OpenSimulator: Justin Clark-Casey steps back

Maria Korolov on Hypergrid Business covers the news that Justin Clark-Casey is significantly scaling-back his involvement in OpenSimulator development.

Justin Clark-Casey
Justin Clark-Casey

For those deeply entrenched in Second Life, his name may well pass unnoticed. However, since 2007, Justin has been deeply involved in OpenSimulator, as both a core developers and as a founding member and first president of the Overte Foundation, a non-profit organisation that manages contribution agreements for the OpenSimulator project.

Just how big a role he has played can in part be seen through the 11,631 code commits he has personally made to the project over eight years  – that averages out to just under four commits every single day.

Justin announced his decision to step back from what has been a central role within the OpenSimulator in a blog post, where he emphasised that he’s doing so in part because he’s shifting career, although he makes it clear he is not leaving OpenSimulator entirely; it just won’t be a primary focus in his life in the foreseeable future:

OpenSimulator (and the Metaverse in general) has been an amazing journey but, as they say, we have grown apart. For whatever reason the area doesn’t fascinate me as it did. For better or for worse, that’s crucial for me to feel happy in my work.

I’m not disappearing completely but very likely for the immediate future my involvement will be at a low ebb (mainly answering mailing list questions and the occasional bug fix). My new field is quite a bit different (data warehousing for genetics and synthetic biology) but I will always have a soft spot for virtual worlds and the idea of the Metaverse.

Justin Clark-Casey's code commits to OpenSimulator amount to 11,631 over eight years, work that has involved him in laying many of the foundations for the project and in re-factoring much of the code-base in 2011/12 (source: Black Duck’s Open Hub open source project tracker, via Hypergrid Business)
Justin Clark-Casey’s code commits to OpenSimulator amount to 11,631 over eight years, work that has involved him in laying many of the foundations for the project and in re-factoring much of the code-base in 2011/12 (source: Black Duck Open Hub open source project tracker, via Hypergrid Business)

As well as his own code contributions, Clark-Casey has been noted for carrying out a significant portion of the work required integrate patches submitted by others, and has also taken on many of the organisational duties and activities which have perhaps been seen as somewhat onerous by other developers.

His popularity and import to the OpenSimulator community can be measures by the outpouring of personal thanks and testimonials which followed his own blog post and featured in Maria’s Hypergrid Business article.

According to Maria, Justin’s announcement has led to some concerns as to the future of the project. While there has never been a single de facto leader for the platform and its very diverse and global community, Clark-Casey has very much been the public face of the platform, hence some of the concerns raised.

However, as others central to the platform’s development have been quick to point out, this is not the first time a key figure has opted to set back from the platform. As it is, the team of core developers has changed over the years and remains strong. Similarly, OpenSimulator itself enjoys broad-based support and engagement from individuals, groups, education and academia and business. As such, there is little need to doubt its foreseeable future.

“Open source development has a high churn of people, for many reasons, and many times people who have been there for a long time simply decide to leave and do something else,” Crista Lopes, creator of the Hypergrid, told is quoted as saying in Hypergrid Business. “The good thing about open source projects is that, if people find them useful or interesting, the projects survive any one particular developer’s absence. That will happen with OpenSim too.”

I only had cause to talk to Justin twice over the years, and was certainly not in any way acquainted with him. However, as a very occasional OpenSimulator visitor (notably via Kitely, OSGid and InWorldz), I offer my own thanks to him for all of his contributions to the OpenSim community, and best wishes as he enters a new stage in his career.

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2014 Opensimulator Community Conference: tune-in

A fascinating Gource visualisation posted by nebadon2025 charting the growth of the OpenSimulator project by code commits from core developers up until the time of the 2014 conference

Saturday, November 8th, and Sunday, November 9th mark the 2014 OpenSimulator Community Conference, which is being jointly run by AvaCon and the Overte Foundation. The weekend promises to be packed with talks, presentations, workshops and more; and while in-world registrations have sold out, it is not too late to register for the livestream broadcasts of the conference events.

