Visible Past — thinking beyond Second Life

An interesting articleVisible Past: Learning and discovering in real and virtual space and time by Matei, Miller, Arns, Rauh, Hartman and Bruno is exploring collaborative mapping. The abstract says:

Visible Past proposes a cross platform, scalable environment (Exploratorium) for collaborative social, geographic, and historical education and research. The Exploratorium will be deployed in a variety of settings, from Web to fully immersive virtual reality environments. Educational activities can be formal (classroom teaching) or informal (conducted in a museum or self–directed online learning setting). The specific goals of the Exploratorium concept are two–fold: 1) to create a set of tools for collecting, organizing, or disseminating knowledge in a collaborative manner at various scales and in various formats; and, 2) to extend and refine a theoretical framework and methodological tools for prototyping and testing future research and learning applications and architectures that benefit from 3D and location aware applications. The heart of the Visible Past Exploratorium concept, the Exploratorium, is an information space built on top of a georeferenced wiki database that can be accessed through a variety of avenues: full immersion 3D environments, Web interfaces, or Geographic Exploration Systems (GES), such as Google Earth or NASA’s World Wind.

The article goes on with a critique of Second Life:

“For all of their titillation and sparkle, for all of their realized and future potential, Second Life–like environments aren’t engineered (yet) to be open, expandable platforms for communication and social interaction across spaces and experiences. Second Life falls short of being an architecture supported by open and extensible protocols that can seamlessly support 2D and 3D worlds beyond its own. Opening the Second Life idea to data and geographies that connect real worlds to real social communities opens it to existing and future virtual environments, existing and future participatory communities, and existing and future scholarship and teaching methodologies.”

This goes well beyond the more limited explorations Steve Spaeth and I have undertaken with Wayfaring and other tools.

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