A brief introduction

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dmoser5

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Oct 12, 2009, 11:47:07 PM10/12/09
to Virtual Worlds History
Hello, I am Dennis Moser, the Digital Resource Librarian in the
William R. Coe Library of the University of Wyoming. I am a very
active participant in Second Life, both as a live performer and as a
researcher.

My area of research is the preservation of digital cultural heritage
and I have presented some of my work at Digital Resources in the
Humanities and Arts (from Second Life, September, 2008), and LIDA 2009
(May, 2009). I will be speaking on this topic at "Cultural Heritage
online" this December.

I look forward to hearing from others and the possibility of
contributing to the the efforts of the group.

~~~

Dennis Moser
dmo...@uwyo.edu

Bruce Damer

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Oct 13, 2009, 10:33:10 PM10/13/09
to Virtual Worlds History
Welcome Dennis,
I am the co-convener of this group and the lead on the Virtual Worlds Timeline project which is working with Stanford (Henry Lowood), The Computer History Museum & Web History Project (Marc Weber).

Your offer to contribute to this effort is much appreciated. The Preserving Virtual Worlds project being supported by us for Stanford and the Library of Congress is tackling head-on the issues of preservation of the experience of and other artifacts created through virtual worlds and game worlds. My own efforts have been to collect and in many cases digitize video and audio of virtual worlds from as far back as Maze War in the 1970s up through the 80s (Habitat/Club Caribe via Chip Morningstar) and my own collections of media from the first Internet-based avatar worlds in the 1990s-early 2000s.

What we are hoping to do is continue this by collecting much more in terms of movies, audio etc (both in-world and IRL) of these environments, especially from the rise of Second Life and other 3rd generation platforms like it (since 2003). You are most welcome to upload such artifacts into our space at the Internet Archive. That can be set up for you. This is meant to be a "curate-able space" which is qualified materials that can be commented on by the 50 experts on this list and elsewhere.

We also need to understand (as a group) what it means to "preserve virtual worlds"?

You can see the current Preserving Virtual Worlds collection at:
http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=preserving%20virtual%20worlds
and my own contributions are at (with sample timeline of virtual worlds built by a collaborative team):
http://www.vwtimeline.com/
(click on link at upper right for videos and audio if you are interested in those).

Thanks again and welcome.

Anyone else on this list want to unlurk and introduce themselves?

Bruce

Richard A. Bartle

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Oct 15, 2009, 4:19:15 AM10/15/09
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Bruce>We also need to understand (as a group) what it means to "preserve
virtual worlds"?
Did we ever pin down what we meant by "virtual world"? I've read books on
virtual worlds that have cave paintings as their starting point...

Richard

dmoser5

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Oct 15, 2009, 12:32:16 PM10/15/09
to Virtual Worlds History
Richard, et alia ...

An interesting and not wholly wrong concept for a "virtual
world" (thinking of "dream time" and cave paintings). For the purposes
of my research, I'm working from the definition that Benjamin Duranske
used here: http://virtuallyblind.com/2007/02/25/from-the-editor-are-games-virtual-worlds/
...

The idea that user-generated content that is persistent through time
and can be manipulated or modified by other users independently of the
original creator would still apply to a cave painting (only we call it
graffiti these days ... *grin).

Best,

Dennis

Henry Lowood

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Oct 15, 2009, 12:44:05 PM10/15/09
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For the preservation project, we are focused on the difficulties involved with preservation of software, data and documentation for both game worlds and virtual worlds, if you prefer to separate the two.   So little serious preservation work has been done on games or virtual worlds, that we are working on a wide range of cases.

It's  a digital preservation project, so no cave paintings -- though I suppose you might argue that fingers played a role in creating them.  (boo!)  As for graffiti, we are preserving some of the digital variety -- from our Lynn Hershman island in Second Life.  Like I said, a wide range of cases.  :-)

A difficult issue is deciding what artifacts/content/software constitute historical preservation for a game/virtual world.   I don't need to tell all of you that software preservation alone is not going to give us much, so we are identifying other kinds of documentation for activities and events that occur in virtual worlds.  I can share drafts of some writing, if you like.

Henry
--
Henry Lowood, Ph.D.
Curator for History of Science & Technology Collections;
 Film & Media Collections
HRG, Green Library, 557 Escondido Mall
Stanford University Libraries
Stanford CA 94305-6004

Margaret Corbit

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Oct 15, 2009, 12:44:26 PM10/15/09
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Hi Denis,
I like your definition, more than the one in the post you reference actually :>) Yours is a bit more clear. But I would add back avatar presence for digital virtual worlds? or no? Thoughts all? Here is the place I usually refer back to for definitiions. Their content has a good chance of persisting and thus being a useful reference... I hope.
