Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Virtual Estonia

Estonia has just become the latest country to set up a presence in Second Life. I missed the launch, but popped along for a look anyway. Estonia seems to have been under the heel of one empire or another for much of its history. But it declared independence from the ailing Soviet Union in 1991, bidding farewell to the last Russian troops leaving its soil in 1994. The Estonians are most closely related to their neighbours across the Baltic, the Finns - and the Estonian language shares many similarities with the distinctly unusual Finnish language. This might go a long way to explaining why the conversations I overheard looked more like loosely-joined hands of Scrabble, with a few extra jots and tittles for good measure.

As I missed the speechifying, and could find little information on the island itself, I have no idea what the purpose of Virtual Estonia may be. So I will go with the stock answer for such places: "it is there to promote awareness of the country, its art and culture, commerce and tourism." That may not be right - but it'll do for now.

The island is completely dominated by what I can only assume is the virtual Estonian embassy. There are meeting spaces and art galleries inside, and wide outdoor terraces offering views across the island. This immense building is the work of Second Life's very own Mr Scope Cleaver. It is complex in its construction and must have taken an age to do. In fact, having a clue as to Scope's work rate and some inkling as to how long he's been working on this, I would hazard a guess that this is his most complicated construction to date. It is pretty amazing and I am sure many will be surprised and will disagree with me when I say I don't really like it that much. Sorry - but because of its location it is virtually impossible to get a good view of the place. Instead I see snippets, elements, but I don't get a feel for the whole thing and the snippets therefore seem disjointed in some way. There is much to admire, but I just wish it had been... well... smaller. If the plan is to extend the presence to multiple connected sims then maybe it will work better (for me).

Here's my photos:


Soph said...

For some reason this really intrigues me - the build, your reactions to it, the "we think we should be in SL...to do something" approach, Estonia's general overall leadership in wired goverance - what an interesting stew!

Aleister Kronos said...

Scope is one of my favourite... no, IS my favourite builder in SL. So I was surprised by my own reaction to it. Maybe it's just too alien (on the outside, anyway) - but I still think it is too much to take in. To get see the whole thing you have to be some distance from it - which takes you away from the building itself.

OK, there are plenty of big buildings in SL, but not many with the complexity of form of this one - so even up close to them you can mentally project the shape. Here I am perhaps struggling too much with trying to comprehend the geometry.