Knowledge Gates to Second Life 1
Knowledge Navigation & Exploration Centers
Ten + Sites, Many Regions in Linden Village, 100,000 + sq. m. (2006-Present)
The Knowledge Places (K-Places) project used the virtual world called Second Life to create a 3D interface to the systematic, top-down inventory of knowledge resources hosted on the Cosma Web site. Development began back in 2006, and by the height of the project in 2010, there were twenty sites that covered more than a million square meters of land in Second Life. All of the sites were made up of thematically organized virtual spaces designed around inviting spatial metaphors (e.g. tropical resort, zoo, amusement park, etc.). You can find out more about the overall project on the K-Places page.
The Knowledge Gates (K-Gates) were the “Alpha” sites of the K-Places project, and they were located throughout Linden Village in Second Life. They were called “Gates” due to their proximity to the Help and Orientation Islands used by new Second Life users.
There were actually many sites that evolved from 2006 to the present. Here is a map showing some of the locations.
The core of K-Places was a cadre of 3D links dubbed Knowledge Objects (K-Objects) because they enabled truly spatial Knowledge Navigation. Magic Windows were 3D links to Cosma, Magic Doors were 3D links to locations in Second Life, and other K-objects linked to Web sites besides Cosma. You can find out more about them on the K-Objects page.
Hundreds of content specific K-Objects were made and distributed across content specific spaces to create a thematic approach for exploring Cosma, SecondLife and the Web.
There was also an extensive collection of “talented” objects such as vehicles, animals, games and rides that were distributed at the same time. They were used to signal the subject of spaces as well as add some fun and value for visitors. Many objects were free to copy and modify (freebies). Others were examples of the best things available for sale in Second Life and were positioned next to Magic Doors that linked to sites where they could be purchased.
Here is a history of the K-Gates sites that were developed between 2006 and 2015 as well as a description of some sites that still exist today.
Alston, 31,744 sq. m. (2006-Present)
The first of the K-Gates sites was in Alston region. It was named Knowledge Point (K-Point) because of both the location and the content that it accessed on the Cosma Web site. In the early days, K-Places and K-Gates were developed under the auspices of a company called Knowledge Foundry (K-Foundry). K-Point also served as the “in world” headquarters for that short lived and somewhat misguided stab at a commercial endeavor in Second Life. 2
The first “thematic space” developed at K-Point was about Systems. Visitors were invited to wander a Garden Path to learn about the systems themes and color schemes used across all of the K-Gates sites. For historical purposes, and sentimental reasons, the site still exists. If you have a Second Life account and the software installed, then you can click the image below to teleport there and explore it.
Maryport, 6,144 sq. m. (2006-2015)
Knowledge Port (K-Port) was the next site to be developed. It was originally to be about Media, and it included a “Construction Zone” that was an introduction to how to build in Second Life. There was a collection of the best free tutorials and building objects available at that time, and they were free for anyone to copy and use.
Just for fun, there was also a sample of vehicles for getting around in Second Life. This included a variety of free starter vehicles that are easy for new users to claim, boxes with more vehicles pre-sorted by type, and Magic Doors that gave landmarks to places to buy even better vehicles!
Over time, it became obvious that the vehicles were by far the most popular objects at K-Port. That led to the decision to re-frame the site as dedicated to the subject of Transportation (boats, cars, trains, planes, space ships, etc.). This is a snapshot of the redeveloped site.
Here is a video walk-through that will give you a sense of what it was like to visit K-Port.
The next K-Gates site to be developed was Knowledge Park (K-Park). It was “just down the road” from K-Port and quite a bit larger.
Knowledge Navigation & Exploration Center
Derwent, 9,072 sq. m. (2006-2015)
Knowledge Park (K-Park) was specifically focused on the Knowledge Realms (Cosmological, Physical, Terrestrial, Anthropological, Mystical). Each of the Realms had a dedicated structure (Cosmological Realm had a Clock Tower, Terrestrial Realm had a Treehouse, etc.). The objects around the structures indicated the focus of the content in the area. Interactive animals in the Terrestrial Realm proved to be particularly popular.
