One area where (Mark Shuttleworth) sees this happening is in real-time collaboration. E-mail is widely used as a collaborative tool, but has severe limitations. When a team, such as a group of software developers, wants to work together on something in real time, something more elaborate is needed. Mr Shuttleworth points to an open-source platform called Croquet, an immersive environment that is similar in many ways to Second Life, a popular online virtual world. “You can see your collaborators' avatars looking at a spreadsheet in a virtual room,” he says. “People change things in different colours—newer stuff glows. We've started to use this for planning and building Ubuntu.”
Canonical, which is based in London where Mr Shuttleworth now lives, cannot afford to pay for all its programmers to come to planning meetings for new versions of the software, which are held every six months. Rather than demote some participants to a “second class” of virtual participation, he would prefer to have everyone participate virtually.
I can't find anything that suggests that this is happening in the present tense, such as, say, an Ubuntu package for Croquet. I think this is more a wishlist item than a current reality. Mixing up the two is the kind of thing that happens when you discuss technology with reporters.