Does the virtual world need three dimensions?

It seems like a stupid question. After all, shouldn’t the digital world emulate the real world as closely as possible?

But the people I interviewed for a piece on the addition of 3D maps, Online Map Makers Gathering Data to Render 3-D Landscapes for Web Surfers, Mobile Phone Users didn’t have a lot of tangible reasons why digital maps needed to be in three dimensions. But one, Rich Gibson, pointed to future reasons why 3D might matter:

For now, he says that 3-D maps are just a baby step toward developing more useful maps. “It’s the scaffold, the framework upon which the things we do in life can rest,” he says. When 3-D will become really important is when sensor networks develop over time. That will make it possible to enhance 3-D maps with any variety of features, in real time.

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