Here is a video walk-through to give you a sense of what it was like to visit and play at K-Park. This was recorded shortly before the site was deleted in 2015.
As K-Park was nearing completion, it was obvious there were many great Second Life sites in the areas of Arts and Entertainment (A&E) that warranted Magic Doors, but these fell under the category of Knowledge Forms, while the main focus of K-Park was on Knowledge Realms, so there wasn’t an obvious place for them. Eventually, a small spot was carved out at K-Park and dubbed Knowledge Patio (K-Patio) in order to hold the A&E Magic Doors.
K-Point, K-Port, K-Park and K-Patio were completed by the end of 2006, and traffic picked up as visitors began to explore them.
The time had come to determine next moves. Land next to K-Park was available for purchase, so that offered a good opportunity to experiment with creating spaces dedicated to more of the Knowledge Forms.
Windermere, 624 sq. m. (2007-2015)
Windermere, 624 sq. m. (2007-2015)
After K-Pavilion was completed, there was still a pile of objects that didn’t have a space where they belonged, so the next space that was created was Knowledge Pond (K-Pond). It was a catch-all for the “stuff” that didn’t belong anywhere else at the time.
By mid-2007, the Alpha phase of the K-Places project was moving along nicely, but there was a glaring problem. With all of the focus supposedly being on Knowledge Navigation, the truth was that there was a severe lack of a method to navigate between the K-Gates sites. The time came to create a Navigation Board to help visitors get around.
Community Commons & Education Center
Coniston, 2,544 sq. m. (2006-2007)
Creating K-Pavilion and K-Patio to address the Forms of Preservation and Expression respectively was a stop gap measure. What was needed was an entire site dedicated to Forms. This lead to the purchase of a new piece of land in Coniston named Knowledge Plaza (K-Plaza).
K-Plaza was designed to address all of the Forms which included areas specifically focused on Innovation, Preservation, Participation and Expression. This did include some duplication of content from K-Pavilion and K-Patio.
K-Plaza had a special focus on Participation, Education and Community. It was designed around the metaphor of a public commons, it had space for hosting meetings for free, and there was an Education Center with a classroom.
Relatively soon after it’s completion, K-Plaza moved to a plot of land that became available for purchase in Windermere next to K-Park.
Arts & Entertainment Fair
Honister, 7,136 sq. m. (2006-2007)
This last major K-Gates site that was created was Knowledge Pier (K-Pier). It was designed around a fair grounds metaphor, and it had a circus-like atmosphere. There were even functioning rides amidst the extensive collection of Arts and Entertainment objects that had outgrown both K-Patio at K-Park and K-Plaza.
This site was also an event venue, and it had a dance machine and a stage.
Like K-Plaza, relatively soon after it’s completion in 2007, this site was moved to Windermere next to K-Park where it was rebranded as Knowledge Party (K-Party).
Arts & Entertainment Center
Windermere, 5,904 sq. m., 2007-2015
K-Party was smaller than K-Pier, but it was still designed around a fair grounds metaphor and had a circus-like atmosphere. Unfortunately, it could only hold a sample of the Arts and Entertainment content that had been at K-Pier. One thing it had that K-Pier did not was a big top tent with a variety of functioning games. This turned out to be quite popular.
Over the course of developing K-Gates, there was a tendency to lean towards combining and consolidating far-flung sites into smaller, but spatially co-located sites.
When the design of the Beta of K-Places began, it was obvious that the next phase of the project should start with a single location to host all of the thematic content spaces in one contiguous place. This was one of the key goals of the next phase of the project that was christened Knowledge Palace (K-Palace) in late 2006.
After K-Palace was completed in 2007, and Knowledge Paradise (K-Paradise) opened in 2008, the K-Gates were still popular with new Second Life users from the nearby Orientation Islands. The decision was made to let them co-exist with K-Palace and K-Paradise so that they could function as advertising for the newer, larger, more integrated sites. For example, after K-Palace opened in early 2007, the Navigation boards were updated to forward visitors there.
