June 2007


Last night I was bumping around a very famous ceiling. As I hit my head on the Sistine Chapel ceiling I thought about how Michelangelo painted these works. Yep I was in Second Life at a Virtual model of the Sistine Chapel

A second life note card explains:

This is a recreation of the Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina), located in the Vatican City. It was designed by Baccio Pontelli and built between 1473 and 1484. The interior is decorated with frescoes by Michelangelo and other great painters of the Italian Renaissance.

In this Second Life recreation, the interior is depicted in great detail, while the exterior is an approximation. Unlike in the real-life chapel, here you can fly up to the top of a wall for a close inspection, look down at the inlaid floor, or even sit on a window ledge!

The lower tier of the chapel normally displays panels with painted draperies. On special occasions, these panels are covered with tapestries designed by Raphael. Here, you can click to show or hide the tapestries whenever you want.

The purpose of this recreation, sponsored by Vassar College, is to explore the use of virtual reality for teaching and learning about art and architecture, by experiencing the context, the scale, and the social aspects of the original.

In Second Life the Sistine Chapel project is found in Vassar 165:91:24

Before you visit the Sistine Chapel in Second Life you could pay a visit to the Sistine Chapel on the Vatican Museums Online as you can examine the frescos in detail and read about them in order to situate the Sistine Chapel in a cultural and historical context.

The CSS slicing guide is a tutorial on how to slice your templates into a sliced and coded XHTML and CSS valid web page.

Unlike other tutorials that show you how to do this using Photoshop or ImageReady and taking it to Dreamweaver, this tutorial demonstrates how to do it in code. It is clearly written and each area of the web page is covered and instructions delivered in a step by step manner making it useful to beginners as well as those with a little more experience.

This looks like a handy link as dpolls allows you to create polls to place on your website. This allows your visitors to respond to questions. I have often wondered if readers would like this on that on my site now I have a way to poll them and the good thing is that it is a free service!

Joe Dolson Accessites.org of has written a brief but good article on Improving Accessibility through Typography . Going beyond the usual points made on this topic that of font size, contrast and readability Dolson points out that leading (line height) tracking (letter spacing) justification and contrast all influence accessibility.

This guy is using tables in html to draw an image. Not the way html is supposed to be used but crazy, quirky and amusing in a geeky sort of way.

I admit that Second Life is a very sticky platform and I have become addicted not necessarily to leading another life in a virtual world. What I have become addicted to, is the possibility of a 3D web and the idea. The idea has captured my imagination. I see enormous potential and opportunities for anyone who is creative and gets a kick out of making things. Put simply my curiosity about Second Life is in overdrive.

An interesting interview with Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Linden Labs Cory Ondrejka is available as a podcast from Kiruba Shankar. It’s always interesting to hear the back story to a project and future projections for where the 3D web might go, so as one of the founders of Second Life I enjoyed listening to this as I tried to tame the mess that is my studio.

In six weeks or so I will be giving a presentation to our first year students on web based tools that they can use to help not only their studies but their eventual career as a studio based designer/maker. These are students in the visual arts degree and design arts degree on offer at the ANU (Australian National University).

I have started to pull together a list of links to various Web2.0 apps that are appropriate when I discovered that yesterday Josh Catone of Read/write web has done most of the job for me!

Web 2.0 Backpack: Web Apps for Students covers Office Replacements i.e. word processing, and spreadsheets, note taking, mind mapping tools studying, bookmarking, collaboration tools, calendars, calculations, and some bibliographic tools.

I scanned down the list trying to frantically see what app might be left out. There was one thing I could think of that every teacher I am sure will agree with me is that students do need online spell checkers and links dictionaries and a thesaurus but these are not Web2.0 apps as such. I also will touch on RSS readers as managing reading what is online is a key tool.

Since our students are visual arts students there are also tools associated with image manipulation and preparation, video editing and tools such as colour schemers and the like. Since networking is so important for anyone who wants to survive in any arts industries I will probably include some of the social software sites that can be used to highlight future proffessional their practice. Not only to use as students but because I see many of these Web2.0 apps becoming part of the process of work and study – a mode of thinking which is best established before they leave art school rather than started afterwards. But looking at Josh Catone’s list for many students I think that there is very little I have to add!

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