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Rare Tour of Sun Microsystems' "Wonderland"

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the back-to-dumb-terminals dept.

Sun Microsystems 83

Surinder Kahai writes "Last week I had the rare opportunity to see an emerging virtual world called Wonderland, the product of an open source project, Project Wonderland, sponsored by Sun Microsystems. The tour was given by Nicole Yankelovich, Principal Investigator of the Collaborative Environments Project at Sun Microsystems. Some of the key aspects of this dynamic virtual world are voice communication with distance attenuation, the ability to join a Wonderland meeting through a regular phone if a computer is not handy, and the sharing of applications such as Open Office. Wonderland is currently being used by educational facilities and can be used by other organizations for virtual collaboration. Since the project is an Open Source project, users can tweak the tools available to suit their particular purpose."

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Why? (3, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086379)

Aside from the obvious fact that the name is more "theme park" than business-like, what can it really do that can't be done (with fewer resources) via teleconferencing, and/or chat, and/or version control? Seems to me it's just teleconferencing with eye candy.

Re:Why? (3, Informative)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086447)

That sounds pretty useful to me. It'd be nice to be able to show 3d images in a business presentation, and that's something videoconferencing doesn't quite get down right.

Re:Why? (1)

shin0r (208259) | more than 6 years ago | (#24096711)

Netmeeting?

Re:Why? (1)

dontPanik (1296779) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086455)

Yeah I'm trying to see the point and I can't either.
The idea of a "virtual world" is pointless for business.
IMO a slick chat program would be more useful, something that could connect people for teleconferencing, with the same functionality but no "virtual world."

Re:Why? (0, Offtopic)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086651)

What I want to know is, will it have support for giant flying penises?

http://www.nowpublic.com/youtube_pulls_video_of_giant_penis_attack_in_second_life [nowpublic.com]

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24086779)

Sure. Check the Geek Compound.

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 6 years ago | (#24087137)

your body is a wonderland...

Re:Why? (3, Funny)

Jon_E (148226) | more than 6 years ago | (#24087389)

i think you're confusing this with neverland ranch you perv ..

Re:Why? (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 6 years ago | (#24087719)

When I stay at the Neverland ranch, I always use those Sun Microsystems Thumper boxes and Viagra chips!

(Huh? Why are you bother- what? They're named after...oh...OHHHH...)

Um, never mind.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24087793)

When I stay at the Neverland ranch, I always use those Sun Microsystems Thumper boxes and Viagra chips!

For when you absolutely, positively must have 100% uptime.

Re:Why? (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 6 years ago | (#24087251)

After reading the linked story, I'm not so sure the parent is trolling. It does some raise interesting concerns about virtual worlds and security, albeit rather colorfully. At least this sort of thing almost never happens in teleconferencing.

Re:Why? (4, Funny)

lostmongoose (1094523) | more than 6 years ago | (#24087655)

Your use of the word 'almost' has me both disturbed and curious at the same time...

Re:Why? (1)

josath (460165) | more than 6 years ago | (#24092783)

It actually happens in real life conferences, not just teleconferences!

gary kasparov interrupted by flying penis [youtube.com]

Re:Why? (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#24098383)

It actually happens in real life conferences, not just teleconferences! gary kasparov interrupted by flying penis

Couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy.

Re:Why? (1)

AkaKaryuu (1062882) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086497)

I think you hit the nail on the head. This will just cause technical issues which may leave many users wondering why they should bother logging in at all, if they can just call up like they are accustomed too.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24086535)

Because it's an educational metaverse, which is 100% more buzzword compliant than the Croquet project [wikipedia.org] by, you know, Alan Kay and all those other irrelevant figures in the history of computing.

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24086611)

Yeah, and Firefox pretty much does the same thing as Internet Explorer, and Ubuntu pretty much does the same thing as Vista. People should stop making the same things over and over again! It's just a waste of time and nobody gets anything out of it! I've been working feverishly on Duke Nukem Forever, getting mighty close to release, but now you've made me think. Why should I spend my time on DNF, when other Duke Nukem games already exist? Hey, as long as people can somehow accomplish something similar to what they might want to do, that's close enough, right?

