|Two planes intersecting in a line generated by the VLP Display (Bogacki, 2009) |
Source: photo taken by the author
... I remembered other similar constructions I have recently read about such as the molecule rezzer Orac (Lang & Bradley, 2009) that you can use to easily create the molecule that you want via the chat interface without having to link prims together or learn Linden Scripting Language - the scripting language of Second Life.
|1-Pyrenebutanoic acid molecule generated in SL by Orac together with its NMR spectrum.|
Source: (Lang & Bradley, 2009)
If you have been following my posts in this blog, you know from my first post that I always pursued the idea of building a kind of Papert's (1980) microworld for Physics teaching.
But you know as well that it's not an easy task. I have shown elsewhere (dos Santos, 2009) that SL shows itself as a viable and flexible platform for microworlds and simulations but requires creativity to overcome the difficulties of implementation.
One of the main difficulties of this task is the high learning curve that exists for new users (Sanchez, 2009), specially to learn its Linden Scripting Language (LSL) (“LSL Portal,” n.d.), the SL Java-like programming language with nearly four hundred functions without which one cannot add interactivity features to the objects and fatally ends up with a specially inane kind of gigantic Lego.
What I found so interesting and similar about those constructions above? I realized that they bypassed this LSL-learning/programming obstacle by using the ol' good chat channel to interact with the user in a high-level specialized yet familiar language.
Orac 'understands' a chemist jargon such as '1-Pyrenebutanoic acid', is able to dialog with web-services at ChemSpider, and rezzes the structure of prims corresponding to the molecule model.
If we say for example p1=pl 2 1 3 7 in the chat channel the VLP Display 'understands' it as meaning "p1 is the plane 2x + y + 3z = 7" . In my opinion, Prof. Bogacki did something even more interesting in his VLP Display: if you pay attention to my post, you will see that he consciously or not created a 'language', a much Lego-like language. Instead of FORWARD or RIGHT, it included minimalist commands such as pl for 'draw plane', v for 'draw vector', etc.
Summarizing: as I see it, Orac and VLP Display are quite friendly textual interfaces, interpreters that translate the user orders into the sometimes cryptic LSL language commands.
I then decided to build TATI - The Amiable Textual Interface for Second Life that will translate simple Logo-like instructions into physical objects, some kind of Turtles (Papert, 1980) or, even better, DynaTarts (Abelson & DiSessa, 1981) (dynamical turtles), that is, 'turtles' that would understand physical commands such as SETVELOCITY instead of the geometrical commands shown above.
Folowing Bogacki footprints, the first thing I did was to conceive TATILogo, a Logo language variant comprising a few easy to remember 'action-verbs' such as CREATE, SPEEDUP, and APPFORCE, and a few necessary 'data-types' such as 'vector', 'float', and 'string'. For coherence with the geometrical turtles, I have kept the basic FORWARD, BACKWARD, RIGHT, and LEFT commands but, for reasons discussed in detail in (dos Santos, 2012), instead of SETVELOCITY, etc., I included commands more similar to those geometrical state-change operators (Papert, 1980, p. 127) such as SPEEDUP. Furthermore, being SL a 3D environment where rotations around all axis were allowed, I included analogous commands for the other axis, such as UP, DOWN, CLOCK, and ACLOCK rotations in addition to LEFT and RIGHT.For completeness, I also felt the need to include commands like APPTORQUE and APPROTIMPULSE in addition to APPFORCE and APPIMPULSE.
I try to never forget that SL is some kind of Wonderland. Therefore, I found it appropriated to theme the interface as a 'wizard hat'. I bought a nice fullperm sculpt wizard hat from Web Gearbox for just L$10 and put the interface script into its inventory. Now, at one's orders, objects are rezzed above it 'like magic', as shown in the pictures below.
|Objects being rezzed above the wizard hat 'like magic'|
|Building different object types with TATI|
Source: photo taken by the author
See also (dos Santos, 2012) for further details.
- Abelson, H., & DiSessa, A. A. (1981). Turtle Geometry: Computations as a Medium for Exploring Mathematics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Bogacki, P. (2009). Multivariable Calculus Virtual Office Hours in a Metaverse. In J. Foster (Ed.), CD-ROM Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics, San Antonio, Texas, March 6-9, 2008 (p. C015). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. Retrieved from http://archives.math.utk.edu/ICTCM/i/20/C015.html
- dos Santos, R. P. (2009). Second Life Physics: Virtual, real or surreal? Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, 2(1), 1-21. Austin, TX: University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved from http://journals.tdl.org/jvwr/article/view/383/455
- dos Santos, R. P. (2012). TATI - Uma interface textual amigável para o Second Life. RENOTE: Revista Novas Tecnologias na Educação, 10(1).
- Lang, A. S. I. D., & Bradley, J.-C. (2009). Chemistry in second life. Chemistry Central Journal, 3(1), 14-33. Retrieved from: http://journal.chemistrycentral.com/content/3/1/14
- LSL Portal. (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2008, from http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/LSL_Portal
- Papert, S. A. (1980). Microworlds: Incubators for Knowledge. In S. A. Papert (Ed.), Mindstorms - Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas (pp. 120-134). New York: Basic Books.
- Sanchez, J. (2009). Barriers to Student Learning in Second Life. Library Technology Reports, 45(2), 29-34. Chicago, IL: American Library Association. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=37251469