Re: Beyond The Beyond

Chris Hind (
Tue, 10 Dec 1996 23:41:38 -0800

>The VRML standards are irrelevant to the above point. VRML is *not* a
>self-operating/self-serving environment. There is an entire layer of
>software between the VRML and the operating system/network. Normally, this
>is an HTTP server, but for our purposes, an HTTP server will probably not be

It may not be sufficent but as new protocols are created and standardized,
we will move the world from platform to platform and enrich it with more
and more detail gradually as the technologies improve and thus allow it to

>However, the final product *should* use off the shelf
>protocols. The server-side software will be more complex than an ordinary
>HTTP server due to the additional requirements and miscellaneous internal
>protocols. That you can accomplish everything you wish this world to do
>with just VRML is wishful thinking.

Describe the world as best you can in text or render it with the help of a
few of the lists graphic artists and gradually move it to the evolving VRML
medium as it continues to grow and improve. Many people are working with
VRML so the ability to move it forward is a for sure and if a new more
efficent format comes along its a sure bet there will be conversion programs.

>The way you are describing this, the world won't be much better than the
>Internet already is. It will be a chaotic hodge-podge of whatever static
>material people put in their FTP directories. There will be little useable
>interactive or dynamic content.

Not so. Java applets will enable dynamic content and could be used to
communicate data between avatars. In fact the new USR 56kbps modems would
be ideal for this sort of communication because they only work 56kbps
recieve and 33.6 send where you would recieve the locations of the avatars
in plain sight at 56kbps but only need to transmit your own location at

>What I want to see personally is a tightly integrated environment that is
>everything the Internet wishes it was. I want to see creative landscapes
>and artistic design mixed with person-to-person interaction. No one should
>be restricted from doing what they want, but it should be under the auspices
>of a larger plan. I don't see where these concepts are necessarily mutually
>exclusive. Architecture and design is important if you want this world to
>be able to handle more than a dozen simultaneous users. You can't throw all
>the technical and design issues out the window for the sake of convenience.
>A chaotic software system is neither scalable nor particularly extensible.

So we'll create a standard java applet for communcation! Just say if you
want avatars add this applet and people will because people want
interaction. Besides we can change any of this as we go along. If we all
stick to standard off the shelf products we won't run into deadends because
there will always be some sort of file conversion utility and if we use
standard platform-independent file formats we can easily move them from one
server to another and upgrade the hardware as necessary.

>And just as a note on 56kbps modems: They won't work with every service
>provider. The modems assume that the ISP is using a PRI telco connection
>(which is the case many times) and not one of the myriad of other options.
>If the ISP is using a PRI, then the 56kbps modem establishes a 1B quasi-ISDN
>connection to the ISP over standard phone lines. If the ISP uses any other
>type of telco connection, you are stuck using the same slow speeds you
>always did.

Fortunetly USR has a monopoly on this scene so most of us will come through
ok. Can't satisfy everyone unfortunetly but thats the way it is. Most of us
won't be able to run it as well until we all upgrade to Pentium MMX
200mhzs. :)

>If people wanted to learn VRML, they would learn. VRML can be a little slow
>on older systems, but the requirements aren't terribly steep. Of course,
>VRML 2.0 will make the requirements significantly steeper. Also, some
>operating systems are more adept at this type of stuff than others. Sadly,
>some OSs common on older machines (such as DOS/Win3.11) are very poor for
>this type of thing. Win95 works ok though, and a Mac will get you by
>(although this is a really poor platform for Java), so a great many should
>people should have the minimum development capability.

I would love to see someone like Netscape go in and tear up VRML and richly
enhance it and make it more powerful or perhaps build it into every
browser not as a plugin or activeX extension but builtin to the code
because being a plugin makes it remain a trivial eyecandy.