Knowledge Port & Knowledge Park
Knowledge Navigation & Exploration Center
Maryport, 24,048 sq. m. (2015-Present)
K-Palace, K-Paradise and K-Gates continued to exist in parallel for a few years, but they were far too expensive to maintain. K-Palace was discontinued in 2010, and K-Paradise was discontinued in 2014. Finally, the K-Park site in Derwent and adjacent sites in Windermere were also discontinued in 2014. That is when the contents of all of the K-Places sites were consolidated into a scaled back version to serve as an archive of the K-Places project.
The archival sites now sit on the original K-Port site in Maryport and a larger, adjoining parcel that was named K-Park in honor of the old Derwent site. The sites can only hold a small sample of the spaces and objects that made up the K-Places sites between 2006 and 2014.
The largest archival site is K-Park — it holds some of the spaces and objects that were part of the original K-Park and serves an interface to the Knowledge Realms on the Cosma Web site.
There is also a “sky-space” situated above the ground-level sites — it preserves some of the contents of K-Plaza and serves an interface to the Knowledge Forms on the Cosma Web site.
Here is a video of an extended walk-through of the K-Places archival sites.
This map shows where the archival sites are in Linden Village. If you have a Second Life account and the software installed, then you can click the map to teleport there and explore the sites.
Cosma’s Welcome Area
Knowledge Exploration Center
Alston in Second Life & Kuula (2020-Present)
There are a series of ongoing experiments with creating “Parallel Places” to test and compare the efficacy of numerous 3D platforms for creating interfaces to Cosma, other Web sites, YouTube’s 360° videos and some XR content. Second Life is one of the platforms being used for these experiments. The Toy Worlds that are serving as the 3D interface to Cosma right now are also among the “places” used for comparison.
One of the experiments has involved building a Knowledge Exploration Center at the old K-Point site in Linden Village. It has 5 rooms that are semi-identical to the five main Toy Worlds that are serving as an interface to Cosma. The site has Magic Posters and Magic Objects that link to Cosma and other Web content. These are siblings of the K-Objects used in K-Places.
This is a picture of the Welcome Area. If you have a Second Life account and the software installed, then you can click the image to explore the Welcome Area and the four other rooms (Solar Extremes, Gaia’s Greenhouse, World Travel Lounge and Walk-in-Art).
Here is a “Toy World” version of the Welcome Area that is parallel to the one in Second Life.
Click on objects to find out about them.
Use the menu or doors to visit other Toy Worlds.
You can also explore this Toy World on Kuula.
Toy Worlds are literally “Toy Worlds” because they are dioramas created with dollhouse furniture and other miniature toys that are photographed with a RICOH THETA S 360° Camera. The resulting photos are posted on the Kuula 360° photo sharing service in order to overlay links.
They are also figuratively “Toy Worlds” in that they are really just intended to be entertaining placeholders for the more sophisticated Worlds that will hopefully be created with more advanced software in the not too distant future.
The degree to which the Second Life and Toy World versions of the Welcome Area and other linked Toy Worlds are different, and the reasons for that, is the main point to the experiments. However, the conclusions drawn from this exercise are a topic for another time. You can find out more about the ongoing experiments on the Worlds Challenge page.
1. Much of the content on this page was originally developed for a presentation at MIT in 2007.
The presentation was attended by Cory Ondrejka (SL Alt. Cory Linden, Chief Technology Officer@Second Life/Linden Lab) and John Lester (SL Alt. Pathfinder Linden, Second Life Lead Evangelist, Market Development, Boston Operations Director, Market Development in Education@Second Life/Linden Lab).
Hopper, M. E. (2007, April). The Knowledge Gates to SecondLife. Media in Transition 5 Conference: Creativity, Ownership and Collaboration in the Digital Age, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.
2. Knowledge Gates and Knowledge Objects were developed by Dr. M. E. Hopper while she was President of Knowledge Foundry, a small company that developed traditional Web, social media, 3D, eBook and mobile sites. Remnants of the original website are still online.