Thanksgiving wishes from Open Wonderland


Nicole Yankelovich


Although Thanksgiving is a US-centric holiday, the idea of giving thanks certainly crosses all cultures. In that spirit, I asked representatives of the Open Wonderland Foundation (OWF) board of directors as well as our most active Open Wonderland Forum community members to contribute a line or two about what they are thankful for in relationship to Open Wonderland and our open source community.

I personally have a tremendous amount to be thankful for. To think that in February of this year we were inundated with press coverage about the demise of Wonderland:

“Sun’s 3D virtual environment, Project Wonderland, follows Metaplace to the great virtual world burial ground”

“Project Wonderland (open src alt to Second Life) has been killed”

“Another virtual world-related causality of the acquisition will be Sun’s Project Wonderland”

“All the virtual world platforms will suffer as a result of the loss of Project Wonderland”

A huge amount of credit goes to the community for standing up against this flood, rather than being swept away with the tide and abandoning the project. I am thankful to Maria Korolov from Hypergrid Business, the *only* reporter who actually took the time to contact me, for her fair-minded story which helped to turn the tide of doom and gloom coverage to a more positive note (“Project Wonderland developers say they will continue working on the virtual world platform, despite being laid off“).

As I’m fond of telling anyone who asks, the Wonderland community today is far stronger than it ever was before “the liberation.” We now have a Facebook presence, a Twitter feed, a community wiki, a wikipedia page, and far more community code and Module Warehouse contributions than we did under Sun’s reign. We also have our community-run Wonderland Wednesday sessions which are a way of “eating our own dog food” and using Wonderland to collaborate in real-time on brainstorming, discussions, and coding projects.

So thank you to all the members of the OWF board of directors who believed in Open Wonderland and in me, and to everyone who has contributed to our open source community. The positive, helpful, welcoming tenor of conversation on our forum and in the Wonderland Wednesday sessions is both inspirational and motivating.

Lastly, Jonathan Kaplan, our Wonderland Architect, says, “Thanks to the Open Wonderland community for being just that, a community — one that is fun, supportive, helpful, and welcoming to new users and old friends alike.” On behalf of the community, Jon, I want to thank you for your extraordinary efforts in keeping Open Wonderland alive. Your dedication, good humor, patience, and exceptional technical abilities have made it possible for all of us to continue working on this promising technology which, I feel sure, will have a significant impact on the computing environment of the future.

Nicole Yankelovich
Executive Director
Open Wonderland Foundation

I am thankful that the magic of common purpose inspired by good ideas
and powerful visions was able to rescue a project from an untimely
end, even when the rest of the world thought it was doomed to
obscurity at the hands of corporate myopia.

Maggie Leber
Matrisync Engineering

I am grateful for the memory of being a part of a great team at Sun that created Project Wonderland. I’m also grateful for the selection of the open source model that will allow Open Wonderland to continue to fulfill its promise of being a vibrant and engaging medium for learning and collaboration. It is truly a privilege to be a member of the Open Wonderland Foundation Board as we embark on that journey.

Kevin Roebuck
Director, Content and Tools Alliances
Oracle Student Learning, Oracle Corporation

Open Wonderland has now become fully usable in real world customer projects. The ongoing support of its open source community is really outstanding.

Michel DENIS
Président, Internet 3 Solutions SAS

WonderSchool thanks the Open Wonderland Foundation for their open-mindedness:
the combination of OWL and the CMU program Alice enables you to spread out your creativity
and to enjoy the power of your online collaboration.

Roland Sassen
enjoy and learn

I am thankful for the technology that facilitates and drives such a diverse and active online community. Furthermore, I am thankful for the rich opportunities the community provides to grow as a developer as well as advance technology.

Ryan Babiuch (JagWire)
Software Developer – iSocial Project

Open Wonderland is the first open-source project that I am “actively” following — not as a programmer, but as the coordinator of the ShanghAI Lectures, where we use Wonderland to enable participants from all around the globe to work and study together. We are thankful for the great work and support from the community, without which this project would not be possible.

