Archive for August, 2008

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Discover Babylon

August 28, 2008
Me and a drooling donkey.

Me and a drooling donkey.

Last Spring I ran into Tristan Saeed, a collaborator with the Federation of American Scientists who is helping build Discover Babylon, a re-creation of ancient Mesopotamia.  There’s a blog post about the project from last April on Dispatches from the Imagination Age which reminded me to go back and visit.

The floating, rotating information sign posts.

The floating, rotating information sign posts.

The project is coming along nicely, with more of the town filled out and and information sign posts that link to outside content to explain what is going on.  I’d love to see the web stats on how many people actually follow through to this outside content.

As I had effused to Tristan before, the textures they have produced for the sim are outstanding with peeling plasters, baskets, pottery, and ovens.

They also have the option of “priestess wear” that you can kit yourself out in.  The sleeves are a bit wonky and the belt didn’t fit quite right, but I was able to stretch it into place.  Integrating these bits of roleplaying are vital to creating a more interactive, compelling user experience of the site.

I came to see a rock show!

I came to see a rock show!

The only criticism I have of the module is the one that I highlighted in my recent WAC paper: GET REAL: A Manifesto for Virtual Reality in Archaeology, that is, no Non-Player Characters or NPCs.  These fake Mesopotamians are clunky, add little to the sim, and do not encourage interaction.  There are small scripted dialogues with some of the street vendors that do not make much sense, and it would be more interesting to encourage users to adopt these various roles, rather than interact with these various limited simulations.

I’m excited to see what else the Discover Babylon team comes up with, and I highly recommend visiting their lovely site:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/FAS/196/115/27/

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Cultural Heritage in Second Life

August 24, 2008

Hello, and welcome to CHiSL!  After seeing so much interest in creating virtual cultural heritage locations in Second Life, we created this loose consortium to keep track of all of the various, ongoing projects by different people and institutions.

Here at the University of California, Berkeley, there is an exciting DeCal class (classes taught by undergraduates for undergraduates) that is based on OKAPI island, a reconstruction of the Neolithic site of  Çatalhöyük in Turkey.  From the class website:

“The purpose of this class is to investigate how Second Life (an online role playing game) can be used to turn a physical environment into a virtual one. This course will explore the real vs. virtual world concept in the context of Catal Hoyuk, a Neolithic site in Turkey. This course incorporates on going archaeological research in Second Life and addresses key issues in archaeology such as the archaeologist’s audience and archaeology/media relations.

This course also serves as a basic primer into the virtual world of Second Life. Through this course, students will learn how to interact with real people in a virtual environment. This course also addresses how virtual experiences are applicable to the real world (i.e. relationships, business). By the end of this course, students will have established themselves as fully functioning citizens of Second Life and will know how to control basic aspects of their environment.”

It should be interesting–check back for ongoing developments with the class and with other sites in Second Life!