VRML Content with a capital C

Dateline: 3/9/98
One of the big topics on the www-vrml mailing list this week was the impending formation of a Content Development Working Group. The timing for the creation of this group is absolutely perfect. It's clear that VRML will succeed or fail based on the development of compelling content. The creation of 3D VRML, Java3D or any other 3D interactive medium requires new ways of thinking about content.

Some of these new forms of 3D content have begun to appear. Interactive 3D narrative in a short and long form as evidenced by stories such as R A V E N, Irish Space.  RAVEN by Alan Taylor illustrates in a short narrative form a native American story of creation. The Irish Space project by a whole bunch-o-volunteers lead by Led Bullard and  Paul Hoffman, explores, in an extensive over one hour long format, a fictional futuristic space voyage modeled after the 19th century potato famine. Both stories contain compelling substance - Content.
The current new "community" project VRML Dream led by Stephen Matsuba and Bernie Roehl attempts to push the technological limits AND will attempt to be a new art form. These guys and other volunteers, are putting together a 30 minute live performance of Shakespeare's A Midsummers Night's Dream. It will be performed live, by geographically distributed cyber-puppeteer's controlling avatars, with streamed data viewable by an audience anywhere on the net! Do these guys have chutzpah or what? Artistically there are new possibilities like viewing the play from your own or the director's point of view...OR a guest director's point of view. This is a project pushing the envelope of both the technical and artistic domains.

One other not quite out there but clearly interesting long narrative is the [dendrite] story by Construct. Currently featured in  HotWired's RGB gallery this dark cyber story, currently a simply slide show plays games with browser text (via ALT text), and will apparently appear in some future form as an interactive 3D story.

So back to the Content Development Working Group (CDWG) and the VRML consortium. The consortium has until now had working groups (WGs) for specific technical issues. Clearly the CDWG is concerned with a number of non technical issues. Does this make sense?  Why of course it does! Even though the VRML Consortium has up until now focused on technical issues the entire future of VRML is dependent on content. Furthermore as suggested by Stephen Matsuba:

Of course it's clear that the CDWG is not going to be some super working group with oversight on other groups. I suspect the point is simply to determine where/when technical decisions have impact on content development. An early (in the week) version of the basics of the group went as follows (for the current version check out http://hiwaay.net/~crispen/etc/content.html ) THIS IS A DRAFT:
  A number of other issues came up such as development for educational applications and issues of intellectual property rights. All of these are will presumably be address inside the group once it is formed.

Well that's the content happenings for the week, the discussions leading to the creation of this new working group bodes well for VRML. So get out there and create something!

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