Network communities --- our vision

The Third Field

Beyond Windows, beyond Web: Social Computing

Products for homes, schools, busineses.

Network of communities, spanning families, schools, businesses, offices.

     The networked environment of choice.

Focus on people and connectivity. Computation in service of that.

The primary vision we are working out of is one in which there are thousands, hundred of thousands of network communities, interlinked across the network. Think: one PC, one Matrix server. The Matrix server is the person/family's point of presence on the net --- their ``home'' for net-browsing, meeting, chatting, sending/reading mail, building, hosting friends, colleagues, family-members from across the world. (Potentially with shared audio/video streams.) Their home to decorate, populate with pets, "live in". Their site for reconstruction of old family homes, college campuses, shared summer vacations, memories... Their site for interconnecting to the Matrix server at the school, the neighborhood library, the video store, the place from which they venture forth, sometimes together, sometimes separately, with their purse and shopping bags... Their site for long network game-playing parties.

Think: one kid, one PC, each kid setting up their own virtual space, their digital clubhouse, setting up their own rules of the game, wizard of their own domain, inviting their own friends, barring entry to others, creating their own toys to play with, diaries to write in and share, homework assignments to do and share. Schools, electronic community halls, YMCAs, parent-teacher organizations, Boy Scouts, community libraries --- places, contexts, setting in which people get together to be together, do things, learn, have fun, be mean to each other, be people.

Beyond homes, neighbourhoods, schools, neighbourhood marketplace, "well", activities, clubs, meetings. Not to supplant real-world such social structures but supplement them.

Schools. pedagogy. curriculum. integrated learning. environments open to parents, other adults, mentors in the community. multi-age, multi-grade. support for school administration, homework submission, grading. lifelong learning record.

The primary affordance of Matrix, as MOO, are persistence, construction and communication. Anytime/anywhere access. Localization in physical real-world settings, hence metaphor of world-objects. Ownership. Control. Instant shareability. Idioyncractic self-expression. Publishing and (jointly) browsing web-pages seamlessly integrated in. People able to carry some of their electronic state from one place to another. At the new place allowed some computational access. but negotiated. May carry passports and visas which indicate which kind of access is allowed.

Provide Dynamic connectivity. Register hostnames for every client. So connect up, with say, WorldNet, you can now receive mail at WorldNet might become a better hosting service for such worlds by providing dynamic DNS lookups for the network spaces it hosts.

100 million homes in cyberspace. You are in charge. Your own host on the network. You create as many userids as you want. Host as mnay people. Have your mailinglists. Chat rooms. Invite people to drop by. Your point of presence in Cyberspace. Build your own little worlds. VRML or text-only.

Your messaging center. This is where you initiate calls, receive notification --- John has been trying to reach you for the last hour at your office. Your wife called and left a voicemail message. Want to download it? There is an email message from Johnny at school. Your secretary appears in your virtual office to discuss a letter she is drafting. You take a phone-call live from your boss (caller-id gave you the phone number, your code looked it up in your phone book, and you knew it was your boss calling from his car phone before you picked it up.) Voice, fax, email, chat, electronic visits ... your unified messaging/interaction center. Seamless mix of asynchronous and synchronous communication modalities. (There may be other phones scattered around the house.. they become more computational, with the keypad being used as a keyboard. Imagine being able to connect to your MUD on your home machine from a payphone on a beach in Goa, and find out if anyone visited or left mail in the last few days.)

Change the concept of communication from: voicephone, email, chat to include people dropping in, parties, people hanging out (in a bookstore, cafe, shopping mall, village green...), rock concerts, lectures, bars, ...