Saturday, February 05, 2011

Pondering...experimenting...building community in virtual spaces

What a great idea…pondering the possibilities for socializing, sharing and learning in LVM! Thank you so much Maria for making LVM one of your favorite sites to visit in SL and for considering how you want to build community in our Second Life space and blog!


LVM has gone through a lot of changes since it’s initial launch back in 2009. The initiative continues to evolve in light of platform changes and resulting impacts to the education community in SL who have worked so hard to raise awareness to the very possibilities even you brought up in your post. Virtual worlds have such great potential for delivering unique learning experiences that combine game play and simulation with real-time communication as strategies for engagement. The 3d version of fb many have said.


Pondering the possibilities is exactly what I did with my colleague Olga Herrera, Latina scholar, back in 2007 as we played with a demo of the Da Vinci Code in 3D. The xbox game version caught our attention as the developers successfully represented the Louvre Museum in 3D. The technology was avatar-game based, a combination of the game CLUE and a scavenger hunt. It was at this juncture that we really thought hmmmm why not explore 3d space for representation and re-interpretation of cultural identity through the experience as an avatar. The virtual world was our oyster to ponder…then we formed a committee and pondered from a higher level. Pondering turned into hard-core research and development and seed money to experiment.


Through many lessons learned and experimentation, LVM emerged out of a single virtual museum model representation in SL into a test bed of possibilities for exploring Latino cultural identity and connecting communities through trans-media experiences. What this means is that we have taken our research, assessment data, and our 3d resources and broadened our horizons exploring other avenues for representation and interpretation using innovative technologies. Working in a multi-user world environment such as Second Life has provided us with a wealth of audience research and outreach opportunities to communities we may have not necessarily reached via a regular web presence. Our goals are simple…summed up in this mantra: Presence, Relevancy & Access. We have to create a presence in the mainstream arena leveraging 21 Century tools and resources to remain relevant to our communities while at the same time working to preserve our cultural heritage and establishing the spaces in which we can connect, share and discover the world around us with our communities. (post by Melissa Carrillo, LVM Creative Director)

More later…Re-affirming Cultural Identity in the Age of the Social Web

1 comment:

Olga Herrera said...

Indeed, LVM has increased the presence and educational relevance of the Smithsonian national holdings engaging the latest technology to provide a wide access to its collections of art, cultural history, anthropology, folklore and traditions, archives and music as well as keeping a record of scholarship and research through videos and databases. As a museum without walls online, LVM formulates a new paradigm accessible to all by the click of a mouse allowing visitors to see, hear and interact in an engaging way. The possibilities for community creation are endless due to the inherit tech structure of virtual worlds and avatars.

Ideas of presence, relevance and access that LVM Creative Director Melissa Carrillo mentions below, have been critical to our vision and our work at LVM. Of course, the Smithsonian counts with a growing collection of U.S. Latino related art, artifacts, and archival collections, but there is no dedicated physical space that bring together these collections as they are currently found among the permanent collections of its 19 museums and research centers. LVM provides the unprecedented opportunity to create a presence of Latino collections in one single virtual space. The contextualization of these collections in their historical moments and geographical areas are critical to create community and to explore identity in a museum that follows a model of forum rather than temple of culture.

This idea of forum is what you encounter at LVM. Identity and cultural identity are fluid constructs that are constantly evolving and changing just as technology itself. Periodically we go through processes of transculturation as we are exposed on a daily basis to change in our own environments and habitats by media, by personal interactions, by listening to other perspectives. We take from others, we bring our own and we put the two together into something richer and novel. Or from a global point of view we do the selecting, adapting and reinterpreting of new forms of experiences and we incorporate them into our local everyday life and self. In virtual world environment, avatars allow us to live those experiences and adapt through our gaze our own selves. We see our identities reflected in what we choose the avatar to be, how to dress, how to interact with others, to act, to run, to walk, to stand, to fly.

And this forum model creates community and access. LVM educational events and environments become only richer because of the contributions of all by sharing meanings and experiences and adapting them to our own.