Archive for June, 2007


A virtual Sistine Chapel

June 29, 2007

Last night I was bumping around a very famous ceiling. As I hit my head on the Sistine Chapel ceiling I thought about how Michelangelo painted these works. Yep I was in Second Life at a Virtual model of the Sistine Chapel

A second life note card explains:

This is a recreation of the Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina), located in the Vatican City. It was designed by Baccio Pontelli and built between 1473 and 1484. The interior is decorated with frescoes by Michelangelo and other great painters of the Italian Renaissance.

In this Second Life recreation, the interior is depicted in great detail, while the exterior is an approximation. Unlike in the real-life chapel, here you can fly up to the top of a wall for a close inspection, look down at the inlaid floor, or even sit on a window ledge!

The lower tier of the chapel normally displays panels with painted draperies. On special occasions, these panels are covered with tapestries designed by Raphael. Here, you can click to show or hide the tapestries whenever you want.

The purpose of this recreation, sponsored by Vassar College, is to explore the use of virtual reality for teaching and learning about art and architecture, by experiencing the context, the scale, and the social aspects of the original.

In Second Life the Sistine Chapel project is found in Vassar 165:91:24

Before you visit the Sistine Chapel in Second Life you could pay a visit to the Sistine Chapel on the Vatican Museums Online as you can examine the frescos in detail and read about them in order to situate the Sistine Chapel in a cultural and historical context.


Interview with Co-founder of SecondLife Cory Ondrejka

June 25, 2007

I admit that Second Life is a very sticky platform and I have become addicted not necessarily to leading another life in a virtual world. What I have become addicted to, is the possibility of a 3D web and the idea. The idea has captured my imagination. I see enormous potential and opportunities for anyone who is creative and gets a kick out of making things. Put simply my curiosity about Second Life is in overdrive.

An interesting interview with Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Linden Labs Cory Ondrejka is available as a podcast from Kiruba Shankar. It’s always interesting to hear the back story to a project and future projections for where the 3D web might go, so as one of the founders of Second Life I enjoyed listening to this as I tried to tame the mess that is my studio.


Education in Second Life

June 23, 2007

Educators Lindy McKeown and Jo Kay share their perspectives on Second Life in a podcast on the site. A transcript is also available.

So think as a starting point it definitely has possibilities for addressing some of the needs that distance learners express in terms of not necessarily feeling so connected to their learning communities.

But on top of that there’s a whole range of other opportunities in terms of experiential learning, so being able to get out there into the world in Second Life and actually put your learning into practice.

A great example of that is the Gipps TAFE project where they had students doing both interior design and hospitality projects where they were developing workplace communications skills and in terms of the interior design projects, they were looking at developing client relationship skills. They are just a couple of the possibilities.

Of course there’s all sorts of opportunities for exploring identity, for developing very immersive resources, and educational experiences for students to engage in, roleplaying, the list goes on.

There is also a wiki Second life in education run by Jo Kay and Sean Fitzgerald which aims to provide an overview of the educational possibilities of virtual worlds, with a focus on Second Life.

Found via the wiki is this introduction to second life for educators.

I also found this while I was surfing and since it is on the same topic I thought I would include it here. Education in Second Life: Explore the Possibilities is a short video pointing out the many ways teachers can make learning experiential in Second Life.

Discovered via


Virtual objects sell

June 23, 2007

I am sure that within a few years there will be a well established population of designer/makers who produce virtual objects for use in virtual worlds. There are of course people already doing this but they are as yet not mainstream and often self taught.

It was the same in the early days of the web. People rolled up their sleeves and learnt html in order to make web sites. Of course their early efforts were rough and lacked visual sophistication. Some loved the process and kept doing it, learning more and developing their skill. They became the basis of what is now a recognised industry. An industry of web designers.

I can see the same thing happening for those people who love working with 3D objects. There will be some who become designers of virtual objects and environments in which to place these objects.

As Susan Wu points out very clearly Virtual Goods are the next big business model.

The virtual worlds space has received tremendous press attention in the last year, fueled in no small part by Wild West stories of fortune and anarchy in worlds like Second Life and the plight of the Chinese gold farmer in World of Warcraft. But people aren’t paying attention to the bigger story. While people preoccupy themselves with mocking the absurdities of some of these virtual worlds, the reality is that there are many businesses out there making meaningful amounts of money in virtual goods.

Read the article to see the figures which are in their millions.

Virtual worlds allow people to exernalise their imagination and as such people will want objects and environments to reflect who they feel they are. For anyone who has any form digital skill and is willing to build on those skills virtual worlds are an interesting development in technology.


Old Masters in Second Life

June 22, 2007

Why would a visit to a 3D reproduction of a work of art be better that a 2D representation of a piece of art work? It’s all about the relationship of the body to the image.

How often have you looked at a famous painting in the flesh and been a little puzzled because you had imagined it bigger or smaller? Although the size of a piece might be described in catalogues and books you do not have a feel for the piece until you see it in relationship with your body. In other words the scale and how that scale is perceived is important. Of course seeing the work in life is the best way to view a piece but I have been quickly convinced that encountering it in a virtual 3D world is of great educational value.

The Dresden Gallery in Second Life is a sim-sized reproduction of the Zwinger Palace in Dresden, Germany. More importantly, the sim reproduces one of the world’s most famous museums, the Old Masters Picture Gallery (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister) of the Dresden State Art Collection located inside the Zwinger Palace. So you can enjoy this collection in its architectural setting.

According the website the Old Masters Picture Gallery is the first museum of its kind to open its virtual doors and display works to scale. In this sim you can view great masterpieces of key importance for the history of art. Major works by artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Canaletto, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Poussin, and Watteau are to be viewed in this virtual world. By clicking on the paintings important information about each work is displayed in a note card.

The SLURL is Dresden Gallery (123,128,26).
Or in Second Life click on Search, select Places, and enter “Dresden” as the keyword teleport there and follow the red carpet.