The fact that some people have obviously spend a good deal of time working on this (and Sun has invested in it) is a fairly good indicator that some people think there is something missing from currently available tools. And even if you don't think there is a good reason for it- guess what, they're not going to force you to use it! Unless they can get you into a teleconference with them and convince you to point this ray gun at your head...

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086997)

I've been working feverishly on Duke Nukem Forever, getting mighty close to release ...

I was 100% on board with you until that part, at which point Steve Jobs ran past me and the reality distortion field overwhelmed my senses.

Re:Why? (3, Interesting)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086769)

Hey I'm the first one to scoff at complexity creep. It's usually bad news for business. But some percentage of today's tech toys are tomorrow's sine qua non's... I gotta say I'm feelin' this one.

A lot of people laughed at the concept of a commercial web not too long ago...

Re:Why? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24086917)

A lot of people laughed at the concept of a commercial web not too long ago...

And now they cry.

Re:Why? (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 6 years ago | (#24087321)

I gotta say I'm feelin' this one.

Agreed. I mean, to be able to use the cellphone with it (in case you were home already), plus you can move to a corner to have a private conversation?

I think the name is well-suited. In any case, businesses won't be referring to it as Wonderland once it's installed; they usually give it an internal name thereafter e.g. 'Ok, Matt, set up a meet for Friday 7 pm at the Pleasuredome' See? Internal.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

benevixit (754447) | more than 6 years ago | (#24087153)

The big reason for 3d virtual worlds in business is the same as for gaming: They have the potential to be a richer, more natural and engaging user experience. Imagine trying to sustain participants' attention in a 30-minute SMS business meeting.

Re:Why? (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 6 years ago | (#24088795)

Yeah, but what about motion sickness?

That's gonna suck...

drew

Re:Why? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 6 years ago | (#24088965)

time to get that datajack working so that one have fully immersive VR then...

Re:Why? (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 6 years ago | (#24091311)

How are you going to get you inner ear to cooperate?

drew

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

hitmark (640295) | more than 6 years ago | (#24091915)

thats where the jack comes in, direct neural interface. basically you fake every sensory input, this includes a override on the nerves going from the inner ear to the brain.

Re:Why? (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 6 years ago | (#24092633)

Yup. Then we stick in the breathing and feeding tubes and dump you in a bathtub, do it to a few million others and... aww crap, Keanu Reeves is here and he looks pissed...

Re:Why? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 6 years ago | (#24092929)

heh, the real brain twister is, who is to say we are not already there?

Re:Why? (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 6 years ago | (#24093145)

Well, that WOULD explain how Reeves got into my place so fast...

Re:Why? (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 6 years ago | (#24087459)

Aside from the obvious fact that the name is more "theme park" than business-like, what can it really do that can't be done (with fewer resources) via teleconferencing, and/or chat, and/or version control? Seems to me it's just teleconferencing with eye candy.

Wonderland also enables participants to share a web browser, an OpenOffice document, and tools such as the calculator. Apparently, you can also share Windows or other desktops using Virtual Network Computing. Nicole opened up an OpenOffice presentation document and added a sentence to it. She then asked me to take control of the document so that I could edit it. I thought this was another great feature of Wonderland. While Wonderland does not allow all participants to edit the document at the same time, it places the document on a wall in a 3D space shared by participants and emulates a real world meeting in which people in a room are looking at and working on a document being projected on a wall.

Sounds pretty neat, if it's executed well.

Fixed that for ya! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24087563)

Since the project is an Open Source project, it will soon host a loud and public hissy-fit, after which is will fork... then fork again... then fork once again... at which point it will fade into "virtual" obscurity (pun intended)."

There you go! Now it's far more believable.

Re:Why? (1)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 6 years ago | (#24087773)

I always thought that Wonderland is a kind of proof-of-concept type of application for Sun's Project Darkstar [projectdarkstar.com] platform (formerly called the Sun Game Server)

from the FAQ:

Project Darkstar is software infrastructure created by Sun Microsystems to simplify the development and operation of massively scalable online games, virtual worlds, and social networking applications. It is freely available under open source license from the Project Darkstar Community.

