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  DigiGardener's Photo Album - History


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Digi's Album:
Aurac - The Winner!
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SFSU Student team meeting in
TheU University Development Center, November 1997

TheU Historical Imagery and Background
You may click on some images to see larger views

Long before Virtual University Architecture Competition was the the original TheU Virtual University project, conceived by Bruce Damer in 1995 as a Contact Consortium project to build a 3D multi-user virtual university campus in Cyberspace to teach a combination of skills about building and living in virtual worlds and their communities, and learning about how to engage in complex collaboration crossing cultural and national boundaries.

Stuart Gold's comprehensive history of TheU is also a great personal memoir of the background to the competition and one architect's pioneering journey into the new realms of Cyberspace.

In late May of 1996 at a workshop in Florence Italy sponsored by Derrick deKherkove of the MCluhan Program of the University of Toronto, a student team brainstormed and designed the first rendition of TheU in the New Towne section of the Contact Consortium's Sherwood Forest Town virtual village at 105N 187E in AlphaWorld, the first community of the brand new Active Worlds platform.

The Fortezzo Di Basso in Florence, birthplace of TheU

Stuart Gold, as his avatar San Marco participated in-world in the original U demonstrations in the Fortezza di Basso on a large screen in front of hundreds of media designers, students and press. Hanging in his life sized avatar on the screen, San Marco said Ciao Italia and had little idea what was in store for him! The students who had built the original U came from the American University at Sophia Antipolis in southern France. They later contributed a white paper on Proposals for the Virtual University. Mark Pesce, who was also teaching at the workshop, wrote an article about TheU.

Bruce flew to London, England after leaving Florence to meet Stuart F2F (face to face) and bring him the good news of TheU. On a roundabout backwards motorway journey, Stuart saw the vision of what TheU could be and said let there be a competition! Stuart, I hope I haven't got it wrong! Just in case he has written his own comprehensive comical cosmic history of TheU. Bruce managed to get a contract signed with Worlds Incorporated for a very own world for the Contact Consortium and TheU was given birth in early July 1996 (by the Creator himself, Protagonist) as one of the very first worlds separate from AlphaWorld. Stuart then set out to construct the basis for the competition, starting with TheU ground zero plaza and beautiful University Development Centre (seen above).

The striking main Teleport Room under the UDC

Aerial view of the UDC and Skyline Viewing Gallery

The UDC, as it became affectionately known, served a a wonderful demonstration of how to build and equip a virtual structure with useful features, including different galleries joined together by bump teleporters, websites ported into the world and represented as images on the walls and uncrowded building yielding a good user experience (a good frame rate). We held competition team meetings at the UDC and I even taught some of my San Francisco State University classes there.

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