Sorry for not blogging earlier, I was at a place called Frideswide on the Western Front attending to the casualties and dodging fire in the trenches. And I'm only half joking.
Two of my great loves, poetry and Second Life come together with Oxford University's new virtual simulation which places the work of the war poets (including Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg, Vera Brittain and Siegfried Sassoon) in a three dimensional, immersive environment that you can wander through and participate in. You can watch video, listen to readings of the poetry, read facimilies of documents, and watch video as you visit a training camp, communication trench, a casualty clearing station, and a front-line trench. You can wear (if you care to) the uniform of a soldier or nurse, and of course you can pose for and take pictures. I spent a couple of hours there and still have more to see and listen to.
It's a very relevant journey for me, as both my grandfathers fought in the First World War. One talked about the terrible things he'd seen all the time: the other couldn't bring himself to mention it at all.
One thing that made the experience special for me, last night, was having the opportunity to chat to one of the researchers behind the project who was able to explain how everything had come together. (Thanks Skanda!)
You can read all about the project here on Oxford University's website, and find out how you too can visit the battlefield and check out the possibilities of this new and exciting medium. Why Second Life? As the website explains :
Virtual worlds create opportunities to do things that are impossible in real museums. By simulating parts of the Western Front, the archive can embed an entire exhibition's worth of content within in the space. This can be further enhanced by placing digital versions of real archival materials and narratives along the paths that visitors take. The result is an immersive and personal experience. It's not 'real' but it does offer possibilities for understanding a part of history that is now beyond human memory.