Friday, September 21, 2007

GIS Research Assistance in Second Life

Well folks, our library is making the move and has decided to test the possibility of providing research assistance in Second Life (SL). The pilot project will focus exclusively on GIS research assistance, after which we will examine its outcomes and decide how to proceed.

So, starting with the public opening of the new Info International Island tomorrow (Friday, 09/21), anyone needing GIS research assistance can receive live assistance help from Mapz Oh during the times listed below. The hours listed here are in SLT (Second Life Time), which is the same as PST.
  • Sundays 5-8 p.m.
  • Wednesdays 5-8 p.m.
  • Fridays 2-4 p.m.
If you drop by, be sure to fill out our quick and convenient form to let us know how we are doing. Be sure also to pick up your GIS t-shirt and steaming tea mug...

We also created a new SL group, entitled GIS Researchers. The purpose of this group is to (1) provide an in-world network of enthusiasts and experts who can provide research assistance, and (2) to announce any GIS research activities in SL, such as presentations, showcases, discussions, etc.

Bear in mind, however, that things move and evolve so fast in SL that the purpose, direction, and goals we initially have for this new project may change as we see what needs (if any) arise.

Here is a sample from the GIS Research Assistance notes available in-world:

GIS Research - Types of Assistance Provided Here
For this SL venture of GIS Research Assistance, we envision providing assistance with RL geographic information systems research.

Here is an overview of the services we envision providing:

1. Locating geospatial data sources
2. Integrating these sources into your GIS
3. Performing GIS analysis (Beware, however, that we are most adept at using ESRI ArcGIS software)
4. Assistance automating ArcGIS via Models, Python, and VBA
5. Pleasant conversation about all things GIS

GIS Research - Why Offer GIS Assistance via SL?
Three reasons. First, it is my belief that virtual reality will play a major, possibly a dominant, role in the future. As information professionals (librarians), it is our responsibility to learn to interact with and to master these tools. Second, at this point we do not know how many of our students use Second Life. If any GIS users do use Second Life, they will surely use this service and then we can actually know and count the number of users. Third, why not? It is so easy to provide this additional service that we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Thanks so, so much to the great librarians at Info International, especially Abbey Zenith, for allowing us to set this up on their space. A great big thanks also to Razitra Artizar for SL enthusiasm and guidance. You guys are the best.


Anonymous said...

Hi! I visited your gis area in SL today and wondered if you are joshua b, who used to have my job! I am new at tamiu and still just a total gis newbie.

I didn't have a chance to look at everything (in your area) yet, but will later on. I get on SL just for fun, so I don't work that SL ref desk or anything. Mostly just see a friend from my old school, and wander around looking at everything. Wanted to experience what I'd been reading about.

See you around!
Linda M aka lindini2 lane

mapz said...

yep it's me nice to meet you ;)

I miss Laredo and Tamiu in many ways, so it is nice to hear from you. Laredo of course has its challenges, but i sure miss the uniqueness. And speaking of GIS, of course both myself and Chris (at Purdue) both learned enough GIS at Tamiu to work next as GIS librarians.

Look forward to meeting you in person...

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a GIS developer at ESRI and very interested in the potential for SL/GIS. How can I get involved? mark AT

mapz said...

That is a good question about the potential for GIS and SL. I see three ways of integrating the two. The first is to use GIS technologies to replicate real life (RL) locations in SL. This is the basis for such groups as Second Spatial GIS ( The second is to use GIS tools to analyze SL geography, such as proximity analysis among places, people, or events. The third is to treat SL as a venue to discuss RL GIS applications. This third option is the focus of my current small endeavor into the world of SL.

Ideally, what I would love to be a part of is a permanent SL home for geographers and GIS folk that can serve as an outlet for all three.

How can you get involved? That depends and I have no good answers anyway. Why don't you drop on by during my SL hours and we can toss around some ideas.

mapz said...

Mark, the email bounced the message back...

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