[xmca] Digital Library Federation Moving into Second Life

From: Sonja Baumer <sbaumer who-is-at gmail.com>
Date: Wed May 30 2007 - 18:42:41 PDT

DLF Moving into Second Life
*DLF members have expressed a strong interest in figuring out how digital
libraries can participate in, and contribute to, virtual immersive
environments like Second Life. I've strongly encouraged this exploration,
and this year we will be funding a small initiative to develop a foray into
one possible reinvention of the library.

This is an internal effort, modest in aims and similarly scaled in
resources. But regardless of its size, we see this as a community effort. As
über:virtual-patriot, I've required that a proposal be written prior to
release of DLF funds to generate shared agreement about what we all want to
try to accomplish.

Speaking for myself and the able crew of contributors (which is fast growing
beyond my count of attached digits), we welcome feedback on this proposal,
and I'd like to solicit comments from readers. Looking over the below - the
proposal in draft form - tell us what works, what doesn't, what we should
add or subtract, and generally how we might make it better. I've left out
the budget because it is unnecessary detail (it's around $10K for those of
you who are curious) and the timeline, which is obviously subject to flux.

(N.B.: I want to note that although I wish I could lay claim to drafting the
proposal, which I think is already wonderfully eloquent, I cannot; primary
authorship rests with the contributors defined by the suggested governing
board, but it truly includes the contributions of many - and hopefully, many
DLF In Second Life: A Proposal
May 29, 2007

*The Digital Library Federation is an organization that promotes and
supports a collaborative approach to defining and realizing the full
potential of digital libraries, and the role of libraries and librarians in
the future. To further this goal, we propose a structured exploration of
Second Life, and the issues and opportunities presented by a virtual
environment in the context of digital libraries and their roles in
scholarship and publishing.

*Virtual environments present a completely new paradigm for information
creation and interaction. As simulated, three dimensional spaces (four
dimensional, counting time) built and populated by their own users enable
people to create new types of content, and then deliver and interact with it
(and each other) in new ways. As the most successful current virtual
environment in terms of adoption and growth, Second Life may represent a
revolutionary breakthrough for digital libraries as they seek more powerful
and flexible ways for scholars and people to use information.

But our collective understanding of Second Life and its possibilities,
limitations and implications for the future is incomplete. The environment
continues to evolve rapidly. And while some digital libraries have begun to
experiment in the space, serious exploration by a large number of libraries
has yet to occur. Most of the current presentations and uses of information
in Second Life mimic present digital library activities. Richer experiences
in a virtual world are likely possible and must be further explored.
Similarly, digital library building and development opportunities in a
virtual world are markedly different, and more expansive, than in our real
world, and must also be further explored.

Accordingly, this initiative proposes a coordinated investigation into
Second Life by the digital library community, as a community. The proposal
has three main objectives:

   1. To establish a social framework within Second Life that will foster
   engagement by DLF's member institutions with each other; with their faculty,
   students, and staff; with other Second Life libraries and like participants;
   and with the Second Life community as a whole;
   2. To conduct experimentation on the form, substance, processes and
   social order of digital scholarship by leveraging the inherent properties of
   a virtual world to create new tools and environments rapidly and at low
   cost; and
   3. To apply the standards and best practices of library and
   information science in a serious analysis of Second Life as a living,
   evolving information environment. In a platform originally predicated on a
   gaming environment that has since grown organically, its underlying
   information design and infrastructure has not yet evolved to robustly
   support functions and characteristics such as search, preservation, and

To support each objective, we suggest a set of goals, along with an
associated timeframe.

*Social Framework
*To build a social framework, we propose the following activities. These
will help introduce Second Life to DLF members who have yet to experiment
with it while allowing those DLF members already involved in Second Life to
connect, share knowledge with others, and collaboratively improve both their
institutional spaces and the DLF space. Finally, but of critical interest,
they will increase community building within DLF and help introduce DLF
members to the community support features of Second Life, providing a space
for collaboration, distributed research, and resource sharing.

