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The shape of things to come, a question for the community

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Hello, and thank you for taking the time to read this. I have a dream. I thought at first that my dream was just about gaming, but over time, came to realize that gaming was but the first phase of something massive, and imho, something game changing for all who use the Internet. In the interest of keeping this short, I will try and convey my dream as succinctly as possible, but understand I have a 30+ page document outlining the details and ramifications of all you are about to read. What I am looking to find out is if this community 'gets it', and if you do, if there are those willing to help make this happen. Personally, I have committed myself to its genesis. Imagine a single game world that acted as a hub for other game worlds. The other game worlds would be created by the gaming modder community, or anyone with a creative mind and an inclination to do so. The tools to create those other worlds would be open-source in nature with databases for world objects, structures, creatures and creature AI. Users who created these assets could either make them freely available or for sale. Originally I imagined the hub world as being a staging area for the games it connected to, but ultimately realized that the hub world was behaving as the World Wide Web itself. This is because the hub world would be free, and like Second Life, there would be commercial entities where the avatars could go and buy virtual or real world items. But Second Life does not impress me. Besides its currency, it has no connection to reality. What was needed was for the hub world to juxtapose to reality itself. Imagine if the hub world was Earth. And web sites became virtual GPS (vGPS) locations. Instead of going to Dell's web site to buy a computer, one would go to Dell's HQ in Texas. Want Belgian chocolate? Go to Belgium, virtually. But what about the staggering quantity of people who do not want to, or are not able to, explore a world as an avatar? What about the speed of the World Wide Web in terms of going to a search engine, finding a site, and hopping to it. What would replace the search engine and the speed? Pets. Yes, we know them as pets, but in the world I was conceiving, these pets would be Intelligent Agents (IAs). They would act as our online representatives, our search engines and most amazingly, as the standardized UI for all the tools that allow us to exchange data online. In other words, the IA would facilitate file transfers (FTP, P2P, etc), emails and IMs (POP, IMs, IRC, etc) and be modular enough to add any other capabilities that programmers could conceive of. But those coders would no longer have to code the most annoying part of any application, the interface. What about social networks? This led to a fascinating solution that directly relates back to gaming. Layers. Imagine being in this hub world, which I started calling the Web Wide World (W3) at this point, and being in a location that thousands are visiting at the same time. Any gamer knows that this is a server crash waiting to happen (and I have several ideas on how to deal with server distribution). With layers, the user would only see those avatars who fit certain criteria (and opted to be seen). A layer for singles, or your friends, or those over age 60. With respect to games, imagine traveling the W3 to downtown Manhattan, and seeing a layer of zombies that were precached on your system. Now, the goal of the game would be to kill the zombies, and avoid killing the human avatars. Just a concept, but I hope you get the idea. This world would retain the Second Life currency system, but the currency could also have access restriction built in. Imagine a world that was only for children, with currency that could only be used on that world. Let's get back to the Intelligent Agents for a second. Imagine taking your IA into one of the game worlds with you. Now, while in a game, you would have a companion that could help you solve riddles, or just keep you connected to that which is going on both outside the game, and in RL. And when you walk around the real world, imagine your IA shadowing you in the virtual one. Imagine walking by a store in the real world that has an item you told your IA you wanted to find the cheapest price on. It IMs your cell phone to tell you to go into the store to get it. An example, but again, I hope you get the idea. There is so much more, but it is just a dream unless there is a strategy to make this whole thing happen. In my opinion, Phase I is the hub world, a proof of concept. At this point, it would not parallel Earth, but would act as the staging area I originally conceived. Two strategies to get this part moving. I will either need to convince the open source community to design and build it (bottom up approach) or I need to convince investors to fund its creation (top down approach). Either way, what will make or break this idea is if you, the game development community, a) think this is a good idea, and b) are willing to develop in it. I will stop here, but please understand that there is a great deal more involved in this idea, from overcoming technical challenges to the legal aspects of virtual property ownership. I want your feedback. I want to know if you have ideas to add to this, and I want to know if you are willing to help make this happen as a grass roots effort. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

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The vast majority of internet use is to obtain information or services as simply and easily as possible.

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Instead of going to Dell's web site to buy a computer, one would go to Dell's HQ in Texas.


What would be the difference, except that I would have to have a higher powered computer with the fans on the CPU and GPU going crazy as I flew around a virtual office, burning carbon and taking up time?

Most of us would rather just type stuff into a search box and click links to be honest.

