Friday, June 22, 2007

The Future of 3D PD
Polydimensional thinking

Many people think of Virtual reality as "3D." However, my free backgammon game "wastes cycles by drawing trendy 3d junk," as Eudora users of a certain time would remember it, and one can find 3D all over the place in simple games. Second Life is not about 3D, nor even "multidimensional thinking". Instead it is polydimensional. Something is poly rather than multi when the concepts have blended together. Odysseus' "many turnings" are so unified as to be one thing.

A virtual world presents three dimensions for movement, but this is really one dimension, that of the spatialization of interactions, which have computer hardware and software to translate the stream of clicks and buttons, which is a one dimensional stream, into the appearance of three dimensions. But this was accomplished before I ever laid eyes on a computer as a serious user with wire frame games of the sort that boys of a certain age spent hours learning.

The second set of dimensions are the interactions. An animation is not merely movement in space, or even in space time, it is based on the restriction of movement in the three dimensions of space over time with a pattern, a texture.

Trevor Steptoe, who is rl Trevor F. Smith, was speaking at the recent metaversed Geek meet, and touched on the second set of dimensions. That of code and the building of code. This is a "space", the space has dimensions, merely not spatial. To versions of a program have a distance, that distance is measured by how long it takes, for example, to upgrade from one to the other. He argues for Open Source. Open Source, if you think about it, is a better space for development, and for the social culture of development, and that is why it gradually takes over infrastructure. Better bricks make better buildings too.

Of course Second Thoughtless argued that private property was the key, since we were meeting on "private property" a concept which does not exist on sl, which is instead a feudal system where everyone holds anything by grace of the God-King Linden. Prokofy continued to spew on for several sentences, demonstrating an amazingly thorough and broad ignorance of law, software, journalism and economics.

It's not worth debunking these things, except to note that properietary software is against private property. Consider that the proprietary nature of Second Live makes it difficult to move property purchased for animation here, and difficult to move property out from here to there. Properietary operating systems give those that make them control over computers not owned by the software maker. Microsoft can force me to do things with my computer that I don't know about, even though I bought the computer with my money. An example again of why Prokofy Neva is the most imbecilic noise amker in Second Life, and calls into question the sanity of the large crowd of people that pump her juevenile rantings.

The aspect of organization, which is partially code, partially space, but also how human beings organize themselves, both personally and in groups, is another bundle of dimensions, with their own distances. A word or an email can cast two people to an almost infinite distance in a relationship, which cannot be crossed no matter how many sims one walks through to get back. The same is true in reverse, a single phrase can draw two people close to a distance which seems unmeasurably small. I've thought more than once that one of the happiest small sights in SL is someone you care fore "0m" distant on radar.

The next aspect of polydimensionality is leads from this, if the construction of virtual "space" is the first set of polydimensions, and the construction of code and social organization the second, then the realtionships between people as individuals are the third set. Personal relationships are richly textured and operate as a space of their own.

Each of these three sets of dimensions produces interactions.

But let me get specific because the next speaker was Jeff Barr of and his presentation on their EC2, or Elastic Computer Cloud. The cost of the cloud is equivalent to buying a machine, roughly 10 cents an hour. However, the difference is that instead of having one machine all the time, one can buy as much or as little as one needs. So if you need 10 machines at once, then it is $1.00/hr. This eliminates the need to "lease." How is this polydimensional? Because it merges the dimensions of time, space and money that come into play when buying, leasing or borrwoing hardware, into one bundle of dimensions.

The future of virtual reality is this: by improving the meta languages which describe spaces, it makes it possible to turn a grup of orthangonal dimensions jabbing at each other into one textured bundle of dimensions. It then becomes possible to connect bundles in ways that were previously impossible. The web itself is a space that reduces the barriers of physical space.

The future then isn't better three dimensions, in itself, but better dimensions.


  1. Nice post, interesting idea that it's the dimensions that must be made better instead of concentration on the whole 3D space, this way making it possible to make previously impossible interconnections.

    Love your idea :)

  2. Remember that the bundle of dimensions that are "3D" and the slightly larger bundle that is "4D" need to be improved as dimensions. The ability to move around naturally is important.

    But it isn't defining. What is defining is the melding of what were once orthagonal dimensions into one.

  3. A two-dimensional analysis from a blogger who seems unable to comprehend that emulated private property even in this proprietary setting is hugely important and the place where you have to begin.