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August 15, 2008

Preserving virtual worlds

The BBC have a short article about digital preservation entitled, Writing the history of virtual worlds.  Virtual worlds and other gaming environments, being highly dynamic in nature, bring with them special considerations in terms of long term preservation and the article describes an approach being used at the University of Texas involving interviews and story telling with both makers and users.

Belatedly, I also note that last week's Wallenburg Summer Institute at Standford University in the US included a workshop entitled Preserving Knowledge in Virtual Worlds.  Stanford are (or were?) partners in another virtual world preservation project, Preserving Virtual Worlds, led by Jerome McDonnough at the University of Illinois (someone who is probably better known by many readers as the technical architect of METS), which was funded by the Library of Congress a year or so ago.

At the risk of making a gross generalisation, it looks like the Texas work is attempting to preserve the 'experience' of virtual worlds, whereas the Illinois work has been focusing more on the content.  It strikes me that virtual worlds such as Second Life that are surrounded by a very significant level of blogging, image taking, video making and podcasting activity are being preserved indirectly (in some sense at least) through the preservation of that secondary material (I'm making the assumption here, possibly wrongly, that much of that associated material is making its way into the Internet Archive in one form or another)?

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