Swim through Web data or sink, warns VRML guru

VRML (virtual reality markup language) guru Mark Pesce warned today that better visual interfaces are needed if the Web is to develop. Pesce made the claim at a keynote address on the final day of Object Expo Europe at the QEII Conference Centre in London.

VRML (virtual reality markup language) guru Mark Pesce warned today that better visual interfaces are needed if the Web is to develop. Pesce made the claim at a keynote address on the final day of Object Expo Europe at the QEII Conference Centre in London.

The co-creator of VRML pointed to the exponential growth of documents on the Web since the invention of the first 2D GUI Web browser, NCSA's Mosaic. Pesce predicted that the "riot of factuality" threatens to make the Web unusable. With half a billion documents already available, a new way of visualising data is needed, he said.

Drawing a parallel with spreadsheets, Pesce challenged the audience: "How many rows and column (of figures) could you make sense of [compared to a chart]?"

Not surprisingly, Pesce pointed to VRML, with its '4D' - 3D plus live updating - as the way to allow users to "swim through data". He demonstrated not only complex real-time data models, from Visible Decisions Inc. of Toronto, but also the sophisticated body language of the increasingly popular "Floops the Lizard,", an animated character at the Silicon Graphics Web site, as an example of how realistic modelling is better able to communicate with users than 2D avatars.

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