The 3D Web

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Welcome to the first entry in the Linux App Finder Blog. I'll be using this blog to talk mostly about interesting Linux apps and the first I'd like to mention is a development kit rather than an app, but it has the potential to produce some great end user content. I recently noticed it in an article on News.com titled: Mapping a path for the 3D Web. The premise is a group of industry visionaries getting together to discuss a potential vision of the Metaverse (aka 3D Web), which for me conjures visions from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash or Tad Williams' Otherland series.

The article was interesting, but the most interesting part was mention of a software platform called Croquet. The cool thing about Croquet is how it has the potential to tie together multiple online worlds into a single 3D operating system. It also addresses how to access both 2D and 3D content. Looking at the screenshots provides a nice glimpse at what is possible.

What I like best about the interface is that it mimics some of the interactions and comforts of the physical world we are used to, but without giving up the advantages of a virtual world. In fact it could make navigating those worlds much easier. The main concept appears to be a basic three-dimensional space that can be built upon, much like erecting the walls of a house. Some of the example screenshots simply show a panel floating in the air, but those panels could also be integrated into a wall of a virtual museum or store.

These panels can serve up two-dimensional content or they can be a portal to another 3D world that you can step through by yourself or with a friend. Which brings me to one of the most promising aspects of Croquet - collaboration. Imagine having a virtual meeting place set up with your friends and the possibilities a 3D environment could provide. Instead of going to a chat room, instant messaging, or voice chat, you could go to your new online hang out where everyone is represented by an avatar and interacting with virtual objects.

Seamless voice chat could be implemented so you don't have to switch to a chat window to type or another application to speak. If you decide to play a game together or visit another 3D world you could travel there without having to separately load a game and find a server. Another fun idea that will be possible as bandwidth and more immersive viewing become possible is getting together with friends in far away physical locations to watch some football or the latest episode of your favorite TV show.

The possibilities are limitless and the ones I mentioned are only a few, and probably far from the best uses. I'm looking forward to following the project's progress and seeing what creative developers out there can come up with.

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