To save cultural artifacts after their country was invaded by Russia, Ukrainians are putting “landmarks, cultural sites, monuments and everyday things” into a digital archive using a mobile app called Polycam.
The project hopes that the high-quality scans can be used as an augmented reality-type space for learning, or they can influence potential reconstruction down the line.
An example: scanning a church in Kyiv that was built in 1132 took an hour to complete.
Turning this into a story, what if we see a wave of tourists come to the United States and try creating a similar digital catalog of the country’s cultural artifacts.
I believe there’s an urban legend that Asian tourists take so many pictures because they’re taking them back to their country where they can replicate American technology. Well, so that we’re not playing into stereotypes, let’s say that a small Latin American government decides they want to copy US tech.
Let’s make it a fictional country similar to El Salvador. Because they are obsessed with Bitcoin, they want an entire replica of New York City.
The story follows a young immigrant tasked with taking the high-quality scans. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get approved for a visa, so he must cross the border illegally.
Meanwhile, we see the country’s president as he receives the data. He immerses himself in the 3D world using special goggles. Eventually, he comes to prefer augmented reality instead of his own country.
The battle occurs when the immigrant is discovered by federal authorities. They realize that he’s been taking pictures of US tech. He claims they are just pictures, souvenirs.
The president comes out of his augmented reality when he realizes there isn’t more new data coming. Infuriated, he demands more information about the man taking the scans. His underlings, terrified of him, tell him that the immigrant was caught. So the president sends more men, intent on getting more of his digital world built.
Eventually, so many men leave the Latin American country and go North that the government has trouble maintaining its workload at home. Finally, the country is running out of resources, but the president is lost in his digital world.
The story fasts forward, and we see that the president has been left alone. He’s destitute, with long hair, and has hardly anyone left to help him. There’s a revolution outside his door, but he doesn’t care.
He only resists when they take the goggles off his head, pulling him from the digital United States he was enjoying in augmented reality.