This week, we’re writing about social environments for flexible learning — specifically, our vision for Hyperspace, a new thing we’re building!
You can view this post online in the Hyperlink Library here: Towards Hyperspace
You can also read the full post below. But that link ^ is great for sharing :)
How do we learn with others on the internet? And where?
How can we share space for learning; build and inhabit it together?
As internet learning matures, we’re collectively rediscovering some simple truths, like:
Learning is better with people.
We’ve tried so many tools and contexts for learning — video calls, forums, chat apps and more. All are useful; none feel like Hyperlink. All feel like powerful tools; none feel like home.
We’ve reached the conclusion that we need better social environments for learning.
Learning online happens in a mix of different spaces and contexts.
All kinds of content exists in videos, books, websites, courses free and paid, sometimes with ancillary social channels — comment sections; email exchanges with the author.
Learning cohorts often conduct live meetings via video calls (Zoom), and continue conversations with asynchronous forum discussion (Discourse), as well as chat (Discord) and collaborative tools (Google; Figma).
Independent, self-driven learning happens…well, fragmented across the internet! Calls with friends, ad hoc learning groups, personal notes in knowledge management apps, private chats, and so on.
Sometimes the above contexts work quite well. But often, important qualities are hard to find:
To fill this gap; to address these missing pieces…
We’re building something we call Hyperspace.
We can start by giving many short answers:
Website. Tool. Place. Database. Medium. Massively multiplayer note-taking app. Social network. Internet university.
Above all, Hyperspace is a space for learning.
You can use it to organize and structure your own learning, and to connect it to others’. You can use it to represent all sorts of things — notes, events, books, chats, questions, ideas, groups, workshops — the many materials of learning.
You can connect all these things together, creating a rich social and informational environment to explore things together.
Hyperspace is intended to bridge the gaps between solo and group learning; between learning that’s exploratory and learning that’s directed at specific goals:
Hyperspace is for the messy in between — learning that’s open, collaborative, multi-modal, and flexible.
Effective learning blends self-directed exploration with social interaction.
It builds from individual experiences, and at the same time, benefits from other people. You want to blaze your own trails, and adapt as you go — but you also want to share your work, get feedback, and collaborate. Having access to a wider network makes it more likely that you can find the people best able to connect to your specific context.
To balance these needs, we need learning spaces that stay flexible.
We need a platform that is both scalable and specific. We can’t hard code all the different structures and interactions that people may find useful for learning. Instead, we must give learners ways to combine things in ways that help achieve their goals.
People connect in many different ways, over a range of temporal modes, from being together live, to reading someone’s writing years after they wrote it.
If you want to support the full spectrum of social structures people need, you need to support multiple timescales.
In Hyperspace there are (roughly) three:
All of these things are centered around the same basic entity, a document or “space”, and can co-exist in that space. So a single space can support slowly growing content, frequent updates in the log, and synchronous voice calls.
Learning is about more than just collecting information. You have to do something with that information. Hyperspace is a tool for not just gathering information, but engaging with it in structured ways.
So, too, with social relationships. Communities aren’t just places to collect people. People have to do things together. Hyperspace is a tool for people to intentionally engage with each other.
By engaging with people in different ways, across different timescales, we can gradually build trust and allow for the growth of collaborative relationships.
We can start with exploratory tinkering, and direct our learning towards specific goals, whether personal or together with others. By aligning around shared goals, we learn in more powerful ways.
Too often, learning online doesn’t really happen anywhere.
In the same way a cafe can serve as a third space, outside of home and work environments, Hyperspace is a specific destination for learning that’s rewarding to return to.
It’s designed to radiate good vibes, cultivate a welcoming atmosphere, and invite you to stay a while.
It’s also meant to feel like a place to make your own — a workshop, library, and laboratory where you can not only browse but build.
Hyperspace is in development, and we’re gearing up for a semi-public alpha.
We’re beginning to shape some general Hyperlink spaces, and use it as a playground for our own learning. And we’re about to start inviting others in to test and play around with us.
In the coming weeks, we’ll share more details and open Hyperspace for use for events, courses, learning clubs, and further beta testing.
If you’re the early adopter type and this vision speaks to you, let us know!
—The Hyperlink Team