No. 2 • 2020-05-13

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Rebuilding together in Minecraft

With schools, colleges, and universities closed around the world, enterprising students are re-creating their physical institutions and campuses in the virtual environment of Minecraft with astonishing detail.

For those unfamiliar with Minecraft, it is much more than a game… you can build entire worlds with a variety of materials (brick, stone, wood, etc.). The low-resolution “blockiness” is intentional, designed for rapid building and flexibility. Construction is performed meticulously block-by-block, with little or no automation (hence the “craft”). As you can see in the linked video, some are extraordinarily creative in their use of materials to evoke structures in the real world.

Locally, students at U. Penn started PennCraft, which quickly became the most detailed and extensive build of any campus. They also invited Drexel students, who have built a large percentage of our adjacent campus in Minecraft. Those familiar with Drexel will recognize some of the iconic structures on our campus, including the Dragon statue and even the Wawa!

One of the most noteworthy aspects is that these collaborations formed virtually. The students only know others by username in Minecraft and Discord (a chat platform)… they don’t know each other’s real names (which made it interesting for me in reaching out to them). It’s a highly detailed recreation built and organized entirely online by individuals who don’t know one another in the “real” world. Very interesting implications for our current time of isolation and perhaps our long-term future.

My son (12) made the Drexel flyover video.

(Socially) Distant Creations

  • BlockByBlockwest [more Minecraft… :-] A music festival & fundraiser in Minecraft, organized by local band Courier Club. Their first attempt was overloaded by demand within 30 minutes and rescheduled for Sat. May 16 at 3pm.
  • Philadelphia Heroes and New Normal Forum [virtual conference, May 13-14] A forum to share stories, forge connections, and envision the post-crisis reality for our city. I’m particularly interested in the sessions on creative placemaking and equity.
  • #MemorialForUsAll [Jazz at Lincoln Center] A moving New Orleans style tribute, honoring those we’ve lost, led by Wynton Marsalis.
  • Into the House [musical parody… for Broadway nerds like me] I was the Baker in a production of Sondheim’s Into the Woods in 1998. The Narrator & Baker’s Wife from that show, my friends Jake & Cara Yara, created this brilliant reflection on COVID isolation with their enormously talented family. Miss you guys!

What I’m creating

For my spring class, Intro to Entertainment Engineering, I assigned a project to create a photomosaic, a photo composed of a mosaic of photos. I’ve published a demonstration and tutorial with my code online for all to try (no coding experience required). With a little effort, you upload photos and create your own photomosaic.

Try the demo

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