Reservoir Hill points us to a story about a group of computer scientists who are taking steps to bring the creation of 3-D worlds to the casual user. As a proof-of-concept, Vladlen Koltun and the Stanford Virtual Worlds Group, using data collected by botanists, have developed software to create virtual 3-D trees with roughly 100 different tree attributes, all of which are highly variable. Quoting: "The inability of casual computer users to build 3-D objects - you practically have to be a sculptor, Koltun says - is an anchor holding back the promise of virtual worlds. Koltun's software, Dryad (a tree nymph in Greek mythology,) lets users move through the 100-attribute tree space in a fashion similar to navigating city streets on Google Maps. As in real life, not all trees are equally desirable. Since no single user is capable of mapping out the best parts of the enormous tree space, this mapping of desirability is done collaboratively, leading to continuous refinement of the software."
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