Monday, May 09, 2005

Stephenson's Snow Crash Coming To Life? The Next Internet Starts in Fwance?!?

The hot panting of millions of computer geeks could probably power a small city. Get 'cher Avator on....

For a virtual world, it starts out very bare: Just an empty blue space, with a picture of a cat in a "Star Trek" costume at its center.

But that confused-looking cat is an avatar--a digital representation of a real person (in this case a reporter)--and the empty blue space is an early "node" in Solipsis, an experiment with building a peer-to-peer virtual world, released late last month by researchers at France Telecom.

Still in the very early stages of development, the Solipsis project aims to draw together the technological lessons of "massively multiplayer" games like Sony's "EverQuest" and file-swapping networks like Kazaa or eDonkey. Developers are hoping to construct a sprawling virtual world that runs on its inhabitants' own linked computers, rather than relying on powerful central servers like those that run Web sites or EverQuest's fantasy adventures.

What's the advantage in that? It sets Internet dwellers free--both in the "free beer" and "free speech" senses, according to the developers.

"In a closed system, the world is bounded by the imagination of the people working in the company that owns the world," said Joaquin Keller, one of the developers at France Telecom, the French telecommunications giant, working on the project. "If your system is open, a lot of ideas will flourish. It's like the difference between one Web site and the whole Web."

Solipsis and similar peer-to-peer and open-source projects are aiming at nothing less than a radical transformation of the way that games are developed, and even of the way people communicate and manipulate information online.

read the rest at CNET


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