Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rants and Raves: Info Island

For today's post I want to discuss Info Island, but rather than analyzing its success or failure in terms of traffic or use (I may touch on this more in a subsequent post) I wish to simply discuss its goals. I touched on this in my interview with Reference Librarian Rolig Loon, but this time I am going to go only off of my own experiences. I also am going to attempt to assess their effectiveness at achieving those goals, once again based on those same experiences.

The first thing that Info Island attempts to do is act as a resource for real life librarians. I see evidence of this in sites such as the Geneology Library, which offers to help visitors build the geneology sections of their (supposedly) real libraries.

This may have been Info Island's original purpose, as it also seems to be the most practical. However, it seems as if this area is at present the most neglected. The information really only scratches the surface of the question (for example, providing a list of publishers of genology books). Not to mention, sites addressing this purpose are easily the hardest to come by on Info Island.

Rather, their focus seems to have shifted towards (a) acting as functional libraries or informative sites within Second Life, or (b) acting as resources ON Second Life.

When touring around Info Island the most common things you will see are buildings or gardens, each addressing a certain theme and providing access to resources on that theme. For example, in Peace Park, one finds small builds each representing a different world religion (a mini mosque, a small synagogue, etc). There are links to each religions' sacred texts and encylopedia pages outlining the most basic information on that religion.

Other such resources include Mystery Manor, a resource on mystery literature, and the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Portal, which floats above the ground of Info Island. Providing links, notecards, and, in some cases, SL books, these offer a decent amount of information on a very wide range of topics. In my opinion, these are the most effective sites on Info Island. Not only are they going to draw in people with specified interests, but, due to the fact that they are placed outside, not labeled as "libraries," and are interesting and interactive, they are more likely to attract people who aren't seeking out a library to begin with.

As for reference libraries and other non-themed resources, such as the Community Virtual Library I discussed in length in a previous post, these have become more like libraries on Second Life itself. As Rolig Loon mentioned in our interview, the most popular questions she received are how to do things in Second Life. And CVL and others are catering to this with the lectures and SL books they're providing. I am glad that this is working for them and bringing people to Info Island, but to me it does not seem like there is any practical use for these outside of Second Life.

What are your thoughts on Info Island?

A tout a l'heure!


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