Matisse: An Introduction (1995)

NOTE [2003/2017]: The pages here were written in 1995 and represent the state of the projects mentioned therein, as they stood at that time.

Although I haven't continued work on this directly over the last few years, the ideas presented here are still relevant to later work including, for example, howellhenryland [2000].

If you are interested in what I'm thinking about at the moment, I suggest you have a look at my personal site, which includes both archived content from my earlier blog Cluster, and my recent photography [ongoing], and my current [2017] business, Significance Systems.

Matisse is an internet-connected multimedia text-based VR client which restores primacy to a spatial and social metaphor, to create an inhabitable space within which any internet-accessible simple or hypermedia object may easily be embedded, viewed and otherwise manipulated.

In Matisse, a real-time text window is the primary interface to a multimedia VR constructed on a conventional MOO server. Any object on the MOO may be tagged with an extended version of the URLs (Universal Resource Locator) used to specify the addresses of internet accessible data/media objects. Objects are not stored locally on the server; URLs are simply references to objects extant elsewhere on the Net. These objects may be complex database engines, CGI interfaces or media servers, or simple media files such as a JPEG image, an MPEG movie, or an AU soundfile. Any media object already accessible via the Web is immediately available for access and inclusion within a Matisse-mediated space--Matisse uses only existing protocols.
At home 
in Matisse
Participants in the virtual reality may interact with each other and with the other objects located in the MOO--the environment's strong spatial sense and real-time immediacy maintains the sense of a common shared reality and a continuity of experience. This continuity reinforces the social structure of the space; if a user does not connect to the system for a few days, things will have changed, been moved, renovated. Matisse is the internet as television... a temporally and spatially continuous data universe that intersects real physical space in real time, rather than a static set of hypertexts filed in the isolated hyperlibraries of the Web.

Within Matisse, HTML pages discover a more appropriate role as only one of a variety of object classes, instances of which may be located in virtual space, created and shared, bought and sold. Video, audio and still graphics may be used to elaborate the description of spaces, people and other objects, which provide hypermedia access to the wealth of data available on the Net.

The Matisse client supports all MIME media types via a set of common helper applications, and is properly multitasking-- a user may, for example, be conversing with another participant via CU-SeeMe while simultaneously downloading an Acrobat publication and listening to background music served via the RealAudio protocols, with all data being accessed in real time from different servers on the internet. Additionally, Matisse supports local media attachments, to support hybrid architectures where large or complex media are stored locally (perhaps on CD-ROM), yet are seamlessly sequenced and integrated with data sourced in real time from the Net. Matisse incorporates sophisticated caching and threading algorithms to ensure optimal data access even over low bandwidth dialup connections.

A alpha-release version of the Matisse client has been developed for the Apple Macintosh computer. The client is now available via FTP (about 500k)
Matisse was designed, developed and coded by Darrell Berry, 1995.

The original concept for Matisse originated in conversations with Michael Frank and John Ricketts.
Thanks to Michael Frank, Klaas and John Ricketts of Vision Network/SuperBall, Martin Haywood, Caroline Parsons, Stephen Ashley, Matthias Ulrich (MacPerl), Peter Keleher (Alpha editor), Paul Schinder (libwww port), Roy Fielding (libwww/Arcadia Project), Ben Russell (OneDay), John Unsworth (IATHMoo), Ed Harting and Matt Rosin (Cyber Technologies International), Shigeru (translations), David Blair, the staff of Tokyo Salon, Helen Smith and everyone else who has helped with the development of the Matisse concept and its implementation so far.
This document <> is copyright (c) 1995, Darrell Berry

3 November 1995