Friday, February 9, 2007

UNC's Second Life Presence Merged w/Campus Presence

UNC Chapel Hill has a "physical" presence at Second Life. I signed up there again tonight, and poked around a bit. Luckily, some UNC folks were there, notably from SILS. They and Teaching and Learning, from ITS, have established presences there (there are likely others I don't yet know about; I'm not excluding anyone on purpose).

While at the RENCI-sponsored presentation by
Irving Wladawsky-Berger yesterday, there were some quick conversations about mapping the real world to the virtual. Now, this is not necessarily a new idea, because the implied benefits are pretty obvious, and there has already been quite a bit a DoD-sponsored research related to this for many years, for obvious reasons -- but since SL is seeing such wide adoption these days, especially in the fields realated to what used to loosely be called distance education, why not explore the mapping of virtual worlds to our work in real-world location determination?

Multiple departments at UN-CH have long been involved with GIS, and with the current slew of location determination projects underway here, it is theoretically a simple step to

* Make the UNC SL presence locations conform to the real-world Campus dimensions
* Transform real-world Campus coordinates of users to the virtual (and the reverse)
* Hack out some mash-ups that synthesize the above into useful applications

So these are just ideas, not yet vetted against the sharp rocks of reality, but there is at the very least a mapping API at SL that will generate browser-accessible maps of SL geography.

All of this stuff is inevitable. To me, the real questions will involve who the providers will be.

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