Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Try to Touch the Bookshelves at the Library of Birmingham...

This is one of the cooler things I've seen in SL...

Earlier today I typed "Library" into the Search under Places, just to see what would come up. One of the first things I saw was the Library of Birmingham. Having never visited, I decided to teleport there and check it out. 

The Library of Birmingham is gorgeous, modern, and extravagant. It is also deserted (but I guess that kind of goes without saying). Once I arrived I began my usual assessment, which first involves touching the bookcases to see what happens (if it gives me a notecard, sends me to a URL, etc.). But nothing happened. In fact, none of the bookshelves even gave me the option to "touch" them. 

"Why would anyone build such an extensive building and not bother to make it functional as an actual library," I wondered to myself (though I suppose I could have wondered it into the local chat, since nobody was there to read it anyways).

My curiosity led me to the place that most people go with their curiousity: Google. I searched "Library of Birmingham Second Life," and was led to this article:

The Library of Birmingham, it turns out, is an exact replica of the actual proposed public library in the real-life city of Birmingham, England! The virtual model has been built two years prior to the ground-breaking of the actual library, giving the citizens of Birmingham the opportunity to provide feedback. 

Am I a nerd for thinking this is a great idea? Surely Library of Birmingham isn't the first to do this, but it is the first I've heard of it, and it strikes me as the single most practical and innovative usage of a virtual reality that I've heard of, while still being in accordance with the aims of Linden Lab. But what is perhaps most interesting to me is that this is very recent - the library just opened on July 4th of this year! Does this mean that use of SL for academic purposes is not over? 


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