Whether we’re talking about web1.0, web2.0, or web3.0, there are two key ingredients to the web: content and users.
Before web2.0, users used things like search engines to find content. When web2.0 came of age, other users guided us to content that we may or may not have ever found using web1.0 tools. At the beginning of 2016, we stand on the cusp of web3.0 – a time when the “user agents” of the web will become intelligent enough to guide users to content in a superior manner to that which can be achieved using search engines or social networking.
But none of these advancements directly affects the web’s evolution to include 3D content, or to make it plain how users would even navigate content that is presented in 3D.
When you read text, you know exactly how to interact with the content. You start at the top left, work your way across to the right, and when you reach the end of the line, you go back to the left side and continue one line down from where you were. Until you lose interest, or run out of content. When you watch a video, you know exactly how to interact with the content. You push play. You site back, and watch or listen until you lose interest or the video ends.
Right now, I am “creating content”. Creating content is easy. As a “by the way”, for some reason, my internet is down this morning. I cannot type into the backend of my WordPress and press “publish”. Without an internet connection, that can’t happen. But, as a person who has been creating content, in the form of text, for many decades, I have plenty of backup plans. For now, I’ll type what I’m thinking into a fancy text editor (the one I write code in), and when the internet comes back, I can copy my content and publish it online.
How do we create 3D content? Turns out the answer is almost as diverse as how we create 2D content. I can create text, images, videos, interactive Flash animations, and they all count as types of 2D content that can be published on the web, where anyone in the world with a browser can interact with it. One can create 3D content by hand-coding it in VRML or three.js. One can create 3D content with a 3D modelling/animation tool like 3DSmax or Blender. One can “capture” real world data with cameras, and crunch it into a 3D format not unlike Google Maps. Objects can be scanned with 3D scanners, creating 3D models that can be viewed or used in interactive applications. And more, I’m sure.
For the most part, at this point in time (the beginning of 2016) creating 3D content, publishing it to the web, and making it possible for users from anywhere in the world to find and interact with that content, is a bit of a novelty act. We see fancy models of next years hot new cars, that we can look at from a million angles, get into, and turn on the radio or what not. We can play some games, where the content has been created exclusively to contribute to game play, but the interaction possibilities are robust, to say the least. But all of that is still pretty limited.
The technology is upon us to make a 3D web – a web with 3D content that can be navigated in 3 dimensions. Two of the biggest things we have to tackle to make this happen are content creation and content navigation. What are we going to put? How are we going to create it? And how will users navigate it? Compared to either text, or interactive Flash animations, we know very very little about how this is going to happen. But, it’s a project in the evolution of the web that is clearly well underway.