Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Virtual Communities and Libraries

Thousands of virtual worlds out there (Association of Virtual Worlds Blue Book lists them), mostly oriented to children and teens. The majority of users are children and teens. One challenge to libraries is that there is a global audience in the virtual world, requiring a different model than our usual orientation to a particular community or institution.

Reference service is popular in Second Life. For assessment, can set up proximity sensors that tell how many avatars come within a defined distance of the sensor.

The virtual world is 3D for people and things, someday have 3D for data. Some beginnings – can fly your avatar through molecules to see their structure. Also fly-thru sculptures where avatars’ motion creates tones and music. I need to find both of these!

ALA Island has events for National Library Week and Banned Books Week. ALA wants to get a regular calendar of events going there. ACRL has a parcel of land, and holds monthly meet and greets. RUSA has programs and discussions on notable books.

Joe Sanchez is a doctoral student working on virtual worlds. He presented the metaverse, consisting of augmented reality (cyborgs – Bluetooth in ear, etc), life logging (Flickr, blogs, twitter, YouTube), Virtual worlds, Mirror worlds (Google Earth, Street view, maps).

Then John Walber’s ”virtual reality check” – asking when is 3D better or necessary when there are good 2D tools for collaboration like Elluminate. Qwaq has Lego-people style avatars, except that if you use a webcam, video of your face shows up, so you don’t have to keystroke your expressions. You can drag and drop any application into Qwaq. Google Sketchup is useful for creating an environment. New Yourk children used Google Sketchup to come up with accessible subway designs and then use avatars to walk through and try them out.

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