Digital Space Commons 3D Interview
Architects of a New Cyberspace

Avatars on the Record
Six Industry Experts Ponder the State of Online 3D Interview held on 12/15/1999
by Barrett Fox of Bruce Damer for a Special Issue of 3D Magazine,
Spring 2000, pages 30-37
What can Web 3-D do that non Web 3-D can't?

Well, any 3D space creates a much greater cognitive sense of "place" and could contain much more useful information than a simple document. The web, for the most part, is just a document database and does not really play into primates' other brain functions of memory, perspective, body placement and social interaction. I feel that the Internet is passing through this document-centric phase and will gravitate more toward real spaces, so Web3D is truly the future shape of Cyberspace. What is the greatest obstacle to Web 3-D currently? The real obstacle is easy authoring by a large audience. Great teams (like Plasm for example :) can produce super characters or worlds but these teams are relatively rare.

Until the general public can use an easy "lego" or generative methods to make cool content (a la Active Worlds, Flatland or Nerve Garden), there will be no widespread adoption of Web3D. Complex 3D modeling tools are the kiss of death for a wider creative community. Remember VRML? What developments do you foresee in the coming few years? The biggest thing coming is the big screen. When we get out from behind these tiny computer monitors and can have flat wallscreens that will totally change our experience of Cyberspace, make the net competitive with TV and movies and transform the 3D design industry. What potential application has you the most excited? Despite a difficult start in the past five years, I am still sold on avatar multi user 3D. All wonderful rotating product demos aside, there is nothing more fascinating and grabbing than real people being creative and expressive online.

We just held Avatars99 in 3D worlds and several thousand people made it a mind blowing experience (see Chat and Instant Messaging is booming folks! Could there ever be a free, general-purpose Web 3-D standard that performs as well as top game engines? Absolutely, if the API can get at standard D3D/OpenGL acceleration, performance can be there. Of course game engines are built for large dynamic virtual worlds, whereas many Web3D systems are aimed a relatively tiny scenegraphs for e-commerce or webisodic performances, but these new platforms will eventually broaden their shoulders. What is the coolest Web 3-D example you've seen so far? Well in the character/toon/episodic space, Pulse is just super, I also love Shout3D for its performance and pluginless cross-platform rich scenes, and I am still blown away by what is happening in the old line avatar worlds like Active Worlds.

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