Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:
Microsoft named its browser a humble explorer; Apple encompassed a whole safari. Do you get the sense that the developers of the 3D browser "SpaceTime" are setting their sights a bit higher?
Most 3D browsers from the early days of the web, such as those from ActiveWorlds and Blaxxun Interactive, became best-known for avatar-based chat, in many ways the precursors of Second Life. 3B, a more recent effort, allows its users to set up web pages and photos on walls or billboards in various 3D environments such as Tech (think bridge of USS Enterprise), Beach, Lounge and what the developers call "Girly" (sort of a pre-teen girl's bedroom) presumably located in Hannah, Montana.
SpaceTime, though, differs from all these avatar cyberplaygrounds, using 3D instead as a means to more visual web navigation. Large thumbnails of web pages float in front of a slowly drifting Cirrus cloud background; double-clicking them travels through space and brings them full-screen. Alone, this would be little more than eye candy, but SpaceTime's design goals kick in when you choose a search from one of its partners, which include Google and YouTube, Yahoo and Flickr, Amazon and eBay, among others.