The full programme can be found on the conference website, however, the keynote events comprise:

Saturday, November 8th, 07:30 SLT – OpenSimulator Developer Panel: featuring: Mic Bowman, Planning Committee, Intel Labs; Michael Cerqoni; Justin Clark-Casey, Overte Foundation; James Hughes, Founder, BlueWall Information Technologies, LLC; Oren Hurvitz, Co-Founder and VP R&D of Kitely; Crista Lopes, Overte Foundation and the University of California, Irvine; and Melanie Milland, Planning Committee, Avination. Together they will discuss  the future of the OpenSimulator platform, covering a range of issues including: the future of the Hypergrid, content licensing and permissions, scalability, project maturity, and more.

Saturday, November 8th, Noon SLT – Philip Rosedale: “How will we build an open platform for VR over the internet?”  a presentation exploring the future of the Metaverse and the challenges that lie ahead.

Sunday, November 9th, 07:30 SLT – Dr. Steve LaValle: “Virtual Reality. How real should it be?” Although VR has been researched for decades, many new challenges arise because of the ever-changing technology and the rising demand for new kinds of VR content.  This talk will highlight some of the ongoing technical challenges, including game development, user interfaces, perceptual psychology, and accurate head tracking.

The OSCC conference centre from the inaugrual 2013 conference
The OSCC conference centre from the inaugural 2013 conference

The conference website also lists all of the speakers attending the event, who will be participating in the keynote events and in the various conference tracks which will be running throughout the weekend:

  • The Business & Enterprise track will feature sessions that cover a broad range of uses related to doing business in and with OpenSimulator, such as those by grid hosts, third-party developers, private entrepreneurs, in-world and enterprise businesses, as well as corporations and organizations using OpenSimulator for marketing, fundraising, product research, focus groups, and more.
  • The Content & Community Track will feature sessions about all of the wonderful things that happen in-world. Building and content creation includes large-scale immersive art installations, ballet, theatre, performance art, machinima, literary arts, clothing designs, virtual fashions, architecture, music performances and other cultural expressions.  There are also communities for nearly every interest, including role-playing groups, science fiction communities, virtual towns and interest groups, historical explorations, religious and spiritual communities, book clubs, and so much more.
  • The Developers & Open Source track will cover the technical side of OpenSimulator, encompassing servers, viewers, external components, grid architecture, development, administration – anything that is necessary for the installation, operation and use of an OpenSimulator system.
  • The Research and Education Track will explore the ways in which OpenSimulator has become a platform for computationally understanding complex problems, characterizing personal interactions, and conveying information. This track seeks presentations regarding OpenSimulator use towards research applications in computer science, engineering, data visualization, ethnography, psychology, and economics. It will additionally feature sessions that cover a broad range of uses related to teaching and learning in and with OpenSimulator.
  • The Learning Lab will provide conference attendees the opportunity to explore and practice their virtual world skills, share their best OpenSimulator strategies, and experiment and discover diverse ways to use OpenSimulator to support creativity, knowledge production and self-expression. If you are a gamer or game enthusiast, this is the track for you! The Learning Lab features interactive sessions where attendees get to practice and apply skills hands-on, either in design or to play a game.

All of the event tracks are colour-code within the main programme guide, and their respective pages on the conference website include their livestream feeds for those who are watching events.

OSCC-6There will also be a number of social events taking pace during the conference and, for those of a daring disposition, the OpenMeta Quest: “Your mission, should you be brave enough to accept it, is to find 12 hexagon-shaped game tokens across 7 sims while matching your MetaKnowledge for prizes. Look for the Adventure Hippo to begin your journey.”

For those who have registered to attend the conference in-world, don’t forget you can find your way there via the log-in information page. When doing so, do not that the organisers recommend not using the OSCC viewer which was made available for the inaugural conference in 2013. Singularity is the recommended viewer for this year’s conference.

As well as the conference venue, the OSCC Grid includes a number of Expo Zone regions, featuring conference sponsors and community crowdfunder exhibits; a  Shopping Centre region; exhibits created by speakers in the Content & Community, Research & Education, and Learning Lab tracks.

All told, this packed weekend should be informative, fun and educational.

2014 banner

About the Organisers

The Overte Foundation is a non-profit organization that manages contribution agreements for the OpenSimulator project.  In the future, it will also act to promote and support both OpenSimulator and the wider open-source 3D virtual environment ecosystem.

AvaCon, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth, enhancement, and development of the metaverse, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and 3D immersive and virtual spaces. We hold conventions and meetings to promote educational and scientific inquiry into these spaces, and to support organized fan activities, including performances, lectures, art, music, machinima, and much more. Our primary goal is to connect and support the diverse communities and practitioners involved in co-creating and using virtual worlds, and to educate the public and our constituents about the emerging ecosystem of technologies broadly known as the metaverse.

