Jon’s Radio Comments

October 16, 2006

In search of non-gratuitous 3D

Filed under: Uncategorized — jonsradiocomments @ 5:01 pm

The original item is here.



  1. As a fifty something year old, my reaction is the same as yours. I don’t want to make any great assumptions about your age, Jon. But is this a generational issue? Would our sons and daughters be more likely to run with this, and be less put off by the crude interface?

    Comment by Marius Coomans — October 16, 2006 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

  2. The first thing people try to do with new technology is to do what they’ve always done. This is for two reasons: (1) They haven’t figured out the affordances of the new technology, and (2) Even if they did, it may be too difficult to get others to play along. Only when the new technology has become dispersed enough that applications leveraging the technology’s unique benefits emerge AND are adopted.

    As a different take on your apparently unproductive meeting: how many unproductive/useless/mismanaged f2f meetings have you ever attended? There are indeed best practices for running classes and meetings, yet not everyone makes use of such “technologies.” A bad meeting is a bad meeting regardless of venue or platform.

    Comment by Gene Koo — October 16, 2006 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

  3. Let me add my, however uninformed, two cents into this issue. Being in my early 20s, I really don’t think it’s generational. This use of 3d seems completely gratuitous, and I get the impression that you could do the same sort of meet/discussion without wasting so much time creating a 3d environment.

    In my experience with computers and the internet, new technologies and methods will find their own niche, if at all. If there’s a need for it someone will come up with the idea, and others will latch on. I suppose the best thing to do is find a need that wants filling, and fill it in the most efficient effective (and sometimes interesting) way.

    It seems to me, the question that needs to be asked is “What need do 3D applications fill?” I certainly don’t think improved communication answers that question.

    Comment by Kristin — October 16, 2006 @ 8:37 pm | Reply

  4. I believe that the strength to be found in 3D environments has already be researched and summarized by Janet Murray in “Hamlet on the Holodeck – the Future of Narrative in Cyberspace”. In that book, she traces how, for each new medium, technology changes the communication medium and the communication medium’s structure, information, size, duration. The techniques to influence the mind are, in turn, formed by the limitations of the physics of the medium. From oral tradition to song/poetry/verse, to parchments as memory aids, to the codex, to the novel, to radio, to movies, to TV, to computational 3D, each style and genera are formed by the physical limitations of the medium. The novel explores personalities. The movie explains by action (you don’t want someone just explaining by talking in a movie but showing you). The radio draws on environmental sounds, metaphors, and visual language to sway the imagination.

    Murray says that interactive 3D teaches by explaining the “process” of the dynamics of an environment that changes over time. It’s hard to explain in just words, pictures, or movies how the intricacies of the interdependent actions and reactions work in complicated systems described by “systems theory”. These systems can be found in social interdependent dynamics as well as the ecologies of the physical world and as also in the interdependent dynamics of past discoveries and the changes in the world of knowledge within every discipline. It’s hard to rewind a movie and run it a gain with a few different choices made in the begining.

    Note that each medium doesn’t exclude the prior art but usually incorporates it. One should also expect 3D to allow one to use text or 2D as easily as 3D or the efforts will seem feeble. Murray shows that each new medium in its genesis was a poorer copy of the prior art and took about 20 years of experimentation to get its own feet and techniques. (Novels can pan and zoom but movies can do it faster.)

    I suppose the holodeck in Star Trek could have been just 2D. Somehow I think that would have made a very different story and very different lessons for the characters. 😉 Going the other way, why couldn’t the bridge and its controls for controlling the whole ship have just been a holodeck? Have “who you need”, “what they say”, and your own “controls” everywhere you go. No more “running to the bridge” by broken lifts. The 2D controls they used were just as “virtual” and subject to the same “bugs”.

    Someday we will control whole companies by manipulating them within visual representations of them. ERP and accounting systems are just text & 2D representations of models of the company. But you must admit that they are rigid, easily outdated, and very poor shadows to try to represent the moment by moment dynamics of a modern company.

    Today, “processes” change so fast and new process constantly created by large social groups, that text and 2D just can’t keep a person informed fast enough. That’s the motive behind the BIM (Building Intelligence Modeling) process. Blueprints just aren’t fast enough anymore to keep all parties informed of all the latest changes by all parties in the time it takes to build a skyscraper or any other large building project.

    If the mountain rights groups actually simulated the process of destruction, economic impact, all environments affected, alternatives, groups, individuals, and personalities involved and their unique interests, you might be more informed than by any other medium. We’re talking “serious games” studied at the “Serious Games Summit”.

    3D’s best use will be by simulations to, first, document processes, then become “practice-ware” to gain skills in the environments, and finally as “predictive-ware” when predictive mathematical models take on visual form, substance, and a life of their own that can more meaningfully interact with our own lives. Controlling and defining “processes” in complex, ever shifting, win-lose, interdependent environments and their related economies while absorbing and evaluating massive amounts of feedback, is what many of today’s youth are learning in MMORPGs.

