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A Longer View

It has been said that the major failing of VRML97 has been content that did not perform well within the limits of the VRML97 technology. A different view is that even where the limits were respected, the content created with that technology could not be sustained. VRML implementations have varied widely, have not enabled fidelity of presentation across platforms, and have thereby created a crisis of confidence in the VRML marketplace. There is no advantage in using a standard if implementations of that standard do not enable the content to be sustained, regardless of the performance issues.

The trends in creating, maintaining, and publishing information for the last three decades have been driven by the prevalence of digital tools and the concomitant need to ensure that the evolution and limits of these tools do not inhibit the lifespan of that information. As this is written, the restrictions of time, location, and functionality that characterized the age of print are being removed, yet the challenge of ensuring that the information will survive the technology used to create it remain. Our tools are enabling the processes to become more efficient, faster, and more widespread, but our tools can also limit the time our information lasts by coupling it too tightly to the requirements of any given digital environment.


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