3d And Multimedia On The Information Superhighway

R. Earnshaw
1997 IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications  
W hat has generated the unprecedented fascination with the Internet? What future lies ahead for computing as the Internet and its associated infrastructure expand? Will the network be able to cope with rising demands for carrying capacity and response speed? Will it change the way scientists, designers, artists, computer professionals, and home users work in the future? These are some of the wideranging questions being asked about the Internet and World Wide Web. National networks 3D computer
more » ... aphics and networks have been around for at least three decades, but only recently have they come together via client-server computing, which has made the local network an integral part of the application. Both the US and the UK originally implemented projects to develop national computing networks. In 1969, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) implemented Arpanet to protect the US in the event of nuclear attack by routing messages from the east coast to the west coast and circumventing any parts of the network destroyed in an attack. In the UK, Janet (Joint Academic Network) began in the early 1970s to provide links between larger computer centers and smaller ones, allowing the latter to do remote job entry on the former and file transfers across the network. Uses and applications Both these networks (and their successors) have evolved into quite different tools than originally envisaged: They now primarily support electronic mail and the World Wide Web. Faster links between key nodes of national networks provide greater throughput-such links, often provided by ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode), attain speeds of 155 Mbits per second and above. Increasing traffic on many parts of the network has spurred plans to upgrade such backbones to support speeds of gigabits per second. Collaborative working Increasing capabilities of desktop machines, peripherals such as video cameras, and associated software now permit users and developers to link on a network to view the same data and converse about it in real time using videoconferencing. This process is known as computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW) or virtual working. Many projects around the world are investigating paradigms to support such environments, the human factors issues, and the costs and benefits of different application domains. World Wide Web Key concepts behind the Web originated at CERN in Switzerland, where a distributed hypertext system made results from scientific experiments available to the researchers. This tool essentially organized information and provided a space for sharing ideas, giving universal access independent of physical location and type of computer platform used, and with unconstrained topology. Previously, such systems were very constrained, allowing no cross links among databases not directly connected. From 1992 on, distributed multimedia hypertext systems have emerged outside CERN, along with graphical browsers (such as Mosaic) provided by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and later products developed by Netscape, Microsoft, and others. Foreshortening of timescales The last five years have seen a generation's worth of advances that would have taken 10 to 15 years at the previous rate of computer technology development. We are witnessing-and participating in-a revolution similar to that brought about by movable type (in the print industry) and broadcasting (in the media industry). It is clearly significant that this revolution has links to both these camps, hence the new medium's emphasis on instantaneous, ubiquitous, and cost-effective communication. The openness of Web standards should ensure no limitations on working at the frontier, with immediate access to all users worldwide. Supporting new media A variety of tools and techniques now being developed support images, moving images, audio, and virtual environments on the network. VRML and Java serve as the springboard for sophisticated animation environments that allow user interaction and intelligent objects that
doi:10.1109/mcg.1997.574673 fatcat:l3zqiesrgzba3ccao34xd4hboa