 Related links

OpenSimulator Community Conference registrations open

2014 banner

Registrations have opened for the 2014 OpenSimulator Community Conference. Attendance is free, but for those wishing to donate to the supporting this and future conferences, there are a number of options to do so, ranging from $10.00 USD through to $200.00 USD, all of which offer various benefits to purchasers.

For the full range of ticket options and their repsective benefits, and to book your place at the conference, please visit the conference ticket page.

Note that tickets will be available strictly on a first come, first served basis, and that the conference will be streamed via UStream for those unable to secure a ticket.

The current keynote speakers for the conference are:

  • Dr. Steve LaValle, a professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois, is the principal scientist for Oculus VR, who will be addressing attempts to bring the Oculus Rift headset to the mass consumer market
  • Philip Rosedale, CEO of High Fidelity Inc., who will address the question, “What is the Metaverse?” and discuss the opportunity to develop an open platform for virtual reality over the internet, including new hardware devices that catalyze entirely new kinds of interactions between avatars.
OSSC keynote speakers Steve Lavalle (l) and Philip Rosedale (r)
OSSC keynote speakers Steve Lavalle (l) and Philip Rosedale (r)

About the OpenSimulator Conference

The OpenSimulator Community Conference is an annual evnet that focuses on the developer and user community creating the OpenSimulator software.  Organised as a joint production by the Overte Foundation and AvaCon, Inc., the conference features two days of presentations, workshops, keynote sessions, and social events across diverse sectors of the OpenSimulator user base.

The 2014 OpenSimulator Conference will take place on the OpenSimulator Conference Centre grid on November 8th and 9th, 2014, with registrations opening on September 15th, 2014, and interested parties can sign up to receive an email reminder to register.

The conference will include four themed tracks and a Learning Lab for hands on hackerspaces, speedbuilds, and more:

About the Organisers

The Overte Foundation is a non-profit organization that manages contribution agreements for the OpenSimulator project.  In the future, it will also act to promote and support both OpenSimulator and the wider open-source 3D virtual environment ecosystem.

AvaCon, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth, enhancement, and development of the metaverse, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and 3D immersive and virtual spaces. We hold conventions and meetings to promote educational and scientific inquiry into these spaces, and to support organized fan activities, including performances, lectures, art, music, machinima, and much more. Our primary goal is to connect and support the diverse communities and practitioners involved in co-creating and using virtual worlds, and to educate the public and our constituents about the emerging ecosystem of technologies broadly known as the metaverse.

 Related links

High Fidelity founder to address OpenSimulator Conference

2014 banner

On Thursday August 28th, Chris Collins, writing on behalf of the 2nd OpenSimulator Community Conference, announced a further keynote speaker at the event will be Philip Rosedale, co-founder of Second Life and most recently a founder of High Fidelity Inc.

The press release states that:

Mr. Rosedale’s keynote presentation will address the question, “What is the Metaverse?” and discuss the opportunity to develop an open platform for virtual reality over the internet, including new hardware devices that catalyze entirely new kinds of interactions between avatars.

Philip Rosedale: Opensimulator Community Conference Keynote Speaker
Philip Rosedale: OpenSimulator Community Conference Keynote Speaker

In 1995, Philip Rosedale created an innovative Internet video conferencing product called “FreeVue”. This was subsequently acquired by RealNetworks, where he was appointed Vice President and CTO in 1996.  During 1999, Rosedale left RealNetworks to co-found Linden Research Inc., operating under the name of Linden Lab, with the intention of developing an open-ended, Internet-connected virtual world. In 2003, Linden Lab publicly launched Second Life.

Rosedale departed Linden Lab in 2010, after serving twice at the company’s CEO and as the chair of the board. Since then, he has established both Coffee & Power and Worklist.net, both focused on distributed work and computing. In 2013, he co-founded High Fidelity Inc. to explore the future of a next-generation virtual reality system.

Commenting on his appearance at the OpenSimulator Community Conference, Chris Collins said, “Philip Rosedale is one of the foremost thinkers about virtual reality and the Metaverse today,” said conference chair Chris Collins. “We look forward to hearing his thoughts on the next generation of open Metaverse platforms, including OpenSimulator.”

