Immersive 3D Web? What? You mean virtual worlds, right?

After becoming aware that more than just the nice folks at Vivaty were reading my blog (they promptly thank fans), I see the need to catch others (non-supernerds) up to what all my recent blogs are about. For those techies that know what Open Metaverse truly means, skip this blog, close the laptop, close the eyes, rub the eyes, open, and go talk with someone you enjoy. If you have little/no clue to what the Metaverse is, or if you think it is SL or OpenSimulator, please keep reading.

To see what smart collaboration (Open Metaverse Roadmap) had to say about the Metaverse last year, this is a must READ.

(warning-beyond this is my perception zone, not wikipedia)

Repeated visitors to my blog will see this graphic again.

What is the Metaverse?
Don't worry, I am not going to cover all these now, but these "domains" are converging into a mash up of technologies that will blur the line between the virtual and real via the immersive 3D web. This is the Metaverse, a mix of realities.

Why does it say "open"?
Since the immersive 3D web is an evolution of the 2D web, it also will be built on standards that allow it to be open for all to visit, build, share, and more. Just like the web is now I can visit page after page because of these standards. I know everyone knows the web is open, but unfortunately, not everyone knows that a lot of the 3D worlds they see out or coming are not open or why they would need to be.

Almost all virtual worlds are "closed gardens". This is where the host company wants you to sign up for only their platform and keep you and your assets locked into that world. This is not the way the web works, but it is currently the way that the virtual worlds industry works. Sorry correction, I should say "is not working". Virtual world residents are demanding interoperability among worlds, transferring of virtual assets/avatars, and a host of other problems. So now different companies and institutions are all working on developing "open-standards" for virtual worlds.

Here is the funny thing. All 3D virtual worlds are an application of 3D on the web or web3D. Hooray! There already is an open standard for web3D, called X3D developed by the Web3D Consortium. But the virtual worlds industry doesn't want to use any part of it, or build off of it. They want to re-invent the whole thing (1 example).

Now I will spare you the details of the politics of past and present bad blood between certain people and companies that would make this collaboration difficult. Mention the web3D open standard in the virtual world crowd and you will hear, "you mean VRML?" from people who should know better, get an ear full from those VRML burned in the 90s on how "it didn't work then and won't work now" with the fire of a jilted lover, or be told how the standards body is "full of legacy pieces that move too slow".

The consortium is a collaboration of enthusiasts and die-hards that love this industry. Some may not be the easiest to get along with, but they love what they do (I personally have had nothing but a great time with everyone in this field so far *knock on wood). Most have been through the hard "Ramen noodle" times of web3D and still stuck with it. Why won't the virtual world industry use what that passion has created and spend their time/resources starting further towards the finish line.

Is the virtual world industry stuck in a rut of stand alone SL clones that lock you in, development shops that want to charge clients for each virtual world they go into, and will re-creating standards from scratch help companies that have made poor investments in virtual worlds re-save face? I love Virtual Worlds Management and Chris Sherman is a great guy, but when I saw that not one person from the Web3D Consortium was on the Open-Source, Interoperable Virtual Worlds panel for the convention in Los Angeles I begin to wonder what is going on?

The destination is the same even if the vehicles are different. We all win faster when we work together. Why waste the money, time, and resources to start further back? If solving the issues of standards and interoperability between 3D applications and networks is really what this is about, then I say to IBM, LindenLabs, Fortera, There, Multiverse, and all, "Work with the standards body, welcome on in, leave the egos, and bitterness at the door. You are among fellow geeks. Let's come together, do what we love, and solve these problems." Even Mike Liebhold, at the Metaverse Roadmap Workshop at Stanford last February said, "everyone just needs to bring together their engineers." Mad props for that statement, but sad it got only grumbles from the crowd.

Well, stand alone virtual worlds will make way to those building their niche in the immersive 3d web. Companies like Vivaty and ExitReality are "plug-in" the mainstream into the immersive web via cool apps and browsers. Most I know have been waiting for the open 3D web for a long while, back to the days of hyperlinking bananas and 3D schnitzel. I would think now is the time, for those of us that know how to build in it, to give those coming to us some killer s#!t to look at, interact with, and experience. Thank you both for the mainstream beta apps that support the open standard, and thank you Google for helping web3D get a strong foothold on the other side of the chasm.

The 3D web will not be "closed", owned by Google/Microsoft, nor built off of Second Life, but like SL, will be built by its users that get a good start and direction from the developers and the early adopters. The 3D web is now here, the Metaverse is forming, and its making students of us all.


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