Through a Glass Darkly - Predictions Past and Future

by Kurt Cagle

Through a Glass Darkly - Predictions Past and Future

It's that time of year again - the toys have been opened (and the sundry pieces scattered to the four winds ... sigh), the eggnog's begun to acquire a slightly off taste and the stores have all finally turned off the elevator rendition of "Grandma got run over by a reindeer" (to much applause by the customers). Here in Canada we celebrate "Boxing Day", a quaint tradition that used to mean that you would box up those slightly used clothes and toys to give to the needy and desperate so that you had room for the new toys and clothes, but now just seems to be an excuse for the stores to box up the slightly used clothes and toys that didn't sell through the last month and sell them at cut-rate prices to the needy and desperate (or at least those who hadn't maxed out their credit cards buying the same stuff at above bargain prices) so that they can free up room for the new toys and clothes. Funny, the parallels.


2007-01-01 18:41:27
The energy grid has proven vulnerable, especially with more extreme (weather)conditions. Maybe huge companies with huge energy bills like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo lead the way in cleaner energy, produce-near-use electricity maybe. Towards a peer-to-peer electricity net?
Kurt Cagle
2007-01-02 00:03:27
It's an interesting thought - certainly I could see Google (as an example) choosing to champion distributed energy production grids, though this in turn raises questions about how to build that infrastructure into/around the existing one. One arena that I know they are exploring is the use of nearly 10,000 solar panels to power their headquarters:

I suspect that as the energy grid becomes more vulnerable to disruptions, such solutions may appeal to larger numbers of (especially high-tech) companies and this will in turn COULD bring about the development of "semi-private" grids - with these companies building exchanges for selling or buying power as appropriate. Enron soured that particular market earlier, but to a great extent this occurred due to a lack of regulation and oversight rather than due to the fundamental idea that private power exchanges are possible. (Of course, the downside is that as more and more such companies opt out of the public grids, the critical money for developing that public infrastructure also disappears, so it is something that should be VERY CLEARLY thought out before the process reaches the tipping point).

2007-01-02 05:48:27
On 3D: VRML97 still has legs. X3D acceptance is increasing albeit slowly. The challenges of 3D are talent and time. Few programming frameworks are as easy to do simple things but then the complexity takes a stiff curve upwards. That said, a lot of lessons have been learned.

I agree that the world as desktop metaphor isn't a strong one. Text processing is by far the main activity and text processing in 3D is sewing silk with a steel bargepole. 3D has strengths but not in replicating what we do with the desktop today. This is a different transition than the trek from the command line interface to the button box and dropdown menu GUI. It would take more than a comment here to explain that, but essentially, one has to think in terms of multiple genre for which real-time 3D is a medium, and then application skills fall out of the genre requirements. The talent required isn't the same talent as writing a text processor or even a statistical visualization program. Many of the VRML startups that failed did so because they underestimated the talent quotient required for creating dramatic compelling 3D. It isn't a front end for a search engine. It can use a search engine but not in the same way or for the same applications. Many luminaries fail to get that.

Programming in the currrent languages is akin to writing interpreted C++. Until you get to the widgets appropriate to the genre, it is tedious sloggin. Expect to see more markets for 'proto packages' because that is the unit of the library.

As to business skills, pay attention to Ailin Graef (aka, Anshe Chung).

The Holy Grail: a platform independent avatar that subsumes identity management across worlds and on the web in general.

Standards: we have them. We have to use them.

Challenge: proprietary tech on big server farms with in-world building tools are to 3D what Macs are to desktops. What is can do, it does easily. What you may need you can't do at all.

Open source isn't the issue. Xj3D has been out there for quite a while and as you mention, now we have the Media Machines code base. Technology is not an issue. We have mountains of it, a lot of it freeware/deadware that still provides good results.

The issue is pay for the care and feeding of the authoring talent. The same business models that turned photography and music into art ghettos with a race to the cultural bottom simultaneously occurring as the big corporations absorb all of the income is keeping the 3D authors poor as church mice with a few exceptions.

If there is an overall theme emerging in 2007, it is the tension between the haves (the technologists) and the have nots (content authors, aka, the artists) over the money. The rise of the talent managers (aka, Anshe Chung) who are taking the work to China is the one predictable reality. How the West will cope with that is anyone's guess, but it doesn't augur well for the US companies that have done the pioneering work although it does augur well for Sun. microsoft is strangely quiet.

2007-02-19 17:49:45
very good story. Thx very much.
2007-03-19 14:22:37
hello from google...
2008-06-10 16:29:15
If you have a little free time, read this post:,
2008-06-10 16:29:28
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2008-06-11 18:55:20
But you are say, that this idead is bad?,
2008-06-12 19:00:11
Stop! Try to read this interested book:,