Yesterday, I tried to describe what I would like to see in a virtual world coffeeshop. We see too many VW builds that merely recreate familiar environments. Virtual reality is not meatspace. Simply duplicating what is already known tethers the imagination. So, today, I began to build a Media Cafe in a parcel provided by the folks at OSGrid.
A good coffee shop will attract visitors, encourage them to linger, and see them return again and again. If this project plays out, the Media Cafe should 1) attract users, 2) promote interaction within the space, and 3) engage visitors to return later with media URLs of their own.
The structure of the build, its architecture, supports the first two objectives. If a user finds the building to be of interest, she is likely to investigate further. If the surroundings are pleasant once she is in the space, she is likely to look around to find something to do. Interactive content will have to bring them back again…something to explore in a later post.
For today, assembling the virtual space was the focus. I sought inspiration in a design submitted early in the Studio Wikitecture 4.0 project by Ryan Schultz (Theory Shaw in SL).
His design surprised me. There was enough of “school” or “classroom” about it to recognize it as such, but it was disconnected—virtually exploded— in a fresh and compelling way.
We should expect technology to help us transcend the familiar.
Starting with something recognizable and twisting it into something new liberates the imagination. Wandering within that exploded classroom I felt excited about what would come next, how the collaborative team might build on this model. Freeing a brick-textured block from the windows and floors left me free to see media prims that could move and adjust. I found that camera constraints were gone; those gaps in the walls let you anchor your mouse if you backed into a wall.
By taking a small—but dramatic—step away from the regular ways of putting up a wall, Schultz helped me to see how virtual worlds can reveal a new reality.
It was not just his design that inspired me, though. Wikitecture facilitated collaboration. The final design in the 4.0 challenge was the result of many designers noodling about and sharing ideas…together. (And where else you gonna have a chance to work with someone called Veeyawn Spoonhammer.)
It would be cool to see others riff on my Media Cafe. So, holler in world; or, just visit the space. You can find it in the northeast corner of SeaPrior Plaza of OSGrid. The first widget has even been installed: an interactive suggestion box with its back end in the cloud (courtesy of SL:Omei Turnbull).
But, for now, you will have to bring your own coffee cup.