OWorld Conferences
To date, OWorld has held three events focused around a common vision for 3-D cyberspace. OWorld's first event, Digital Biota 3, attracted over 200 attendees interested in software architectures for alife and shared 3-D environment platforms in which to bring cyberspace to life.

The second, OWorld Architecture Summit 2000, attracted a smaller group, most of whom had worked on Meet3D software and looked forward to extending it with an awareness for cross-platform interoperability.

The third, OWorld Code Release Summit 2003, involved the project managers of the four main products to be released as Open Source code for the community. The summit was held February 8-10, 2003. Notes from the sessions are directly below.

OWorlds 2003, the code release summit

took place February 8-10, 2003 in Boulder Creek, CA.

Friday, February 8

OWorld Projects Demonstrations
Bruce Campbell demonstrated the four projects that would be included in the first release of the OWorld collaboration tools suite. Projects shown were consistent with the four previewed as standalone teasers on the OWorld Projects Web page: Meetingpage, Meetingspace, Drawspace, and Chatspace.

Server Architecture Review
Attendees reviewed the extension work done on the VNet server to allow for multiple channels through the same port. Channeling is an important consideration due to firewall issues (allowing for a single port to be opened for OWorld collaboration). As usual, we gave praise to the VNet development team and planned how to get them the channeled version we are calling the OWorld Server (as required by the licensing agreement).

OWorld Skinability Discussion
Attendees reaffirmed their commitment to skinning flexibility in the OWorld suite even though such flexibility makes it harder to implement solutions for pre-7.0 Netscape browsers. Users will login to the OWorld Server from an HTML component that logs the user in for all channels required for components on the page. Skinning will be done in HTML with JavaScript event handling that calls OWorld methods in the Java code. Such an approach allows for creative flexibility without needing Java programming skills. Multiple OWorld tools will sit symbiotically on the same HTML Web page, enabling shared whiteboarding, chat, and document sharing.

Code Review Process Discussion
Attendees discussed the final code review process going on at the University of Washington as part of an Industrial Engineering course entitled Web Enabled Collaborative Tools. Nineteen students (18 engineers and 1 information scientist) are implementing solutions with the Open Source pre-alpha build 034. Their projects are due February 24th at 5:00pm Pacific Standard Time. Focus group discussions will review the usability of the Java packages and the skinability of the HTML-to-JavaScript-to-Java programming interfaces. After the focus groups, the code will go through one last set of modifications before being released April 2nd, 2003.

Saturday, February 9

OWorld Licensing Discussions
Attendees agreed that we were not completely up to speed on the plight (success/failure) of the available Open Source licensing agreements. We believe the GNU General Public License will meet our needs but will investigate further to verify our intuition. Stephen White, co-developer of the VNet server, should be able to provide feedback on the appropriateness of the license based on its use in the VNet distribution. Our goal is to provide a license that will allow anyone to extend/modify the code for their use while guaranteeing that any modification will be made available back to the OWorld community. We want to protect the code from any claims against it that would result in the loss of the code's use. In other words, we want to put the code out into a community commons. Please provide any feedback of your own by e-mailing Bruce Campbell (bdc@hitl.washington.edu).

OWorld Build 035 Rollout Discussions
Attendees discussed the April 2nd OWorld code rollout. The rollout will include the source to all four OWorld tools (chat, whiteboard, meetingpage, and 3d space) as well as the source to the OWorld server (VNet server modified for multiple channels). The source will be delivered via a single archive file that is dated by snapshot date (the date it was bundled on a developer's machine). Instructions will be provided on building and running both the server and the client. Example skins with skinning instructions will be provided as well (meaning an HTML and JavaScript primer that details interaction with the OWorld Java code in a Web browser). Instructions for reporting bugs and checking in improvements will also be provided.

OWorld Marketing Plan
OWorld will follow a viral (word of mouth) marketing plan. Code spread will completely depend on members of the community integrating the code in their collaboration work and communicating details of where it was obtained. The OWorld site will continue to be maintained as a place of learning and philosophy. The OWorld code will interact well with other projects the OWorld community appreciates (such as the Atmospherians project). OWorld code will continue to be the focus of the Web Enabled Collaborative Tools course at the University of Washington.

Sunday, February 10

OWorld Futures Discussion
Attendees headed out on a hike in the sunny Santa Cruz mountains where Spring was arriving early this year. The future for OWorld looked bright from that vantage point. Verification took place at the end of the continent during sunset in Santa Cruz (left). Attendees agreed to focus on community needs and start communicating more with each other in order to test and improve the viability of cyberspace community in a sometimes unjust world. Now is the time for virtual community to find its place for improving our lives. We don't live there but use its thoughtful technology to connect our daily journeys and share remote vantage points. We are convinced the sun will rise again tomorrow.

