Medici University is only 9 weeks old, yet so much has already happened.
A Brief History of MU
We received the 6.5 hectare LEA23 land grant on 1 January '15. The first couple of weeks were spent thinking about what size would be optimal for Learner Studios (back in January we used to call MU community members "Faculty" and "Students," we didn't abandon those archaic titles until Valentine's Day when I expelled all the students, fired all the faculty, and invited everyone back as "Learners."
In those first couple of weeks I thought a lot about what size studio would be big enough for a Learner to explore and create, yet small enough to create density, interaction, and a sort of critical mass. I'd hoped back then to have multi-story spaces. I liked the idea of NSANE's studio being on the 2nd story above KATYPERRYOPOLIS!, or of Neeva's studio being upstairs from Bacon Barista.
I wound up deciding not to go with multistory. Perhaps we should have. I think I lacked confidence that the spaces would be big enough or flexible enough to accomodate a wide range of learners in a wide range of media. And it's also true that many of the RL factors that motivate spaces to have roofs, like rain and theft, don't exist in VR space.
Ze Moo's Rezday Party
Then 11 January, and Ze Moo's 8th rezday party arrived. There was no MU Campus yet, just a few experiments in possible studio space configurations. I had a circle of containers in the center of LEA23 that made about a 1024m2 or larger space and we had the party there.
Agnes Sharple had just discovered a giant Vladimir Putin "mesh head" on SL Marketplace. She bought one, wore it, and proceeded to the party. Then she bought another one as a gift for Vanessa Blaylock. Instead of wearing hers, Vanessa rezzed hers on the ground and scaled it up really large. Something like 32 meters. Then Vanessa went to the Marketplace store Agnes had found and found a Barack Obama mesh head which she bought and rezzed that up also. Then a Katy Perry. So the 3 giant 32-meter heads became the "stage" for Ze Moo's rezday party.
Vanessa rezzed another Katy Perry head, rotated it to be "emerging" from the ground, and rezzed it up to 64 meters. And then the party was over.
When I laid out the MU Campus I wanted to have a few different parcels that could have different Parcel Music. I split the region into 4 equal parcels of just over 1.6 hectares each: MU-Isabella, MU-Eleonora, MU-Dianora & MU-Bia.1
When I terraformed LEA23 to be contiguous with the Borderlines installation by Lemonodo Oh next door at LEA24, I created the Eleonora mountain range, the Eleonora gorge, and down below, the nutrient-rich waters of the Eleonora slough. It seemed only natural to take the giant Putin-Obama-Perry heads still sitting at the center of the region, and drag them up into the Eleonora Gorge to create Mt. Eleonora.
Arguably, Barack Obama and Vladamir Putin are the most powerful men in the world. But Katy Perry has 10.3 million more Twitter Followers than Obama does. Putin doesn't tweet, but he does work out a lot. Letting the 3 of them become Mt. Eleonora only seemed natural. And then I dragged the 64-meter Katy Perry head down into the Bia lowlands where it eventually became the newest dance sensation on the grid, KATYPERRYOPOLIS!
93 Artist's Studios
And then I installed what wound up being 93 artist's studios in 6 "neighborhoods" (Aurelia, Camilla, Maria, Nostradamus, Tullia, Vashti2) We spent most of February recruiting Learners and helping them move into On-campus Studios.
And now it's March and we have a campus full of amazing, and amazingly diverse, artists! Our goals are as diverse as our media. Some are mostly focused on showing what they've already achieved, others on learning new things, others on collaboration, and so on.
I'd hoped that lots of Campus Learners would spontaneously start teaching things, and some have, but that was a lot to expect!
So we've slowly started to offer some classes with the hope that facilitators will step up, or emerge, and I won't wind up having to teach most of them! :D
Pay It Forward
We're all busy! Most peeps have day-jobs, families, and plenty of other commitments. We're uncertain of our abilities. I'm not really qualified to teach 'X'
I really want to encourage everyone to be generous with each other. To be more generous than you have time for. More generous than maybe we've proven ourselves worthy of. To take a leap of faith that the more you put into Medici University, the more you will get out of it.
You might know the teaching hospital slogan that new residents often live by,
Watch One; Do One; Teach One.
Don't know about this procedure? No problem, watch me. Ok, your turn, try it! Want to really make it yours, teach it to someone else.
This approach works every day in teaching hospitals where human life is on the line. Surely it's good enough for sharing knowledge about Photoshop or Blender!
I'm convinced that "learning" something is only the beginning of learning. That "teaching" it, or doing your best to try to, is to "learn" on a deeper and fuller level.
Sugata Mitra believes that you don't even need to know the material you're "teaching." That if you simply provide encouragement to learners, they will teach themselves!
I'm convinced that the more you put into Medici University, the more you will receive. SL is filled with places to show stuff. It's a fine opportunity, but certainly not rare. I hope we have the chance here not just to show but to become. To become part of a community. To build relationships that will last long after someone else is stacking prims at LEA23.
This Magic Moment
I think there is a magical feeling on campus. That we've got something special here. We've got 4 months to make that true. Or make it deeper and richer. I want to encourage you to be the magic!
- Spend more time on campus!
- Paste a Poster on a Kiosk!
- Make stuff!
- Walk around!
- See what other peeps are making!
- Talk to them!
- If they're not in, drop an IM or Notecard!
- Take a class!
- Teach a class!
- Blog about your experiences!
- Add your pix to our Flickr group!
That the MU Campus at LEA23 will turn into a pumpkin on 30 June is true. But what happens between now and then, what experiences, memories, friendships, collaboration, new ideas, revelations, and epiphanies large and small are to be had, that all remains to be written. By you. By me. By all of us.
Be the magic!
MU-Isabella was named after, well, me (gawd, my ego!) MU-Eleonora was named after my mother, Eleonora di Toledo. MU-Dianora was named after Donna Eleonora di Toledo, my beautiful cousin who was murdered by her husband just 5 days before my husband murdered me. And MU-Bia was named after the sister I never met, Bia. Bia died exactly 6 months before I was born. some thought I was a gift from god to make up for Bia's loss. Others believed that I was Bia reincarnated. ↩
Aurelia was the faithful servant in Sarah Dunant's book The Birth of Venus. Camilla was my father's wife after my mother's death. Everyone hated her (for no good reason) and after my father's death my misanthrope brother had her committed. Maria was my sister who died at 17. Although he's better known for his revalations to my cousin Catherine, Queen of France, Nostradamus also gave me some predictions back in 1560, including my own murder. Tullia was a magnificent poet who attended my salon. Depending on your perspective, Vashti was either headstrong and vain, or a proto-feminist. Ultimately Dianora and I were murdered for refusing to be subjugated by patriarchal culture, and it is for that reason that Vashti was banished. ↩