Blog Post

FAS Unveils Virtual Worlds Almanac Wiki

As a sort of follow up to the Youtube tour of virtual worlds I wrote about in March, here is another great resource for learning about the ever-expanding list of virtual environments, and an opportunity to contribute your knowledge about them. Since this press release was disseminated yesterday, the number of virtual worlds represented on the wiki has grown from 74 to 76, and more are certainly on the way as users become aware of the wiki. For example, I don't see Hipihi listed at all, and many including Whyville and Habbo Hotel, have very little content at this early stage. I rarely see wikis in this sparkling new stage anymore, but it's a great signal that the knowledge you share will be valuable. This is your chance, users of virtual worlds, to contribute your expertise and screenshots to this effort!

 

FAS Unveils Virtual Worlds Almanac Wiki -- Visit the wiki here.

--WASHINGTON DC ? Do you know the difference between Active Worlds and Whyville? Curious to learn how your simulation of racing sailboats will work in There instead of Second Life? The Federation of American Scientists unveiled an ambitious infrastructure for cataloguing virtual environments called the Virtual Worlds Almanac (http://vworld.fas.org/wiki/Main_Page). This wiki currently classifies 74 virtual worlds and includes extensive links to tools, news, and other useful online reference materials.

There is great potential for virtual worlds to facilitate the development and testing of powerful new learning technologies.

"People worldwide can edit and contribute to this comprehensive guide to virtual worlds," said Henry Kelly, President of the Federation of American Scientists. "We hope this wiki will make it easier for the community to collaborate and to keep abreast of innovations and new product offerings. FAS is interested in the potential virtual worlds offer for educational and learning."

The FAS Learning Technologies Program built the Virtual Worlds Almanac as a one-stop guide for information on the structure and capabilities of these sites. The wiki includes the engines used to create these simulated environments and related information like news, reviews and other links.

"Many features of the FAS Virtual Worlds Almanac enable visitors to learn more about virtual worlds. The 'feature finder' permits users to browse through each world based on their interests," said Bruce Milligan, FAS Learning Technologies Project Manager. "Users can narrow their searches by filtering through more than 30 variables like purpose, platform, language, and year released.

"Virtual world developers, academics and the general public who use the listed worlds are encouraged to review, modify, and contribute to the wiki. FAS invites all users to create new listings for virtual worlds not already included. A template simplifies the process of adding and revising information. There are also forms to upload screenshots, news articles, external links, and more.

Most of the data in the Virtual Worlds Almanac is entered via checkboxes, drop-down lists, and specific textboxes, and supported variables include those related to use, technical features, communication, and demographics. All the information added by visitors will contribute to the serious research that will benefit all who have an interest in the Internet and its educational potential.

"The system used to create the virtual worlds feature finder is infinitely expandable," said Michelle Lucey-Roper, director of the FAS Learning Technologies Program. "Anyone can edit and contribute to the Virtual Worlds Almanac. In fact, one of our primary intentions is the collaborative growth of the wiki.

"All content is released using a GNU Free Documentation License. For additional information, or to see the new site, visit the FAS Virtual Worlds Almanac Wiki site at: http://vworld.fas.org/wiki/Main_Page.

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1 comment

Thank you for posting this information, its great to have an ever-expanding list of the Virtual Worlds out there.

I was surprised to see the cateogry breakdowns. First, with 17 entries out of 167 total, was the category Social. No surprise there, except for the fact that I did expect to see more worlds categorized as such. Second, with 14, was the Arts category, which was surprising. Ecology was close behind, with 13 entries and following that was the category of Learning Skills (with 11 entries).

With so much emphasis generally placed on Virutal Worlds as places for entertainment, competition or "risk-free" socializing, these categories both surprised and delighted me. If we still need to be social animals, then perhaps we can still be mindful of the importance of the arts in that social arena. The fact that Ecology and Learning Skills also follow close in numbers may be evidence that both our planet and our continued development  as humans (and ideally both of those in a symbiotic relationship) are also important areas of concern for us, even as we adopt virtual identities acros virtual ecologies.

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