OWorld Web Site Review
As some attendees headed home to colder and rainier realities, others spent the time to review the OWorld Web site. We've made some headway towards the architecture we envisioned in 2000 but agree we still need to educate others and lead by example in creating the programming interfaces that bring us together and enable exciting ideas. The diagram published on the OWorld site is still valid though implementation of some is still to come. We updated the OWorld software map to eliminate broken links and updated text where appropriate to reflect the proceedings of this short but enjoyable summit.

OWorlds 2000, the technology summit

took place September 7-9, 2000 in Boulder Creek, CA.

Thursday, September 7

OWorld Architects Demonstrations
Stuart Gold demonstrated a Web accessible relational database being used to create and store state for lecture rooms in Active Worlds. His work can be seen in the Active Worlds Eduverse's VL00hub.

Alex Grigny de Castro demonstrated the use of his Delph bot in Active Worlds. Delph uses the AW.DLL to change AW world state without the need of the AW client. Delph builds, interacts, and provides information services. See http://www.imatowns.com/xelagot/xelagot.html for more information.

Bruce Campbell demonstrated the ITRI Taiwan Science Museum implementation of the Virtual Playground platform, a shared 3-D cyberspace platform based on Java/Java 3D that currently runs as an application, not in the browser. See http://www.hitl.washington.edu/projects/playground/ for more information.

Web Surfing Discussion (of other nice to have technologies)
We all agreed that it would be great to implement elegant avatar gesturing across platforms by implementing technologies like Ken Perlin's face demo or Steve Dipaola's facelift demo into our OWorld specification.

In one of the few places where we slipped back to OWorld 1999's focus, we revisited Jeffrey Ventrella's Alife work to emphasize the long term vision of building and sharing more worlds along a biological theme.

OWorld Architecture Blue Sky
We discussed the OWorld vision in an intimate setting knowing well that our circle would increase significantly the next day. Back-end relational databases, bot services, alife, Web browsers, avatars, and corporate partnering were some of the discussion topics shared over avocado and hummus sandwiches.

Friday, September 8

OWorld Critical Success Features
We started day two with a spirited morning discussion about architecture and the following 'powerful ideas':

  1. Inhabited Web pages
  2. Communications between RL8 v. environments
  3. Simultaneous presence across platforms
  4. Flocking behavior driven by visualization
  5. Intelligent management of environment and experience
  6. The magic
  7. User identity
  8. The fourth dimension
  9. Everything is a component object
OWorlds Biology
We followed up with modeling OWorlds as a series of biological objects. Each biological object would have:
  1. unique identity
  2. location/orientation in 3-D space
  3. visual appearance
  4. communications in and out
  5. a clock
  6. behaviors
  7. memberships/relationships/permissions
  8. instructions for replication (DNA)
Such features would provide the basis for more dynamic worlds (and alife). The world could be loaded and change state while providing an execution stream (which could be watched in an appropriate language output). The group discussed platforms that did an admirable job of implementing an object driven vision only to be bit by miserable performance.

Afternoon Presentations
A potential corporate partner demonstrated a realtime, photorealistic 3-D environment development tool which could shared its z-buffer with a polygon based system, an intelligent dual approach.

Bonnie De Varco presented the current state of cyberspace research and development in academia, noting how far it was from our envisioned 3-D cyberspace approach to distance learning. Still, multiple windows/panes approaches were getting increased use, a message which should inspire us.

Stuart and Alex demonstrated their work for the new attendees.

Dinner in Santa Cruz
We relaxed with a walk along the coast in downtown Santa Cruz and dinner at an Italian/Seafood restaurant on the Wharf. Lines of migrating pelicans and barking sea lions reminded us cyberspace has a long way to go to compete with reality.

Saturday, September 9

OWorlds Architecture Discussion
Diagrams drafted on dinner napkins became fleshed out on large flipsheets of paper, leading to the draft OWorld Component Architecture online. The Meet3D Java development team joined us for face to face introductions and another point of view (the official code freeze for the client would come soon thereafter).

Short-term Task List Discussion
The OWorld 2000 Architecture Summit ended with each attendee announcing their next few weeks worth of to-do list items. Soon thereafter, attendees began leaving for return to their corner of the globe, a thinning process that took another 48 hours to complete.

