3D Worlds on the web

I’ve been working on LookingGlass which is a stand-alone, you-have-to-download-it viewer for the OpenSimulator virtual worlds. I really wish one didn’t have to download the viewer. Viewing should just happen as part of the web.

I’ve looked at this several times and it looks like the infrastructure is maturing. WebGL is appearing or will soon appear in most browsers. This provides the basis for getting accelerated, 3D graphics on the screen. Additionally, it is standard in the browsers (IE is a problem, Microsoft being who they are, but Google has a plugin to fix that).

Recently, Google has decided to move their O3D project to being a scene graph wrapper for WebGL. This makes JavaScript connect to the 3D world reasonably while keeping all the 3D technology in the standard browser.

The new O3D is early in its development but it is coming. 3D on the web is just around the corner.

One person magnified by technology

I listen to the WNYC Radio Lab podcast and last week’s was about the musician Juana Molina. She creates music by using a looping machine to add to her presentation: she starts singing and plays her guitar, loops portions of it and has it play back while she sings over it. Layer upon layer is added all in real time until a complex chorus of voices and sounds creates a song.

Back in August, they podcasted about Zoe Keating who does the same thing with a cello: in a real time performance, she plays phrases and layers them into an accompaniment and creates an overall complex and full sound.

This all made me think about how the Internet is new, personal technologies are expanding what an individual can do. I remember talk about how, since tech is getting so complex, only corporation could do innovation — the garage invention is dead. But now we have people blogging and magnified without the need of a newspaper, we have musicians who can make an orchestra without the symphony and we have directors creating movies without the film studio.

Real innovation still happens at the “bottom” — one person with an idea. And that one person, with all our new technologies at are available to everyone, can still make a splash. There are two messages there: individual people free to create and technology in the hands of everyone.