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You're not the first one to come up with such an idea. But the question you have to ask yourself is "Do people really want to interact with the information this way?" I can't imagine why I'd want to navigate to a virtual Dell HQ and look through a virtual store rather than simply load up a fundamentally text-based web site, sort through options, then click a buy button. The virtual environment only makes going through that information harder. In the case of your "virtual AI" shadowing my real-world self, why wouldn't I just do a search for the product and then pull up maps to stores that have the item? Or better yet, just have the store ship it to me, a la Amazon. If those stores haven't published that information now, why would they when you have a virtual world?

In other words, what does the virtual interface give me that's worth the trade-off in convenience? "It looks cool," isn't really good enough. Every example you've given can be done easier and better without the virtual interface over it. That's not even getting into the practicality of the project, which I'm not even going to touch on.

Edit:
Another thought, after re-reading the parts on "virtual property rights." The nice thing about the internet is that web-space isn't scarce. Its easy and cheap to set up web space, and the only thing that's preventing you from getting your message out there is getting eyeballs in front of your face. Why would you want to implement a scarcity model in at the core of your system? I suppose domain names are one source of scarcity, but one largely mitigated by the prevalence of search engines.

In the words of Penny Arcade, when commenting about PS Home:

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Tycho
Chief among these bizarre maneuvers is the idea that, when manufacturing their flimsy dystopia, they actually ported the pernicious notion of scarcity from our world into their digital one. This is like having the ability to shape being from non-being at the subatomic level, and the first thing you decide to make is AIDS.

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Aardvark,

In 50 years, do you really believe we will be browsing the Internet the way we do today? I mean, if it ain't broke, why fix it, is the argument you are using.

Even if we assume that what we have today is adequate, my Grandma still finds it unusable. Add to this the 5 billion non-English speaking people around the world who still are not online, but who will be. Add to that the millions of baby boomers who will be too old to type in the next 20-30 years, and what you have is a need for a different way to use the Internet. I am not saying my idea is that other way, but it is a step towards another way, and imho, it is a better way than what we have now.

As to the hardware, I think now is an exceptional time for what I am describing to occur. Even netbooks have limited 3D acceleration ability. What is more, I have included in my larger project description several strategies that would take the graphics processing load off the system that is seeing the images. Take for example GeoFusion, which preprocesses the imagery and only sends the output to the end system (similar to the Tandberg video conferencing strategy). Or what about harnessing the CPU/GPU power of consoles in a opt in grid arrangement. The point is that now is an ideal time to grow beyond what is, and begin development of what will be.

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Original post by Freon Bale
Even if we assume that what we have today is adequate, my Grandma still finds it unusable.


If we're using usability to grandparents as a benchmark in usability, then video games is pretty much the exact opposite direction we need to be going. My grandparents have a much easier time with the internet than video games. I don't feel that they're atypical.

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Add to this the 5 billion non-English speaking people around the world who still are not online, but who will be.


And how will your product help that? I mean, in the real world we have signs and whatnot to direct people. How are you going to fix that in your virtual world? At some point, they will need to be able to find their way around, and that way will either have to be language agnostic (unlikely) or specifically re-implemented in their language. There's nothing fundamental to your idea that would make things easier for non-English speakers.

Also, those people are perfectly capable of creating their own web sites catering to their language. What usually happens is that people who cannot speak English simply use sites that are written in their native language.

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Add to that the millions of baby boomers who will be too old to type in the next 20-30 years,


There are already options for people who have difficulty typing, and they're only getting better.

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and what you have is a need for a different way to use the Internet.


The difficulties that people have with using the internet aren't with the interface, but usually with things like phishing, malware, and security. None of these are improved by your product.

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I am not saying my idea is that other way, but it is a step towards another way, and imho, it is a better way than what we have now.


I don't see how its any better.

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As to the hardware, I think now is an exceptional time for what I am describing to occur. Even netbooks have limited 3D acceleration ability. What is more, I have included in my larger project description several strategies that would take the graphics processing load off the system that is seeing the images. Take for example GeoFusion, which preprocesses the imagery and only sends the output to the end system (similar to the Tandberg video conferencing strategy). Or what about harnessing the CPU/GPU power of consoles in a opt in grid arrangement. The point is that now is an ideal time to grow beyond what is, and begin development of what will be.


All of that is just moving the power consumption around. Fundamentally, you don't need to consume that power, and people are not going to want to pay for that power consumption unless there are benefits to doing so. That's not even touching on the issue of why I'd want to either tie up my internet connection streaming video or my GPU rendering graphics when I can just view the information in text form.