    The ever-changing Truth is “out there”.

    Comment by Darius — October 16, 2006 @ 9:49 pm | Reply

  5. Nearly a decade ago I initiated a VRML project for scientific visualization in ethology. (It’s like anthropology, but with critters.) I must say in all honesty that the project was just a pretext so I could splash around in the deep end of the pool. I could say things didn’t go beyond scientific visualization because SGI pulled its core funding, but truth is I don’t think it found a real need to meet. I thought that back then, and I think it’s true still.

    Chatting with Bob Lipman of NIST I came across a relatively new model of the World Trade Center … technically impressive, and it certainly demonstrates the horsepower that’s available today. Certainly no “chart junk” here, and yet …

    The keystone to my “Participatory Deliberation” is discourse … by which I mean rigorous exchange that values subjective view . I’ve quoted from many dozens of documents in my site, but I gave pride of place to Richard Hamming: “The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.”

    I don’t think we’re nearly at the point where 3D techniques are required; we’ve not nearly exhausted the techniques we have. The snag, I suggest, is that the aim of the game is click-counting and not problem solving. On top of that, disruptive technologies require disruptive modes of production and that doesn’t serve the powers that be.

    My first experience of something like computer-mediated communications happened in the early 70s, and I first engaged in using technology for public education only a couple of years later. I can’t say there has been any great movement forward in that domain. My hope is that a dialectical approach such as my own will show how we can handle task-oriented communications (i.e. less smoke and mirrors, less clehvur sophistry). But it’s like selling penicillin to folk who think disease is caused by poisonous humours.

    No tool can cause folk to make sense. Well, none ‘cept mine. heh


    Comment by Ben Tremblay — October 16, 2006 @ 10:40 pm | Reply

  6. > Kristin:
    > It seems to me, the question that needs to be asked is “What
    > need do 3D applications fill?” I certainly don’t think improved
    > communication answers that question.

    It could be one answer. Consider the 3D quality of American Sign Language, for example, which plays out on a kind of a stage that exists in the space between the speakers. Things can be expressed on that stage that cannot be expressed in linear speech.

    > Darius:
    > If the mountain rights groups actually simulated the process of
    > destruction, economic impact, all environments affected, alternatives,
    > groups, individuals, and personalities involved and their unique
    > interests, you might be more informed than by any other medium.

    Absolutely. While it’s amusing to poke some fun at the reflexive use of familiar styles in a new medium for which they are inappropriate, the serious question here is: “Where are examples of new styles that really leverage the medium?”

    Comment by Jon Udell — October 17, 2006 @ 12:15 am | Reply

  7. This might meet your “non-gratuitous 3D” criteria:

    Comment by Darius — October 30, 2006 @ 8:16 am | Reply

  8. I’m all for the 3d aspects of this stuff – at least in the abstract – it helps a lot to be able to place ideas in space so that you can make sense of how they’re interconnected.

    What bums me out about SL in many ways is how its core interaction technology is chat. I’m sorry, but slow laggy chat is no way to have a reasonable conversation with people you don’t know very well. No one talks in paragraphs in world, just fragments.

    Comment by Edward Vielmetti — November 18, 2006 @ 5:16 am | Reply

  9. I couldn’t help thinking that your blahs were caused by the nature of the event you were at itself, stripped of its exotic 3-D setting. It sounded like a boring corporate seminar with the usual tired and ennervating methods of “break-out sessions” and reporting back fake consensus from non-consensus go-nowhere debates. The other drawback was that you were having a conversation about technology itself. That’s always a non-starter. That is, like ham radio, 80 percent of the communication might be about the hobbyists’ own technology, and it’s a fun hobby. But for the rest of the people, it’s useless.

    I agree with Darius that there is probably a lot untapped there. And so many questions — why do we even try to sit down in a place where there are no legs to really get tired? Maybe we should be flying and perching in clouds of conversations and tags or something. Certainly “HTML on a prim” is far from ready yet, but that’s just why trying to clunkily take web pages and arrange them around like wallpaper on 4 walls seems a totally hilarious thing to do in SL. I imagine people will look back on this in 5 years and laugh.

    SL is for intense and intimate relationships of varioust types which seem to be facilitated by representation as avatars. And it’s for being able to manipulate objects and builds in 3-D space. But it works better when you already have something in common you do together in RL, or something you do within SL itself. Trying to transplant fake, hypey business meetings where you talk about the brand and new technology into this setting merely plays up its phoniness and begs for more authenticity. Why was such a fake question about connectors even asked?

    Comment by Prokofy Neva — November 29, 2006 @ 10:46 pm | Reply

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