Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Black Library





Libraries have long been one of a few archetypical building forms to readily transcend the boundaries of physical space. The web is full of sites referring to themselves as 'virtual libraries', and the internet in general as a 'container for information' is rife with spatial metaphor - chat rooms, firewalls, etc. The concept of a library among these more obvious examples has been exploited to varying degrees of success. As a result of these numerous treatments, one can see examples of virtual libraries on a continuum from those which accurately reproduce their physical counterparts to those which completely embrace the abstraction and the structural potentials of information itself.

A particularly bad example of the former can be found in the Michael Douglas / Demi Moore stinker Disclosure. In and amongst all the dry humping lies a tenuous plot thread centering around a VR database, where one presumably walks aimlessly down virtual halls replete with polished marble floors and gilded Corinthian columns until one finds the right virtual file cabinet and pulls out the virtual document that one requires. Would it have killed them to use the card catalogue? When information already exists in a visual format, and hyperlinks take us directly to the information, what is the added value of spatial navigation?

In Second Life, the Black Library (Furness 206,16) answers that question in a rather unique way. Each book contained in the library provides a link to the website of Wandering Yaffle (www.alwaysblack.com) where one actually reads the articles. It would then be easy to argue that since the writings can be more easily and readily accessed through the website, why bother to have a spatial counterpart other than as a mere promotional tool?

It would be just as easy to respond that the library, with its almost soviet-era composition of concrete and glass imparts a curious sense of personality and gravitas that enhances the experience of the website and provides an important experiential context for the writing. I might even go so far as to suggest one gets the best of both worlds. Go there, and do not miss the theatre, lest I haul out another Kubrickian proclivity.

2 Comments:

At 10/02/2005 7:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

verah interesting blog.

Barnesworth Anubis

 
At 11/11/2005 7:20 AM, Blogger Prokofy Neva said...

Re: "its almost soviet-era composition". Actually, I would have said it's more "California new architecturey" or something.
My puzzlement about this library, given the considerable 3-D capacity of SL, is why it has so many static, 2-D flat panels that merely lead to web links. I'd like to see more happening with 3-D pieces, interactivity, sculpture. It does have a predictable kind of globe sculpture but I'm confident more could be done.

 

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