Again, this comes down to "Why is a virtual interface a good idea?" You haven't given me any reasons that stand up to scrutiny. I'll admit that the idea is really, really cool. The only problem is that cool things are usually set aside in fairly short order unless they have real value. For reference, see how companies opened up virtual HQs and shops in Second Life, and then abandoned them in fairly short order when the trendiness stopped being quite so trendy.

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Rycross,

You bring up an excellent point; This idea is not novel, nor am I saying it is. In fact, what it represents is a convergence of many technologies that I have yet to see converge, especially the 3D component.

Why 3D? Because from birth, humans are trained to interact with a 3D world. I envision the ultimate evolution of what I am describing as a replacement for the UI for the OS itself. I see people's own computers as having virtual world Earth counterparts that make them residents of the Internet rather than visitors.

To me, and all of this community, computers are very easy to use. But I have done support for users ranging from small children to 90+ year olds, and to them, the capabilities you and I have are magical. How can that playing field be leveled? Once again, I am not saying my way is that panacea, but I have yet to see a project which even tries to converge the quantity of capabilities I am describing.

As to ease of use, do not think of the IA, the pet, as what you and I know in MMOGs (though for many, that will be the preferred interface). To users not interested in 3D, or communicating through devices with little horsepower (phones, for instance), the connection to the IA is exactly like a web page.

But think of the advantages of a 3D Earth. I challenge you to find and order chocolate from an actual Belgian Chocolatier in Gent, Belgium. You do not speak Flemish or French, and even with translation software, the amount of effort you will go through to find one and order chocolate is extreme. If you had a 3D earth, you would rotate it to Belgium, zoom to Gent, maybe ask a Belgian you filtered through layers what the best place was, go there and order. Or how about some cool technology that is only going to be released in China? Good luck finding a western store that sells it.

My point is that the current World Wide Web has islands of content separated by language. With an 3D Earth, even if just from a consumer level, navigation to localized vendors would be much easier.

[Edited by - Freon Bale on December 30, 2009 10:59:23 AM]

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Original post by Rycross

If we're using usability to grandparents as a benchmark in usability, then video games is pretty much the exact opposite direction we need to be going. My grandparents have a much easier time with the internet than video games. I don't feel that they're atypical.


First off, Rycross, I greatly appreciate you challenging this idea. The goal here is to get a dialogue going and to strengthen this idea through solid discussion. To your comment, I would only suggest that a 3D environment is not necessarily a video game. 3D is here, whether we adopt it for the Internet or not. Within 10 years, you will not be able to buy an LCD that does not have both touchscreen and 3D (without glasses. I have used the technology myself over 10 years ago).

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And how will your product help that? I mean, in the real world we have signs and whatnot to direct people. How are you going to fix that in your virtual world? At some point, they will need to be able to find their way around, and that way will either have to be language agnostic (unlikely) or specifically re-implemented in their language. There's nothing fundamental to your idea that would make things easier for non-English speakers.


My last comment really covers this point, but to rehash, basically I am saying that symbolic navigation is easier than text based navigation, especially when one does not speak the native language.

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Also, those people are perfectly capable of creating their own web sites catering to their language. What usually happens is that people who cannot speak English simply use sites that are written in their native language.


I agree, but think of the millions of web sites denied to you because of the language barrier.

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There are already options for people who have difficulty typing, and they're only getting better.


Ultimately, we may be able to talk to our computers and they will understand us. If that does occur, my opinion is that the interaction will be similar to the IAs I am describing. What better way to evolve into that future then to have the capability, albeit more manual, now.


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The difficulties that people have with using the internet aren't with the interface, but usually with things like phishing, malware, and security. None of these are improved by your product.


Exactly why a new system is needed. The Internet as we know it is a hodgepodge of technologies that could not foresee the annoyances you describe. Let's create something that does.


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I don't see how its any better.


I hope you do now, and I greatly appreciate your criticism.

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It reminds me of the system we see in most sci-fi movies, where the user navigates in a 3D environment. It looks cool, but ultimately I really don't think it's very useable. If we are going to substitute the existing system of clicking links, we sure as hell don't want to navigate avatars in 3D environments. First of all,that's 10x harder for the non-gaming people. Believe me when I say, non-gaming people have incredible difficulty with anything 3D, orientation, camera. It doesn't have any advantage. It will definately take longer than what we have today, that is, click on links and hypertext, and that is simply not desirable. The 'pets' idea, that is an interface or a cute cartoony character that exposes functionality, has been tried and didn't work. Personally, I don't see why we should bother with that unless it's for kids. Making an interface cuter doesn't mean it's more useable and efficient. Of course, I don't know, maybe people will prefer it because it looks cooler, who knows. It depends if we value usability or the 'awe' factor. But I really think we should substitute the existing 'dumb' systems with something more minimalistic and smart, like, I don't know, speech understanding, correct language tranlation of pages, understand what the user is trying to search for, things like that.

