Rummaging in my inventory today, I discovered (quite by accident) a notecard for the opening of The First World War Poetry Digital Archive in Second Life. From November. November 2009, that is. This is why I have a note in my profile to email me rather than sending me notecards. Just saying.

Nevertheless, better late than never. The archive itself is actually quite a treat for those that are so inclined.

An excerpt from the press-release:

The First World War Poetry Digital Archive and the Learning Technologies Group at the University of Oxford have collaborated to bring together a wealth of digitised archival material from the First World War into an environment that allows this powerful material to be explored and experienced in a radically new way.

“The aim of the initiative is to place the poetry of the Great War in context, allowing the visitors to the exhibition to visualise archival materials in an environment that generates deeper understandings and to take advantage of the social and interactive aspects that the environment offers,” explains Stuart Lee, Lecturer of English at the University of Oxford.

The project has imported into the Second Life environment a range of digitised archival materials from the major poets of the First World War (poetry manuscripts, letters, diaries etc.) along with contextual primary source materials.  This have been positioned within an environment which has been modelled to simulate areas of the Western Front 1914 – 1918.  These materials have been supplemented with new interpretative content and a spectrum interactive tools and tutorials, streaming video and audio effects to create a vivid immersive experience that is, according to visitors, deeply moving.

“I had, of course, read about the First World War, and seen archive news footage too,” says Saffia Widdershins, a Second Life resident.  “But to have the feeling of walking along narrow trenches on duckboards half covered in mud, to see the dugouts, or to stand in a dressing station, hearing the voices of people who had been there describing their own experiences – this is all incredibly powerful.”

There are multiple tableaus at the site, and at the entrance, you’re encouraged to wear (provided) period clothing. There’s a soldier’s uniform and a period nurse’s costume. A provided HUD will allow you to transport from setting to setting within the exhibition.

Each setting is a representative piece, bolstered by a variety of modern technologies. Spoken word descriptions, video, special effects. It’s all very interesting.

Name: The First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Second Life SLURL:

Ideal audience: Poetry fans, war history buffs.

Comments: Excellent use of multimedia, detailed and often evocative period recreations.

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