February 11, 2004
super mario semweb
Imagine it’s four years from now. I’m sitting on the couch, watching Republican candidates vie for the chance to unseat President Kerry. Front and center on my large-screen media monitor is a roundtable discussion on SVN, the Semantic Visualization Network. Some clown is taking credit for the landmark legislation that saved Social Security, and I’m not so sure, so I pick up my media controller, which looks suspiciously like a game controller. It’s got two joysticks, a direction pad, and bunch of buttons.
I press the “Context” button and my viewscreen shrinks to a rectangle that’s about half the size of the screen. Floating around the rectangle are three-dimensional nodes and links, all providing back story to what’s being discussed on the roundtable. I use one joystick to zoom down and back, getting closer to nodes. I use the D-pad to change direction. I use the other joystick to spin the view around, so I can look all around the “viewing cube”, which once I start spinning is clearly 3D. On the other sides of the cube are other related media, perhaps viewer comments or resource links or a transcript of the program.
It’s remarkably easy to spin my vantage point around the view cube. It’s just as easy to zoom into the links that connect all around it. I can use the buttons on the controller to activate the various nodes, perhaps opening them, perhaps grabbing them so I can move things around. Some of the nodes are other view cubes, which once opened show other video shows, some live, some archived.
I travel a few links to find an interview with the guy taking credit for the social security bill. It’s from three years ago and he’s clearly denouncing it. I click a few buttons to highlight it’s relevency to the current video show, then turn to my wife and say, “See, I knew it.” A few minutes later, a guy on the roundtable finds my clip and questions him about it, live.
My wife says with a smile, “Remember channels?” Our daughter looks up from her Mindstorms robot and asks, “What are channels, mommy?” We both laugh and my wife answers, “We used to have to wait to watch things, on something called channels. We couldn’t watch whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.” Our daughter looks puzzled, then says, “That would suck,” as she turns back to her robot.