[Edited by - mikeman on December 30, 2009 7:41:25 AM]

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Original post by Freon Bale
But think of the advantages of a 3D Earth. I challenge you to find and order chocolate from an actual Belgian Chocolatier in Gent, Belgium. You do not speak Belgian, and even with translation software, the amount of effort you will go through to find one and order chocolate is extreme.

On behalf of my southern neighbors: there's no such language as Belgian. [grin]

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Original post by Freon Bale
But think of the advantages of a 3D Earth. I challenge you to find and order chocolate from an actual Belgian Chocolatier in Gent, Belgium. You do not speak Belgian, and even with translation software, the amount of effort you will go through to find one and order chocolate is extreme.
It took me about 2 minutes to find this via google. You can't actually order any chocolate, but you can email them if you want - I don't see how a "virtual world" would change any of that, though.

So yes, I can find a chocolatier in Gent, Belgium in a very short amount of time with a purely text-based interface.

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Or take an example of real life :a library
Is it quite hard and very time consuming to find a rare book by walking between the book shelves, while it's much easier to find it with a search engine, or from a list.
The opposite should be done: every real world (3D) stuff should have a virtual text based interface pair.

And there are a lot of people (like me) who are "blear-eyed" so wont notice things, even if the thing is in front of them.

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Original post by Wan
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Original post by Freon Bale
But think of the advantages of a 3D Earth. I challenge you to find and order chocolate from an actual Belgian Chocolatier in Gent, Belgium. You do not speak Belgian, and even with translation software, the amount of effort you will go through to find one and order chocolate is extreme.

On behalf of my southern neighbors: there's no such language as Belgian. [grin]


Good point. Flemish or French. I should have done more research.

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Original post by Codeka
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Original post by Freon Bale
But think of the advantages of a 3D Earth. I challenge you to find and order chocolate from an actual Belgian Chocolatier in Gent, Belgium. You do not speak Belgian, and even with translation software, the amount of effort you will go through to find one and order chocolate is extreme.
It took me about 2 minutes to find this via google. You can't actually order any chocolate, but you can email them if you want - I don't see how a "virtual world" would change any of that, though.

So yes, I can find a chocolatier in Gent, Belgium in a very short amount of time with a purely text-based interface.


I am not saying our current system is non-functional, just highly slanted towards big business with large web presence. You found a chocolatier, but I will bet there are hundreds in Gent. Without even considering my proposal, consider how local knowledge could be harnessed to search for real world venues.

On another level, consider this. In 20-30 years, the quantity of home-bound baby boomers is going to be a huge population in the US. These people will effectively be trapped in their living space. A 3D Earth would give them a window of exploration not just to the Internet, but to the world.

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Original post by mikeman
It reminds me of the system we see in most sci-fi movies, where the user navigates in a 3D environment. It looks cool, but ultimately I really don't think it's very useable. If we are going to substitute the existing system of clicking links, we sure as hell don't want to navigate avatars in 3D environments. First of all,that's 10x harder for the non-gaming people. Believe me when I say, non-gaming people have incredible difficulty with anything 3D, orientation, camera. It doesn't have any advantage. It will definately take longer than what we have today, that is, click on links and hypertext, and that is simply not desirable. The 'pets' idea, that is an interface or a cute cartoony character that exposes functionality, has been tried and didn't work. Personally, I don't see why we should bother with that unless it's for kids. Making an interface cuter doesn't mean it's more useable and efficient. Of course, I don't know, maybe people will prefer it because it looks cooler, who knows. It depends if we value usability or the 'awe' factor. But I really think we should substitute the existing 'dumb' systems with something more minimalistic and smart, like, I don't know, speech understanding, correct language tranlation of pages, understand what the user is trying to search for, things like that.


Possibly my few examples may have convinced you that I am forcing a 3D interface on users. Let me rectify that by saying that in any new system, it is necessary to provide a navigation system that is comfortable to all the groups who will use it. The newest generation of users, children, will find the avatar interface very comfortable, but the older generation will probably still choose to go to a flat page with an empty field that they type a search string. For this latter group, the IA satisfies this need. They are not forced to interact with a pet, but it is there if they want it.

