Monday, August 13, 2007

Terra Nova: Death to Snow Crash

Posted comment:

At first I was in agreement with the gist of this, thinking back to a fellow I worked with (who was not a programmer) who continued to refer to new developments in programming as examples of "Artificial Intelligence". Eventually I grew weary of explaining to him the difference between AI and a "goto" statement. The concept kept him motivated, and as far as I could see, did no harm.

From the description here, I expected to read the Business Week article with the same sense of condescension. But the following snips tell me they pretty much got it right:

Such an advance in technology will require overcoming massive hurdles. The computer interface to take 3D imagery and interaction beyond the confines of Second Life or other virtual simulations will have to be intuitive to users.
For all the flurry of excitement, there's still a lot of skepticism among tech experts about whether companies can agree on standards that would allow an open 3D world to exist.
So it could take up to a decade before anything like this becomes mainstream. But companies already are developing new browsers and other technologies that are the baby steps toward making the 3D Net a reality.

To use Snowcrash as a model, it isn't unthinkable that would could eventually use "goggles" to view what we today call "the Internet" and that certain hand motions would allow us to move documents from one stack to another, hand copies to another person, or have a conversation with that person.

I doubt all that will happen in even 10 years, but it could, and I have little doubt that given enough time, that both our fantasies of AI and Virtual Reality can be realized.

In the mean time, while programs like Second Life fall far short of Snowcrash, we might still use those concepts found in Snowcrash to enlighten the design process of current software going forward.

Example: I've long wanted to be able to "hand" someone in SL a PDF file or other standard document type without a lot of hassle (and without having to write a script). Most of us know that such an exchange of documents even in 2D IM interfaces can be problematic. But with Second Life, I've already given the program pretty complete access to my machine (including 20 to 100 percent of its CPU power) and generally the person/avatar I'd be exchanging such a document with will be someone I know and trust. Ultimately, I see no reason I wouldn't choose to store large numbers of documents in Second Life, just as I am now doing with Google Docs. I'd want to have full access to those files both in 3D and 2D modes, and as Google appears to have learned (along with Yahoo and many others before them) the only way to prevent abuse of online storage is to charge something for it.

The great battleground for the next wave of online development I think will in fact be where you store your files. If Google wins there is a good chance that I'll be able to access those files (via open APIs) from just about anywhere. I would hope that eventually SL, and others will not only provide such APIs of their own (no need to wait for the program to be Open Sourced) but use the existing ones that are out there.

The "trick" and it's not a particularly big one from where SL currently stands, is to provide a triggering mechanism, animation and so on, for the transfer to take place (I'm suggesting that the actual transfer mechanism be peer to peer if the data isn't on one of the existing API driven storage mechanisms).

No comments:

Post a Comment