Believe if or not, I cut a little out of the massive novella/feature on the Library of Congress preserving video games that ran yesterday. I know, I know. If that were in a newspaper, the world's oxygen supply would be suffering from the distinct lack of trees. Anyway, one of the matters that we didn't delve very deeply into was that of preserving Second Life. From project affiliate Jerry McDonough:
One of the big problems with second life when they talk about preserving it is this interactive experience. Linden doesn't do things like keep careful track of what users are saying, they're not filling their disks with years and years of transaction logs - I'm sure the users are very happy about that - but it means that if I took everything on SL's servers at the moment, what I've got is the neutron bomb version of second life - a bunch of very beautiful buildings with nobody in them.
But the topic raises a ton of ethical questions...For one, is it a library's place to preserve real experience, even if it's part of a virtual world? Are they overstepping their bounds of preserving cultural artifacts and instead preserving culture directly? Or, is such a step not intrusive, but part of a natural evolution for a digital library, preserving first hand experiential accounts wherever possible?
These questions aren't rhetorical—I'm really interested how the gaming community will react. Even if you don't play Second Life, such a model could also apply to WoW, PSHome or any future MMO experience. I think the simple solution is a disclaimer. And tracking the actions of only those who volunteer could work fairly well. But the picture would only be a snippet of something we could potentially capture with 100% authenticity. So would we be doing those to come a great disservice?