[-empyre-] 2d or 3d... that is the question

hi all,

I too have always held the images presented in Benedikt's "Cyberspace:
First Steps" as some sort of model of how âthe metaverseâ might be
visually represented. These images have tempered my own visualisations
while reading speculative fictions and other predictions of a real time 3d
data space. Imagine the disappointment (a disappointment shared by so many
others) of finding in SL a vast flat world covered with simulated suburban
sprawl. This was early 2006. I did not re-enter SL for over a year. When I
returned at the beginning of this year, one of the first places I
discovered was âthe port.â âThisâ I thought to myself âis more
like it.â

>From that moment on I have been somewhat addictively returning to SL, and
have found a productive (yet frustrating) environment for a practice that
has been skirting around real time 3d for some time, and the possibilities
of âvirtualâ worlds for even longer. (When I was given my copy of
Benedikt's book in 1992 for my 21st birthday I was working on an
installation project that claimed to present evidence of an ancient (Tesla
coil powered) civilization discovered to be inhabiting the ROM of a
discarded Commodore 64 (I know, but as I said, I was 21.)) 

But I digressâ on to my main point: 

I believe there is a fundamental structural flaw in SL (that perhaps helps
to answer the question as to why âthe space is being urbanised in similar
ways to first lifeâ.  A clue is given in the âofficialâ SL history
that suggests this âflawâ was built in from the start:

âReportedly, this all started when Philip Linden was in the shower. He
envisioned this vast green, continuous landscape, distributed across
multiple servers.â [http://www.slhistory.org/index.php/Second_Life_Through_The_Ages]

Despite its nature a navigable 3d space, the implementation and division of
the space available is in reality a massive (and âsolidâ) 2d plane,
that 3d objects sit on or above. The âgridâ can potentially continue
infinitely on this 2d plane, but because of the way the simulators are
implemented can never really extend up or down. (ie: one could only ever
create new navigable space by extended the grid further on this 2d plane.)
The fact that there is an up and down is an extension of this fundamental
flaw. This up and down is represented not only by the simulation of a RL
style gravity, but also by the avatars forced bipedal orientation. This, in
my mind, severely limits the possibilities of SL. (I know I am almost
contradicting myself here, but this up and down is only in relation to the
2d plane.) What we have then is a MetaFlatEarth that can extend as far as
need requires (on x & y), rather than the potential of the promised
metaverse extending out as need requires in x, y AND z.

Oh, and there is one last thing: In the promised âmetaverseâ (I canât
help feeling that 'meta' is the wrong prefix, but we may be stuck with the
term now), the 3d visualisation exists to represent and signify the data as
opposed to the dominant case in SL, where the data exists purely to produce
the 3d visualisation. 

(I should point out that these flaws are only flaws if one is discussing SL
as a step towards the (somewhat blurry) notion of a âmetaverseâ as
apposed to what would seem to be an extremely well orchestrated and
implemented use of technology to create a whole new market place within
high capitalism.) 

andrew  burrell

nonnatus korhonen

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