Stanford workshop offers perspectives on preservation issues in virtual worlds

 “Preserving Knowledge in Virtual Worlds”

August 7-8, 2008

The Summer Institute at Wallenberg Hall

Media X at Stanford University


This workshop offers an opportunity to explore the challenges confronting producers, managers and end users of virtual worlds and immersive environments.


A range of institutions, from enterprises to universities, have begun to explore the utility of virtual worlds and immersive environments in fostering creativity in organizations.  Some regard virtual worlds as a new category of software, described perhaps as “user-facing middleware.” They might predict that VW managers will adopt the appraisal and archiving practices of existing authoring, resource management, and archiving systems. 


Others believe that VWs offer new opportunities for using spatially organized visual metaphors augmented with semantic annotations and other important contextual information. Collaborative production and portrayal of content in VWs will call for new digital asset management methods.  VW managers will need to deploy new practices throughout the life-cycle of digital assets to preserve content and context surrounding the user experience.  This is especially true for the post-cataloging environment.


This workshop takes a step ahead of current efforts by asking, what will happen to the interesting ideas and content created in these environments?  How will businesses, government organizations, and academic institutions preserve and manage knowledge emerging from work in these spaces?  What can we learn from existing practices, whether in massively-multiplayer game spaces, consumer-oriented virtual worlds, or enterprise solutions?


Virtual Worlds are opening up new jobs in a variety of sectors, from education and entertainment to high-tech. Producers, stage developers, artists, script writers, and knowledge managers are starting to develop specialized sets of skills, as immersive environments are brought online for serious work, as well as fun. 


The workshop will explore these and other challenges:


  1. Will there be a continuum that ranges from exclusive role-based asset management (the archivist’s privileged view) to self managing communities that iteratively build navigation paths and views into the world, based on common areas of interest and/or common profile attributes?
  2. How are policies set and enforced for media assets in virtual worlds?  How will these policies differ for models based on notions such as the “memory palace” or the “community commons”? 
  3. How can media preservation practices include the preservation of immersive experiences?  Will traditional rules of archival management based on provenance apply as assets are migrated across the evolving formats of new platforms?
  4. What criteria in addition to age, relevance and permission will provide the basis for search in virtual worlds? 
  5. What will happen to media assets when the virtual worlds in which they are created close forever?



Day 1: 7 August 2008

9am – noon  Scoping out the topic.


Short presentations (Cindy & Henry)

·         Mid-morning break

Two guest presentations


Noon-2pm  Lunch and free time


2-5pm  Establishing key questions

Structured discussion of pre-distributed questions.

… followed by …

Flash presentations around the table – put out a question in three minutes or less.

Conclusion: Our agenda for preserving knowledge in virtual worlds.


Day 2: 8 August 2008


9am-noon  Setting up research focus areas

One or two guest presentations will present current research paradigms.

Open discussion: Moving from our research agenda to a research focus based on inter-relationships of issues presented in our agenda and the presentations.


Noon-2pm  Lunch and free time


2-5pm  Next steps

Presentations: Cindy and Henry will talk about what they expect to be working on in the next year to five years and how their work relates to our research agenda.

Around the table: How will your work be changed by the paradigms we have discussed?

Concluding discussion – final thoughts and missing topics.




Dr. Henry Lowood, Co-director Stanford Humanities Lab, Curator for History of Science & Technology Collections and Film & Media Collections in the Stanford University Libraries
Ms. Cynthia Pickering, Senior Principal Engineer, Director Collaboratory Research Lab, Intel Corporation, IT Strategy Architecture and Innovation


Henry Lowood studies the history of digital games (“How They Got Game: The History and Culture of Interactive Simulations and Videogames") and is leading innovation in archival and curatorial practices for digital objects and virtual experiences. He is editor of the "Current Bibliography in the History of Technology" of the Society for the History of Technology.


As Senior Principal Engineer, Cindy Pickering is Intel IT’s senior technical leader for enterprise collaboration and productivity. She has led many research, strategy, architecture, and prototyping efforts throughout her career to set direction and deliver value to Intel global teams. Her current focus explores the use of Virtual Worlds and Connected Visual Computing in the enterprise. 

Intended Audience:

Industry researchers and practitioners, academic researchers, and technologists interested in the role of Virtual Worlds in improving group creativity in both serious and fun settings and in preserving the knowledge and context for future reference, learning and extension.









This is a great workshop.

This is a great workshop. Thanks for making a post about it.