Twinverse, planet earth as a Virtual World

Google maps meets Second Life, is the way it should be described in very short. But that is no-way covering the whole story.

At first login, after assigning with a name, location and a picture, the application looks like an ordinary Google Map with my name on it. From here, the first thing to be done, is to find my home, or any place I would like to call home, on the map and click on my own thumbnail image. A menu appears and one of the options is “Establish my Home here”, which gives a starting point and a place to return to if one gets lost. This all might seem rather basic, but the fun starts, when other people start the same. When ‘travelling’ around the globe one finds many other homes of other participants and also their thumbnail avatar. When meeting another, you get the immediate chance to start chatting with each other and getting acquintant. A faster way to meet new people is hardly possible.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Two years ago it all started with the idea, to make a virtual world, using the real globe and as such, using Google Maps as a grid. Internauting on the website of Twinverse, it becomes very clear that it was meant to be a globe-based virtual environment based on peer-to-peer technology, which uses the computers of the users who are connected to the application, in stead of one or more servers. This is the main difference between Twinverse and for example Second Life, which is almost all server based. Also it was meant to be in 3D, like most other virtual world are already.
Another feature that is very interesting, is under the tab “user content” and shows, in chronological order, all text, photo’s and video’s that have been added by users to the maps, by using “maptags”. Readers who are more interested in the technical details will enjoy Joaquin Keller’s blog “In the Computronium“.

It was just bad luck perhaps, that nobody was interested to download the software and start using the application. According to Jamal B, who is one of the creators, it was because of this that they have changed their plans for a while and have started with this webbased application in 2D, like it is now.

But the dream is not over, it is just getting started. Although many features still have to get finished and a lot of wishes are still to be fullfilled, the strongest wish, as to build this application in a 3D version is still alive.

Give it a go, it is worth it!

How architects could use Second Life to create new architecture

Xanadu Here I would like to introduce XaNaDu Watkin, an architect of the newest generation and the one who build the incredible building of the Bibliotheque Francophone in Second Life. As an architecture student in real life in Paris, France, he will graduate this year. In short, the thesis that he wrote for graduation, is about the question how architects can use Second Life for creating and designing a new way to build.

But that is not all that is new. The other reason that we talk is, that on 19th March, XaNaDu has held his lecture in the Bibliotheque Francophone, both wit voice and stream. A very innovative way to inform people and possible the new way of sharing information.

XaNaDu Watkin: Architects work with autocad and other programs, all design work is done on computer now. You have a modelisation, but with the same program you can draw plans, move or create walls, doors … And work in real life is a switch between 2D and 3D modelisation. There is a big difference between real life architects working on 3D modelisations and Second Life works. In real life we are using 3D-programs to imagine the reality. But in Second Life we work directly into 3D. The design in real life is only a “document” you cannot visit it or interact with it, only the architect who is working on it, can. But in Second Life it’s different. Here a slide of a Zaha Hadid project.

Dia2 There are some famous architects who affirm that it is the program who really creates the project. Architect imagine, but programs can do a lot of work by itself.

MD: Still, the execution of the modellisation is human, isn’t it?

XaNaDu Watkin: That is true, but not always :p
Here I ‘m talking about virtual architects. Markos Novak is an architect who is skilled in virtual architecture. In real life he doesn’t build, but He has made a lot of researchs. He also has not build in Second Life yet, but only in other 3D-programs. His work is very interesting.
But as you have noticed, nobody can visit or use his architecture. And that is the problem.

MD: Markus Novak, who is he?
XaNaDu Watkin: People like Markus Novak create new theories about architecture but this architecture has no existence. It’s more than art, because his work is not only a picture, but the only thing for us that we can see is a picture.

Dia4 Markos Novak designed an organic building, without concrete nor wood. He called it echinoderme, sea star. And this sort of architecture could be build in places like Second Life. It is the kind of thing that I would wish to build in the future. Not that I want to copy his work, but he sure is a source of my inspiration, and he was the first architect skilled on virtuality who I have met.

Another innovative architect is Kas Oosterhuis, from the Netherlands. Oosterhuis works about links between people and the building, and moreover: he imagines an evolutive and living architecture. He considers a building like an entity who can do more, or breathe, something very living. I like this architect, as it was the first who surprised me on his reflexions and his work. In French schools we have a problem I think, as a lot of teachers give a great consideration about the work by Le Corbusier. But damn It so old, he’s dead! We must give the place to other architectural orders. And Rem Koolhaas -also Dutch- has given a new order.

Conference2 MD: What is the role of Second Life in the future of architecture?
XaNaDu Watkin: Second Life architecture could interact too on our world, as it ‘s a great program to diffuse and peer architecture visions.
MD: Yes it can, as long as it can be done technically…
XaNaDu Watkin: With domotic links you could interact on your own place directly on Second Life. Domotique is a science about home AI, Artificial Intelligence. For example the nabaztag, do you know it?
A nabaztag is a little object who can search informations on the web and can give some too, throught internet. For example: You are at your desk, but not online. The nabaztag can have a program on Second Life, that detects if somebody enters your shop. The nabaztag will speak to you or in a way inform you about who is waiting for you in your shop in Second Life.
Rfid MD: And this is really working? or in beta stage?
XaNaDu Watkin: This link already exist, you can buy a virtual Second Life nabaztag that makes the link between Second Life and real life.
MD: So if this is reallity now, what will be next?
XaNaDu Watkin: Maybe tomorow “domotic” could create a specific atmosphere in your room, like change the color of the light to create a “extended reality”. A “domotic” can read RFID. RFID are these little metal processors which are hidden in objects so that they won’t be stolen. Like in books, shoes… etcetera.
RFID processors can do much more tah be used as an alarm. They can inform about your shopping, for example. When you buy a book with an RFID, it informs the company that you have bought it.
And a nabaztag is using this link in the other way. You can buy some specifics books with RFID and when the nabaztag detect it. It could make a device reading the book, for a child for example. And these links could exist in Second Life too! Why not?

XaNaDu Watkin: Do you know Louis Khan? He has said: “If you can think it, you can build it.”

Markos Novak: http://www.artstechsymposium.utah.edu/novak.html
Kas Oosterhuis: http://www.oosterhuis.nl/quickstart/index.php