Um artigo interessante sobre a representação tridimensinal do Google Earth e Secondlife que encontrei no Blogue http://itp.nyu.edu/RepresentingEarth/. Fala-nos sobre a capacidade de o Homem conseguir representar na realidade virtual os objectos da realidade natural. Quais as limitações e potencialidades de algumas ferramentas na construção de simulacros e Hiper-realidades e como a metáfora é indispensável na World Wide Web.
The three dimensional representation of Earth and the objects that exist within it are dominated by platforms such as Google Earth and Secondlife. These platforms attempt to reconstruct a literal interpretation of objects that exist in the real world. In Google Earth, users are encouraged to recreate three-dimensional buildings using their Sketchup utility. These building are placed on a two-dimensional map that simulates the effect of a three-dimensional space by wrapping the map to a sphere. Google Earth has been successful in overlaying data (weather, photos, Wikipedia entries, etc) tied to specific geographical coordinates. In a sense, they are using a 3D model to showcase abstract two dimensional data. The simplicity of this works well. One of the reasons that this works well is because the data that is mapped to various parts of the earth correspond to areas rich in culture, climate and history. It provides a context for the data.
SecondLife also allows user to construct 3D objects that can be placed in a virtual setting. Residents have been successful in modeling buildings, cars, clothing, tables, chairs, etc. One of the problems that exist in attempting to build a literal representation of a 3D space in an environment that does not adhere the rules of the real world is how users choose to interact in the space. In SecondLife, an incredible amount of energy is invested in creating buildings that with staircases. Residents can fly in SecondLife – so what is the reason behind building stairs? We don’t need stairs in SecondLife, although we see a lot of them. Educators that attempt to use SecondLife as a teaching tool often model classrooms that contain rows of seats, podiums and projectors. It is obvious that avatars don’t need to seats in order to remain comfortable and focused. In fact, when avatars in SecondLife remain idle, they are programmed to enter into a ‘sleep mode’. It’s comical to watch a ‘room’ full of students sleeping at their desks in SecondLife. How can we use an immersive 3D model to effectively communicate with students on a level that cannot be replicated in the real world? There are some successful implementations, but they are far and few between. The physical restraints that exist in a real world setting do not translate well in an environment such as SecondLife. So why do content creators insist on building environments that are not adapt well in the SecondLife platform? The reason may be that we haven’t yet learned how to leverage an environment that is different than our own. So, we fall back on implementing traditional behavior models. We understand how to use stairs and how to sit in seats in the real world and can translate these behaviors to a virtual world. While SecondLife may look similar to the real world, the interactions are vastly different. Also, the geolocation of a sim in SecondLife lacks unique cultural and historical richness; each sim is merely another server, which makes the mapping features less effective than what can be communicated via a platform like Google Earth.
Having used SecondLife, I have found uses cases for it; this platform has a lot of potential. Yet, the literal translation of physical space prevents undermines the platform’s potential. Perhaps, a 3D interface that uses abstraction as a communication vehicle could help to better capitalize the affordances of a virtual platform. However, forcing users to learn a new literacy practice would deter many from using the platform.
Traditional web pages work on a level of abstraction that is understood by many of its users, making it an effective communication platform. Instead of representing physical objects as literal 3D figures, we use words (an abstraction of an idea) that can be linked to documents that contain related words and ideas. We don’t use avatars to browse the web. Instead, we use abstract language to produce, consume and search content. In a literate world, the word ‘dog’ does not appear to look anything like a dog, but the concept is well understood. By stitching together abstractions, humans have been successful in creating books, programming languages and chatrooms. Is it possible to create an abstraction that works to enhance communication in a virtual setting while making it easy enough for the masses to adopt?