   - Create an open mailing list for DLF members interested in Second
   - Provide regular updates on progress to all DLF members via the
   DLF-announce list and a public blog
   - Offer structured, personalized support for avatar creation and
   acclimation for DLF members (including remote support provided via email,
   telephone, Skype and/or IM, as well as hands on sessions at future Forums)
   - Conduct regular events in the DLF space (parties, poster sessions,
   lectures, etc.) in cooperation with other organizations within Second Life
   - Provide open space for DLF members to experiment with building and
   - Announce and conduct a grand opening of DLF's Second Life presence
   in conjunction with the 2007 Fall Forum to show progress to date and future
   - Present DLF workshops, session presentations, and Birds of a Feather
   sessions at DLF Forums

*Research and Experimental Development
*In order to test the potential of a virtual environment to redefine the
substance and format of digital libraries, we propose a small set of
collaborative development and building activities in Second Life. It is
assumed that the main thrust of DLF development and building activities will
be around radical experimentation and pushing the boundaries of the
possible, rather than building permanent collections or simply creating
replicas of existing buildings. The following set of initiatives, chosen to
test the various attributes of Second Life, are a proposed starting point;
the actual breadth and depth of building and development activity will be
determined by (and contingent on) the extent of DLF community engagement
that evolves over the course of the entire Second Life exercise. Each
building/development effort would be taken to the prototype stage (i.e.,
usable but not necessarily polished), so that we can determine their success
and relevance, and evaluate the more compelling aspects of the world.

   - Purchase an island for DLF in Second Life. Initially this island
   will be located adjacent to the InfoIsland archipelago, to foster ties to
   the already strong community of in-world librarians there.
   - Maintain connections with Info Island, NMC, and Sloodle, as well as
   developing a relationship with Linden Lab. They might possibly provide
   advice, but rather more importantly, we need to ensure enough participation
   with the SL community to obtain updates on developments pertaining to the
   essential mechanics of the world.
   - Build an initial collection of Americana resources (assembled by the
   diverse members of DLF), to demonstrate federation, explore possible tie-ins
   to the DLF Aquifer initiative, and identify tools that might be developed
   for collection building & delivery.

Extend the Americana collection by creating a progressive display over time
of American Social History with role-playing, interaction, and a series of
staged time periods ranging from early to the present, using appropriate and
compelling digital library collections.

   - Create a general system for easily storing metadata for objects,
   providing search, and coordinating tagging and related activities
   - Explore the possibility of building other in-world library resources

   - Experiment with applying preservation tools to in-world objects and

*Standards and Best Practices
*We will research and circulate documented analysis on each of the following
topics, in order to further both DLF and community-at-large knowledge in
each of these areas. These papers can be posted to various sites to provide
a service to others interested in Second Life development, as well as made
available through Second Life.

   - Metadata creation, storage, search, and moderation
   - Improved general search and discovery
   - Preservation possibilities in Second Life (in coordination with
   Jerome McDonough's [@UIUC] game preservation group and any other related
   efforts, focused on the preservation of SL, including a possible
   introduction of a "Creative Commons"-like license for third party
   preservation of in world content, and a way to tag objects with it)
   have there been any discussions to date by anyone in the
   library/cultural/research community with CC about the feasibility of
   extending CC into virtual domains?*)
   - Best practices for building library spaces and services in Second
   - Annotated bibliography on best practices for teaching and research
   in Hi-Ed SL
   - Any other subjects that present themselves during the investigation

*The maintenance and oversight of DLF Island will be performed by the DLF
Second Life committee, initially comprising (but hopefully soon growing):

   - Rachel Gollub (co-chair, project manager)
   - Tom Cramer (co-chair)
   - Colleen Cahill
   - Tim DiLauro
   - Geneva Henry
   - Anthony Smith

*The initiatives listed above define an open but focused approach to
investigating Second Life. The panelists from the DLF Spring '07 Forum have
volunteered to consult and share resources, and a small committee has formed
to carry out these plans. Additional resources, in the form of a student or
intern, would be helpful in meeting the goals listed, since all work is
likely to be volunteer effort. Expenses are expected to include teaching
sessions in real life to introduce DLF members to Second Life, periodic
face-to-face meetings of the participants to provide accessibility to new
members (though most meetings will occur in Second Life), and the cost of
purchasing and maintaining an island. The result will be a set of documents
and projects exploring the possibilities inherent in a three-dimensional
community-centered system, a network of DLF members with a deeper
understanding of how libraries and their services may translate to different
environments, and closer collaboration and ties within the DLF community as
a whole.
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Received on Wed May 30 19:44 PDT 2007

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