Also, to an earlier point, where I indicated that we would go to Dell's HQ in Texas, it was pointed out that navigating a 3D store would be far less efficient than a web page. I agree. The point I was making was that to FIND Dell's 'site', one could go to where they know Dell actually is. Would this be the only way to navigate there? No, they could have searched with their IA and arrived in the exact same quantity of steps a normal search of today would have yielded.

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Original post by szecs
Or take an example of real life :a library
Is it quite hard and very time consuming to find a rare book by walking between the book shelves, while it's much easier to find it with a search engine, or from a list.
The opposite should be done: every real world (3D) stuff should have a virtual text based interface pair.

And there are a lot of people (like me) who are "blear-eyed" so wont notice things, even if the thing is in front of them.


I agree with you. Searching through objects in 3D space is more difficult than using a list. This is not necessarily my suggestion however.

Consider the library you just mentioned. How would you access the repository of books in your local library? Maybe they have a web site which you can find, but I think it would be easier to type in their address, then click on the building itself. Once clicked, either a 3D rendering of the inside could appear, or just like web pages, an option to view content as lists. If 3D, maybe a user could click on a virtual computer screen with digital cardfile within.

The point is that 3D is the same world that users already live in. What is obvious to do in the real world, should be obvious in the virtual one.

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If those small local shops don't have a text-based web presence, why would they have a multi-verse presence?

I'd also like to point out that symbols aren't really universal like you think they are. They do require training. Lets take a good one: the bathroom symbols of a little person, and a little person wearing a dress. Pretty easy to figure out, right? Now imagine that you're a guy from some small country where they've never used little people symbols to mark a bathroom. How do you know that those little people mark a bathroom? What if the women in your culture never wear dresses? Now think about things like stop signs. The only reason you know what a stop sign means is because you were taught what it means. A child with no training wouldn't know that a green light means go or a red light means stop.

Your symbolic interface will certainly work well if it uses a wide set of symbols that people are already familiar with. The question is if you can use such symbols. Also, re purposing common symbols to new, similar virtual functions doesn't always work out well either. After all, Windows has used "Folders" to hold "Documents" forever, and people still have trouble figuring that out.

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Original post by Freon Bale
I am not saying our current system is non-functional, just highly slanted towards big business with large web presence. You found a chocolatier, but I will bet there are hundreds in Gent. Without even considering my proposal, consider how local knowledge could be harnessed to search for real world venues.


To add to the discussion of shopping on the internet: I've actually tried to order from foreign countries before. In this case, buying flowers for my then-girlfriend in Japan.

The difficulties with doing this weren't really related to finding a site and a product. A Google search for flower shops in Tokyo brought up plenty of hits for sites with online ordering and pictures. Where I started to have problems was when I ran into that whole "paying" thing. Some sites wouldn't take my American credit card. Other sites didn't have spaces for an American-style billing address or telephone number. All sites had instructions written in kanji that I couldn't read. So the difficulty wasn't in finding the store and product, but actually making the transaction.

Furthermore, concerning your example of Chinese goods, there are certainly sites out there that cater to buying those sorts of products. The difficulties you run into with regards to this kind of thing are almost always legal or logistical, not technical. For example, Amazon.co.jp allows you to browse in English and buy items, but once you try to ship some items overseas, you run into a brick wall. That's because certain laws prohibit or restrain them from exporting those items. Lik-Sang was sued out of business for shipping certain video game systems to the EU. On the logistical side of things, its not always profitable for a local business to ship their goods internationally, or sometimes even ship their goods at all.

Whew. That all being said, "Window shopping" and "Virtual tourism" are, as far as I can see, "killer apps" of a multi-verse like the one you propose. I honestly hope I'm not being too discouraging. A mutliverse would be a cool technology and, likely, would have some good niches. Its just that I'm still not convinced that its a whole-sale replacement for the current web.

Edit:

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The point is that 3D is the same world that users already live in. What is obvious to do in the real world, should be obvious in the virtual one.


Is it? Some real-world objects and concepts simply wouldn't map to a virtual world, and would require re-training.

Another thing you need to consider, and that I think is being lost in all the discussion, is that even if you have a virtual world, your user isn't interacting with 3D-virtual world. They're interacting with their mouse and keyboard to control an avatar in a 3D virtual-world projected onto a 2D interface (that is, what you're seeing is still 2D, just with the illusion of a third dimension). That is, they're not just going to be able to pick up a book. They have to know that left clicking (or whatever you choose) something is the same as picking it up.

