Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Open Info for All

Tomorrow I will be giving another presentation to a group of librarians about Second Life. This time I will talk a bit about online virtual worlds generally as being applicable for libraries. Today I spent over an hour trying to organise an account for two 16 year work experience students visiting HUMlab in Teen Second Life. It was basically a fiasco and unless one lives in the USA it is not possible to log into Teen Second Life. We used ActiveWorlds instead (felt liek going back in time for me), which looks good (and loads super fast) but is totally empty (600 worlds and 54 accounts active). I tried to log into adult Second Life today 4 times and the computer crashed every time, with 39 000 accounts active.

The vision of the Internet Archive led by Brewster Kahle is one that online virtual worlds such as Second Life (and Google for that matter) ignore at their peril. In two years Second Life could easily become the ActiveWorlds of today as some other new platform is overrun with accounts. But a completely collaborative network project such as the Internet Archive will continue to grow as its users build it. According to this video the archive has managed to scan in 250 000 books with libraries paying for doing it so as to keep their collections truly open. While the catch cry with Second Life is that all the content is "user owned and created" where else are you going to take it as there is nowhere else to run the LSL script outside Second Life? The servers are all run by SL and the contents are theirs. I believe an open system is a distributed system.

Thanks to Jill for the word on the Archive video.

1 comment:

meika said...

So have you read Vernor Vinge's award wimming Rainbow's End yet? Amazing hybrid virtual-meatspace fights in an old library (real books shredded by some digitizing device) between b-grade belief circles over who gets the old library space at a uni, haven't finished it myself yet