Thursday, April 12, 2007

web and 3D like gum and peanuts ?

The world of using 3 dimensions on the web has reincarnated many times. From the humble and corny animated GIF icons through VRML then in Flash Swift3D and now papervision3D, 3D on the web has never really made it. Why is that? Large part has got to do with the bandwidth required to create the balance between effective 3D animation and enough graphic detail to make it past the teeth-gritting experience of next frame anticipation. The bandwidth thing is getting better though, so what's holding 3D from becoming a comfortable web browsing experience?
I believe the juncture lies in not what the user expects from the Internet, but what the user expects from 3D. The Internet provides information in much the same way that paper provides it. A more-or-less flat surface filled with information. The bonus of the Internet delivered information is the ability to navigate through it in innovative ways. Sure, cool, dwell within human psychology to derive attention grabbing navigation, play with layout and color theory, architect RIA applications till your heart's content. But in the end you just wanna get stuff done or read something useful. Somehow I think that 3D heads away from this purpose into providing an empty experience of floating in a pseudo 3D world.
So it seems 3D interfaces lean towards providing an experience rather than functionality. What does that mean in terms of the web? Well for one it throws the challenge of creating an information-rich and usable interface. It also means that 3D web experience is leaning towards experience-rich implementations like online gaming and other proprietary environments, such as secondlife. So even with advances in the flash player and things like papervision3D, I don't believe that we will see a commonly used effective 3D web interface anytime soon.

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