Digital Biota 3 -- The OWorlds Conference

Took place November 6-7, 1999 at San José State University

Picture a Cyberspace that feels like a real place, not just an interface. Picture a Cyberspace that goes far beyond the 2D document metaphor of the Web and into 3-D virtual worlds inhabited simultaneously by millions of people who interact in a rich ecosystem of organisms, objects, and behaviors. Imagine a virtual safari into a world where humans can meet endangered species without damaging their environment. Go further. Meet true aliens that have developed in cyberspace. Beyond the conventions of modern day humans lie the non-real worlds where physics is a commodity not a law. What sort of world will ALife need or make for itself? When space is a concept not a limitation, teleportation makes more sense than walking. In the early 21st Century you may journey online through such spaces created at the boundaries of human imagination and computer technology. One such world might allow you to take on a new form and interact with organisms evolved to live and reproduce in digital space. A visionary group of developers, users, and content providers will come together to formulate platforms for open virtual worlds for humans and new lifeforms to inhabit in our futures.

See the Official Press Release for DB3-OWorld.

The DB3-OWorld Conference Program

The Program Inspired. The Speakers Delivered:

Tom Ray University of Oklahoma
Demetri Terzopoulos University of Toronto
Bruce Sterling science fiction writer
Bruce Damer President Contact Consortium
Gerald de Jong independent programmer/designer
Jan Hauser Principal Architect High Performance Computing Sun Microsystems
Chris Cole and Mike Roberts GEL open source virtual worlds
Jane Prophet and Mark Hurry developers of TechnoSphere ALife park
Rodney Berry ATR Japan artist in residence
Andrew Phelps researcher Rochester Institute of Technology
Jeffrey Ventrella alife guru
ED Annunziata andnow games maker
Steve Pettifer virtual reality researcher
Rudy Rucker alife mathematician
Charles Ostman strategic technologies researcher

Sarah Winchester as played by Galen Brandt

OWorld Conference Program

Timing Schedule for DB3

Saturday 6th November 1999

9.00 amBruce Damer, Sue Wilcox, Steven Rooke Opening remarks & admin (30 mins)
9.30Demetri Terzopoulos -- VR and movement (45 mins talk +15 Q&A)
10.30Coffee Break (30 mins)
11.00Jan Hauser -- The Five Flavors of Open Source (30 mins)
11.30Gerald de Jong and Faith Diehl-- Fluidiom: Memetic Flora and Fauna (30 mins)
12.00 pmQuestions and discussion
12.30Lunch (90 mins including Digital Space's What's worked, What hasn't session)
2.00Andrew Phelps -- Strategies and Technical Ideas for Multi-User Storytelling (30 mins)
2.30Stephen Pettifer-- Beyond polygon soup: architectures for living environments (30 mins)
3.00Questions and discussion
3.30Coffee Break (30 mins)
4.00Charles Ostman -- Is Anthropology relevant to digital biota? (30 mins)
4.30Jane Prophet and Mark Hurry -- TechnoSphere (45 mins talk +15 Q&A)
7.00Party - Winchester Mystery House - sponsored by Ur Studios -- Imagine a place built without rules with people adding to the structure over a period of years without any sense of functionality. Sounds like virtual worlds you know? Well, you'll have your chance to explore or disappear in this extrusion of the virtual into the real!
More Party Details

Sunday 7th November 1999

9.00 amBruce Damer -- Why is Life Trying to Get Into Digital Space? A look to the future and to "why are we doing this? (30 mins)
9.30Chris Cole and Mike Roberts -- An open source initiative for multi-user Internet 3-D (30 mins)
10.00Rodney Berry -- Vital Presence - evolving musical agents - sound as a vital sign (30 mins)
10.30Coffee Break (30 mins)
11.00Bruce Sterling -- Some Speculative Prospects (30 mins)
11.30Rudy Rucker -- The Web as a Model of the Human Mind (30 mins)
12.00 pmQuestions and discussion
12.30Lunch (60 mins including Biota's Year 3 Plan and Mathengine's Physics Engine demonstration)
1.30Ed Annunziata -- Using ALife in games (45 mins)
2.00Tom Ray -- Beyond the Turing Test (45 mins)
2.45Follow-on moderated Panel discussion (45 minutes)
3.30Coffee Break (30 mins)
4.00Jeffrey Ventrella -- Avatars and Animals for VWs (30 mins)
4.30Everyone -- What have we learned? How should we proceed? (45 mins)
5.15Summing up (30 mins)