Back in Time, Away in Space: The ALA Visits Lisbon in 1755

On Wedsneday, January 18th, 2023 (9 AM Pacific Time), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Virtual Worlds Interest Group of the American Library Association (ALA) is paying a visit to the historical simulation of the city of Lisbon, before the tragic 1755 earthquake that destroyed the whole city, and which influenced 18th C. thinkers such as Voltaire and Kant. The resulting discussions led to what what would eventually become a new science: seismology, and contributed to the affirmation of the Modern Era.

Image Source: Beta Technologies/CHAIA/University of Évora and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)

The 3D models of the City and Spectacle: a vision of pre-earthquake Lisbon project, built by Beta Technologies over the past two decades for CHAIA/University of Évora (Portugal), are currently visitable on the OpenSimulator-based virtual world grid Kitely.

A delegation from the ACRL, under the auspices of the Virtual World Education Consortium, will join a guided tour to the city’s downtown, as it stood moments before the city was utterly destroyed by earthquakes, tsunamis, and a raging fire, on the early morning of All Saints Day (Nov 1st) 1755.

The visit, besides showing the architecture of the period as modelled in 3D — in an academic reproduction of the site’s historical buildings, of which no ruins remain — will also include a look at a small virtual museum, anachronistically set inside one of the buildings, where more information about the project can be found in-world, demonstrating the potential of virtual worlds for conveying educational and informational content.

If you wish to attend the tour, you’re quite welcome to do so. You need to either have a registered Kitely account (it’s free to join) or, optionally, an avatar already created on an OpenSimulator-based virtual world grid which has Hyperjump enabled. The ACRL team will first assemble on the COOKIE II Welcome Center before making a final jump to the Lisbon 1755 region.

The tour is scheduled to start on 9 AM Pacific Time (5 PM UTC). Feel free to save the date on your calendar and join us!