What if content management were 3D?

[From Fierce ContentManagement (“a weekly content management news update, which focuses on best practices for creating, storing and managing documents and information”); a scene from the film is here

What if content management were 3D?

February 22, 2010 — 4:17pm ET | By Ron Miller

I recently saw the Michael Douglas/Demi Moore 1994 movie called “Disclosure.” In the movie (which explores sexual harassment in the workplace), Michael Douglas was working for a computer company that created a 3D virtual reality database. The user would put on special glasses and he was literally inside the database with the data. He could walk inside a library of content, interact with it and touch it.

I had coffee this week with Maria Korolov who writes extensively about virtual reality. During our conversation, I began thinking about what it would be like if someone designed a content management system in three dimensions. Think about how useful it would be to get all your company’s content laid out in front of you in a graphical view in which you could literally walk inside the system. How cool would that be?

How about the interface?

We discussed how a 3D interface could reveal the content in new ways. For example, you could have a map of content types in front of you and you could simply touch one to go to see all of that content, or you could have sign posts, which when touched would transport you magically to the designated content “room.” If you wanted to, you could even use a transportation metaphor and drive or take a train or bus to your data, which would allow you to browse other content types along the way.

The data could be, as in “Disclosure,” in virtual file cabinets or you could present it in whatever ways you found useful such as flipping through the pages of a book. There could be a ticker tape of micro-blogging chatter running above the file cabinets. There could be virtual meeting spaces organized by topic, which if you were authorized to join, could take you to a virtual conference room (or any space you wish). You could ask, as in “Disclosure,” for help finding your way, or the interface if designed correctly, would provide the guidance to get to you to the data you need.

Korlov pointed out that an interface like this would be much more intuitive than the classic menu-driven graphical user interface we use today. You would be able to interact with the data in the same way you have always found content in the real world, but within a sophisticated virtual world.

Is this possible?

Korolov suggested that this type of world is probably closer to reality than you think. Standards like Open Sim have been established to help create open, standards-based virtual worlds, which could potentially provide a way to do what CMIS is doing today–link content repositories from different vendors–so that you could build applications to access any data or cross 3D worlds regardless of who created it.

While Korolov admitted this type of application is probably at least several years away, and that some key pieces are still missing, you are already seeing some fairly sophisticated applications of 3D worlds in places like Second Life today.

This isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but if you look down the road to where technology like content management (or any enterprise software) might be in 10 or 15 years, it’s possible that we are seeing the ground work in places like Second Life. Movies such as “Disclosure” presented what seemed to be science fiction technology, when it may actually be a prediction of the way we look at content in the future.

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