Book Chapters

Mediating the Past in 3D

...and how Hieroglyphs Get in the Way: The 3D Virtual Buildings Project

War In History. 4(2): 174-212.
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to argue that scholars in humanities and computing should be active participants in the design of the mind technologies they employ, be they software, be they new conventions for representation, narration and documentation. My second purpose is to argue that the task of design should be guided by a specific lesson from the history of text, namely that a mind technology works best when its structures and operations are closely harmonized with the natural abilities of users. To support these arguments, I propose to do two things. The first is to refer briefly to the history of text as characterized in the communication writings of Harold Innis. It offers a suggestive case study of the cognitive benefits that result when the operation of a mind tool is simplified, when it is brought into harmony with the natural abilities of users..My second task will be to suggest that 3D objects are also mind technologies. They can be used to support the development of higher-order thinking skills, and in this section I will refer to the work of the 3D Virtual Buildings Project to illustrate how. I will also suggest – again via the 3D Virtual Buildings Project – that current tools for effecting their generation are hieroglyphs. They get in the way.