[Edited by - Rycross on December 30, 2009 10:20:52 AM]

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Original post by Freon Bale
Consider the library you just mentioned. How would you access the repository of books in your local library? Maybe they have a web site which you can find, but I think it would be easier to type in their address, then click on the building itself. Once clicked, either a 3D rendering of the inside could appear, or just like web pages, an option to view content as lists. If 3D, maybe a user could click on a virtual computer screen with digital cardfile within.


I know the address of my local library, but I have never, when wanting to renew my books online, got halfway through typing "[my town] library" into Google and thought - "Gosh, it would be easier to type their postal address in." I have no idea whatsoever of the postal address, or even location, of the nearest place I can go to to buy a Dell box, yet am typing this on one without problem.

This is getting a bit silly now.

So the 3D part is optional for users? Therefore the 3D part is optional for site providers as well. The 3D part is also expensive to develop to a decent professional standard.

Prediction - even in 50 years, 90% of customers with money to spend are still opting for the text-based interface. If prediction correct, no site provider interested in making money sees return on investment of building decent 3D option. Therefore less 3D options creates vicious (or virtuous, depending on your view in this argument) circle, it all comes crumbling down, we all go back to clicking links and the people who want immersion in a 3D world...go outside?

(Incidentally, one of the parts of my full-time job is teaching people who have never touched a PC to use it so I do know a bit about this - in my opinion most non-users would struggle far more with a 3D world, especially as the poster above points out they would be controlling themselves in it with peripherals).

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Original post by Rycross
If those small local shops don't have a text-based web presence, why would they have a multi-verse presence?


Fair question. Remember that part of this process is using you, and this community's imaginative capacity, to try and answer these questions. In part, your question asks who owns the Web Wide World (W3) equivalents of real Earth space. If the owner of the shop does, then it would be their responsibility to create a presence. That is how our existing system is supposed to work for domain names. But if these local shops behaved more like a wiki format, then anyone could add content to them. Just an idea.


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I'd also like to point out that symbols aren't really universal like you think they are. They do require training. Lets take a good one: the bathroom symbols of a little person, and a little person wearing a dress. Pretty easy to figure out, right? Now imagine that you're a guy from some small country where they've never used little people symbols to mark a bathroom. How do you know that those little people mark a bathroom? What if the women in your culture never wear dresses? Now think about things like stop signs. The only reason you know what a stop sign means is because you were taught what it means. A child with no training wouldn't know that a green light means go or a red light means stop.

Your symbolic interface will certainly work well if it uses a wide set of symbols that people are already familiar with. The question is if you can use such symbols. Also, re purposing common symbols to new, similar virtual functions doesn't always work out well either. After all, Windows has used "Folders" to hold "Documents" forever, and people still have trouble figuring that out.


I am not advocating symbolic standardization, for as you say, it would be difficult, and on another level, doing so would be imposing another culture's symbology. I would encourage localized symbology, and I would bet that it is easier to learn a foreign symbol than a foreign language (especially with the help of the IA).



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To add to the discussion of shopping on the internet. I've actually tried to order from foreign countries before. In this case, buying flowers for my then-girlfriend in Japan.

The difficulties with doing this weren't really related to finding a site and a product. A Google search for flower shops in Tokyo brought up plenty of hits for sites with online ordering and pictures. Where I started to have problems was when I ran into that whole "paying" thing. Some sites wouldn't take my American credit card. Other sites didn't have spaces for an American-style billing address or telephone number. All sites had instructions written in kanji that I couldn't read. So the difficulty wasn't in finding the store and product, but actually making the transaction.


One of the reasons for using a standardize online currency (I was calling them DigiCash, dCash, Digibucks, dBucks). I see the Internet as a country, and the first step in unifying it is a currency system that is universal.

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Furthermore, concerning your example of Chinese goods, there are certainly sites out there that cater to buying those sorts of products. The difficulties you run into with regards to this kind of thing are almost always legal or logistical, not technical. For example, Amazon.co.jp allows you to browse in English and buy items, but once you try to ship some items overseas, you run into a brick wall. That's because certain laws prohibit or restrain them from exporting those items. Lik-Sang was sued out of business for shipping certain video game systems to the EU. On the logistical side of things, its not always profitable for a local business to ship their goods internationally, or sometimes even ship their goods at all.


