Sphere College Project

A New World of Learning


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New Space—Painting Party!

The Sphere College Project will be moving its classes into Local Sphere, a shop opening at 12 S. Main Street in Phoenixville. The shop will stock shelf-stable goods from local vendors in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and will have workshop/classroom space. Jesse Antonini, the store manager, will be hosting a painting party in the space starting at 1pm this Saturday, August 25. If you’re in the Phoenixville area, go join in, meet people. If you don’t want to paint, maybe bring some food or drink for those who do, or just drop in and say hello!

Here’s the link to the Facebook event: The Sphere College Project will be moving its classes into Local Sphere, a shop opening at 12 S. Main Street in Phoenixville! The shop will stock shelf-stable goods from local vendors in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and will have workshop/classroom space. Jesse Antonini, the store manager, will be hosting a painting party in the space starting at 1pm this Saturday, August 25. If you’re in the Phoenixville area, go join in, meet people. If you don’t want to paint, maybe bring some food or drink for those who do, or just drop in and say hello!

Here’s the link to the Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/216482335148274/


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The 2011 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

The Sphere College Entry for the 2011 Buckminster Fuller Challenge is now available online, along with all the other entries. Please take a moment to visit the site! (Make sure to click on “Read More”.)

From the Buckminster Fuller Institute website:

“The IDEA INDEX 1.0 is a searchable database of incredible ideas submitted by design pioneers and social innovators from all over the world”, commented Elizabeth Thompson, BFI’s Executive Director. “One project wins the Challenge, but many of the entries are very worthy of support and attention. It is our hope that in publishing this work on-line, we can develop interest in, and support for comprehensive approaches to addressing our critical issues.”


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What Exactly Is Sphere College?

I gave a talk about Sphere College on Monday at AT&T Labs-Research in Florham Park, New Jersey. The talk seemed to go rather well, and I had some excellent followup conversations afterward, some of which are ongoing via email. One reason we connect with others in this was is because the questions we get help us continue to develop our own ability to convey our ideas to others. During these conversations it became more clear to me precisely what, to my mind, Sphere College really is. In a nutshell…

The system I envision here is of a self-organizing system in which it is not possible for any of the entities—faculty/staff/students, current and future—has sufficient knowledge of the complete system to fully design it beforehand. Human experience is simply too heterogeneous. This implies that the implementation must be discovered on the fly. Communication among the entities begins with rather low fidelity (in the sense of accuracy of reproduction of a signal to its source), complicating the problem. However, the fidelity increases manyfold as the system matures. At all times a sufficient infrastructure must be present to ensure progress toward the common goal, embodied in our mission statement (which was written by the students under my guidance). The function of some of the entities—a minimal number—is to maintain the integrity of the infrastructure. I posit that this system is optimal.

Granted, there are many people to whom the above is not going to make a lot of sense, but think about it while we work on other ways to convey the concept of Sphere College. In the Steering Committee we have been discussing a nice metaphor. More on that at another time.


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Thank You!!!

Another short, sweet post, but probably one of the most important…

I’m sitting here in Steel City Coffeehouse writing thank you notes to the people who have contributed funds to support the College. It’s long overdue—frankly, I must admit that I felt as though there were more important things to do. I now realize how wrong I was. And much like solving a very, very difficult problem in mathematics, it’s always obvious once you know the answer!

I must say that the feeling I’m getting from writing these notes is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. It’s almost overpowering when it’s done from a really genuine place. In fact, as I write I realize that I’ve actually been avoiding writing these notes because I was afraid of the unfamiliar feelings I would get from truly saying “Thank You” to the people who are supporting the achievement of dreams—not just mine, but those of the faculty and students of Sphere College. Let me just say to you that it feels very good to say “Thank You”, and I highly recommend it. And it’s not just for financial contributions. It’s for any form of support, including reading this blog. So…

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!

I’m pretty sure I’ll be making a habit of this. Ta ta for now. It’s time for me to get back to writing!


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It’s Here!

Tonight we celebrate one year of classes of Sphere College!

My, how time flies! We’ve come a long way, but we must keep our nose to the grindstone. Good things come to he who waits, but the waiting is the hardest part. Oh, I could go on and on listing clichés now, particularly with the help of websites that list clichés. But what we’re doing is trying to create new human experiences—the feeling of being deeply connected with one another. It will be a good day when this feeling is worthy of cliché. I do hope you’ll join us tonight and we can work on establishing the connected feeling that, in my humble opinion, is all too rare.

What exactly is it that we’re celebrating? Well, this is a milestone on a journey into something that truly has never been accomplished before. And trust me, as good of an idea it is to provide free, high-quality education to adults, it’s a seemingly impossible task to many people—particularly to many of the very people who truly have the means to make it happen! It’s surprisingly easy for us to believe that as a world society have already done it all—climbed mount everest, conquered all the lands, explored space, created all kinds of artistic expression, established that we can completely destroy the earth. Is there anything left to do?

Of course! And you know what it is: to bring people together to really communicate with each other. To learn how to be patient with one another, to understand that we all see the world in radically different ways and that instead of living in conflict and trying to get each other to see things our way (because we’re so convinced that our way of looking at the world is the right way) we can learn to experience the world through all the senses of another. If I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that there are many, many other worlds out there to explore—our complex, beautiful, scary, wonderful world as experienced by other people—and that doing so opens us up to extraordinary experiences.

So please join us tonight, Tuesday, April 20 at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville for the Sphere College First Anniversary Celebration. We’ll have a reception at 6pm, a presentation at 7pm, the Sphere College Short Film Contest screening at 7:30, and the fantastic feature film, Living in Oblivion, a self-referential comedy with excellent acting about independent filmmaking, at 8pm. Come talk to the students about their experiences—what we’ve been doing and learning together. And find out what we hope to accomplish in the future.

Whether or not you are able to join us in person for the celebration tonight, and I know there are many who will be there in spirit, I invite you in whatever way you can to become a part our journey to chart the truly unknown territory of bringing humanity closer together.