As the new year rolls around, many of us are making resolutions for 2007 and thinking about what the future may hold. I ran across an interesting piece from MSNBC's Cosmic Log
that mentions predictions for five technology innovations that are most likely to be successful by 2012, five years from now. Of most interest to me was the idea of the 3-D Internet. After my own hesitant explorations into Second Life
, a virtual reality world where libraries are providing services to students via avatars, I can imagine the potential for targeting new users who want to be awed by their video games and their library.
I have to wonder just what this might mean for digital collections? Would physical collections be digitized by not just scanning them, but graphically recreating them in a virtual world that surrounds and immerses them in their historic setting? Would our avatars be able to interact with and use objects, rather than just viewing an image of them? For instance instead of a mere photo of an old Vegas street loaded onto a website, we could rebuild an imploded casino in Second Life with historically-correct entertainers and long-forgotten games of chance!
While this could be a very cool way to highlight collections and make them more interactive and social- there is potential for a frightening loss of control. In an open-source, wiki world editing is an expectation. Will our archivists and special collections librarians want to see tech-savvy undergrads "enhancing" historic materials by placing them in say, an underwater museum with fish swimming by? Maybe not. I guess we have five years to think it over...but until then I will focus on getting more materials digitized and accessible via the old fashioned and boring "2D" Internet. Happy New Year!