Global Village Technology Forum: VRML

Marco A. Calamari

This can be considered as the third main step in trying to humanize the global communication. The first one, the development of the TCP/IP infrastructure provided a layer of abstraction between data sets and the hosts which manipulated them, and the access to Internet was restricted to the class of sysops/net surfers.

The second step, the hypermedia system known as World Wide Web, provided an "addressing" scheme, a unique identifier (the Universal Resource Locator), which could tell anyone "where to go and how to get there". While useful, it lacked dimensionality; the only type of navigation permissible (other than surfing) is by direct reference. In other words, the user needs to make an effort to remember it at all. This forum is about the latest effort to "perceptualize" the Internet. VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) is an attempt to place humans at the center of the Internet, ordering its universe to our whims.

In order to do that, the most important single element is a standard that defines the particularities of perception. VRML, designed to be a universal description language for multi-participant simulations, is a language that allows your Web browser to access detailed 3D environments and navigate through them as you use to do (now, for instance) in 2D way.

Do you remember the virtual reality environment in which the company database was rendered in the cinematographic version of 'Disclosures' by Michael Crichton? People accessed documents by virtually walking along corridors and finding the proper drawers where files were available for browsing.

Other users concurrently accessing the database were represented on the monitor as 3D characters moving around and no interference among all of them occurred... space to be filled... visions

Marco Calamari ( works in Elea FP on new technologies applied to vocational training.