Tuesday, 6 September 2011

What a Virtual Ship is useful for?

August is gone, bye bye summer.
Last post I presented my personal and virtual reconstruction of the “Roar Ege”, one of the Skuldelev Viking Ships in exposition to the Roskilde Viking Ship Museum (DK).

              The RL Roskilde Vikinshipmuseum in winter time.

I mentioned also the presence in Second Life of a “virtual branch” of the same Roskilde museum, hosted by “Metrotopia”, a Danish Research Island  where a copy of the “Sea Stallion”, another Viking ship,  lies.

           The SL Roskilde Vikinshipmuseum and the Sea Stallion.

This sim is part of a larger project named “VW Sense-making and Innovation” of Roskilde University, Copenhagen Business School.
After my last post some readers came to visit Metrotopia, but they reported that the Viking Ships Museum virtual replica is still empty, and the wonderful Sea Stallion is still sleeping on the grass.
As I know, the Virtual Worlds RU project is one of the most interesting European experiences about contents communication using VR tools. This is why I contacted Tommy Nilsson, one of the RUE Team Members, well known in SL like “doctor Asp” , asking him about the Viking Ships Museum Project.
Linteus Dench  – Ahoy Doc. Well, how the project is going?
Doctor Asp -  The Viking Ships Museum project was the idea of the University Team Leader,  who wanted to get the real Vikingshipmuseum interested in Second Life.  Unluckily,  this didn´t happen and the research team moved to other activities. Finally,  no more work is done on the SL Vikingshipmuseum.
The vikingshipmuseum building in SL has only been created on the outside - inside it´s empty. There was no point in doing all the interior if the real museum wasn´t interested.
Linteus Dench – Sounds quite sad. Do you think there is a sort of “technical issue”, maybe coming by technical limits of Second Life?
Doctor Asp - Both the team leader, Professor Sisse Siggaard Jensen and I, believed that it was possible to do a 3D version of the Sea Stallion and sail it in SL - and it was. The Sea Stallion I did can sail according to the wind speed and direction, and the rudder can be controlled in order to steer the ship. The real vikingshipmuseum wasn´t too impressed. One of their comments was, that the ship wasn´t detailed enough.
I have although created all 5 Skuldelev wrecks in SL ready to be placed in the museum if they change their minds.
Linteus Dench – Actually there are just few History Museums in Second Life, and I must say that in general they are normally quite empty.
Doctor Asp - Speaking of museums in SL, I have in the last 3 years been in contact with more than 10 danish museums trying to promote SL as a great way to showcase their RL museums, but no luck so far. For the time being, I´m back in 2D creating "standard" websites.

The story of the Roskilde Vikinships Museum in SL sounds really interesting to my ears, taking in consideration just main topics. The real VS Roskilde Museum is probably one of the most active, innovative creative and “mindopening” museums I visited in Europe. And I can assure you, I spend a lot of time visiting.

On the other hand, The Roskilde University Team is carrying out one of the most interesting research plans on new communication tools, like online Virtual Worlds are.

Then the question jumps out of the screen: what the hell this virtual ship is useful for?
Or in other words, Virtual Reality and Cultural Heritage Institutions are actually  not compatible to each other?

 Petra at Museum Island in Second Life.

Looking to the technical side of the topic, it is possible that Second Life is not the most correct tool. We can consider SL like a “Generalistic Media”, people comes and goes, meeting, exploring, taking often just a superficial sight. Moreover, SL is a “Persistent Online Reality”. Even if SL introduced recently the mesh import option, being under bandwidth streaming limit, object in SL will be always less detailed then “stand alone” application ones. The detail resolution difference is the same between a movie you download on your PC, and a streaming one.

But ther’s a but.

Second Life, like other Online Virtual Worlds, is a communication tool. Not just nice images.
Big question. It is possible Virtual Worlds and Cultural Institutions meeting on the Communication ground?
Personally, I think so.

I'd like to have your point of view about. 
Hints and suggestions are, like always, welcome.