Some readers e-mailed me asking me why I have a tag combining Augmented Reality, UbiComp (Ubiquitous Computing) and GeoWeb. You can see the answer for yourself in this impressive and very important article from Technology Review/MIT about Second Earth.
There is a current media backlash on Second Life. In my view this is shortsighted as can be seen in this article. Just like the Apple Newton failed as the first smart phone and UMTS failed at first as an entry for mobile Internet, Second Life will return in full effect. Innovation comes in cycles, the timing at first might seem 'wrong' but it is about the fundamental drivers below. Same applies to 3D Web, especially combined with Augmented Reality and real-time data integration.
"For people who haven't spent much time in a 3-D world, of course, it's hard to imagine feeling comfortable in either. But such environments may soon be as unavoidable as the Web itself: according to technology research firm Gartner, current trends suggest that 80 percent of active Internet users and Fortune 500 companies will participate in Second Life or some competing virtual world by the end of 2011. And if you take a few months to explore Second Life, as I have done recently, you may begin to understand why many people have begun to think of it as a true second home--and why 3-D worlds are a better medium for many types of communication than the old 2-D Internet.
I asked David Gelernter why we'd need the Metaverse or even mirror worlds, with all the added complications of navigating in three dimensions, when the time-tested format of the flat page has brought us so far on the Web. "That's exactly like asking why we need Web browsers when we already have Gopher, or why we need Fortran when assembly language works perfectly well," he replied.
The current Web might be capable of presenting all the real-time spatial data expected to flow into the Metaverse, Gelernter elaborates, but it wouldn't be pretty. And it would keep us locked into a painfully mixed and inaccurate metaphor for our information environment--with "pages" that we "mark up" and collect into "sites" that we "go to" by means of a "locator" (the L in URL)--when a much more natural one is available. "The perception of the Web as geography is meaningless--it's a random graph," Gelernter says. "But I know my physical surroundings. I have a general feel for the world. This is what humans are built for, and this is the way they will want to deal with their computers."