Recognizing that the future is arriving piece by piece… After the break…


There is too much Internet for anyone. Go ahead: Try to browse all of the Internet. You can’t. You can’t even come close. Even if you were to quit your job, quit all of your obligations and just browse the Internet all day long, you still couldn’t see everything that the Internet has to offer.

It wasn’t always like that; I remember the days when you there was only “so much Internet” and, quite frankly, what was available for free was significantly less technologically advanced than commercial equivalents. Those days are over; The gap has closed dramatically in quality and the Internet has simply blown past commercial ventures in terms of quantity.

Do you need to hammer out a resume? Libreoffice has you covered.

Browse the Internet? It’s harder to think of a web browser that isn’t free.

Need an operating system? Linux has been around for the computer-equivalent of forever.

Need to make a 3D model of something? Blender is right there.

Need to paint the model? That’s what GIMP is for.

Listen to some tunes? I’m not even going to attempt to list them all, but foobar2000 has been around for ages.

PDF reader? FTP reader?

I’m not even going to mention gaming.

And add another freeware, open-source program onto the digital bonfire: MakeHuman.

There’s a problem with making games: It needs stuff. It needs weapons and scenery and sound effects and props and dialog… And it needs characters. A game needs a lot of art assets and, to be honest, the people who have the technical know-how to make a game (the programming and the game play design) often do not have the skills to create the art assets to go along with it. Sure, the artist on your team can draw fantastic spacecraft but can they draw equally fantastic aliens? The guy who designed the mansion might not have the ability to draw convincing-looking people to fill that mansion.

Artists are sort of like the gaming equivalent of what nurses are for the health care industry: So in-demand that they are virtually indispensable. If artists (I’m grouping modellers in with artists here – No hate mail, please) were paid a reasonable amount for their efforts, they would be eating steak (or the vegetarian-equivalent of steak… Kale, perhaps?) every night. Every night. There just aren’t enough artists to go around for all of the gaming projects that there are who would benefit from having artists.

MakeHuman is a computer program that attempts to solve part of that problem. It is a program that automates the creating of humanoid characters for use in gaming. Is it a perfect solution? Of course not. You can’t replace the years of experience and the artistry that a human possesses… But for a developer to attract other team members and also some financing, MakeHuman is a solution that a lot of aspiring game developers won’t turn away.

I like to make the point that, for some aspects of the Internet, the future that we all desired in the early 1990s for the Internet is already here. We didn’t have to wait until we were 90 years old and sitting in some futuristic wheelchair before we got to see it. We are living in the steampunk future of the Internet right now. Two decades later, a person can own a perfectly acceptable work computer for less than $500 dollars. The end. Take the computer out of the box, plug it into the Internet and enjoy. Never buy anything ever again.

We still have a long ways to go. There’s still no “cure for cancer.” Kids are still going hungry for silly political reasons. Bridges and roads need repairing or replacing. No flying cars. No robot maids. No daily trips to the Moon or Mars. In many aspects of our future, we’ve got quite a ways to go.

Not so for some aspects of the Internet. For productivity software, the future is already here. We just have to surf the Information Superhighway and find it. MakeHuman is just another example of that.

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