Cheers,
Margaret

Margaret Corbit

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Oct 15, 2009, 1:05:29 PM10/15/09
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Henry et al,
I just realized that when we moved the content of the Active Worlds universe, CUni, to its new identity as EDUni-NY and new home in July, we prepared a complete copy of the universe content. Would you want that? Most of it moved quite smoothly, so it should be relatively easy to rehost if anyone ever wanted to, and there are some rich examples of early content. It's all essentailly public domain.
Cheers,
Margaret

Henry Lowood

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Oct 15, 2009, 6:58:36 PM10/15/09
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Hi Margaret,

The short answer is yes. In what format could we move it and how large
is the collection? In other words, we just need to figure out the
logistics.

Henry
> 650-723-4602; low...@stanford.edu <mailto:low...@stanford.edu>;
> http://www.stanford.edu/~lowood <http://www.stanford.edu/%7Elowood>
>
>
> >

--
Henry Lowood, Ph.D.
Curator for History of Science & Technology Collections;
Film & Media Collections
HRG, Green Library, 557 Escondido Mall
Stanford University Libraries
Stanford CA 94305-6004
650-723-4602; low...@stanford.edu; http://www.stanford.edu/~lowood
<http://www.stanford.edu/%7Elowood>

Richard A. Bartle

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Oct 16, 2009, 7:17:28 AM10/16/09
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Dennis>An interesting and not wholly wrong concept for a "virtual

>world" (thinking of "dream time" and cave paintings).
Yes, drug-fuelled pagan ritual dances get mentioned sometimes,
too.
If you're interested in the way people used to go about trying
to induce a sense of presence in an "other world" in the days before
we had computers, this is a pretty good read:
http://www.galbithink.org/sense1.pdf

>For the purposes of my research, I'm working from the definition that
>Benjamin Duranske used here:
>http://virtuallyblind.com/2007/02/25/from-the-editor-are-games-virtual-worl
ds/

This is a little ironic, given that "virtual worlds" was
originally supposed to be an umbrella term that covered both social
and game worlds, but was claimed by social worlds. Social and game
worlds have a long history of appropriating and denying umbrella
terms, in an apparent effort to keep some space between them. It
goes back to the schism 20 years ago in the textual worlds days,
when social worlds broke away (see http://mud.co.uk/richard/IMGDC2009.pdf
from about slide 26 onwards).

In his book, Duranske defines virtual worlds as:
"All are computer-based simulated environments
All are designed to be populated by 'avatars'.
All allow for communication between users.
Most offer persistence of user-created content.
Many offer functional economies."
The latter two points are important to Duranske because they
are at the heart of why virtual worlds are interesting for a legal
perspective. Personally, I would say that persistence is necessary
for all virtual worlds, in that the world must persists when you're
not playing; defining this in terms of user-created content is
unusual, but it still captures the essence of it. I'd also say
that they have to be real-time and shared, both of which are implied
but not stated in Duranske's definition. I'd want to unpack the
word "avatar", too (especially as its meaning is also in continual
flux).

>The idea that user-generated content that is persistent through time
>and can be manipulated or modified by other users independently of the
>original creator would still apply to a cave painting (only we call it
>graffiti these days ... *grin).

Except when we call it art..!
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-reviews/5542684/Banksy-versus-Bri
stol-Museum-review.html

Richard

Margaret Corbit

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Oct 16, 2009, 8:58:54 AM10/16/09
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Ok, I will contact Dave Bates at GST BOCES and see if he can get me details and arrange to package what was sent to him.
Thanks,
Margaret

Henry Lowood

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Oct 16, 2009, 12:25:21 PM10/16/09
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Richard, this reminds me of the skirmishes over the years around the term "machinima." What is and what isn't.

Definition problems also call up (for me) the famous first paragraph in Turing's Computing Machinery and Intelligence:

 This should begin with definitions of the meaning of the terms "machine" and "think." The definitions might be framed so as to reflect so far as possible the normal use of the words, but this attitude is dangerous, If the meaning of the words "machine" and "think" are to be found by examining how they are commonly used it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the meaning and the answer to the question, "Can machines think?" is to be sought in a statistical survey such as a Gallup poll. But this is absurd. Instead of attempting such a definition I shall replace the question by another ..

which was of course the Imitation Game/Turing Test.

If only we had a test to apply instead ...

Henry


Richard A. Bartle wrote:
	This is a little ironic, given that "virtual worlds" was
originally supposed to be an umbrella term that covered both social
and game worlds, but was claimed by social worlds. Social and game
worlds have a long history of appropriating and denying umbrella
terms, in an apparent effort to keep some space between them. It
goes back to the schism 20 years ago in the textual worlds days,
when social worlds broke away (see http://mud.co.uk/richard/IMGDC2009.pdf
from about slide 26 onwards).