About the OpenSimulator Conference

The OpenSimulator Community Conference is an annual evnet that focuses on the developer and user community creating the OpenSimulator software.  Organised as a joint production by the Overte Foundation and AvaCon, Inc., the conference features two days of presentations, workshops, keynote sessions, and social events across diverse sectors of the OpenSimulator user base.

The 2014 OpenSimulator Conference will take place on the OpenSimulator Conference Centre grid on November 8th and 9th, 2014, with registrations opening on September 15th, 2014, and interested parties can sign up to receive an email reminder to register.

The conference will include four themed tracks and a Learning Lab for hands on hackerspaces, speedbuilds, and more:

About the Organisers

The Overte Foundation is a non-profit organization that manages contribution agreements for the OpenSimulator project.  In the future, it will also act to promote and support both OpenSimulator and the wider open-source 3D virtual environment ecosystem.

AvaCon, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth, enhancement, and development of the metaverse, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and 3D immersive and virtual spaces. We hold conventions and meetings to promote educational and scientific inquiry into these spaces, and to support organized fan activities, including performances, lectures, art, music, machinima, and much more. Our primary goal is to connect and support the diverse communities and practitioners involved in co-creating and using virtual worlds, and to educate the public and our constituents about the emerging ecosystem of technologies broadly known as the metaverse.

 Related links

Oculus VR Principal Scientist to address OpenSimulator Conference

2014 banner

On Tuesday July 22nd, Chris Collins, writing on behalf of the 2nd OpenSimulator Community Conference, announced that one of the keynote speakers at the event will be Dr. Steve LaValle.

Dr. LaValle, a professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois, is the principal scientist for Oculus VR, and he will be addressing attempts to bring the Oculus Rift headset to the mass consumer market.

Dr. Steven LaValle (image: )
Dr. Steven LaValle (image: University of Illinois)

Since Palmer Luckey’s 2012 prototype demonstrated that smartphone-based advances in display and sensing technology can enable a lightweight, high field-of-view VR experience that is affordable by the masses, widespread interest has grown across many industries, research labs, and potential end users of the VR technology. Dr. LaValle’s talk will highlight ongoing technical challenges, including game development, user interfaces, perceptual psychology, and accurate head tracking.

He is certainly well-placed to be able to do so, having been working with Oculus VR since a few days after its successful Kickstarter campaign and has led its R&D efforts up to its $2 billion acquisition by Facebook in March 2014.

Commenting on Dr. LaValle’s appearance at the conference, Cris Collins, who is serving at the conference chair, said, “With all the excitement surrounding the Oculus Rift and other virtual reality technologies, we want the virtual reality community to know that OpenSimulator is a great platform for building the open metaverse.

“OpenSimulator has hundreds of thousands of registered users and a land mass twice the size of Second Life. It’s the only open source platform with an Oculus Rift ready viewer that already has hundreds of interconnected worlds operating in an emerging metaverse and thousands of worlds run privately by corporations, schools, government agencies, nonprofits, and individuals.”

About the OpenSimulator Conference

The OpenSimulator Community Conference is an annual conference that focuses on the developer and user community creating the OpenSimulator software.  Organized as a joint production by the Overte Foundation and AvaCon, Inc., the conference features two days of presentations, workshops, keynote sessions, and social events across diverse sectors of the OpenSimulator user base.

The 2014 OpenSimulator Conference will take place on the OpenSimulator Conference Centre grid on November 8th and 9th, 2014, with registrations opening on September 15th, 2014, and interested parties can sign up to receive an email reminder to register.

The conference will include four themed tracks and a Learning Lab for hands on hackerspaces, speedbuilds, and more:

About the Organisers

The Overte Foundation is a non-profit organization that manages contribution agreements for the OpenSimulator project.  In the future, it will also act to promote and support both OpenSimulator and the wider open-source 3D virtual environment ecosystem.

AvaCon, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth, enhancement, and development of the metaverse, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and 3D immersive and virtual spaces. We hold conventions and meetings to promote educational and scientific inquiry into these spaces, and to support organized fan activities, including performances, lectures, art, music, machinima, and much more. Our primary goal is to connect and support the diverse communities and practitioners involved in co-creating and using virtual worlds, and to educate the public and our constituents about the emerging ecosystem of technologies broadly known as the metaverse.

