Saturday, September 03, 2005

Apple Hill Learning Lab

Each year, Alan Kay brings a group of people together at the Apple Hill Center for the Performing Arts in the beautiful mountains of southern New Hampshire. This three-day event in August provides invitees with an opportunity to spend quality time interacting with one another. The group includes technologists, designers, artists, musicians, in the tradition of other north-eastern creative retreats (Yaddo, etc.). The event also features great food and great music (by the Apple Hill Chamber Players). As I reflect back on my experiences at Apple Hill, I am struck by the deep importance of the contextualized social presence that occurs there and the positive effect that it has in support of creativity among the participants. Bringing people together in a way that allows serendipitous social interactions to take place is a wonderful way of stimulating collaborative creativity - and at Apple Hill, it really does work. There is lots of group interaction and lots of one-on-ones. Hopefully, Croquet will provide a technological framework for extending the value of such contextualized social presence into online spaces. The success of doing so depends on how well applications are designed and built on the core technology of the Croquet SDK. Until then, Apple Hill will have to do ;) . This year's event was particularly interesting because of the presence there of many folks who are working on hardware and software for Nicholas Negroponte's $100 Laptop Initiative and on the final stages of the Croquet 1.0 SDK.