Nathan Labhart
Project manager of the “ShanghAI Lectures”
AI Lab, Department of Informatics, University of Zurich, Switzerland

It is appropriate at this time of year to reflect on what we have accomplished and hopefully help improve the quality of life for others. Wonderland is indeed just
one example of how people across the globe, through the use of this technology, can improve communication, increase universal understanding and exchange
ideas. I am proud to be associated with Open Wonderland Foundation and its members who are are committed to this technology and its advancement in our society.
The coming months will see new opportunities and challenges arise, but I am thankful for a group of people from various disciplines that want to carry out this dream.

Ken Miller
Chairman, Open Wonderland Foundation Board of Directors

Here at the University of Essex we are very thankful for the help and support of the Open Wonderland community. We are using Wonderland on a range of projects including extending the Mixed Reality Teaching and Learning Environment (MiRTLE) project with new capabilities, and trials planned with students from around the world. We are also using Wonderland as a rich environment for foreign students to carry out virtual tasks with one another and improve their English at the same time. The open and extensible nature of Wonderland makes it ideal for how we need to use it, whilst also allowing us to easily integrate it with the other University systems on campus. We wish every one involved in the Open Wonderland community the best of luck for the coming year.

Michael Gardner
University of Essex

In the context of the ShanghAI Lectures project, a global lecture series on natural and artificial intelligence, we are using Wonderland for group exercises with students from different continents and interactive Q&A session with tutors and lecturers every other week. We are thankful that we have the opportunity to experiment with this leading-edge software which may turn out to be an essential component in how we will communicate and run projects in the future in business, academia, and public organizations. There is a lot of skepticism in companies about the utility of this kind of software but if we don’t do the experiments, we will never know. I am thankful that with Wonderland we have the great opportunity to be part of this exciting endeavor.

Rolf Pfeifer
ShangAI Lectures, University of Zurich

The iSocial team is thankful for the opportunity to work with “wonderful” colleagues and engage in creative, innovative and fun work to build the iSocial system. It is also uppermost in our thoughts that if we can be successful we can impact and improve the lives of children and families with great needs. Finally, we are truly thankful to all those, especially Nicole, Jon and those working with the OWF Board, who work to continue and extend OWF as an environment for advancing our capabilities to harness advanced  technology in the service of education and human needs.

Jim Laffey
iSocial, University of Missouri

As a relative newcomer to Wonderland, it seems that Wonderland *is* all about giving… giving opportunity, a new way to interact and learn, a new way to meet people. Even at a higher level, the community, board members, and developers – they are all contributing. There is *giving* on so many levels. I am grateful for Wonderland, the community, particularly Nicole Yankelovich, for all you have done and for providing an opportunity to be part of this. By coincidence, this article recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ)   Thank You. No, Thank You: Grateful People Are Happier, Healthier Long After the Leftovers Are Gobbled Up.

Elizabeth Kim
Wonderland Enthusiast


4 Responses to Thanksgiving wishes from Open Wonderland

  1. Bosco says:

    As a new comer to the Open Wonderland user community, I’m just blown away with the great job done with providing the available functionality and stability. I’m thankful that the Wonderland project has persevered in the face of tough challenges. I’m also thankful that the project is under a strong and capable leadership and a dedicated and talented development team. Great job guys!!!

  2. Nina Nussbaum-Jones says:

    A huge thank you to everyone for helping to push this boulder up the hill!! There isn’t much that I can say that won’t sound like a greeting card, but it’s true that Open Wonderland is more than the platform. It’s the whole community that rallied together and continues to grow. I dream of the day when the Open Wonderland logo is woven into the sails of the Americas Cup winner! ;)

  3. Wayward4now says:

    Thank you guys for keeping the faith, hanging in there when the going got tough. “The reports of your demise were greatly exaggerated”! Ric

  4. Whystler says:

    I’ve been following your project casually over the years. It’s good to see you still growing when so many others have been lost (ie. adobe’s atmosphere, metaplace) and that you have kept your strength and enthusiasm! As a virtual world supporter, I am thankful for this :)

    Just a quick note though re: Thanksgiving. It’s not a US centric holiday. It is also celebrated in Canada, the Netherlands and Grenada at least. In fact, records show that the French citizens of the area called Canada, which is now the province of Newfoundland, celebrated Thanksgiving in 1578. That was 43 years before the celebration in Plymouth Massachussets.

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