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If you’re all hot and bothered waiting for the 3D Internet to hit the mass-market, it’s time for a bit of a reality check.

Back in the day, just getting an email or a file to someone else required you to know about hosts, protocols, and which servers to route it through before it eventually wound up with the recipient. That was on a good day.

Make no mistake, the Internet of the 1970s and 1980s was still all shades of awesome, but getting stuff from one place to another was still an expedition. You had to have the right gear, maps, charts and supplies, and even then it could still go wrong.

You might think that that has improved a whole heck of a lot. And it has – we can throw stuff to each-other comparatively effortlessly, publish information, look things up, connect to games and virtual environments, set up Web-sites, and avoid all manner of scams.

Well, you and I can, anyway.

For mass-market users, the 2D Internet is as impenetrable, obscure, and fraught today as it was for us 30 years ago.

My experience – and yours – is not typical.

Telling a browser to go to a Web-site these days is as tricky for the average user as it used to be to route data via bang-paths. They don’t have any idea what the difference is between a server and a Web-site, nor really how to tell what Web-site they’re actually on – even if they had any idea what one was.

It makes about as much sense to them if it were The Hunting of the Snark… with all of the stanzas out of order.

You and I have a far better experience, being that we’ve got at least a fundamental notion of what’s going on, which has allowed familiarity to bring knowledge. Well, hooray for us. Aunt Tilley doesn’t have that advantage. The difference between Internet Explorer and Minesweeper is a bit lost on her, as is the distinction between Microsoft Windows and the Internet. She doesn’t know where her data is coming from, or going to. Or that it is even coming or going at all. She doesn’t even really see why she should.

While Aunt Tilley is a convenient metaphor, you’ll find plenty of young folks as well who are no more net-savvy than people in their 80s and 90s. While young folks are clearly more comfortable with a lot of tech gadgetry, the very architecture of communications as lost on most of them as it is on their grandparents. They’ve got no more idea what’s going on than the older crowd (nor any less). They’re just less reluctant to try out the narrow applications that the gadgets afford them.

So, before you wax all lyrical with dreams of a 3D Internet, it’s worth remembering that today, in this far-future year of 2010, most people are barely managing the most rudimentary usage and understanding of the 2D Internet, for whom things like Web-browsers and email are not tools that enable communication, but rather baffling obstacles which must be grappled with and overcome in order to obtain a result.

If progress (both human and technological) remains as brisk as it is today, then you can look for the first serious beginnings of a 3D Internet in 30-60 years.

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Categories: Opinion, Technology.

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