Virtual Worlds

Virtual WorldVirtual worlds are becoming a major topic when it comes to participating on a local or global scale. There are many programs that are being developed to navigate through ancient architectural civilizations and even in the present, traveling around urban cities. These programs enable people to explore a vast amount of information, as well as pilot through artificial realms to meet people and view objects.

I am currently on a team to redefine how we experience New York City during the day versus the night. This involves a lot of data collection and understanding how these spaces feel in the daylight environment versus the night environment from a lighting stand point. One popular web program that has taken the first steps to this experiential experience is Second Life. They advertise this space as a place to connect, to shop, to work, to explore, to be different and free yourself and mind, and be who you want to be. This is definitely taking this idea of the iPhone as your museum guide to a much different and extreme limit, but this is a potential program that will be developed by many museums in the coming years and the beginning of this investigation have already begun.

The New York Hall of Science has partnered with the Greater Southern Tier BOCES SciCentr program on a project to engage an ethnically and economically diverse group of young people in creating a Virtual Hall of Science (VHOS). This entails designing, building and staffing the virtual science center while working and interacting with science and education professionals throughout the process. VHOS is seen as a long term program that will encourage students to develop and plan the future of their museum as they see fit. This program will further enhance the already strong connects NYSCI has with its community and student science education program.

In either case, the idea of a virtual world that enables people to experience a museum or, for that matter, many different cities from the comfort of their homes is a great start to spark interest, but the fact of the matter is that this will never change how we truly experience something that is tangible.

Stephen Kaye

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5 responses to “Virtual Worlds

  1. I agree with the last statement of this post; virtual world would never be able to create experiences as strong as those we can live in the real and tangible world.
    I’m also involved in the Lighting Walk through the virtual New York of Second Live and I think virtual worlds are an interesting place to study human interaction with spaces and objects that may not be accessible in real life. In this Lighting Walk the idea is to understand light in a world without laws of physics and how this can translate into the real world.
    I never thought about the presence of museums in this virtual world but it could be a great idea for museums to have a presence worldwide and be accessible to people who cannot travel. It can also work as a laboratory to better understand the different relationships between the museum and the audience. But the museum has to maintain its physical presence in the real world, because whether some people is willing to accept it or not, we all have a real life to live. It’s sad to believe that human beings are going to end up being entities connected to machines.
    Technology is about our lives, but our lives cannot become all about technology.
    I wonder about these virtual worlds: Why are some people so afraid to live their lives?

  2. I wonder about these virtual worlds: Why are some people so afraid to live their lives?

    Amen… apparently there are people who spend their Saturday nights going to raves in Second Life. I wish I was kidding.

    We were talking about the danger of having our contacts so filtered towards our own likes and preferences on the net that we lose contact of the outside world. I believe some people use Second Life to literally avoid ANY uncomfortable face to face interaction.

    On this same note, I think this is why people get so aggressive in virtual worlds: they don’t have to deal with confrontation.

  3. Virtual worlds scare me. It’s like reality just ceases to exist – and whats worse, is that people are okay with it. Avoiding real and tangible interactions is not the way to go through life.

    A lot of museums are looking into enhancing the virtural tour aspect of the experience – I know that AMNH has begun and will continue to do so. It is one thing when it is beneficial to the viewers who can not make the visit to a certain museum, but it will never replace an actual visit. We will be in trouble if that ever became the case. I think it is important that people still prefer to see real things, and touch them (if allowed).

    Technology has brought extensive advances to all areas of society, many of them being good. we are, however, completely addicted. I fear that we have gone to far. I fear that we are to dependent on too many different forms of technology. I fear that technology enables cowardice and hinders creativity. I am inclined to think Second Life goes one step to far.

  4. Used in the appropriate way, the technology of virtual worlds could be great assets to museums. A virtual museum would allow many different people access to the collection away from the physical museum, as well as people could be able to enjoy the collections in a more interactive and engaging way then digitized photographic collections online. From an art history student’s viewpoint one is not always able to study to actual object, but the ability to study a virtual replica of an object would be great, only if there was no other way to reach that object. Furthermore, there are great potions of the world that would have no other access to these collections. People who are able to visit the physical museum site are privileged and relatively few.

    Underling this, though, must be the knowledge that a virtual object in the museum is not the same as the real object. I feel at times, we do not give people or our society very much credit for understanding the differences between virtual worlds and the real. In addition, historically society has always had a feared new technologies and there affects on us. Maybe instead of fighting against the increase of technology in our lives, we could understand its place and use and where it works and does not.

  5. I want to play the devil’s advocate for a second. People may use virtual portals because they are unsatisfied with their day-to-day lives, or because they are looking to recreate themselves, or possibly they are just looking for something new.
    While I agree that we shouldn’t run off to a virtual world and lose touch with the real world, I do believe that some people benefit thru the use of these portals. Discussions, events, and social skills are explored through platforms such as Second Life; areas that are also a part of our real daily lives, though it’s through technology.
    The idea of a virtual museum is exciting from an international visitor standpoint but is also an idea that makes me nervous for the physical exhibition museum. By introducing these virtual worlds we are also allowing local visitors to log-on rather than check-in. Could these virtual museums slowly dispose the need for a physical museum, or require the rebranding of it?

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