Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The 3D Web - Part 1

In the previous post, I wrote about Virtual Worlds vs 3D maps and where people were pegging us. We think that UpNext falls into both categories, taking cues from each. Yet, Virtual Worlds and 3D maps are subsets of a larger category, The 3D Web. And this is really where we see ourselves.

What is the 3D Web?

The definition of 3D Web is all over the map. Some restrict it solely to 3D applications while others include any site where users are immersed in an environment. For instance, Club Penguin, a virtual world for kids, is not truly 3D but it is definitely an immersive virtual world.

For us, the 3D web is simply the next level of progression in the evolution of the web. It is certainly not the only progression (see semantic web or programmable web) but definitely part of the changing landscape.

Consider these progressions of the web:

Text --> Text and Links --> Images and Pictures --> Video --> 3D

Bulletin Boards --> Webpages --> Social Networks --> 3D Web

The 3D web will not eliminate text and link based website, but for certain verticals it will become a better way to find information and interact with others. Giving users more information visually will make search better. Similarly, by immersing users in a 3D environment, social interaction will evolve.

Why 3D web now?

1) Hardware - The majority of computers can now handle 3D graphics. Even super light weight laptops have the video card capabilities and the processing power to render virtual worlds.

2) Social Networks - People now use the web as a primary communication device. We are past the tipping point of mass acceptance for social interaction over the web. We can now move towards providing users with better and more engaging environments for this interaction. Imagine the "social graph" of Facebook in a Second Life like environment.

3) Experience - Entertainment in 3D formats (video games and virtual worlds) has spanned across all demographics. These 3D environments lay the ground work in making users more comfortable with navigating and interacting in 3D. Thus, other 3D application, beyond entertainment, are now easily accepted and users see the benefits of these new environments.

There is a lot more to be said about this topic and there are people out there who have spent considerable amounts of time thinking about it. This blog is a good place to start:

3pointD - The Metaverse and 3D web from Mark Wallace

Please drop your thoughts in the comments or add links to other blog posts about this topic.

The next post, "3D Web - Part 2" will focus on 3D and local search, more specifically, what we at UpNext are doing.

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