I have no immediate solution to this problem, and it is a valid one. I would say that right now the demand for this capability is probably lower than the demand for local products. Were this to change, I would bet that so would the export rules.

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Whew. That all being said, "Window shopping" and "Virtual tourism" are, as far as I can see, "killer apps" of a multi-verse like the one you propose. I honestly hope I'm not being too discouraging. A mutliverse would be a cool technology and, likely, would have some good niches. Its just that I'm still not convinced that its a whole-sale replacement for the current web.


Not to mention education. Imagine an 8th grade class going to the Great Wall of China, and seeing a layer of a 1000 angry Mongols storming the wall (the layer could either be cached on their local system, or streamed). Or a physics class meeting at the center of an atom (which would be a world appended to the hub). What about Machinima? Imagine interactive Machinima.

I understand your skepticism. In fact, I did not start with this idea, but with the much smaller scale idea of a hub world for games. The problem was that the hub world ended up filling so many other roles, it effectively was the World Wide Web, and so many other tools.

I want this level of criticism, for how else can this idea take off. In the end, it is my job to not get discouraged and to convince even a small percent of those watching this to start imagining. That may lead to another advocate, or to participation itself.

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The point is that 3D is the same world that users already live in. What is obvious to do in the real world, should be obvious in the virtual one.

Is it? Some real-world objects and concepts simply wouldn't map to a virtual world, and would require re-training.

Another thing you need to consider, and that I think is being lost in all the discussion, is that even if you have a virtual world, your user isn't interacting with 3D-virtual world. They're interacting with their mouse and keyboard to control an avatar in a 3D virtual-world projected onto a 2D interface (that is, what you're seeing is still 2D, just with the illusion of a third dimension). That is, they're not just going to be able to pick up a book. They have to know that left clicking (or whatever you choose) something is the same as picking it up.


If this concept was turned on today, I would agree with you, mouse and keyboard are the standard interface. But five years from now, a touchscreen LCD computer screen/TV will be common. Is reaching out to the screen you are reading this on to scroll up and down the best way to use that technology? I do not think so.

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This is a cool idea, but I think ultimately the physical interface (flat monitor, keyboard) is the main restriction at this point. This sort of idea would hugely benefit from a touch-based 3D interface, something closer to virtual reality (but maybe with a bit less physical immersion).

The monitor/keyboard setup we have now is a pretty unintuitive way to interact with a 3D world. Gamers are very used to that by now, but the rest of the world have difficulties with it. Once we get the nice hologram touch displays we see in movies, then this idea will flourish. Or more likely, it would coincide with the arrival of these displays, as a killer app.

I think that the implementation of this idea is inevitable. It may take decades though. But it wouldn't be a waste to develop a prototype of the idea. It would not be hard to get a small, dedicated group of users to use the system, which would allow you to expand the technology over time and maybe one day be the precursor to the 3D internet.

So once technology allows it, or when the baby boomers die off, or when culture accepts it, then the idea has a good chance.

EDIT: oh, it seems the mouse/keyboard issue has been touched on while I was writing his. Anyways, I hope this idea happens, because virtual Earth griefing sounds like The Next Hilarious Thing.

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I know the address of my local library, but I have never, when wanting to renew my books online, got halfway through typing "[my town] library" into Google and thought - "Gosh, it would be easier to type their postal address in." I have no idea whatsoever of the postal address, or even location, of the nearest place I can go to to buy a Dell box, yet am typing this on one without problem.


This is you, however, someone with a great deal of knowledge on how to use your computer. To those who are new, which I see you have experience with, the existing strategy is functional. But is it the only way? Is it the best way? If you were going to fix it, how would you?

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This is getting a bit silly now.

So the 3D part is optional for users? Therefore the 3D part is optional for site providers as well. The 3D part is also expensive to develop to a decent professional standard.


One of the requirements for the open source development tools would be a minimum setup time of 10 minutes. In that time, a user could create a basic 3D space that they can edit. This would not only be for businesses, but for personal sites, like possibly ones own house.

What is more, objects in this world would have history tied to them. Who made it, where it has been, etc. I can imagine IKEA selling objects in virtual space, and if a user then chooses to buy the same object in the real world, possibly getting a discount.

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Prediction - even in 50 years, 90% of customers with money to spend are still opting for the text-based interface. If prediction correct, no site provider interested in making money sees return on investment of building decent 3D option. Therefore less 3D options creates vicious (or virtuous, depending on your view in this argument) circle, it all comes crumbling down, we all go back to clicking links and the people who want immersion in a 3D world...go outside?


