Monday, 4 August 2008

Late News From The Newseum

While I occasionally manage to time my site visits just right - or even, just a little 'ahead of right' - one of the recurring motifs of my virtual travels is the frequency with which I make a spectacularly late arrival. Tonight's sim fall isn't this category: Newseum. I reckon I'm about 4 months late for this one... And it's not like I didn't know of its existence. In fact, I've seen it many times on the Second Life map over the last God-knows-how-long, but whenever I tried to teleport it was always shut. So often had this been the case that I gave up trying maybe 6 months ago (maybe longer than that) and it was only on a whim that I tried it this evening, while I was visiting a neighbouring sim. I have to confess, I was rather surprised to find myself teleported in. But enough of this tedious tale... what am I actually waffling on about?

To save you wading through my prose, I can point you to this post, which gives you all the news that's fit to print about Newseum and the Newseum sim. But if you want to persist with my prose, here goes:

It seems that the Newseum opened its prestigous new building on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC in April this year - with its Second Life equivalent opening at pretty much the same time. The version in the atomic world describes itself as "the World's most interactive museum" - a claim I have no means of (or for that matter, any interest in) verifying. And this spirit of interactivity is carried across into the Second Life build - where you will find a lot to see and do.

The build consists principally of the museum itself - the surrounding landscape being a little perfunctory, in my view. There is a rather sketchy Washington Monument, but the main effort has been poured into the museum. And unlike the surroundings, the museum is a great success. It is a copy/homage/interpretation of the atomic world building - and to my untrained eye it seems to carry it off very well.

The textures and shading are well executed, conveying a strong 3D feel, and this is heightened by the thoughtful detailing in the furniture and other fixtures and fittings. The virtual museum also houses a lot of stuff - including a number of intriguing integrations with the outside world. For example, in the atrium there is a running tickertape-style headline display that seems to be current, while in another part of the museum you can read today's front pages from a number of US newspapers.

The Pullitzer Prize room is thought-provoking, providing background on some of the most iconic photos of the last half century or more. In another room, you can listen to brief histories of some the many journalists killed in the line of duty. Continuing the sombre theme, there is the 9/11 Gallery, which is also to be found in the atomic world museum, comprising cover stories about that fateful day from papers across the USA, and indeed much further afield.

Or if that is too gloomy for you, perhaps you'd like a run-through of the top Stories of the Century - or take part in a news quiz. For the more cost-conscious museum-goer there are free T-shirts to be had in the Gift Shop. And to round things off, there's also an auditorium, a studio and a couple of staged scenes (I assume so you can get a photo of yourself or your companion as 'intrepid reporter').

The build has been done by Bethany Heart and Echo Seigo, who together make up EB Creations. While they may be relatively new to this scale of building, I think they've done a fine job, and look forward to seeing what they do next. One note of concern, though - despite the interactive nature of the build, there isn't much sign of a continuing engagement with visitors, for example, I didn't see any indication of a schedule of events. With the avowed aim of the Newseum to provide a forum where the media and the public can gain a better understanding of each other", I would expect more in the way of discussions, debates and other activities.

Anyway - here's my piccies of the build:

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