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Meet the VeePsters
In this section we will meet some of the VeePsters , another name for dedicated veteran users of Virtual Places. Their stories point out the kind of masterpieces you can paint on the canvas of the World Wide Web when you are part of a strong community.
The Story of Webtown
Figure 10.23 Vp9c.gif
Webtown is a community set up so that VeePsters (citizens in the Virtual Places universe) can share a common Web space, newsgroups, and an event calendar. One of the great features of Webtown is its VP apartments. This is a great Web site, hosted by CyberSurfer which allows you to select components and fit them together into an ìapartmentî (flats for you members of the former British Empire). After filling out some forms and pushing some buttons to select your furniture, the view out the window (and even what is in the refrigerator), you are presented with your very own Web page which shows the image of your custom-built apartment.
Figure 10.24 Vp8a.jpg
My Apartment in VP Towers, Webtown
Click here to get print resolution image
This figure shows my apartment in VP Towers West, complete with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (I wish I could afford such an apartment in real life!). I superimposed the view of my refrigerator (which is shown on another part of my Web site) in the lower right, and included my life's motto and favorite Web sites. Thousands of people have created their own apartments in VP Towers and other parts of the CyberSurfer Webtown site. After creating your apartment, you can invite friends there by simply running Virtual Places and taking them (through their avatars) to this Web site. Events to be held in Webtown residences are often posted on the Webtown site.
Guide to Webtown
Here are a few Webtown URLs.
Find Webtown@VP at http://www.cyberclay.com/webtown/.
The Webtown News is at http://freeweb.nethead.co.uk/Devalin/Webtown/news.htm.
CyberSurfer Studios offers VP apartments at Restaurant City & Web Towers at http://www.restaurantcity.com/.
Gekko and Webtown
Nabih Saiba, or Gekko, as he is known in Virtual Places, is the original creator of Webtown. He has agreed to tell his story for readers of Avatars!, and we are happy to reproduce it here.
Figure 10.25 Vp9a.jpg
Nabil Saliba, creator of Webtown.
This is Nabih Saliba (a.k.a. Gekko) and I'm the guy that created Webtown. CyberClay (which housed the site) is a Web design firm that was just getting started a little over a year ago. I was a consultant for them as well as a designer. I stumbled across Virtual Places one day when there were only about zero to fifteen people using the beta software. It was great! After using the client for about two hours, I thought, "hey! what a great tool for building a community," and set to work on Webtown version 1.0. At first, it was nothing more than five stark pages with names denoting some form of location. Then I ran Web tours like mad trying to get people to explore the possibility of forming a true online community; one we could build, promote and manage ourselves. It worked, as I found I was not alone in this dream. Like true pioneers, people using handles like The Q, Editrix, Stu, Wyvern, banded together in a cyberfrontier to build a community of Web sites. Our virtual town grew rapidly from ten or fifteen to a total population of almost 500 within the space of three months.
Figure 10.26 Vp9b.gif
Gekko's Virtual Places avatar.
The beauty of combining chat with Web browsing is that the power to create interactive environments is extremely simple. Webtown was founded on the principal that anyone could build anything and link it into the spirit of a unified community. Since its inception, there have been many Virtual Places Web sites created by those that know and love the software. As my personal career occupied more of my time, I had to limit my involvement with Webtown. It's still out there doing its thing, and I hope people still find enjoyment in its pages, and interactive wonder with Virtual Places. The Web is plenty big for all of us and the spirit and culture of online communities will continue to bring the human touch to a sterile technology. As Gekko used to say in his profile, "Take from life what is pure and for living what is sufficient."
Other Web worlds
Virtual Places is often referred to as a "webworld." Webworlds are virtual worlds in that they have people represented as avatars or chat handles in a shared space. Webworlds are also unique in that the backdrop for the community is built up out of Web pages. Webworlds are easily built as citizens just link in their own home pages. Common styles, icons and means of navigation characterize webworlds. VP and Webtown are not the only webworlds. See Appendix C for more on De Digitale Stad, one of the original webworlds, and Firefly, one of the newest kids on the block.