Metauni is a community of scholars in the Metaverse, based on a 3D virtual environment provided by Roblox, location-specific voice chat using Discord and tools such as whiteboards scripted in Lua. Access is possible on PC, Mac, iOS and Android.
Quick start: install Roblox and Discord, join the TRS Discord, message
!register John123 in the
#registration channel where
John123 is your Roblox username, and enter the metauni Hub. See the instructions for more.
Email | Mailing list | YouTube | Roblox rules | Loci | Events
Yet it is not these gifts, nor the most determined ambition combined with irresistible will-power, that enables one to surmount the “invisible yet formidable boundaries” that encircle our universe. Only innocence can surmount them, which mere knowledge doesn’t even take into account, in those moments when we find ourselves able to listen to things, totally and intensely absorbed in child’s play – Alexander Grothendieck
All advertised times are Melbourne time:
- LC001 - Landau-Ginzburg Roblox, TRS Discord voice channel
LC001. Next office hours
TBAon the topics of matrix factorisations, bicategories etc.
- LC002 - Research Agora Roblox, TRS Discord voice channel
LC002. Office hours
- LC003 - Deprecation Roblox, TRS Discord voice channel
LC003. Office hours
See the locus page for more information.
See the events page for past events. To get notifications of upcoming events, subscribe to the mailing list. Beginning in November there will be classes, currently scheduled to take place every Thursday:
- Euclid’s elements led by Kenneth Chan and Daniel Murfet (see the seminar page).
- Technological disruption led by Adam Dorr.
- Something strange led by Daniel Murfet and Lucas Cantor.
- Foundations led by William Troiani and Billy Price.
As a mad experiment we started running metauni events in 2020 due to lockdowns in Melbourne, Australia. To our surprise we found that we actually enjoyed it, especially as compared to events in Zoom. It still isn’t clear to us exactly why it is better, but here are some ideas:
Creative Expression. The ability to manifest your own will, creatively, in a shared space makes it feel real. This feeling of reality buttresses the rest of the experience. Creative acts range from the individual and simple (demonstrating your attention by following the speaker between boards, or saying “thanks” to the speaker by writing it in fancy colours on your personal board) to the social and complex (see the Pillars Incident).
No Video. In Zoom the feeling of co-presence is based on being able to see other people’s faces. This is better than lecturing to a blank screen, but it is also exhausting. In a 3D environment you get a sense of other people paying attention to what is going on, without having to constantly see their faces and your own.
Play is Serious. When unexpected things happen (red bouncy chairs, people abducting you in a floating boat, personal board climbing, etc) and they are fun, it reinforces a sense of shared experience and refills our “I want to be here” tank for a while. It seems that for virtual events to work, this mix of “serious” content and play needs to be carefully managed to keep these tanks nonempty.
I really keenly feel that the 3d world adds a new dimension to the social interaction (since you are fixed in space in Zoom, I guess it actually adds three new dimensions). Just the fact that I can stand next to someone, even without saying a word, is a kind of connection that is really lacking in Zoom. Roblox events feel much more socially natural to me than video calls do (even without video). Imagine an in-person meeting, but instead of being free to move physically, you are strapped into a chair with your head facing forward. All of the other attendees have the same constraints. You proceed to inject your discussion into one another. That’s what Zoom feels like in comparison to Roblox. – a student
Roblox is a utility platform for large-scale 3D social environments (see Baszucki keynote and their SEC S-1 filing). We chose Roblox because of its massive user base and accessibility on a wide array of platforms (43 million daily active users as of early 2021) and user-friendly tooling supported by many tutorials (Roblox Studio). It’s remarkable that you can deploy an attractive 3D world with 100 simultaneous multiplayer users for free, in minutes, from your laptop. While you can make ugly things with Roblox, you can make beautiful things too.
Metauni is inspired by the Free University of Berlin and Lianda.
Current contributors are Daniel Murfet
starsonthars, Billy Price, James Clift and Lucas Cantor
- 14/1/2021 - History start, got Discord integration working, intro video.
- 16/1/2021 - Update with clickable documents, audio plinths and working teleports, another video.
- 16/1/2021 - Quick video on understanding “Publish to Roblox”.
- 17/1/2021 - Rewrote Discord bot to use MongoDB, fixed some bugs, implemented slide presentations (video).
- 17/1/2021 - Implemented popover “fullscreen” GUI for looking at slides, synced to the presenter’s current slide. There is a video demoing this feature as well as recapping the other features.
- 18/1/2021 - How to attend an in-world talk (video)
- 18/1/2021 - Instructions for building your own node to be read in conjunction with this blog post for the database and this one for keep alive (now superceded by Billy’s excellent guide, see below).
- 20/1/2021 - Development update: implemented “gather all” for voice channels (video) and implemented the challenge system, with the first two challenges for the first event
#1A, #1Bsee challenges.
- 20/1/2021 - BP has posted detailed instructions for setting up your own node.
- 26/1/2021 - Over the last week the Discord bot has been rewritten by BP to use HTTP POST rather than a webhook, and now uses the repl.it database rather than MongoDB, among other improvements. This drastically simplifies the setup process, the guide to which has also been rewritten. The Rising Sea node has two new areas “Solar Peak” and the “Well of Past Events”.
- 27/1/2021 - Social media accounts up and running (LC on Instagram, DM on Twitter).
- 31/1/2021 - Added new talk area for Ziling Ye’s event (The Island). This will be final new area construction for a while in TRS.
- 1/2/2021 - Working whiteboards (by JC) and a new talk area (the Music Tower) for Lucas’s event.
- 6/2/2021 - Persistent Weiqi board added (construction video).
- 10/2/2021 - metauni Weiqi board first release on the Roblox Toolbox.
- 11/2/2021 - metauni Whiteboard and Viewer first release on the Roblox Toolbox (created by JC).
- 17/2/2021 - Updated whiteboards, now drawing is visible to new players in a server, significant performance improvements (JC).
- 18/2/2021 - New administration features: kick, ban, control of whiteboard access (use
/?adminto see instructions) (by BP).
- 19/2/2021 - Debut of new logo (by LC).
- 25/2/2021 - First public release of AdminCommands (by BP).
- 1/5/2021 - Updated whiteboards, new replay feature (by JC).
- 16/7/2021 - Public debut of the talking boards and the locus concept.
- 22/7/2021 - Debut of the personal boards and rewritten code for the replay boards (by BP).
Music in the Rising Sea node: