The Cyberbiological Worlds of “Nerve Garden”: A Test Bed for VRML 2.0*

“Nerve Garden” is an environment designed to allow users to “plant a seed in cyberspace.” It was conceived in early 1996 as a test bed for VRML 2.0 technology. “Nerve Garden I,” demonstrated for five days as a hands-on installation at SIGGRAPH 97, achieved several milestones, including the creation of a cross-platform, all-Java, client-server VRML 2.0 architecture; the generation of VRML using fractal algorithms; and the ability for users to place objects into a multi-user persistent VRML scene through a two-stage 3D experience. “Nerve Garden II,” currently under development, will broaden this test bed to encompass: neural-network control of scenegraph evolution and behavior through an engine called Nerves; streaming of world geometry through the transmission of generative algorithms; integration with a database to permit garden cloning and persistent storage; and development of Nerves and its related programming language, NerveScript, into a general-purpose behavioral and control mechanism for a broad range of VRML and Internet applications. The authors hope that “Nerve Garden” may become a strong platform for larger-scale shared object spaces.

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