Monday, June 26, 2006

Failte go d'ti Dublin

[Images Redacted]

Update: A number of readers have pointed out a critical omission that must be corrected. During our discussion Ham and Boliver graciously credited Shukran Fahid as the sim's main builder, and mentioned that he was flown to Dublin to gather reference material for the build. My apologies for not mentioning Shukran's substantial contribution in the original post.

It's not often that one receives a personal tour of one of the world's great cities from none other than the mayor of the city itself. Indeed it felt a little like that as Mayor Ham Rambler and Chief Project Manager Boliver Oddfellow led me through a virtually reconstructed section of central Dublin (view on map | direct teleport), with each stop along the tour highlighting areas of civic and historical significance while providing another example of RL culture reflected in digital space.

It would appear that certain notions of urban design translate well from the human scale to that of the human scaled avatar, namely the sense of the city as an outdoor living room and as an extension of the domicile. The streets indeed become the most comfortable and successful parts of the build, while the shops (a mix of actual Dublin landmarks and SL resident franchises) feel less inviting given the relatively compressed amount of space for camera maneuverability. On the other hand, the impact of St. Stephens Green (Dublin's equivalent of Central Park, according to Ham) is also to be felt in relation to the streets, only from the obverse condition. While it almost feels a little too open, it also yields one of the sim's most intimate and profound moments, a recreation of the Edwin Delaney's Famine Memorial statue.

Ham reports that a few liberties were taken with the design, namely the relocation of the nearby but outlying Guinness Brewery to within the sim boundaries, given its importance as a cultural icon and exemplifying the potential fusion of place making and corporate sponsorship as a business model in the post-dwell era.

On the other hand, Ham has not strayed from controversy in the quest for realism. The Millennium Spire (unofficially dubbed 'The Spike,' or 'Bertie's Pole' in honor of Ham's RL counterpart who commissioned it) is a gleaming slender vertical needle standing 120m high, functioning less like an obelisk as a traditional organizing element, more like a javelin hurled by angry gods of antiquity. According to Ham a majority of RL Dubliners view it in a negative light.

In addition to serving as a really nifty vantage point (given the opportunity to ride it to the top with draw distance cranked way up), the spire and more importantly the decision not to edit it out provide a conceptual focal point for not only the sim but also the spectrum of potential that exists in Second Life between experiences of the familiar and the surreal. Ham has clearly sided with the familiar, even if that includes 'foreign' elements.

I completely respect this position, and yet as one begins to swing the camera around something even more compelling happens. The illusion starts to break down, and the sim upon closer scrutiny begins to feel reminiscent of a machinima set, the edges giving way to some very compelling residual spatial conditions given that the layout (again for the sake of 'authenticity') has been cranked relative to the standard north-south orientation of the island upon which it finds itself situated.

All of the interpreted 'placard' moments, all of the very real and collective efforts of Dublin's RL builders and founders are actually enhanced when the virtual version of it suddenly also becomes equally surreal, of the moment, and intensely personal. A living city in a virtual world, but perhaps more importantly, a portal of discovery.


At 6/28/2006 3:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The efforts of Shukran Fahid should be mentioned, considering that he personally built the majority (probably even more) of the sim.

At 6/28/2006 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This seems to be the result of project managers taking WAAAAAAY more credit than deserved. I'm personal friends with Shukran, he lived with me during the first half of the build, and I know that was building nearly everything solo during that time (he moved outta country during the second half of the build... so I'm uncertain who he acquired to help with the build during that time).
It would certainly serve Boliver and Ham well to give props where props are do. Seriously.

At 6/28/2006 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't even know someone besides Shukran worked on it. I guess Boliver and Ham should get a little credit, they funded it didn't they? But as far as what you see, and what you enjoy looking at in Dublin is all Shukran. No Shukran No Dublin. Without him as builder it could have been a defunked project.

At 6/28/2006 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw Dublin built from start to finish. Shuk designed it and planned it and lovingly built it. He wants no credit, he just loves to build, but I think it's just polite to give him a mention, don't you?

At 6/28/2006 4:00 PM, Blogger Chip Poutine said...

As commented over at Hamlet's blog, Boliver and Ham did credit Shukran as the main builder and mentioned that they flew him to Dublin to gather reference material for the sim. This was an unintentional oversight on my part not to include Shukran in my post, and will be corrected.

At 6/28/2006 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I REALLY need to set the record straight here. I commissioned the building of Dublin , being a native of the city. My project team for the build consisted of Boliver Oddfellow and Sitearm Madonna. They went in search of a builder who they felt could do the project justice and found Shukran. Because Shukran was in the UK at the time, I suggested we meet in RL Dublin, so I could ensure Shuk had a good " feel" for the city. To me , this was the element that provided Shukran with most of his inspiration to produce the magnificant build he did. Let me make this VERY clear. The concept and financing was mine, the organisation was Boliver and Sitearms, but the Creativity was all Shukrans, and I would never take anything of that from him.It is hurtful for me to see suggestions in subesquent blogs that I was somehow taking credit for Shukrans work.

At 6/29/2006 2:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and as a further ommission, I need to credit Kal Hocken with some of the more intricate and interesting items in Dublin, not least being the superb rendition of the Famine statue in St. Stephens Green. Kal continues to adjust and add to Dublin's build.

At 8/12/2006 1:00 AM, Blogger Prokofy Neva said...

Sukran is shown as the creator of the buildings, I believe nearly all of them in Dublin. That's how the tools work in SL permissions.

There's a fine tradition of developers commissioning builds in SL. Still, somehow in the pre-big-business era, the builder/architect himself or herself would have the spotline shone on them more fully, somehow. They'd be people who had built up their own reputations in various ways. I see that changing now.

And I do wonder about the difference in what Shukran got paid for this job, and Boliver Oddfellow got paid, let's say. Because, sure, concept, design, funding, inspiration, that's all important in a project. But the architect's work is the lasting and visible memorial.

I'm also interested to contemplate what virtual prototyping/simulation really involves in the end. Is a builder in the virtual world just a builder, a kind of stone mason, taking the blue prints of his betters and grunting away on the XYZ axis just pushing prims?

Or is he something more, solving problems, having epiphanies, suggesting changes?

An architect conceives of a building and builds it, but in the SL context he often hires helpers to do the grunt work, just as in RL this was done, because of the time-consuming work of the SL tools.

At 8/12/2006 6:53 AM, Blogger Chip Poutine said...

"Or is he something more, solving problems, having epiphanies, suggesting changes?"

Thank you Prok. I've been searching for that phrase for some time :)

At 9/26/2006 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a load of bollox.


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