A few weeks ago, I presented an exciting new prototype program I’ve been keeping my eyes on. It’s a program out of UCLA called VSim. I had the pleasure of demo-ing this program for about 20 of my colleagues from across campus and we discussed the possible applications of a full-fledged VSim program. We would be able to publish 3D digital objects that include bibliographical data – great for the researchers, metadata – the favorite thing for librarians, paradata (data about the data) – the important stuff for scholars wishing to emulate or study the models. VSim not only has the potential to package this data together, but it is also meant to function as a presentation tool, with the functionality to link outwards to the internet. It was built with the primary audience of teaching scholars. This is exciting because it’s the only attempt, to my knowledge, of nesting contextual information directly in a 3D model. It may be a way to begin thinking about how we will preserve 3D in the future. Currently, we attempt to preserve the 3D model, but it’s typically separate from the narrative or publication that appears in the more traditional formats as a journal article of monograph. What’s the point of creating 3D when you’re just going to present it in a 2D medium? Hint: there is none.
The discussion moved quickly passed the oohh’s and awww’s (as is want with such a grouping) to talk about the technicalities. How would we support the new file type it’s creating? Why stray from the standard-not-so-standard .stl or .dae file formats? They work well enough, no? Or, how much would something like this cost to support should it go to production? There was an assumption that this tech would not be free to use. How would it all be packaged and disseminated?
For as much potential as those questions have to totally kill the buzz, we did quickly return to; “this is really cool. Can I play with it?!”
That was the whole point. Feel free to check it out at: https://idre.ucla.edu/research/active-research/vsim/vsim-downloads