BioMOO and BlueObelisk Cemetery

Jean Clause Bradley posts in Nature Island Review

Joanna Scott just wrote a nice little review of what is going on at Nature Island (slurl) on Nature’s Nascent blog since her return from the American Chemical Society meeting in Chicago.
The Blue Obelisk Cemetery, where I give my students quiz races on Fridays was featured (only possible through help from Beth and Eloise – thanks again!). Another fun place is Mary Anne Clark’s biological cell that you can enter and float amongst the mitochondria.
Nature Island has really become a very interesting place to hang out, meet smart people and learn and share.

A slurl is a Second life url – an address in the emerging virtual world. The Blue Obelisk community has built a cemetery of Obelisks – see the picture in J-C’s link. Name sounds a bit gloomy, but the sun seems to be shining – and no dount the obelisks celebrate something positive.
I have been a great believer in virtual worlds.  Pioneers in this were British Telecom ? University of Essex (MUD)  and Xerox Parc (Pavel Curtis) with the MOO.  Many MOOs were built with LambdaMOO software (not an intuitive system!) including BioMOO for bioscientists.
BioMOO is no more – it flourished from ca 1993 to ca 1998. It was years ahaed of its time – as was Diversity University. But the digital record is inexorably decaying and this is a tragedy. I regard BioMOO as at least part of the current subjective unconscious of the collective scientific web and a first generation of what we are now seeing in scientific second life. Here are some bitshards (electronic potshards) unearthed from Google:
an overview captured in 1997 but all the links are 404. (The Virtual School of Natural Sciences was my creation in Diversity University).

2-4.2 The BioMoo

a summary by TECFA on the value of BioMOO for education. Again most links are 404.

BioMOO PPS97-98

A record of the meetings in BioMOO of the Principles Of Protein Structure course which Alan Mills and I kicked off in 1995. “ClareS” is Clare Sansom who took over.

DESCRIPTION] BioMOO announce VR web interface

a description of how to use BioMOO in 1995 (VR = virtual reality)

BioMOO meeting, PPS Base, 14th Mar ’96 17:00 GMT

a transcript of a tutorial on protein structure at which petermr was present.

Diversity University, 29.09.1996

with link to “tour of BioMOO by petermr”

Analyse d’un Mud: le BioMoo

A description of BioMOO including a map. BioMOO  (Gustavo Glusman and others) developed a rich system of images to paint a picture of BioMOO, Our course was held in VSNS-PPS classroom and some of the students decorated the virtual walls with interactive 3D objects in RasMOL.
So – secondLife – it’s all been done before. But before the world was ready for it. Because it’s technically hard and takes a lot of infrastructure. So perhaps all these ideas of the 1990+ have had to wait for the Cloud, the Web, SeocndLife etc. to impact on everyday life. So now it is almost costless to try them out.
I am delighted to see a garden in which flowers of sorts  that I cannot imagine will grow
But the tragedy is that we have lost much of the digital garden of the first generation. Are we in danger of losing the record of the BlueObelisk Cemetery? Can we record it for posterity? I think we probably can.

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2 Responses to BioMOO and BlueObelisk Cemetery

  1. Perhaps the cemetery is a little gloomy but it turns out that when you line up a bunch of obelisks in an area, that is pretty much what it looks like. I blame you Peter for picking the blue obelisk as our “mascot” – maybe you should have chosen a blue teddy bear 🙂

  2. pm286 says:

    Of course a cemetery need not be gloomy. Here is Wikipedia’s list.
    And, who knows, in a few years time – Blue Obelisk will be added to the list of famous virtual cemeteries in Wikipedia

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