Monday, October 22, 2007

More Bad Predictions

Yesterday's blog posting prompted me to once again make available (this time as an embedded video) this wonderful short film that was done for Red Hat by the folks at Capstrat, a strategic communications firm here in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Over the past ten years I have personally witnessed numerous declarations that "there is no real value to 3D user interfaces" and that virtual environments will "never be used beyond entertainment." I have also been admonished that "3D is frivolous" and that "everything you need to do with a computer can be done with 2D windowing interfaces just fine." At this time I won't identify the people who have said these things. Suffice it to say that they are all attributable to people who are well known in the information technology and venture capital world. You know who you are... ;)


RichWhite said...

Awesome ! ... love the video .. reminds me of the Think Different video! - !

Andres said...


However... I have a feeling that, perhaps because we're in some sort of discovery stage, people outside the development of these things get the idea that 3D interfaces are being used as a hammer that will fit every single nail, screw and doorknob problem in existence.

For example... let's say you can't even be somewhere, because for example it's in Mars. Then sure, instead of seeing some numbers such as tilt angles and such, why not being able to virtually stand next to say a rover and see what's going on in a more realistic fashion.

However, IMHO this can have the unintended consequence of removing the users too much from reality. For example, my sister has been to Machu Picchu, and her assessment of its virtualization was that it failed to deliver even a tiny fraction of the impact of actually being there --- including the tortuous climb you have to go through to get there in the first place. Would anybody go through a precise virtualization of a several hour trek?

As far as I am concerned... I am not sure that making e.g.: a virtualization of the original Mayan ruins or something like Steens Mountains will deliver even 1/10th of the impact of actually being there.

Now, if the average person saw these things in some 3D virtualization, would the average person actually go there? Or would this average person think "nah, I've seen it already"?

And, if lots of people became very dependent on this technology, who would make sure that the virtualizations actually matched reality? Isn't this perceived as a potential problem somewhere?

For example, should a problem be discovered, would it be possible to fix it without breaking other things dependent on the bug? Would fixing the issue always be deemed appropriate despite potential backwards compatibility? If there is money involved, what will be the main driver for these decisions? And wouldn't it be very likely that the majority of users might decide that the buggy version is more preferable, particularly if they pay for it? What are the implications for paid education and paid research, particularly in the face of the problems we already have in those areas?

So, while I think there may be quite interesting uses of this technology, I remain skeptical regarding its widespread application and concerned about the unintended consequences to our relationship with our environment. In my opinion, we already get enough fabricated reality as is. Cool does not mean correct.


surra said...

People are too conservative for new things ... or they are just too lazy - they like what they already have and can't or don't want imagine new possibilities - "Life's already too comfortable to find new solutions."

Maybe works "stick and carrot" - when spam kills e-post and viruses cellphones, skype and msn; and theres available different very practical solutions for everyday life based on Croquet, maybe then will people will understand it's virtues.

Hype "works" on teenagers, free (very) useful solutions on grownups + (very) simple GUI on oldsters.

surra said...

Just FYI only - to aid (older) people overcome fear for computers/new technologies -

With best wishes,