefits" (well, benefits like pretty much being an operating system. I think I'll start calling these 'emacs benefits')

  • versus Second Life's C++ core with LSL language on top of it

And there's a whole bunch of lower level architecture issues, too, but if you care about those... Well, god, I wish there was an article I could point you at, but on initial google, there doesn't really seem to be a "This is Croquet, This is SL, this is the apples, these are the oranges" type deal. It's all "(Croquet/SL) (is/is not) an (operating system/true open source/the next big thing/dessert topping/floor cleaner)". At this point, I don't have enough information to say anything, either.

The question remains, what the fuck does this have to do with Slashdong? Well, the idea is pretty simple.

Don't get me wrong. I loves me some Second Life. And not just because they, you know, pay me and let me make virtual worlds all damn day. Which is totally fucking sweet, let me tell you (Hell, come work for Linden Lab! Did I mention the awesomeisity of it? 'cause, really, it is.). But really, there's some ways that SL works you just can't change (and should never be changed, 'cause the idea works for what it's supposed to do, but more on that in a later post), mainly that whole "LL serves up everything" deal (Ok, so this /is/ slated to change at some point in the future, but bear with me for the moment). This is fine and dandy if you can drop the 16 or so Benjamins on an island of your own then sell your virtual (or real) body on the real (or virtual) street to keep up the maintenance fees. It also means you've got a built in user base of something like a bazillion people (plus or minus a hojillion. Yeah, go ahead and hump those numbers 'til they bleed, blogosphere) of people who might be (and I 100% guarantee a few that ARE) into whatever it is you're into.

But, not everyone has the $tack$ needed to roll on virtual dub$ of Second Life. More importantly, not everyone wants their business happening in public, or even the "private but not totally private" that is owning your own SL region. If you're still completely clueless of who I'm referring to here, just read this article and focus on the shouldn't part. Now, of course, even peer to peer, someone could be sitting outside your window (network) with a camera (packet sniffer or maybe some actually totally awesome scifi movie shit where it renders out all your network traffic into really neat graphs and pictures which make for a great show on a 30" LCD. But most likely, packet sniffer.), so the usual "I don't care how many Tor hops your going through, this shit ain't private" rules apply. But still, there's levels. Second Life gives you one of them, and it's great for many, many people. There's others that want different things, though. Thus, we arrive at the apartment model.

The apartment model is my term for a virtual, collaborative 3d environment that allows pure, peer-to-peer connections. Sure, you can join nets or meshes or grids or whatever, but if you want, you can also just hook up person to person (or person to machine to person to machine or...) and go about your business.

Funny enough, Playstation Home runs this sort of model. As far as I understand it, you will host your own apartment, and other people will come visit and completely stomp the shit out of your tiny little cable modem pipe 'cause you're hostin' it all! (ever wonder why they're not allowing user created content?). Not to mention, assuming you're one of the majority, you most likely don't have a PS3, nor do you have any plan to buy one any time soon. So that's just right out, anyways.

However, Croquet is totally like "Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades" and will let you render anything you damn well please (even if it does mean slicing your face off). They have VNC, web browsing, all sorts of crazy shit. I bet there's totally a ninja in there somewhere. Waiting to slice your face off. Because that's what they do.

Obviously, this is HUGE for the kind of things that, um, well, I do, and this project is all about me doin' my thing.

Back in July of 2005, I managed to get a full hardware and software interface together for Second Life in a concentrated total of 3 days from starting my first account (I think I actually took a day off work, even). For this one, since the platform is a little bit more daunting and I'm starting from scratch (well, almost, I did play with one of the beta builds for a while well over a year ago), I'm giving myself a month. I'll be blogging on my progress daily (Woooooooooooooo a full month of content! That'll be a first!), as well as rethinking my interface for Second Life, and, god (or whatever the hell deity it is that puts this shit in my head) willing, by May 1st, I'll have a Second Life to Croquet bridge.

Along the way, I'll be blurting out my thoughts on Croquet, SL (which, having now spent 10 months in the prim mines, I think I kinda maybe sorta get like, a little), Squeak, virtual worlds, programming, the internet, and anything else I feel like rambling about.

You'll also get a look inside my head during my development process of things like this. If that doesn't send you running away, you should have your fight or flight response tuned post-haste.

It'll be a fun ride. Or at least, a ride. Or hell, it could be a total failure. But I try to keep negativity out until day 2. Wanna help out? Join our message boards and tell me what the hell I'm doing wrong, then tell others what they're doing wrong in telling me what I'm doing wrong! Viva Open Source Community!

And BTW: Alan Kay, if you're reading this... Can I have your autograph? Object Orientation is, like, totally, hella awesome.

Oh yeah. And, um, sorry in advance.