The Potential of End-User-Programmable Worlds: Present and Future

Wednesday, 8 August
10:30 am - 12:15 pm
Room 6 DE

In Vernor Vinge's 1981 science fiction classic True Names, a global multi-user virtual world underlies the functioning of government and business. Some control this world in a literal-minded, filing-cabinet fashion, and others with more colorful metaphors. Either style of interaction is a form of end-user programming. The power of cyberspace lies in the creativity and programming talent of its inhabitants.

Has that day arrived? Some view end-user-programmable virtual worlds like Linden Labs' Second Life as a meaningful step in that direction. In fact, end-user-programmable worlds had their start in text-based virtual worlds: MUDs (1979) and MOOs (1990). Are these systems just a different style of multi-player game, or is something happening with broader implications? Will commerce embrace these worlds? What about education? Is the future "cyberspace" a world built in computer graphics, or is it more likely a proliferation of networked devices in real space? In this panel discussion, we consider the present and the future of end-user-programmable graphical worlds.


Jessica K. Hodgins
Carnegie Mellon University

Amy Bruckman
Georgia Institute of Technology


Paul Hemp
Harvard Business Review

Asi Lang
Linden Labs

Vernor Vinge
San Diego State University