Cosma is a spatial interface to the best resources on the Web!
The primary goal of Cosma is to locate awesome content resources and showcase them in a “mixed directory” format with two types of links:
• links to discipline specific resources identified through a long term initiative to create a systematic top-down inventory of the world’s best content resources
• links to numerous database driven resources that can be accessed with URLs thatuse consistent search strings (e.g. Webster, OneLook, Britannica, Wikipedia, WorldCat, etc.)
Each page has ten or more links to carefully selected subject specific resources organized by a special classification scheme developed exclusively for Cosma. There are over five hundred pages on the site now, and there will be more than a thousand pages by the end of 2019. Eventually many of the pages will have a hundred or more links, and there will be thousands of pages within the next few years.
Visual and Spatial Interfaces
Another key goal of Cosma is to have a fun 3D visual interface. There have been many versions of these created with a variety of platforms over the years (HyperCard, SecondLife, Unity3D etc.). You can find out more about them in the 3D Gallery.
A funny thing happened while doing “previs” for a future version, though.
It turned out that using a Rioch Theta S 360° camera and RoundMe to hack together a demo led to an unexpectedly fun and usable interface. The resulting “Toy Worlds” are now serving as an interface to Cosma. You can see a demo on Roundme.
The next phase of development for visual interfaces to Cosma will require adopting an authoring tool or platform capable of supporting interactive 3D/360° worlds in a standard browser without plugins (i.e. WebVR).
An earlier experiment was done to implement an interface in Unity 3D. It was entitled Cosma 3D, and it was an interface to a special Cosma 3D website as well as other early 3D content that was available on the web.
Here’s a video that was captured of that demo.
The Cosma 3D website is no longer online, and some of the 3D content that was originally available on the web has been moved or disappeared entirely, so the Unity 3D demo is no longer a useful application. However, it was a useful learning experience and test of Unity 3D as a potential platform for a more robust implementation of a full interface to Cosma. At this point in time the jury remains out about whether or not it will be the next platform for Cosma’s visual interface.
The search, and wait, is still on for an authoring tool to use to create a more robust interface to the still nascent 3D web.
The above examples are just the latest generation of Dr. Hopper’s experiments with creating 3D interfaces to traditional, interactive and 3D content. The first generation of experiments started way back in the 1980s. The first prototype was created in 1989 using Apple’s HyperCard in color that ran on a IIGS with ProDOS.
Finally, the current WordPress based web site (Cosma.org) is just the newest iteration of a very old project based upon over thirty years of research and development in information, knowledge and communication systems, utilities and environments.
The technology platform, content inventory, target audience and motivational strategy have all evolved through many iterations, and they are now approaching a point where they can function together to provide a valuable resource ready to be shared with the public.
Hopper, M. E. (2009, April). Cosma: Constructing a Kingdom of Knowledge [Presentation]. Media in Transition 6 Conference: Stone and Papyrus, Storage and Transmission, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.
Hopper, M. E. (2007, April). The Knowledge Gates to SecondLife [Presentation]. Media in Transition 5 Conference: Creativity, Ownership and Collaboration in the Digital Age, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.