A Back Button For 3D Online Spaces?
Trevor Smith, a former Xerox PARC researcher who’s busy creating Ogoglio, a project that explores “shared [3D] online worlds in the context of web enabled work,” has an interesting post about the concept of the back button in what he calls “3spaces.”
If you’ve been wandering around in a shared 3space for twenty minutes, what should happen when you press the back button? Should your POV shift back along the 3D path you’ve taken? What is the granularity of the history? Are its units ones of time, space, dwell time, or 3space landmark? Or, is it a continuous path? Is the beginning of the history at your entrance point to this 3space, or at the entrance to the first 3space in this browser session? Where is the balance between an understandable user concept of “back” and an engineer-able artifact of a back button and history?
I almost think a back button for a place like Second Life is not unthinkable — though it’s not quite possible yet. [UPDATE: I'm wrong! There already is one! See the comments thread.] If you combined a location-tracking service like SLStats with some in-world landmarking and teleportation tools, you could possibly have a back button return you to the sim you’d last visited, to the place you’d last teleported to, or (probably my preference) to the place you’d last teleported from. “If this hasn’t already been the topic for a PhD thesis, I imagine it soon will be,” Trevor says. I’m not so sure about that, but it’s certainly fascinating food for thought.