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
Engaging VRML content is an essential key to the success of VRML. We believe that the widest possible range of content developers must be encouraged to develop VRML content. Whatever barriers discourage successful content creation need to be identified and removed if possible. Factors favoring successful content development must be strengthened.
1: Determine the factors that promote success and the barriers to
success for content developers;
2: Determine a minimum requirement for tools. Create a clearing
house for content workarounds which are related to specific tools.
3: Determine if developers in different environments (e.g., hobbyist, professional animator) have different requirements for tools and other aids;
4: Determine the requirements for recommended practices, specification parts, annexes, and changes, if necessary, to address these requirements,
barriers and success promoting factors;
5: Determine requirements for other Consortium support, such as libraries, tutorials, links, freeware tools, etc;
6: Determine what work products of other WGs will promote or serve as barriers to content development;
7: Advocate and support our findings to the Consortium, the VRB, the WGs
and the VRML Community; and
8: Determine recommendations for undergraduate and graduate courses that
teach VRML content creation.
The WG will accomplish its data gathering and research and will draft preliminary conclusions by SIGGRAPH, 1998. The WG will present products, if any, to the VRB before the 1999 VRML Symposium. The WG will present recommendations, if any, to the Board of Directors and/or the VRML Summit at the 1999 VRML Symposium. The WG will meet at the 1999 VRML Symposium to review its progress and determine if further work is required.
Working Group Structure:
Rex Brooks Communications Design 1361-A Addison, Berkeley, CA
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 510-849-2309
http://www.rbcomdesign.com Fax: 510-849-1306
The Boeing Company Huntsville AL 35824
email@example.com Tel: (205) 461-3296
http://hiwaay.net/~crispen/ Fax: (205) 461-2983
Membership will be open to all VRML content developers and
interested others through the WG's email list. We intend to
promote membership through www-vrml and through
individual contact with known developers.
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!