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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Betaville | BxmC

Check this out....open source?  What will that mean?


Betaville is an open-source multiplayer environment for real cities, in which ideas for new works of public art, architecture, urban design, and development can be shared, discussed, tweaked, and brought to maturity in context, and with the kind of broad participation people take for granted in open source software development...
The Betaville platform is designed to be deployable by individuals, small groups (say, a project class or a neighborhood association), all the way up to professional design firms and planning offices of major cities: any group that is serious about offering a proposal in the spirit of a programmer's RFC (request for comment). In this case, the proposal takes the form of a 3D model set in a "mirror world" of the local context, with a built-in discussion forum, and provision for multiple iterations... the environment can accept models from authoring tools as simple as Google Sketchup, or as elaborate as Autodesk Maya. Anyone with access to a web browser can contribute, and every contribution remains accessible.
In other words, the future of a street corner, a blank wall, a vacant lot, or an entire city can now be tinkered with on an ongoing basis at negligible cost by the full spectrum of subject matter experts: the people who know what it's like to live there now, the people who know how to make new things happen... and people with great ideas to share, anywhere in the world, whenever they can and care to.
In essence, we set out to create an effective platform for the parts of the design and planning process where it has become practical for broad participation and engagement to be most effective: as a matter of course and in a spirit of creative collaboration in the timesbetween and before the formal/professional/really expensive design development process kicks in.
Skills developed (and the associated hardware and infrastructure) through things like online games and trip planning during leisure time as entertainment can be leveraged as skills for creative expression and social empowerment of the students and their own communities, embedded in and serving local issues and desires.
A screenshot of the Betaville interface, showing one of several versions of a (very) ambitious concept for extending the tip of Manhattan with an expanded park including new kinds of sustainable mixed-use developments, with green roofs that are actually part of the park...
With that in mind, the Betaville Research and Development Group has been brought together to combine expertise in integrated media development. The Brooklyn Experimental Media Center  and the Media 2 Culture program of the Hochschule Bremen, Germany will lead the technical development. Partners include the Municipal Art Society of New York City, the Public Art Fund, the Museum of the Moving Image, and Poly research faculty in the departments of Civil Engineering, Computer Science, and Electrical and Computrer Engineering. We're happy to announce that we also have the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, through its Cultural Innovation Fund.
Betaville will develop a robust infrastructure and two well-designed and rigorously assessed demonstration projects, for the cities of New York and Bremen. Thanks to decades of prior open-source development work by third parties oriented to specific aspects of the necessary software, and to our own initial work on proofs-of-concept and prototypes, the research group is confident that it will be ready to launch a robust "public beta" demonstration project by April 2010. In the longer term, Betaville is to be a cornerstone development project for the Brooklyn Experimental Media Center, and a focus for its ongoing development of new working partnerships locally and globally.
Betaville can ultimately seed a transformation in the working relationships between planners and designers and the communities they serve; better integration of tools and social and cultural initiatives in the minds of students, and better integration of the skills they acquire in formal and informal settings; through the regular use to open-source tools, access to underlying technology, providing opportunity and incentive to develop skills and interest in computing; integration of computing, creative disciplines, civic engagement, and entertainment interests of students, leading to broader and more effective participation in and of computing AS a creative discipline whose capabilities and effects will soon be in the hands of people whose skills, interests, and expectations are now in development.
The Betaville prototype is now running smoothly, and we're ready to collaborate with some motivated early adopters. If you'd like to get involved, please get in touch.
Every living city is in Beta. Let's Play.
If you'd like to try Betaville
This link will launch a webstart application, and install the required files on your computer, for a Betaville of lower Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn. We're going to be putting a wormhole in Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza, which will take you to a similar location in Bremen, Germany...Stay tuned!
If you're a developer
This link will take you to the Betaville Bugzilla, and give you some idea of the state of Betaville itself; if you're curious about the underlying technology, that's jMonkey.
If you'd like to get in on the discussion about Betaville's future
This will take you to the Betaville general forum page.
Contact: Carl Skelton, Director
BxmC (Brooklyn Experimental Media Center)
RH 209, Six MetroTech Center
Brooklyn NY 11201
(718) 260-4018
A view up State Street from Battery Park, towards Battery Place... in Betaville, you can get a real sense of what the physical location is like from a human perspective. When models of new proposals are loaded, you can also get a real sense of what their impact might be... and get in on the discussion while it's still and open question.
Carl Skelton
Skye Book
Levis Reyes
Caroline Bouchat
David Turnbull
Joel Wein
Martin Koplin
Helmut Eirund
Diane Ludin
Thorsten Teschke
Rikard Lundstedt
Mark Skwarek
Matt Becker
Joe Fattorini
Edgar Ramirez
Arunram Kalaiselvan
Ashwin Ramish
Rahul Rao
Jonas Panten
Robert Brauer
Karl Bode
Joschka Zimdars
Peter Schulz
Janna Heins
Sebastian Scheinert
Arne von Ohsen
Robert Brauer
Eugene Grybenko
Ram Kumar Balachandran Sreelatha
Sreshta Suresh
Anand Chandrasekaran


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