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3D web coming up?

Written by Alcides Fonseca at 1197117364

This post was inspired by Aral Bakan’s web’08 predictions: the rise of RIAs and the 3D web. It’s a nice writing on what may change in the web next year.

For a long time I am expecting web to gain one more dimension. It’s the natural evolution: at first you have one dimension (this one would be linear text, like telnet), then the two dimension (hypertext) came along and everyone was dazzled. Although hypertext has a long road ahead, I believe we should be jumping now to the next step.

Papervision3D is offering a pretty good solution in the present. I know of examples where it is being used and it will make other websites look pretty common. But I believe we can go farther in this 3D web. With the computer power we have at home nowadays, it’s not hard to launch a 3D browser. A 3D canvas with objects with x,y,z coordinates would allow whole new experiences in websites.

Wait a moment, that's Second Life!

Ok, it may look the same at first, but it’s not. Lindenlabs own the world, and by definition no one owns the Internet. For the good and for the bad, Internet browsing is a anonymous task. Of course you can login in which sites you want, but you can have the freedom to be anonymous and SecondLife doesn’t allow you that. You should also be able to own your own webserver and give what content do you want to, without any rules (but in a standard extensible language, like tHTML). And SL is trying to simulate the real world there, while the 3D websites would be far more abstract (of course a lot of people will emulate the real physics) and allow innovative experiences.

SL is however a good study-case for this 3D ambient. Not everyone seems comfortable with it and it serves only some purposes, mainly playful. When it comes to productivity, I believe 2D is simpler and straightforward. This 3D context should have come first in the Desktop, and we have not one popular example. I am not talking about Compiz’s cube effect, but more about a BumpTop experience.

Is this a bad omen for the 3D internet? Or the new possibilities will overcome that lack of productivity? I look forward to hear new opinions on this subject.