Two or Three Things We Know About MOOs

So What's A MOO?

A MOO is a text-based environment situated in a computer communication network. MOOs are considered to be virtual realities, though they're qualitatively different from the classical virtual realities characterized by visual and even tactile stimuli.

In an environment such as a MOO several participants may be present at the same time, and they may communicate with each other. However, since they cannot be seen, the written language--transferred via the computer's keyboard--is their only means of communication.

The surroundings are actually (or perhaps we should write "virtually") a set of rooms with entrances and exits. Objects which are created by the MOO's inhabitants can be situated in the rooms, and a visitor can wander around the rooms, looking at and manipulating objects, as well as communicating with other participants.

As can be deduced, nothing in such an environment is "real." The characters participating in the MOO are cyborgs, and they can change endlessly. Their creators can endow them with any characteristics they desire; since the environment is text based, anything goes, even defying the laws of gravity. Thus the reality is a product of the language, the actions of the participants, and whatever social-behavioral codes are established (or not established--there are a number of examples of critical situations that developed as a result of this).Click here for more info on social and educational aspects of MUDs

The surroundings themselves can change and be redefined constantly. In a virtual world, space is totally different than we're accustomed to in our own world--the proximity of figures and/or objects does not have to be a constant; and time is also judged in a different way--it is dependent on the reaction time of the participants at their keyboards and the number of activities they are involved in simultaneously.

There are numerous types of MOOs, each with its own acronym: MUDs, MUs, MUSEs and the like. Some are academic, such as BioMOO (for biology professionals), some are social, like AussieMoo, though there is an educational side to it as well.

Real books can be found in real libraries that contain interesting information on MOOs, but the best way to find out more about them is via the Internet itself. Numerous reviews and overviews can be found and downloaded. What follows is a list of URLs that can lead you to more information. As you might guess, much of the material here is linked and cross-linked in such a way that you might find yourself going around in circles, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a great deal of good information available. Find the lead that seems best for you, add it to your own bookmarks, and continue with it until you find what most interests you.

The Lost Library of MOO
More about MOOs
MOO Central
The EduMOO Forum
TecfaMOO Home Page

HAVE (both actual and virtual) FUN

But wait just a second!

At this point you must be asking yourself: These people are grad students at a respected university and all they've done is study what MOOs are and then given us connections to learn more about them? Don't they have any hands-on experience?

If that's what you're asking yourself, then we have to give you credit -- it's a very good question. We're happy to let you know that although MOOs seem to be primarily an undergraduate activity (simply because undergraduates have the time to waste on them) we devoted more than our fair share of time to them as well.

To get a picture of what we tried to develop, try:

A MOOs Eye View of Jerusalem.

We ask that you also read:

a personal message.

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