A Second Life for literature

From The Guardian:

Secondlifedesk460_2 Since we all became globally-connected, various attempts have been made at changing how we read. Consider hypertext fiction, such as Geoff Ryman’s 253 and the new concept of the “wovel”, as discussed here a few weeks ago. Now, there’s another injection of technology into reading, through the virtual worlds of Second Life. “What if, in addition to reading a book, we could actually visit the locations we read about?” ask the creators of Literature Alive! an academic project which encourages teaching online. I’m not a Second Life user. I’ve visited once or twice out of curiosity, back when it was touted as the future of the internet. But since reality set in, I’ve kept my distance. Still, I was intrigued by the thought of wandering through Dante’s Inferno, Edgar Allen Poe’s house and Alice ‘s Looking Glass (“Peering around the bend you see … Hmmm what do you see? Your curiosity overwhelms you and you …. you …”)

The locations are certainly impressive, if somewhat bewildering, and a great deal of work is evident. Some random clicking brings up explanatory videos, notes, and the work itself. To further explore the idea of literature online, a conference was held yesterday (to be repeated tomorrow). With an emphasis on academic use, Beth Ritter-Guth or, as she is in Second Life, Desideria Stockton, delivered the keynote address. Essentially her argument comes down to the issue of active rather than passive learning and she insisted students’ work was marked as rigorously as any other academic work.

More here.