Re:Why? (1)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 6 years ago | (#24088631)

I saw this a year ago at JavaOne. I can see your points but I can also see some benefits too.
I work in the US for a German company. Here, just in the US, it is hard to find an empty conference room for an impromptu meeting. With this, there are unlimited "rooms".
Also, using netmeeting or Lotus Sametime, or any other software is still software that you need to run. So, to get a hold of someone to debug something or to look at something on your screen you need to make a phone call, tell them to start up some program, then give them your IP or whatever.
With this...if everyone is living in this world and working in this world, you never have to call someone up. You just bring your program with you and throw it on a wall and have a conversation about it.

huh? (2, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086441)

If it's open source, why is seeing it rare?

Re:huh? (3, Informative)

nathan.fulton (1160807) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086617)

It's been in early development, and many people view it as a futile waste of time. It's not inaccessible though, you can download it here: https://lg3d-wonderland.dev.java.net/binary-builds.html [java.net] There are also links to extensive documentation on that page.

good (1)

seeds (1321231) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086499)

sounds good. this is the future of business.

Re:good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24087359)

Absolutely, this is guaranteed to make any business much more productive.

Some half-baked Open Source software is waaaay cooler than, say, WebEx and a conference bridge, plus chat for private conversations.

I hope it has avatars like they've got over in Sadville, too. The PHB could be a giant flying male member.

Re:good (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 6 years ago | (#24087735)

Are you saying it's The Road Ahead?

Re:good (1)

seeds (1321231) | more than 6 years ago | (#24088157)

indeed.

oh joy (5, Interesting)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086527)

You know, people might have said this was a ridiculous waste of time a couple years ago cuz you might as well just do it all in real life. But these days if you can have a Stargate convention in a virtual world without having to spend $700 on travel or having to leave your house or having to put on clothes, that's a good idea :D

Re:oh joy (3, Funny)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086679)

well you could hitchhike your way there naked, but it might be weird

Re:oh joy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24087315)

yeah it was .. a little ..

Re:oh joy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24107597)

At least have the common courtesy to drape a towel over the passenger seat before getting in the car.

Re:oh joy (4, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086703)

You know, people might have said this was a ridiculous waste of time a couple years ago cuz you might as well just do it all in real life.

Considering the increasing costs of driving and airline tickets, teleconferencing is going to get real popular real soon for many people.

Re:oh joy (2, Funny)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#24087145)

You got that right. Ever notice how on CNN they put a giant, 90 degree rotated plasma or LCD right next to the real people who are sitting there and show someone who's far away on it like they're there too. It's like freakin star wars! If they can do it, everyone can soon enough. Ooh speaking of that, I gotta get me one of those million dollar multitouch magic screens too :D

Re:oh joy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24087271)

Having a Stargate convention is never a good idea. Oh, believe me me, I do know all there is to know about the crying game. It's still not a good idea.

Re:oh joy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24089551)

Not to mention the escalating cost of jet fuel, which is really going to send demand for this rising. In a few years transatlantic/pacific flights are going to be something all but the wealthiest will think long and hard about.

no way this is going to be used as intended (4, Insightful)

JazzyMusicMan (1012801) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086543)

I work at a software firm and a good chunk of the QA staff and even some product strategy folk can't work LiveMeeting and you're trying to tell me that this is easier and more intuitive to the point of wide adoption?

Re:no way this is going to be used as intended (2, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086737)

Bad news for your company. Have you seen the people that are able to use SecondLife? If your product strategy people can't do LiveMeeting or SL... you need to be looking for another place to work IMO.

Re:Target Audience is Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24086957)

Just as you mention though, this is much like Office Communicator + LiveMeeting. At my work, we use Communicator and LiveMeeting 2007, dedicated server.... Which reminds me, for this software who will host the server? From what I guess seeing that there is an authentication on their website, do they host the server portion?

I'm guessing it's just for small groups that wish to collaborate without the use of GoogleDocs, Instant Messenger, and Ventrilo. It's sun based so it's basically non-proprietary, likely to work cross platform through other O/S's, and uses OpenOffice for some features. Making it open source just lets you tweak to your needs.

I think it's a nice tool for the open community.

