Monday, February 25, 2008
This movie (above) was a product of a class assignment from graduate school, co-developed by Hussein Suleman and Fernando Das Neves. Talented guys. Actually, they did most of the development. I was the CAVE SME but still a fairly green agile developer. The class was Dr. Ed Fox's Information Storage and Retrieval (archived). The assignment was a basic proof-of-concept for navigating the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) digital library at Virginia Tech using a 3d virtual reality metaphor. This is probably first time I knew for sure that realistic physical metaphors for browsing large electronic collections is a complete waste of time. It's even worse when the digital collection does not map to any actual physical space (i.e., this isn't a model of the campus library) and that's usually the case. On the other hand, tagging virtual environments with contextual information can be quite useful. Keep in mind that this is screen capture from monitor, but we are in a 10 cu. ft room, fully immersed in a 3D environment. So if you then keep everything the same but change the use case...there might very well be some value in linking the contents of a digital library to a virtual environment as a way of enriching the environment. Instead of wandering through a library having a completely arbitrary "floorplan" conceived by the application developers you are looking at a piece of complex equipment inside a virtual power plant and you can click anywhere and link into the: parts catalog, component specification, training lesson...any digital content. That would be more useful.