Design Questions on the Eve of Virtual Reality's Pop Debut
After decades of waiting, the pieces are finally falling into place in the next few years for the widespread introduction and use of Virtual Reality technology. It is therefore more important than ever for designers to produce inspiring and surprising virtual worlds. The design of 2D computer user interfaces has in many ways never overcome the design paradigm of 1970s era Xerox Parc. Virtual Reality design might benefit from its more distribute origins, but there is a danger that it, too, will be limited by the momentum of a small body of barely adequate early designs, such as the "walkthrough". It is especially important to explore how virtual worlds can convey abstract structures (like programs, databases, and physical simulations) of immense size and complexity. It is also important to ask if current ideas about operating systems architecture, which also date from the 1970s, are adequate for the design of effective virtual worlds.