The Last Decade's
the 2 Dimensional GUI won.
It’s been more than 15 years since the GUI of the MACINTOSH was
unleashed on the design community in 1984. In 1985 at a design conference
I was invited over by a young woman dressed in typical silicon valley
polo shirt attire to see a small computer that enabled you to drag
and draw simple geometric shapes, all in black and white. As a just
graduated designer fresh from college, my reaction was “ho- hum.”
Little did I know what was to come... years later I learned that
the woman showing me this new computer and interface was Susan Kare,
the original "Mac artist" and designer of the icons for the original
Mac interface. It would be what she and others had created that
would "be the real design" work of the future to come.
The black and
white "icons" she showed me led to the death of the "text-dos" interface
and the birth of the 2D graphical GUI interface. First used by the
public on the Mac, then almost everywhere else with the introduction
of "Windows", the 2D GUI and its language of metaphors and iconography
has become the standard for computer-user interface in today’s world.
The 2D GUI and its inherent strengths have created a medium where
the tool maker and tool user both have learned to understand "how
to get around" and "what the story is" and "how this thing works"
from the use of visual cues and relationships that became so obviously
more effective than the text-only interfaces which offered to do
the same functions.
Today, 15 years later, the interface,
tools, and medium are again at a crossroads. Following the burst
of the Web Bubble dominated by flash cartoons and short videos,
the simultaneous emergence of capable Web3D technologies, and the
mass user inter-connectivity of the internet, Web3D looks poised
to provide the immersive and game related interface to the internet.
At this time when the web industry seems stalled and new models
and functions for the web need to be discovered, it seems like a
good time for designers to ask the questions about the 2D interface
and communications, the capabilities and differences of a 3D interface
and communications and how, why each does what they do and how and
why and when a designer/developer now working with 3D communications
and Web3D should be aware of each disciplines strengths and weakness
when utilizing each.
This article is a start to examine where
and when 3D interfaces and communicative designs can/should be used:
- The 2D HTML WWW
The rules and laws of 2D interface design and communications have
with the GUI been implemented in mass and a community of computer
users have learned to communicate and work via a 2D-interface
metaphor. Pictures, words, pages, windows on the flat screen have
been accepted as how to work on a computer. In 1994 the www exploded
into the digital consciousness and it was 2D HTML and its pictures,
words, clickable zones and 2d page metaphor of interface that
"made the internet" easy to navigate for everyone". The discipline
of "Graphic Design" over the last 60 years had taught everyone,
the creator and audience alike, the principles of "understanding"
2D design and communications and the 2D html web used that understanding
to succeed. Today millions are using the www and principles of
2D interface and communications are being used by trained designer/developers
to create an understandable and usable tool and medium out of
the WWW Internet.
- The new 3D WWW
In 1994 a small group of designer/developers
were working on a 3D version of the http protocol. It would be
soon called VRML and would offer during the next few years the
ability to create and distribute 3 dimensional information, models,
and environments on the Internet as freely as the 2D html interface
presented text and images. 3D communications and interfaces also
follow basic principles many which flow from the established 2D
principles. During the last 5 years the first tools for designers
that create Web3D have arrived and like the PageMaker and Photoshop
designers before them did with 2D, 3D designers are now ready
to flood the internet with 3D banners, worlds, spinning logos,
objects and characters. All of this "Web3D" content for
the most part will be successful or not based on the content's
development and design according to the principles of 2D/3D interfaces
and communications, and basic design. All of what developers/designers
will and have placed on the WWW have been affected, knowingly
or not by the content's interface.