Re:no way this is going to be used as intended (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24087177)

Keyword: avatar. If you don't have one, you're not in the A-list for the meeting.

RTFA, both a Mac and a Windows user were able to get online. Also secondary methods of input and audio out in case you were having problems, but those guys were up and running. Ditch LiveMeeting.

JAVA (2, Funny)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086579)

I wonder if Wonderland runs JAVA. I'd be by the time they got the thing Virtual World started it was time to go.

Re:JAVA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24086667)

BURN!!!

Seriously though, Java has gotten much faster. It used to be "drunken snail slow." Now it is just lemur slow.

Re:JAVA (3, Informative)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086761)

For those interested, Wonderland is written in Java.

And presumably you'd only need to start the Virtual World once. It's not like we'll have to flood the servers and start all over from scratch.

Re:JAVA (3, Funny)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 6 years ago | (#24088529)

For those interested, Wonderland is written in Java.

and will go down in history as the first virtual world which requires all the RAM in the known universe.

Re:JAVA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24088721)

and will go down in history as the first virtual world which requires all the RAM in the known universe.

It's not known Universe, but Known Space.

Louis Wu

Re:JAVA (1)

plasticpixel (323537) | more than 6 years ago | (#24094341)

I ran it for a while on my Eee PC. The Intel graphics chip struggled with the 3D (that's not Java's fault), but I don't recall having any problems with the 1GB of RAM it had in the system.

Re:JAVA (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 6 years ago | (#24094423)

How long did you run it for?

Java can appear to run just fine for hours or even days and then suddenly its like a RAM black hole... you could give it all the RAM in your entire server room, city, continent or planet and it still wouldn't be enough.

Re:JAVA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24087525)

"I wonder if Wonderland runs JAVA."
I always heard it ran Alice.

Sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24087745)

But does it run Linux?

Next Stop Wonderland (2, Informative)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086691)

I've been there. Boston, the T, Blue Line. Good chow, nice Aquarium...

Re:Next Stop Wonderland (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24091935)

I've been there. Boston, the T, Blue Line. Good chow, nice Aquarium...

Well I think it made its appearance last year - there is a Youtube Vid that has bee out for a while.

But the cool thing is the tools are free:

  https://lg3d-wonderland.dev.java.net/binary-builds.html

Reminds me of the movie Disclosure (2, Informative)

xquark (649804) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086735)

Now where is that angel that kept on appearing?

how many of you (5, Funny)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24086963)

clicked the bio link to see if she's hot and didn't bother to click the article ?

Re:how many of you (0, Troll)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#24087109)

clicked the bio link to see if she's hot and didn't bother to click the article ?

Never occurred to me 'til you suggested it...

But since you did, can I borrow some eye-bleach?

Re:how many of you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24088271)

Well??? Is she? I'm scared of links...

Re:how many of you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24113003)

Yeah man, she's awesome. Well worth the click...

So... (1)

Illbay (700081) | more than 6 years ago | (#24088745)

...what score did you give her?

N.B. I'd hate for anyone to try and gauge my "hottitude" based on what for all intents and purposes is a driver's license photo.

Twenty years ago (1)

ynotds (318243) | more than 6 years ago | (#24091929)

Nicole was a recognised leader at the then novel junction of hypertext and user interface. Good to see she is still actively building on that.

Re:how many of you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24093201)

I bet she'll look better in Wonderland

"Rare" Tour (1)

AllIGotWasThisNick (1309495) | more than 6 years ago | (#24087091)

Especially on Slashdot, I'd expect artificially created scarcity to be clearly delineated from necessary scarcity. Just because Sun has been tight-lipped to-date, doesn't make a sudden PR release 'valuable'. My apologies if the editors meant 'rare' software -- i.e. uncooked.

A Wonder (0, Flamebait)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 6 years ago | (#24087115)

Any company that survives without making money as long as Sun has is a wonder to me.

Re:A Wonder (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24087523)

I take it you just grab whatever hogwash was true when you hated the company and continue to spout it off. Sun actually booked a PROFIT last year, they had revenues up 6.2% (13.87 Billion) and a better than expected 8.5% operating margin.

