Friday, March 23, 2007

How I want to view digitized materials


Yesterday I did the keynote presentation at the New York State Educational Media/Technology Association spring conference and I spoke on Second Life. Whenever I speak on Second Life, I always try to talk about why Second Life (SL) is important and what we might learn from it. SL in some ways is a huge sandbox. It allows people to think out-of-the-box about spaces, products and services. SL will undoubtedly impact tools that we will use in the future.

One way in which I hope SL impacts us is in how we view digitized materials. Above is a picture of the Alzheimer's Society of Ontario (Canada) exhibit that was mounted last fall in Second Life. As you walked into the exhibit, you could see the photographs and other pieces the same way you would if you were in a real gallery. For me, it was an amazing experience. Suddenly I understood what was missing with displays of digitized materials and that was the ability to truly see them in a digital exhibit space.

At a committee meeting this week, we were looking at how images were appearing in a pilot system, talking about how to tweak the page's look and feel, and how people would interact with some of the materials. However, the systems we are all dealing with are not meant to give us -- as an option -- the ability to create virtual galleries. Wouldn't it be cool if you could select a set of images that could be displayed in a virtual gallery, then be able to walk about that gallery? Even better, wouldn't it be cool if your users could select on-the-fly what items they wanted to view in a virtual gallery and then be able to walk around that gallery online?

Am I nuts to want this type of functionality? I don't think so. (If I am, please let me know.) I think if we want to give people the same experience that they would get if they went to a local history collection, museum or archive, then we need something like this.

P.S. -- If this topic sounds remotely familiar, I did talk about this in one of my 2006 year-end posts.

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1 comment:

mitch said...

Okay, you're nuts. ;-) Seriously, though, I think we might be closer to this than you think, though some of the technology still has to be worked out. I'm talking about virtual reality where people can put on the headsets and believe they're in another place. We see it in science fiction all the time, and now it's in one of those Capital One commercials. I think it will be cool, and it could easily expand from there.