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The Prologue...

Long, long ago in a world far away...a building, well, a 'virtual building', takes shape. After many laborious hours of painstaking work and after re-building his beloved creation for the tenth time, San Marco considers that maybe he should have stuck to real architecture, at least as an architect he didn't construct buildings himself, he just designed them!

A few days later....a poor myopic traveller happens upon this pile of virtual bricks...

DigiGardener: Very nice site in Alphaworld!
San Marco: Thanks, although I don't think its all that great. I am actually an architect though you wouldn't know it! But wait! this voice from afar talks of a strange land...a place called Sherwood Towne where there are many avatars who live and build together.

Hear Ye! all AlphaWorld Community Builders! We will be meeting at Sherwood planning and building a Forest to begin real cyberspace community! A firsttime ever (as far as we know) experience!

WHEN: Sunday March 24, 1996 starting at 12:00 noon Pacific Standard Time,
(9pm GMT)
we will interact for about 2 hours

An experiment in multi-avatar community, to construct both our buildings and our culture!
A fun-filled day including:
o A tour of the site:
a lovely natural setting of woods, lakes, bordered by an ancient
aqueduct left over by our long fallen cyber ancestors.

o Discussion of the content and layout of the town:
planned and unplanned sections: huts, gardens, parks, the building
supplies yard, the dump.. what does a town need? should it be Robin Hood's camp or a real village?

o Discussion of the culture of the community:
town charter, roles: Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham, do we need a village idiot? What should be in a town charter?

o Lets build something together!
** Using the common Avatar DigiGardener **
Suggestions so far: a rough hewn encampment (primordial human settlement), a ChaoticCastle, a XanaduPalace (send us your suggestions!)

We will report on all of this on the web site and post screen shot pictures of our activities.

DigiGardener: Oh by the way San Marco, we are getting ready to build Sherwood towne and could use the skills of a trained architect, would you be interested?

San Marco checks his calendar to make sure it isn't April 1st and that he's not booked up for the next two years or so....

San Marco: Sounds a great idea Digi! I'm a bit short of time at the minute. How about if I just stand there and offer advice - preferably while watching over the rim of a warm full teacup?

DigiGardener: Ok San Marco, one thought then, as an architect, you could give us constructive feedback about the design of our structures and community. You could fly over the site as a kind of inspecteur of aesthetic and function. You could be a pioneer.. the first virtual community building and planning inspector!

San Marco: Well....uhmmm...

DigiGardener: Great San Marco, thank you for your offer, you are hereby officially made Sherwood Towne Architect, welcome! You can start immediately by looking at our web site under: and following the Visit link to Hot Sites and looking at some of the buildings people put up on wednesday.

San Marco collects his thoughts.... A group of avatars that don't exist in reality, designing and constructing a town that won't actually exist in the strictest sense, in a non-existent world......interesting.

"So they want an article" thought San Marco, quickly jumping into the bath to come up with some ideas. After a brief cry of "Eureka" (and a quick wash) he puts figurative pen to figurative paper.

DigiGardener: Good idea San Marco, yes, a monthly column would be wonderful! We would link it into both our Towne Crier monthly newspaper and our Sherwood Guide and Towne Planning sections! We would be happy to support you in this!

And.. there is plenty of space in the New Towne and Chaosville areas for an architectural center.

After pondering this for two months, San Marco immediately got to work and produced Sherwood Towne's first (and only) Architectural Bulletins.

Birth of TheU Competition
This is a story of the birth of an idea and one avatar's long road to the virtual bottle...
We continue our journey in a car travelling on a lonely highway one evening in June 1996. The occupants are on their way home.... San Marco is driving south on the M3 away from London (and home) and...uhmm basically, in completely the wrong direction. DigiGardener hasn't noticed - but then why should he? - he's Canadian. Unruffled (and unaware) Digi is excitedly filling San Marco in on one of his new projects - TheU - A virtual University (See Footnote 1). To cover up his embarrassment and to put off the moment when he'll have to inform Digi that the next exit which will take them back in the right direction is many miles away, San Marco desperately searches for an idea to divert Digi's attention for the next 20 miles.

Reaching into the depths of his consciousness and summing up all the experience in his many years of searching for ideas and summing up experiences, he ventures tentatively...." about a competition to design TheU! :o)". Okay, not a very big idea at the time I grant you but it was enough, he thought, to keep Digi from noticing that the exit which would take them back in the right direction was still all of 19.85 miles away.

Digi, like a dog with a bone, shakes the idea around, chews it over and with 19.75 miles still to go, exclaims... "Great idea San - what are you doing for the next two years? Oh...and by the way I don't know whether you noticed but we seem to he going in completely the wrong direction."

So began the interminable sleepless nights, thousands of e-mails, an extra 20 hours of work per week (on top of the day job), purchase of a new road atlas to ensure this kind of thing never happens again...oh and most importantly, loads of fun.


1. Folklore has it that the idea of TheU was originally conceived by an avatar called Johanna (apparently in a weak moment and evidently one of complete abandon). Johanna was a close friend of Digigardener and one of the founders of Sherwood Towne.

2. Actually just before the 'incident' on the M3, DigiGardener had been involved in brainstorming the prototype of TheU.

3. (Editor's footnote) The Do's and don'ts of creating a web site in one weekend:

Do add extra caffeine to your coffee
Don't take sleeping tabs
Don't blink for more than one second or sleep might set in
Don't create your own graphics
Don't ask anyone to prooof thhe dra%ft
Do ask the kids to make loads of noise to keep you awake
Don't do it on a weekend when those boring Rinklehof's are coming to tea (or maybe Do?)

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