I do not subscribe to your prediction. In 50 years, if I am still scrolling a 2D web page, I will be shocked. 3D is here, but it is hidden to most by cost. I have used LCDs that show a 3D object right in front of them, with no need to wear glasses. And this was in 2000.

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(Incidentally, one of the parts of my full-time job is teaching people who have never touched a PC to use it so I do know a bit about this - in my opinion most non-users would struggle far more with a 3D world, especially as the poster above points out they would be controlling themselves in it with peripherals).


I think implementation would determine their ease of use. So if you placed one of your new users into WoW, then yes, they might struggle. But is WASD the only 3D control system? Is mouse-look? I do not believe them to be, but I do believe that someone with your experience could think of a better control schema and better user experience.

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How about net neutrality? I'm going to assume that pretty much everyone here is in favor of net neutrality.

Your "world" thing instantly creates an uneven playing field for different sized companies. Who will see my little, boutique shop off in the middle of nowhere when there are the big chains conveniently in the center of town? You've brought location, location, location back into the internet, and I see only downsides. Who decides who gets what location? It seems based on real land ownership- so now only the people who own land can have a net presence? Disregard legal aspects of "virtual property ownership" and consider the moral ones. You're artificially restricting internet presence to that real world presence. You've skewed the economic advantages to larger, richer corporations. You've artificially created "land" which, in this hypothetical, would have considerable value.

And as for this somehow improving internet accessibility, how will the blind work in a virtual 3D environment? How will the poor get access to the more expensive hardware required? How will this work on mobile devices?

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Original post by Swarmer
This is a cool idea, but I think ultimately the physical interface (flat monitor, keyboard) is the main restriction at this point. This sort of idea would hugely benefit from a touch-based 3D interface, something closer to virtual reality (but maybe with a bit less physical immersion).

The monitor/keyboard setup we have now is a pretty unintuitive way to interact with a 3D world. Gamers are very used to that by now, but the rest of the world have difficulties with it. Once we get the nice hologram touch displays we see in movies, then this idea will flourish. Or more likely, it would coincide with the arrival of these displays, as a killer app.

I think that the implementation of this idea is inevitable. It may take decades though. But it wouldn't be a waste to develop a prototype of the idea. It would not be hard to get a small, dedicated group of users to use the system, which would allow you to expand the technology over time and maybe one day be the precursor to the 3D internet.

So once technology allows it, or when the baby boomers die off, or when culture accepts it, then the idea has a good chance.

EDIT: oh, it seems the mouse/keyboard issue has been touched on while I was writing his. Anyways, I hope this idea happens, because virtual Earth griefing sounds like The Next Hilarious Thing.


The most important line you wrote is one I completely agree with, that this concept is inevitable. Even if only gamers populate it, in some form what I am proposing is going to happen (imho).

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Mouse and keyboard (or this kinds of interfaces) will only die, if the computer will read our thoughts.
The holographic screen seen in sci-fis. It's simply hilarious.
Just think about it, how long can you hold up your arm to do things in the holographic space?
For 50 seconds, maybe 10 minutes if you are Schwarzenegger.

And for speak-recognizing computers: imagine a workplace, it would be like in a jungle or zoo.

Sorry for the OFF.

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Original post by Ezbez
How about net neutrality? I'm going to assume that pretty much everyone here is in favor of net neutrality.

Your "world" thing instantly creates an uneven playing field for different sized companies. Who will see my little, boutique shop off in the middle of nowhere when there are the big chains conveniently in the center of town? You've brought location, location, location back into the internet, and I see only downsides. Who decides who gets what location? It seems based on real land ownership- so now only the people who own land can have a net presence? Disregard legal aspects of "virtual property ownership" and consider the moral ones. You're artificially restricting internet presence to that real world presence. You've skewed the economic advantages to larger, richer corporations. You've artificially created "land" which, in this hypothetical, would have considerable value.

And as for this somehow improving internet accessibility, how will the blind work in a virtual 3D environment? How will the poor get access to the more expensive hardware required? How will this work on mobile devices?


Excellent points, and mostly ones I have considered. I am a strong believer in net neutrality, and the problems you describe will have to be addressed. Who controls W3 space? I am only one mind, and I am here to discuss these issues, not impose my own views. Who do YOU think should control it.

As to location, do not forget that Earth may become the equivalent to .com, but it is just one world connected to many. If we extend the domain concept then I see other worlds, even other Earths, dedicated to specific themes or functions. Worlds for children, worlds for the open-source community, for web conferencing, for education.

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