What Ever Happened to VRML?

Posted on 05 March 2010

Continuing my “Historical Perspective” series, this article was originally written on May 24th, 2002. Since then, a lot of things have changed (for better or worse) with the emergence of virtual worlds like Second Life and World of Warcraft which, although not fulfilling the original dreams of “virtual reality” go a long way to creating online worlds which, someday, may lead to the possibility of virtual life emerging from within their networks. As < a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/" title=" http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/ ">Digital Immigrants are left farther and farther behind by the Digital Natives, how will the lines between the virtual world and the real one blur and, at what point, will the distinctions between the two cease to exist?

What ever happened to VRML? Did it die some sad and slow (metaphorical) death? Doing a search on Google you’ll turn up this site as the first link but I don’t think that this is really what I thought VRML was supposed to be or where it was originally going. Anyone remember “Wild Palms” or “Disclosure”? Where we would all be living and dying in some Bizzaro virtual world? Well, sadly that never came true and virtual reality is still the realm of science fiction. Even looking through the set of links that that same Google search turns up is pretty sad. The vrml.wired.com link is dead, the NCSA VRML page just says “This page has gone away…” and the San Diego Computer Center’s VRML page only asks you to “Please update your links!”

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