Is Croquet Second Life?

“Croquet, of course, is a project that provides an open source 3-D graphical environment for collaborative projects that allows building objects, scripting them, skinning them, etc, plus running lots of applications (e.g. web browsers) in the environment. So it is natural to ask, as one person did, “What is the difference between this and SL.” A good question that was never answered. We did get a nice gee we should work together some day sort of answer, but I don’t count that. Also on my mind was the question I asked last November: if you have Croquet who needs SL? That was asked and ignored twice. Oh well…”

post on Second Life Herald

“Croquet was designed as a peer-to-peer operating system from the start. Every decision we made was within this context. But even with this focus, much of the true collaboration capability is incomplete. To use Croquet collaboratively today requires that both you and your peer-to-peer partners have access to a broadband connection to the Internet or all of you should be on the same high-speed LAN if Internet access is not available possibly due to security issues.”

Croquet User Guide, Chapter 7: Peer-to-peer

Strengths of SecondLife:

Strengths of Croquet:

Croquet is crippled because there’s nobody there.

And I don’t mean just: “People aren’t choosing to go there.” What I mean is: “There’s no place to find other people. As in, you architecturally can’t. It’s like trying to find the other people in your filing system- they’re just not there.

While, in theory, it might be possible to manually link up your Croquet setup to another user, somewhere on the Internet, I’ll be damned if I can figure out how to do it.

Basically: To compare Second Life to Croquet is a joke. And it’s incredibly unfair to compare Second Life to what Croquet may one day be.

Answer to the Question

What is the difference between this and SL.

We can now consider the question officially answered.


I talk with people into collaboration, and they always bring up Croquet. “Why don’t people just use Croquet?” “Gee, SecondLife is really dumb. Not nearly as capable as Croquet.”

Lisp is very powerful too. But there are problems with it that make people not want to use it. The problems, and even knowledge that people have problems with it, are completely ignored by Lisp people. We hear them saying: “Nobody has identified problems with Lisp. Nobody has identified serious problems with Lisp.” People have identified them.

The Lisper’s just aren’t capable of hearing them.

Same with the pro-Croquet anti-SecondLife crowd.

In my opinion.

(interesting, JoiIto is talking about these things too …)

But, will Croquet be a replacement some day ? Where should we place our bets ? May Croquet some day be the new platform ? Did it already make some bad choices ? Is it just as likely that something better and free will pop out of elsewhere ?

I think Croquet has the right idea: Make computing not something that is a private affair.

On their about page, they have a quote, where they compare desktops to castles. There are these big thick walls around our desktops, and it’s only with extraordinary effort that we bring something out of the castle.

That said, their implementation simply doesn’t work.

I think over the next 10 years, we will find out if HTML succeeded because it was an open standard, or because it happened to be first. (Were there compititors? I only remember lower quality creatures, like gopher and finger.)

If we all end up on a propriety platform within 10 years, we will know it was because HTML was first. If we all end up on an open platform, then we will know it was because it was an open standard.

There are people who say, “It’s because it was an open standard,” (thus promoting open standardization efforts,) but I don’t think that we really know the answer to that question. Second Life has made a lot of progress, without having to be an open standard.

Its entirely plausible that the WorldOfWarcraftWorld? scenario will come true: Major providers network their services together, and become the virtual world.

I’m not presently aware of anything coming out the W3C that could possibly compete with such a super-protocol. If anything, I believe it would come after the major game studios document their own, and only grant it’s use to people who agree to pay them for the ability to extend their metaverse. It’s complicated stuff, after all.

Or perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps we can know now, that open standards always beat over rival non-open standards. But: After how long? Is it necessarily the case that people will even make an open standard? How good does it have to be- can it be totally shoddy, or does it have to be fairly well thought out?

In second life as far as I understood: You can create things. To keep them between your sessions you need land to store the things on. Land costs money. That’s because someone earns money with second life.
The virtual land actually costs almost no money. Once in a while a new server maybe. Peanuts.

If you made a parallel second life where land costs no money, where it’s free, wouldn’t that be cool?
Donation based. You see in a central place how the project is financially doing. Expenses, Donations. Everybody participating (not playing, OpenLife is no game but a collaboration platform) has his donations registered in his profile. Call them donations or ‘voluntary taxes to keep the system alive’.

I wonder what the Linden folks say. They took away the entrance fee and they know that massive growth is essential and they know that not even allowing to try it out without entering a credit card number is a heavy hindering to massive growth. They might be interested in a kind of sandbox. Make second life a shiny downtown, where it costs money, and OpenLife suberbia. Maybe.

