We're having another 'naval gazing' round of snippy emails on the VRML/X3D lists. The artists who were making money selling goods in Second Life discovered CopyBot this week, an application that is the audio equivalent of using the speaker wires on your stereo to heist DRM-protected songs. They are upset about that and they assert that Linden Labs contributed to the development of CopyBot. It doesn't make sense to me that LL would piss in their own economy, but who knows? I've seen lots of weird business moves on the World Wide Weird. I've worked for nightclub owners that burned down their clubs with the band's equipment in it to collect the insurance. They don't do it themselves. Too risky. They hire professionals.
It's just business, or so they tell me. You want to protect your content, you build your own server farm and then you get to make the rules even if it means burning it down to collect the insurance. There are professionals for that too, no doubt.
What I don't understand is that any group of professional artists can have plied their trade on the Internet would be shocked that they can be ripped off this easily. Ask the musicians. When they cried foul, the web responded with 'how dare they withhold their content from us?' When the police showed up, they didn't protect the musicians. They protected the music labels.
So if you make it digital and put it on a server farm, expect that someone somewhere will rip it off if it has value. By the way, the very fact of the closed nature of SecondLife and the exchange rate for Linden Dollars give it value. Thieves don't steal free stuff. Welcome to the real world.
What an artist professional or otherwise should care about is that their works last, that they will still work over a long long time. The best option you get for that is true unencumbered open standards.
Make it simple.
If you spent weeks, months or ever years creating a symphony and then came back to it ten years later, you would want it to still be playable by competent musicians. Right? So over some centuries, they created a common notation they all learn. There are others such as guitar tablature for specific instruments, but professionals learn the common piano tablature that is modern music notation.
Some 3D artists want the same thing and today, the best deal they have for that is VRML/X3D. I still have the Irishspace CDs. My son pulled them out to test his new computer. He downloaded a Blaxxun Contact VRML/X3D client for free. He put the CD on. Guess what? It all still works. The difference is, it looks better and runs faster.
Ten years ago I started work on the River of Life world. This week after a long hiatus, I'm working on it again. I haven't changed any of the geometry. I've retextured, I've added new features. It all works. I put a proto in it for a sky simulation that Braden McDaniel wrote so long ago that he'd forgotten he wrote it until I showed it to him. I plopped it in the middle of ROL. It works. It just looks better and runs faster.
I don't want to rely on a closed system like a Mac or SecondLife. I don't care what professionals doing work for hire tell me about how much money they made this week only to have all of that work disappear behind a firewall with knockoff technology contributed by the server farm owner. I don't want to have to pay middlemen to place the songs I've written or recorded on iTunes because Steve Jobs decided I have to do that to play in his world.
I want to play in mine. And if I put it down for ten years and then decide to come back to it, I want it to still work. Faster. And look better.
I get that with VRML/X3D. Show me where anyone gets that with the other 3D technologies vieing to be its replacement. If you can make good money reliably in these closed systems, I say do it. If you don't care that your customers may not be able to keep that content alive by their own initiative, sell it to them. Otherwise, use your money and your influence to see to it that the customer and the content are protected.
Today, 3D artists on the web have pretty much one option for that in virtual reality applications: VRML/X3D.