You may remember a pretty unsuccessful attempt in the ’90s to create a three-dimensional version of the web, using a technology called
Virtual Reality Markup Language (VRML). If you don’t, that’s okay: there’s really no reason you should . VRML, in the long run, was a solution to a problem that didn’t really exist, and ended up being more of a novelty than anything else.
But a number of companies appear to have gotten back into this idea of browsing in 3D; ExtremeTech
takes a look at three of them in a pretty thorough review: 3B, Browse3D, and SphereXPlorer. They all take 3D to mean very different things: 3B is more like a video game, where you wander through a three-dimensional city to find your way to various websites; Browse3D uses a three-wall approach that looks like Apple’s iChat video conferencing; and SphereXPlorer puts two-dimensional pages in a three-dimensional landscape.
In the end, ExtremeTech finds all of them amusing diversions, but not nearly as useful as traditional two-dimensional browsing. So, will the promise of a 3D web ever come true? Possibly: both Microsoft and the free software community are working on three-dimensional toolsets, Microsoft via the graphics technology in the upcoming Windows Vista, and the free software community in a new 3D standard based on XML, X3D. But for those of you awaiting the Matrix, the answer, for now, is still the blue pill.