As far as I know, it doesn’t cost any money to store objects you made in Second Life - they’re stored in your avarar’s inventory (There may be a size limit, I don’t know). You can even put houses in there. Those objects have to stick with you, or you can giv them away, or sell them; and when you’re offline, they don’t exist.

However, if you want to make, say, a giant pinball game anybody can come and play (for virtual money !), you can’t just have that in your inventory; you need a place to put it. That’s where Land is useful. Same if you want a house, or an art exhibition.

Land can earn you virtual money too - you get an income depending on how many people spend how much time on it. So having a popular piece of land (by holding parties, putting up interesting informatino (such as a tutorial), just having pretty stuff that catches the eye …) is also a goal to strive for.

I believe Lion’s vision of a “closed virtual reality” (the way, say, cell phone networks are pretty closed today. Is quite possible, and scary - it could suck the bloodlife out of the internet by being so superior, leaving the free and open net a shadow of what it was, like Usenet is today; a few communities stranded in a sea of spam. And that because a virtual releality world can be so superior. And it’s not assured the open source / open culture movement can keep up.

But, on the other side, virtual reality is still mostly locked up in games. Open Standards may still be adopted if it gets generalized. And, after all, we’re the ones the most interested in collaboration, collaboration tools, collaboration environments (We = Linux, Wiki world).

Re: HTML: I haven’t looked deeply into this, but HyperText was around before the Web, and my impression is that the reason the Web won out was decentralization and open standards:

  • The Web was presented as a poster at the conference Hypertext ‘91. I read somewhere (I forgot where) that that poster didn’t even garner that much attention at the conference – leading me to believe that other hypertext systems were otherwise technically superior, and that the only things the Web offered were decentralization and open standards.
  • The VideoTex? systems like MiniTel? predate the web. WikiPedia:Videotex implies that the advantage of the Web was decentralization and open standards.

True, but I suspect the situation is different now. The web took a lot of people by surprise, didn’t it ? Now you have a lot more big players watching what’s going on, and preparing their moves… I don’t think it will be as easy.

I’ve been trying out open source virtual worlds for some days, rather diappointing, but with a bit of imagination …, well.
Croquet - lonesome, as lion said. Works. Getting together needs Nebrasa which sounds complicated to me. Dunno.
Muppets - can’t get it running on none of my boxes.
A third one that I can’t remember and find back the name of.

Yah. You’re not excited, because things that aren’t WorldOfWarcraft or SecondLife are simply not exciting.

I have to share this with you all, although it’s probably not as funny if you weren’t there. We were briefly talking about SecondLife last night and MarkDilley innocently commented that he had heard of a project that Lion might be interested in: he was talking about it with this other guy at the conference, and the other guy said, oh, that’s like Open Croquet. At the word “croquet”, Lion burst into uncontrollable laughter and couldn’t stop laughing for about 30 seconds. He had to get up from where he was sitting and laugh into a nearby room. The funniest part is that no one else there but me (I think) had seen this page and so no one knew why he was laughing (until he managed to stop long enough to explain).

Well, I’ve been on freenode #squeak and there was this nice geek-programmer person around, a bit desillusioned and he/she (likely a he) told me about his geek-programmer friends who do not opensource their stuff anymore but rather sell it in second life. They carried the greedy spirit of copyright into it and it works (spitting on the ground). I mean what is this? Is open source decadence or is it a movement? (exaggerated, sry)

High respect to the linden folks, undoubtably they did a great job. But simply not enough for a peace-nobel prize. When you cleverly work on an idea that has a bug, you end up with a thing where the bug itches least. In case of second life its’ the credit card number in the very beginning. Nobody feels nice and easy then. The rest is perfect. But that ain’t open source. Open source is perfect from the beginning.

  • AmberStraub & I feel nice & easy in SecondLife. (Only objection: Sakura can’t play with us. :( )
  • Skype isn’t free either.
  • When good free alternatives appear, we will switch to use them. (They may already be here.)
  • SecondLife is peerless, and costs nothing.
  • When SecondLife has an open alternative that can do what it does, we will likely use that.
  • Regardless of any of this stuff, we can look at SecondLife because it is a wonderful model of future collaboration.

Should people be allowed to claim a unique appearance? Interesting question.

The biggest advantage I’ve heard for Croquet is that it is open source. But SecondLife has been released as open source 2007-01-08 ( OpenSourceSecondLife ). So … does this mean Croquet will be abandoned? Merged into SecondLife? Or what?

And how does this affect “Arts Metaverse” and “Ancient Spaces”, "a couple of 3D sites that could rival Second Life" ?


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