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Building Studios

Brendan | 2023-06-26
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What would it look like to have your own campus, where you could step through a gate and join any class, start any club, explore any question, at any time?

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New Learning Environments

Hyperlink is building infrastructure for collaborative learning.

We started with Spaces — time-bounded containers for talking, working, and exploring things together online. Spaces represent the range of work we care about: creative projects, book clubs, workshops, study groups, and other experiments.

But there was something missing when it came to natural and nourishing ways to involve others in the activity we do in Spaces.

We know we're not alone in wishing for a special kind of internet campus — filled with diverse collaborative spaces and types of work; populated by peers with shared values and energy.

We want to share things we're proud of with friends. We want to work alongside peers who care about our work, people doing inspiring things we can learn from, potential collaborators. We realized that for Spaces to come alive, they should live within intimate, flexible, vibrant social contexts.

We're adding that missing piece with Studios — persistent environments for sharing and talking about constellations of projects with others. Studios form the second layer in Hyperlink's creative learning infrastructure.

These two layers, in scholastic-spatial terms:

Do your work in a Space. Situate your Space in a Studio.

Introducing "Studios"

A virtual campus. A communal bulletin board. An open studio. A shared homepage. A place to do things with your people.

We see Studios as useful environments for creative clubs, team projects, friend groups with shared hobbies, and other communities of practice.

We're also excited about their potential for a new stripe of school.

Ambitious, peer-driven, lightweight institutions. Locally intimate, but part of larger networks that can connect and cross-pollinate. This includes independent schools, alternative schools, and groups or institutions you might not conventionally class as schools at all:

Hex House. Logic School. Future of Coding. Interintellect. Maximum New York. Index. HTML Energy. Recurse Center. Other Internet. Summer of Protocols. Afrotectopia. Orange Tangent Study. Bad Quarto. Reboot. Interact. SFPC. Library Innovation Lab. Lifelong Kindergarten.

Fractal futures of learning — projects gaining energy from those around them — ambitious visions multiplying — small groups doing big things together!

You can try an early version of Studios — sign up for Hyperlink, make a Studio from the header, add Spaces, invite friends.

We'd love to see what you make, and hear ideas for making Studios more fun and useful.

For now, Studios are simple: a bulletin board for shared updates, and a place to explore your friends' Spaces. This will evolve as we learn more from seeing initial Studios in action.

Layers of Learning

Hyperlink supports activity that flows across permeable social layers. The two core layers, Spaces and Studios, work together.

Build supportive communities around your projects to create cycles of progress and learning.

While both Spaces and Studios represent contexts for group activity, we feel it's important that they exist on different levels.

There's value in separation between the environment where you actually do the work and the social context where you share it — in having space to jump outside of your day-to-day creative activity, and focus on higher-signal interactions:

Both these layers should be flexible, adaptable to evolving needs. Together, they should support quick project sprints as well as multifaceted long-term collaborations; detailed critique as well as showing friends some love.

Our job is to build enabling environments that make this possible.

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What would it look like if we each started a school, and knit them all together?

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Example Studio: Internet Homesteading

One Studio we have in mind is a community of people who make creative personal websites. It would start as a small group, with the shared goal of pushing each other to experiment and learn by improving their sites.

Inspired by the Internet Homesteading course Jared taught in Hyperlink's early days, this Studio might sit somewhere between a school and a community of practice. It could encompass facilitated experiences like a course, personal projects, related events like Jared's website tours, and more emergent peer-driven explorations.

Such a Studio might have a variety of sub-groups, projects, and activities, each represented as a Space linked to the Studio:

If other groups of website-makers set up their own Studios, they could link to one another. People could add their personal project Spaces to a variety of Studios. Creative learning networks may begin to form…

The Internet Homesteading Studio hums with activity: projects, groups, clubs, cohorts, co-existing in a shared environment.

Towards Personal Learning Ecosystems

If you're a weird website-wright, this .world of .online .energy is far from your only domain!

We work and learn across many contexts — casual collaborations with friends, local community networks, short-term events, emergent squads, academic institutions.

Our projects range from emergent ideas to works-in-progress to archives. Each with a different set of participants, and a different ideal audience — you may even want to share the same project in different ways to close friends, collaborators, classmates, or colleagues.

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What would it look like to build your own bespoke learning environment?

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It would be idiosyncratic, multi-contextual, evolving…not one school, but the map of your relationships to every topic you care about, every project you're working on, every group you explore things with. A personal ecosystem for all your learning.

Here's an example of what the intersecting ecosystems might look like for three friends-slash-cofounders of a creative learning company:

Learners' ecosystems are complex, nuanced, and fluid!

This is a partial map, but you can see a mix of personal and collaborative projects, connecting across a variety of shared social environments.

It doesn't require a lot of upfront structure — I can make Spaces, add them to Studios later, and share things in different ways. These Spaces and Studios can start small and simple, and grow as needed.

Each learner's map or web will look different — a unique composite of contexts and interests and communities. Each learner can plug into any number of different networks — but with their own goals and values always at the center.

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What would it look like to care deeply about the things we make, be vulnerable with friends, and push each other to live up to our full creative potential?

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Studios as Seeds

Our goal is to make it easier for you to do meaningful work (Spaces), together with the right people (Studios), to cultivate great ecosystems of creativity and learning.

Anyone can make a school, if you care deeply about something, invite others in, and take it seriously together.

We invite you to play with Hyperlink, think about a Studio you'd like to exist, try planting some seeds.

We can't wait to see the spaces and communities you grow.