Saturday, January 7, 2012

Machu Picchu – Back to the Past

We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.

Albert Einstein

After my recent twenty-four hours in Second Life (SL), I’m ready to return to my normal routine of weekly visits As much as I enjoyed my time inworld, I have to balance Real Life (RL) against my time on the grid.  (In other words, Significant Other has let me know there are limits to scientific inquiry.)
For this week’s blog, I decided to take a trip back in time to the Citadel of Machu Pinchu.  The Incan ruins abandoned in the Peruvian Andes and only recently rediscovered in the early twentieth century.  I received the idea for this visit from Wulfride (“Wulf”) Blitzen.  I had encountered Wulf at the ball I attended in the 1920’s Berlin sim.  Her SL profile indicated an interest in digital archaeology and I contacted her regarding this. I have an interest in the archaeology of the Internet and thought this was what her interest referred to.

Turns out, I was wrong.  (I always get in trouble with assumptions.)  Wulf is an archaeologist in Real Life (RL) and is interested in the use of SL to recreate old worlds which no longer exist.  Something for which SL is well suited.  Although, Wulf did mention some technical details which limit its usefulness.  She recommended I visit Manchu Picchu inworld to see what archaeologists have been building. 

So, this is how I find myself visiting Machu Picchu in SL.  The sim was built and is maintained by the Faculty of Engineering and Agriculture at the Universidad de San Martin de Porres in Lima, Peru.  (The sim’s primary language is Spanish with some parts in English.  Any mistakes in translation are due to my poor Spanish language skills.  My Spanish friends say, probably more accurately, that my Spanish language skills are nonexistent.  They do give me credit for trying.  So, be warned.)

I arrive at the rez point and am surrounded by a recreation of the original ruins.  While I’ve never been to Manchu Picchu in RL myself, friends and family have and I’ve had the opportunity to review their photos and those available in books and the Internet.  What greets me looks eerily familiar. 

The effect is impressive and I can only estimate the amount of work that has gone into scripting these remains of the Incas mountain retreat.  The Citadel is nestled in the mountains very much like the famous RL photo.   

I walk across the terraces and up and down the staircases.  A site map near the arrival area indicated where various sites may be found.  Llamas are to be found calmly grazing across the sim.  While they can be petted, they do not interact with visitors.  I spy a condor flying high in the sky and while I only had a glimpse, the workmanship was impressive in addition to the element of realism added. 

One advantage of visiting Manchu Picchu inworld is the almost total lack of tourists, not to mention not having to pay the RL admission fee.  The disadvantage is that neither are tour guides available.  Fortunately, Wikipedia and Google are readily available. 

The use of SL to recreate worlds no longer in existence in SL is another good example of how SL can be used for educational purposes.  The community required to build and maintain the sim demonstrates how SL brings people together to work on a common project.  I applaud the faculty and staff of Universidad de San Martin de Porres who have built this world and made it available for everyone to visit.

Manchu Picchu is well worth the time to visit and stroll around.  One cannot help but think of the people who built the original buildings and then disappeared into the mists of time. 

I have only one minor criticism of the sim.  Pop rock music continually plays.  (Bruce Springsteen was playing when I arrived.)  Some traditional music playing in the background would permit a more immersive experience. 

Wulf also told me of a recreation of the Somme battlefield in 1917 which I will visit in the near future.  With the approaching Centennial of the First World War, the timing is appropriate. 

I would like to thank Wulf Blitzen for taking the time to meet with me and talk about her work in SL.  As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: Machu Picchu – Arrival Area

Photo No. 2: Machu Picchu – Llamas Grazing

Photo No. 3: Machu Picchu – Citadel I  

Photo No. 4: Machu Picchu – Citadel II

Photo No. 5: Machu Picchu – Amphitheater

No comments: