News.com is running an interesting interview with Joe Firmage, the former CEO of USWeb, about the impending launch of his new venture, ManyOne. ManyOne is… well, he can probably explain it better than I can:
“In 2000, a year and a half after I left USWeb, I kicked off the predecessor to this project, called One Cosmos. I was inspired by a show I saw when I was 12 years old, ‘Carl Sagan’s Cosmos,’ a 13-hour series. One of the episodes was called the ‘Encyclopedia Galactica,’ in which Sagan said that someday we would have access to all of recorded human knowledge right there on our screens. And I said, ‘You know what? We could actually do that.’”
Apparently ManyOne aims to do this by providing a combination of a collaboratively edited directory, an ISP service, and a tightly-integrated browser that allows browsing in 3D via VRML. Wait, browsing in 3D? VRML? Yes, you read that right. In fact, the interviewer, Paul Festa, calls ManyOne “a virtual museum of tried and abandoned Web media concepts” (always good to get a little editorializing in your news). Firmage has been associated with some… um… unconventional ideas before, so this announcement seems to be being received less as a new business venture and more as a test of Firmage’s sanity. Still, it’s clear that he’s passionate about it and has put a lot of work (and money — $11 million so far) into it, so it’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out. They’re offering a beta version of the “ManyOne Universal Browser” for free download; I’m going to try to have some first impressions of it for you soon.Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at July 29, 2003
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