The David Rumsey Map Collection is just about everything any cartographer with an interest in the history of the subject and a particular focus on the Americas could ever want. Over 39,000 maps are on file – although these also include various maps of Africa, Asia and Europe. The maps can be accessed through a number of online viewers and services – including Second Life!
The SL exhibit covers four adjoining regions and presents a number of displays, information boards and links to the main website which, taken together, form an interactive means of study and offers the opportunity to learn about cartography.
The arrival point comprises an information centre where you can learn about David Rumsey Maps, the SL exhibit and access teleports to the various displays. Directly outside of this is a push-pin map of the world, with the invitation for visitors to move one of several push-pin “givers” over their home location, add a pin and leave a message of up to 140 characters in length.
Below this, and covering all four regions is a gigantic topographical map of Yosemite Park and its surrounding areas, circa 1883, complete with a floating observation deck. Control options allow you to view the map with full bright on or off, and as a 3D relief display (using sculpts) or a conventional 2D map.
Above the 4-region map is a small orientation centre for those new to SL, and above that is a reproduction of J.H Colton’s 1836 map of New York. complete with models of some well-known landmarks (such as the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge and City Hall) which help give the map context to modern eyes.
Elsewhere in the build are touch-boards on the Map walk which surrounds all four regions and the gigantic Tower of Maps, which provide direct access to various maps and pages on the website. You can also hop inside two globe maps or admire a Japanese scroll map.
All-in-all this is an extensive and excellent use of Second Life, with the information centre also providing audio / video presentations as well as a range of collectibles (40 in all), which you can pick-up as you explore. There is also a skyborne auditorium, but I’m not sure if that is still running the advertised programme (I’ve managed to miss hopping over there at noon SLT to find out the last few times it has crossed my mind to check…).
David Rumsey Maps makes for a worthwhile visit for anyone interested in cartography, and an engrossing use of Second Life. One word of advice should you visit – turn up your drawn distance to at least 512m to get the fullest benefit.