Hurry children, there's plenty of time to waste! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24087281)

Wait! Scratch and reverse that!

Hold your breath.
Make a wish.
Count to three.

Come with me and you'll be in a world of pure imagination
Take a look and you'll see into your imagination.
We'll begin with a spin traveling in the world of my creation.
What we'll see will defy explanation.

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it.
Anything you want to do it.
Want to change the world?
There's nothing to it.

There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.
Living there you'll be free if you truly wish to be.

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it.
Anything you want to, do it.
Want to change the world?
There's nothing to it.

There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.
Living there you'll be free if you truly wish to be.

If you're interested in this... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24087401)

If you're interested in 3d virtual collaboration, you should check out opencroquet.org. Strangely, QWAQ was mentioned in the article, but not opencroquet.org (which QWAQ is built on top of).

The best part is that Croquet has a very unrestrictive license if you're interested in developing commercial applications.

For people interested in this.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24087903)

This isn't anything new really. People have been using 'SecondLife' to do this for a year or so.

In addition, there's even an Open Source server component compatible with the SecondLife client at

http://www.opensimulator.org/ [opensimulator.org]

Seems a lot like OponCroquet (1)

WeirdJohn (1170585) | more than 6 years ago | (#24088941)

How is this different from OpenCroquet ( http://www.opencroquet.org/index.php/Main_Page [opencroquet.org] ) other than it requires a server (i.e. sells boxes) and is in Java (not Smalltalk)? Look at Qwaq ( http://www.qwaq.com/ [qwaq.com] ) to see some really interesting applications of Croquet for real-time conferencing.

Immersive Education node (1)

pr0fess (778841) | more than 6 years ago | (#24089079)

I help admin the Immersive Education node (http://ImmersiveEducation.org) mentioned in TFA. In addition to business use of Wonderland the Immersive Education Initiative is using Wonderland for learning. In collaboration with Sun Microsystems the Immersive Education Initiative recently announced the "Education Grid" to give educators a sneak peak at what's possible with Wonderland.

"Entertainment" is on the roadmap (1)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 6 years ago | (#24089505)

From TFA, it will be used "...including business, education, commerce, and entertainment".

When it can do this: Entertainment [flickr.com] , I know I'll be there like a rat up a drain pipe.

Gotta find my VRML book... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24091379)

When I bought my VRML book in 1996, I knew it would be more than just a passing fad!

Michael Jackson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24092143)

Does it include a virtual Michael Jackson?

3D != better (1)

cathector (972646) | more than 6 years ago | (#24096145)

i've seen this mistake made over and over again:people take as axiomatic the idea that making any application 3D makes it better. running-around-shooting-people games: yes. modeling the interior of a spaceflight cockpit: yes. doing a walkthrough of your proposed new corporate super-campus: arguably. demonstrating introductory physics: not really; it's better illustrated in 2D. archiving/curating paintings, collaborating on 2D documents, video/voice conferencing: no! many media are only damaged by the translation into 3D, yet there's a persistent unspoken assumption that if you take something and make it 3D, it will be better.

look at the "five key aspects" of wonderland quoted by the article and ask yourself if you really want a 3D application between you and the feature:
        * Virtual meeting participants can use voice to communicate with one another;
        * If necessary, participants can connect to a Wonderland meeting via telephone;
        * Private conversations between participants are possible in a virtual meeting;
        * Participants can share applications; and
        * Anyone can try out Wonderland (see instructions below).

each of these are nifty features, certainly, but benefit nothing from 3D. the single possible exception is sharing applications, but unless the application you're sharing is fundamentally 3D in nature, you'd be way ahead researching ways to collaborate in good old native 2D. the example from the article is editing an OpenOffice document. It's just foolish to take a nice 2D OpenOffice document and couch it in a 3D world full of annoying perspective, occlusions, camera controls, rendering artifacts, and low framerates.

The main thing which a shared 3D world *can* provide is a sense of presence. If i were distributing the research dollars for improved collaborative apps, i'd aim them first at a generic collaboration framework for plain old 2D apps, and second on something sexy and possibly 3D, to provide a sense of presence, with just bindings out to the 2D framework.

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