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Section 5: Documenting Data from a Virtual Reality Project#

Documentation is important. When subject specialists think about documentation they tend to think of the final report presenting the history, techniques and results of a project. But virtual reality projects involve a number of people, the capture of data from various media and the creation of worlds for an audience. Although the report is an important part of the project archive, additional information about factors which influenced the development, or that support the maintenance and future reuse of the world, should also be documented.

It is important to prepare technical documentation about the world. This documentation should describe the steps taken in creating the world and record which file formats are in the archive, the software applications used, the intended user community, the software used to view the world, and so on. For worlds that are based on reconstructions it is important to record which elements are based on real evidence (real-world measurements of monuments and buildings) and which elements are artistic interpretation (Miller and Richards 1995; Eiteljorg 2000).

When combined with the report, such documentation enables the effective description of the resource. Documentation is an essential prerequisite for depositing project data in a digital archive.

5.1 Planning for the creation of digital data#

From the moment a project begins, careful thought must go into the digital files that will be produced and their life-span. Planning should include:

  • Preparing a project design that documents the tasks necessary for the successful completion of the project at its outset and includes a summary of the types of digital data that will be created and the projected lifespan of the virtual reality. It is important to update this documentation throughout the life of the project.
  • Defining and documenting the individuals, groups or organisations that are responsible for creating and managing digital files at all stages of the process.
  • Planning which file formats will be used for both the dissemination of data and for archiving purposes. Different formats may be used for these two activities. At the planning stage of the project, it is important to check the guidelines or standards recommended by the digital archive facility destined to receive the files and ensure that these are followed.

Project managers are recommended to consult an archive facility such as the AHDS for up-to-date information when considering the archiving of virtual worlds.


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