 Related links

 

 

Second Annual OpenSim Community Conference announced

2014 banner

On Saturday May 31st, the Overte Foundation and Avacon have announced the Second Annual OpenSimulator Community Conference, with a press release on the announcement being circulated via e-mail on Tuesday June 3rd.

The conference will take place on the OpenSimulator Conference Centre grid on November 8th and 9th, 2014. It will be a celebration of the platform and the large and varied community using it. As such, it will feature two days of talks and presentations across four tracks, keynote speakers, panels and social events.

Anyone who is interested in the OpenSimulator software and the future of the metaverse is invited to attend, as well as OpenSimulator developers, grid administrators, and members of the community who participate on OpenSimulator grids.

The 2013 conference arena
The 2013 conference arena

The four presentation tracks will comprise:

  • Business & Enterprise: sessions will cover a broad range of topics on doing business in and with OpenSimulator. These include grid hosting, third-party development, private entrepreneurs, in-world and enterprise businesses, and also corporations and organizations using the platform for marketing, fundraising, product research, focus groups, etc
  • Content & Community: this track will examine different aspects of content (e.g. large scale immersive art installations, ballet, theatre, performance art, machinima, literary arts, clothing designs, virtual fashions, architecture, music performances and other cultural expressions) and community (e,g, role-playing groups, science fiction communities, virtual towns and interest groups, historical explorations, religious and spiritual communities, book clubs, etc.), within OpenSimulator
  • Developers & Open Source: will encompassing the technical aspects of OpenSimulator, and seeks presentations related to servers, viewers, external components, grid architecture, development, administration, and anything necessary to the installation, operation and use of an OpenSimulator system
  • Research & Education:  seeks presentations regarding the use of OpenSimulator in research applications in computer science, engineering, data visualization, ethnography, psychology, and economics. It will additionally feature sessions that cover a broad range of uses related to teaching and learning in and with OpenSimulator

In addition, the conference will feature  a new Learning Lab area. which will be available for hackerspaces, speed builds, and workshops for hands-on learning experiences guided by experts in the OpenSimulator community.

The Call for Proposals for all four tracks and the Learning Lab is now open, and all proposals should be submitted by July 1st, 2014.

Commenting on the event in the announcement, conference chair and organiser Chris Collins (Feep Tuque in OpenSim) said:

Last year’s conference was a terrific success with over 350 attendees from 45 unique grids and over 1000+ commits to the core code, which made OpenSimulator a much more stable and scalable platform.

This year we hope to build on that success by offering more opportunities for the community to be involved and doing more outreach to attract new users.  With all the hype surrounding the Oculus Rift and other virtual reality technologies, we think this is the perfect time to let the VR community know that OpenSimulator is a great platform for building the open metaverse.

Further information on the conference will be made available in due course – including details of keynote speakers, volunteer registrations, etc. Registrations will open on September 15th, 2014.

Sponsorship and Crowdfunding Campaign

While the conference is being held in virtual space, it does incur some expenses (such as the professionally managed set-up and operation of the conference grid and the streaming and other web services). As such, the organisers are seeking sponsorship from businesses, entrepreneurs,  and community members alike to help support the conference through a range of sponsorship opportunities, which have this year been updated and revised to better meet the needs of sponsors.

In addition, the conference is running a Crowdfunder Campaign to allow those wishing to make smaller donations to do so. Some unique rewards are on offer to those participating in the campaign, the full details of which can be found on the Crowdfunder Campaign page.

About the Organisers

The Overte Foundation is a non-profit organization that manages contribution agreements for the OpenSimulator project.  In the future, it will also act to promote and support both OpenSimulator and the wider open-source 3D virtual environment ecosystem.

AvaCon, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth, enhancement, and development of the metaverse, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and 3D immersive and virtual spaces. We hold conventions and meetings to promote educational and scientific inquiry into these spaces, and to support organized fan activities, including performances, lectures, art, music, machinima, and much more. Our primary goal is to connect and support the diverse communities and practitioners involved in co-creating and using virtual worlds, and to educate the public and our constituents about the emerging ecosystem of technologies broadly known as the metaverse.


Gource visualisation posted by nebadon2025 charting the growth of the OpenSimulator project by code commits from core developers up until the time of the 2013 conference