  


Bruce Damer

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Oct 16, 2009, 9:14:44 PM10/16/09
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Yes indeedy I recall the heady times of term-definition in 1995-96 when avatar spaces were first coming live on the Internet. Me and others promoted the term Virtual Worlds to distinguish the medium and stop the use of "VR", "Desktop VR" etc. Others were bandying about terms like "graphical MUDs", or "Virtual Enviroments" (happily that term has stayed locked up in academia. Henry and crew recorded an interview I gave earlier this year about my memory of the origin of the term Virtual World as applied to social, creative, user-built spaces (as later differentiated from Game Worlds). During the first pulse of net-based avatar inhabited worlds (well after Habitat of course) there was no real substantial presence of Internet based multiplayer gaming worlds (awaiting Ultima Online and Everquest of the later 90s) so the term Virtual World applied mainly to the social worlds.

Anyway that interview is in the Internet Archive and is available for listening in two easy parts at:
http://www.vwtimeline.org
if anyone is interested. I also created a full glossary of terms in the Avatars book (1997) if anyone is interested in that I can send it along.

bruce

Richard A. Bartle

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Oct 17, 2009, 6:14:56 AM10/17/09
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Bruce>Me and others promoted the term Virtual Worlds to

>distinguish the medium and stop the use of "VR", "Desktop VR" etc.
Yes, I've always looked on VR as an interface thing myself.
The fact that the term "virtual world" was, like virtual worlds
themselves, independently invented several times probably shows it
has some cultural purchase. The danger is, of course, that the term
changes its meaning and we end up either stuck with an outdated one
(like the guys on MUD-DEV) or we're taken along with the new meaning
(and lose some of what we might wish to preserver), or we have to
invent yet another term to explain what we mean.
When I first encountered the term "avatar" with regard to
virtual worlds, it meant the graphical appearance of a character.
In that context, it wasn't nonsensical to talk about an NPC's avatar,
meaning the model that the non-player character had. Nowadays, the
term has migrated to mean what we used to call the player character,
and "toon" is picking up the earlier meaning.

>Others were bandying about terms like "graphical MUDs", or "Virtual
>Enviroments" (happily that term has stayed locked up in academia.

Indeed. It's interesting how certain sub-groups of academics
will use one term and others will use another. Some stick resolutely
to MUVE, for example; it can act as a kind of shibboleth to show
you're part of the tribe and not a visitor from the outside.
This is what happens when people believe Wikipedia...

>During the first pulse of net-based avatar inhabited worlds (well
>after Habitat of course) there was no real substantial presence
>of Internet based multiplayer gaming worlds

If you mean graphical ones and you insist on the Internet
as being distinct from online, then yes. If you allow non-graphical
ones, there were some with tens of thousands of players (in 1993, one
bit in 10 transmitted along the NSFnet backbone belonged to a MUD);
if you allow online services such as CompuServe and AOL (which had
more users than the Internet for at least half the 1990s) then there
were plenty of graphical virtual worlds - Neverwinter Nights, Shadow
of Yserbius, Kingdom of Drakkar and so on.

>I also created a full glossary of terms in the Avatars book (1997)
>if anyone is interested in that I can send it along.

I have a "MUDspeke Dictionary" I wrote in 1992, which I keep
online at http://www.mud.co.uk/muse/speke.htm . Although many of the
terms in it are specific to my own particular MUDs (MUD1 and MUD2),
some have leaked out into wider usage ("newbie" is a good example of
this; again, irony being what it is, sometimes people will accuse me
of being a n00b in forum posts, unaware that it was me who gave them
the word "newbie" in the first place...). Other terms are not from
MUD but were imported ("avatar" is an example of this).

Henry>If only we had a test to apply instead ...
Well, we do have criteria we can apply, but I agree they don't
really get to the heart of the issue of what virtual worlds are in the
way that Turing's test does for AI. If we had a test like his, now
that would be much more useful, yes.

Richard

Linda Stone

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Oct 28, 2009, 2:25:26 AM10/28/09
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Just now seeing this fascinating thread....  Let me know if you want me to weigh in.

Bruce Damer

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Oct 28, 2009, 4:35:04 AM10/28/09
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Absolutely Linda could you relate how you came to head up the
pioneering VW efforts at Microsoft and your conversations with Bill
Gates? Comic Chat has always been a favorite of mine and it would be
great to hear how that came together ;-)

Bruce

Sent from my iPhone

Margaret Corbit

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Oct 28, 2009, 8:52:22 AM10/28/09
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Yes! I would love to hear that story. And Linda, years ago I had a
digital copy of a final report that came out of the MS virtual world
research. I have always had in my mind the take-home message from that
paper that VWs were not yet ready for prime time, but had potential as
an educational product. Could you confirm or discouage that take? Do
you have a publicly available copy of the white paper any more?
Thanks,
Margaret
--
Margaret Corbit
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