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This week Designing Worlds featured a very special – and timely – project. The First World War Poetry Digital Archive and the Learning Technologies Group at the University of Oxford have collaborated to bring a wealth of First World War poetry and information together in an environment that allows this powerful material to be explored and experienced in a radically new way.
You can now see the show on the web – here, and available in both standard and high quality. And you can also download the show from the iTunes store (just search on Designing Worlds) to watch at your leisure. You can even put it on your iPod to carry around with you!
The First World War Poetry Digital Archive has imported a range of digitised archival materials from the major poets of the First World War (including poetry manuscripts, letters and diaries) along with contextual primary source materials, into the Second Life environment. These have been located within a presentation modelled to represent areas of the Western Front, 1914 – 1918.
As they say, “This immersive experience attempts to demonstrate how effective it can be to expose items from a research project (the First World War Poetry Digital Archive) in its context. You can see items from the collection, hear interviews with veterans, and watch contemporary film footage as you explore the area – a training camp, communication trench, a casualty clearing station, a front-line trench – as well as listen to readings of the poetry.”
But the simple description of what it is cannot equal the power of visiting for yourself, as Saffia and Elrik do in this programme. Exploring the sim with Csteph Submariner, the sim designer, they shared the accounts of veterans, listened to the poetry, and added their own thoughts on the impressive environment in a deeply moving programe.
The poignant closing sequence of the show was accompanied by the haunting music of the folk trio Coope, Boyes and Simpson, noted for bringing to life songs associated with the First World War, who very kindly made their recording Only Remembered available for this unusual programme.