THE FUTURE!!!

One of the longest running jokes in Internet history revolves around VRML (an acronym for "Virtual Reality is Much Laughter"). In case you haven't heard of this idiotic language, and I truly hope you haven't, let me get you up to speed by presenting an alarmingly inaccurate historical description of VRML. VRML was initially created in the mid-90's to allow users to experience the utter joy of being in "cyberspace," which consisted of floating around gigantic neon cubes and cones. All the "cool" movies in those days featured people who would log in to their bitchin' 100 MHz Pentium 1 computers and enter some magical world where numbers are represented by dumb geometric shapes and nobody can find anything useful anywhere. The main point of going into virtual reality was to apparently teach your idiot children how to name shapes and colors. Despite heavy protests from people with over nine brain cells, VRML 1.0 was released in May of 1995, causing coders around the globe to immediately dismiss it and go back to playing "Rise of the Triad." Programmers who didn't have access to this game were forced by their bosses and college instructors to use VRML and create some kind of virtual reality world that not only took forever to load but also had the added benefit of being completely impossible to navigate. Most colleges offered at least one VRML-related course where the instructor was some short chubby guy with bulging eyes and a grey beard. He often knew as much about VRML as the students, so it was really easy to just answer "RED CONE" to every test question and end up passing the course. Here's an actual quote from the VRML 1.0C specifications:

"Finally, we move to "perceptualized" Internetworks, where the data has been sensualized, that is, rendered sensually. If something is represented sensually, it is possible to make sense of it. VRML is an attempt to place humans at the center of the Internet, ordering its universe to our whims. In order to do that, the most important single element is a standard that defines the particularities of perception. Virtual Reality Modeling Language is that standard, designed to be a universal description language for multi-participant simulations."

THE FUTURE!!!

Wow! That sure sounds exciting and revolutionary! With such a meaningful and detailed description, I can't even possibly begin to imagine why this useful language never caught on. I mean, read that again: "the data has been sensualized, that is, rendered sensually. If something is represented sensually, it is possible to make sense of it." How anybody could expect VRML to succeed when its description doesn't even make any sense whatsoever baffles even me, and I've seen things on the Internet that would make your head spin around so fast that it flies off your neck stump and lands on the collection of carpet samples you bought off of eBay. Anyway, everybody got really excited about VRML back then because they had nothing else to do but either program in that language or play "Rise of the Triad," and since most of them had already killed that utterly retarded demon-snake-terrorist-lizard-bug-alien end boss of the game, they tried making websites in VRML. The amazingly flexible nature of this language allowed developers to construct exciting "cyberspace virtual webpage e-worlds" that included such revolutionary creations as:

Planet of the Red Cubes
A large blue square with a bitmap stretched across it reading "WELCOME TO MY HOMEPAGE"
Something involving green pyramids
A huge box that, upon entering, allowed the user to experience entering a huge box.

These were all incredibly exciting and wonderful concepts that were predicted to revolutionize the Internet industry just like how Dale Earnhardt revolutionized the "dying in a NASCAR race" industry. Can you imagine going to Amazon.com and seeing a whole line of red boxes underneath a shelf of orange spheres, some of which blink and read "WELCOME TO MY HOMEPAGE"? I can't! And also I'm impotent! Oddly enough, most Internet citizens felt the same way as I do (about the cubes, not the impotency), and VRML found itself grouped with such amazing ideas as Microsoft Bob and the script to "Maximum Overdrive." All the fat, bearded, smelly computer programmers simply couldn't figure out why VRML didn't catch on like Ocean Pacific t-shirts; it had all the elements of a successful product, which I will not list now because I cannot think of any offhand. Whatever they were, I'm just sure they were absolutely wonderful and possibly revolutionary.

THE FUTURE!!!

The programmers eventually gave up on VRML and decided to create another new, revolutionary, pointless language coincidentally named "VRML 2.0." See, this was intended to be an improvement to the previous version of VRML 1.0, which is the equivalent of moving up from Schlitz to Milwaukee's Best. VRML 2.0 promised to cram us into some exciting electronic three-dimensional world where we could see even more complex cubes and new shades of fuscia. In addition, it offered such revolutionary features as the ability to emit sounds from your computer speakers, allow cube doors to open inside cube rooms, and even support Javascript, the language that lets 50,000 porn site popup windows lock up your computer! Everybody had their hopes up for VRML 2.0 because the number "2" is larger than the number "1", by at least two times. However, programmers soon found out that the number following the acronym "VRML" wasn't referring to its release edition, it was referring to the number of people who will actually use it. The world once again was not ready for the sensory overload that VRML had to offer, and we tossed it aside like a Kleenex during a Kleenex-tossing competition. Everybody pretty much assumed VRML was dead at this point... but much like Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and Michael Jackson, it has reared its ugly head once again in a brand new form: X3D.

...members of an emerging Web 3D standards group unveiled the first working draft of Extensible 3D (X3D), a successor to VRML. Among its claimed advantages, the new version is designed to work with Extensible Markup Language (XML), which is fast becoming the glue for a wide range of Web documents.

"There is a genuine pent-up demand for this stuff," analyst Peddie said. "What's out there now is primitive and not very satisfying, but that's partly because the people putting them out have to develop them from scratch. If they could get the same level of support and functionality with 3D that they do with XML, you would see amazing new developments."

Did you read that? AMAZING NEW DEVELOPMENTS! We're going to witness AMAZING NEW DEVELOPMENTS! Not just new, but AMAZING AND NEW! And DEVELOPMENTS! That's like two for the price of none! Now I don't know about you, but I've been having wet dreams about 3D graphic webpages for at least the last two weeks now. Before then I just had wet dreams of Johnny Fever. So look out WKRP in Cincinnati, X3D is in town and soon you'll be able to see rotating green squares on some kid's Geocities page dedicated to Slipknot! Gentlemen, the future is here once again! After being here before! And here again before that! Prepare yourselves for a sensory overload and strap on your 3D goggles because X3D is going to revolutionize the Internet as we know it, just like how PowerPlay turned my modem into a LAN party. Let's just hope our bandwidth is large enough to support all those cubes and cones and stuff coming through because I just looked at my cable modem's LAN wire and it seems awfully small. Oh well, back to "Rise of the Triad."

– Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka (@lowtax)

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