Rumsey says that he’d eventually like to see a more seamless interaction between the island and his website. He envisions a large column built on the island covered in thumbnails of the maps in the collection. He also envisions users being able to fly alongside and through the column, clicking on maps that interest them and exploring them, using data provided by the website. This type of integration is difficult to pull off in Second Life at this point, Rumsey says.
Barton Pursel, instructional designer for the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Pennsylvania State University, says that he has been experimenting with builds in Second Life designed to share artistic and educational experiences with a wider audience over the Internet. He says that while Second Life provides a persistent environment where a large quantity of work can be stored, it’s challenging in practice to bring visitors to sites. Pursel says that he’s still trying out different ways of attracting people to builds, and he adds that it’s necessary to provide interaction and events for visitors. He thinks that a “problem with Second Life in general” is that many users find themselves unsure of what to do in the virtual world once they’ve learned the basics.
Rumsey will speak inside the island’s gallery on March 6 at noon Pacific Standard Time. The working title of his speech is “Giving Maps a Second Life with Digital Technologies.”