So, after seeing links to it on Boing Boing, Brass Goggles, and what felt like half-a-dozen other blogs, I decided to set up an account on PMOG, the steampunk-themed Passively Multiplayer Online Game. Described by its creators as “an infinite game built on individual network histories, transforming our web surfing into ongoing social play,” PMOG lets you level up a character by surfing the web: taking missions, avoiding traps, or traveling through portals, all of which were left by other players (and leaving some of your own to boot).
There’s functionality present in the game that I think has some applicability to the sort of online public service I’m interested in as a proto-librarian. Portals are the simplest example: a player can place a portal on any web page that, if used, will bring the user to another web page. Missions, meanwhile, take players from one web page to the next; the mission’s creator can add captions along the way, basically creating a tour of related web-sites.
This sort of interface could be used to provide online tours of a library’s resources, or even as a form of marketing. It took me a minute or two to set up a Portal leading from Wikipedia’s entry on industrial relations to the Catherwood home page.
Of course, right now most of the missions I see involve webcomics. But PMOG is, if nothing else, an amusing distraction, though I think it provides some tools that should be be looked at much more seriously. Until then, I’m going to shoot for membership in the Vigilantes.