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 [WhitePaper] - Galactic Museum – An Unidentified Bright Gem - Ruben Wan

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PostSubject: [WhitePaper] - Galactic Museum – An Unidentified Bright Gem - Ruben Wan   Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:31 am

Abstract

The Galactic Museum of Technology is a cultural landmark in this galaxy, yet it has received little attention during over one year and a half of its existence.
After a visit to review what the museum actually is, and interviews to understand how it is perceived, we analyse the aims of the original project and the problems and issues connected to it. Our conclusions and proposed solutions encompass a call for awareness in the galactic population at large.

Introduction

When the opening of the Galactic Museum of Technology (hereinafter called “GM”) was announced to the galaxy, expectations were high and many people welcomed this novelty as a big cultural push for the knowledge of all sentient beings.
However, after more than five hundred days little has been written and not much has been reported about this “galactic wonder.” This situation makes it very difficult to estimate the real impact of the GM on the cultural life of this galaxy.

In this paper, the first part of our discussion answers the question “What is the current state of the GM?” in order to understand its potentialities. The second part will answer the question “How was the making of this project possible?” to weight the actual efforts in terms of financial costs, sentient resources, and organisation. The third part deals with the question “How is the GM perceived in the galaxy?”. In the fourth part we are going to discuss different perspectives on the scope of the GM. Lastly, we state the problems affecting the GM and conclude by proposing solutions.

What is the current state of the GM?

The idea of a galactic-wide museum originated from the New Republic (NR) Academy as a cultural project of the NR. At that time the NR was under the Aioko’s administration and Taka Aioko had supported another cultural project in the past, the Map Library. The political conditions were therefore suitable in the NR to start such a big and expensive project.

The location of the museum was chosen based on specific requirements such as starport network accessibility, proximity to high-traffic space routes, special reasons (e.g., historical reasons or productions centres for droids and vehicles). After investigations and analyses, Tyrius system was selected among several other systems: the planet Rodia was a central node in the public shuttle network, the system was halfway from many other highly-populated star systems, and the NR Academy was already there. The fact of having the GM near the Academy would have added importance to the concept of Tyrius as a cultural hub in the galaxy.

The first space station meant to house the collections was finished on Day 223 of Year 13, and many ships, vehicles, and droids were moved there, most of them being already a property of the NR government. However, the many entities filled up all the room available and it was clear that something bigger, really bigger would have been necessary.

The new unique space station hosting the current collections was devised to be simple but spacious. Completed on Day 15 of Year 14, the hangar and docking bays are made of expandable modules, while the droids are displayed along an obliged path of several rooms. Currently, the droids occupy only one floor of the central shaft, and turbolifts connect it directly to the hangar and docking bays.

Droids are divided into six rooms and are grouped based on class and purpose. The names of the rooms are related to the main characteristics of the droids, and a Docent of the NR Academy specialised in that field or droid class is always ready to answer  the visitors’ questions or to give short lectures on particular subjects. As an example, while talking with the droids’ experts visitors can also learn how to assemble a droid themselves or be led to ponder ethical hypotheses on the droids as living beings.

Docents are knowledgeable also in historic and current issues linked to the evolution of droids, and it becomes apparent how the different personalities of the Docents mirror somehow their field of knowledge.

During our visit through the droids’ rooms we managed to sneak past the security officers and peek inside the Maintenance Room. There, some disassembled droids were scattered and, hidden behind a crate, a technician was repairing one automaton. Talking with him was not very easy at first, but after a while we earned his trust and he gave us some good insight on the world of droids that not even the Docents were able to consider.

The path through the droids’ rooms ends in the Conference Room. This is a very large room, and lectures are scheduled continuously. Here we met three Docents and followed their lectures on the history of weapons, defense systems, and sensor and communications technology. These lectures are general in scope, and what is explained applies to every entity in the museum, be it a ship, a vehicle, or a droid. This room can also be hired for other events and lectures.

The next room along the path is the Multipurpose Room. As the name implies, this space can be used in different ways, upon request from anyone.
The tour continues with the Library. The wealth of information contained here encompasses millennia of discoveries in technology. Visitors who want to buy texts or datapads are gently referred to the library shop in the Lounge. No commercial products can be bought in the Library, not even electronic postcards and souvenirs. These sort of things are all available in the Lounge, however.

Exiting the Library and before entering the Lounge visitors pass through the Restaurant. The Restaurant is not only a place where to take some rest and taste an excellent cooking, but also a place where good music can be played and listened to. The “music corner” can host solo or ensemble concerts, and the restaurant has retractable walls for those who want to eat in complete silence.
During the year cooking as well as music contests and fairs may be organised. Should the restaurant space not be enough, the Multipurpose Room may be used, too.

The Lounge is filled with cafés, shops, communications terminals and other facilities. Here the turbolifts go down to the hangar bay and up to the docking bay. Turbolifts could go to other floors and rooms, but they are not open to the public. The restricted areas are mainly facilities for long-term stays and staff apartments. Visitors do have the possibility to rent a room in a hotel for a short period, should their visit span a few days.

The Docking Bay houses nearly one hundred forty ships divided into four main categories and thirteen subcategories. Given the high number of entities in the galaxy, not many collections are complete, but there are some historical gems and many rare ships that are open to the public. For many visitors, they are the only accessible samples they can see in their lifetimes.

As a matter of fact, many ships are open for the visitors to explore the environment inside. When a ship cannot be entered it usually means that either it is too small (i.e., fighter) or the owner has not given permission to let people in.  

Each ship is accompanied with a data sheet with dates of manufacture and acquisition, name of past owner or donor, as well as a description or history of the entity. Some information is missing for the oldest ships, but this adds to the feeling of being in front of a piece of history.
Some ships were donated by private sentients, while other were produced specifically for the GM after negotiations with the manufacturers.

Looking at the data sheets it becomes apparent that many entities originate from the NR or their nationalised companies, nonetheless a number of them has been acquired from many other individuals, companies and governments, not always on the same side as the NR. We’ll see that this is an important detail later in the paper.  

We do not want to influence anyone by indicating what entity is the most important piece exhibited; such opinions are quite subjective, and we want to keep an objective stand. Nonetheless, the fact of entering a Star Galleon-class Frigate that dates back to the early documented history of the galaxy, that was formerly an Imperial ship, then passed in pirates’ hands and eventually ended up to be owned by a republican government, this is surely a striking experience for almost any sentient being.

In the Docking Bay we met three Docents: each one of them was specialised in a main category such as capital ships, freighters, and fighters. There were also two more Docents whose domains were space technology and weaponry. Talking to them revealed many aspects of a ship that often go unnoticed.

As for the vehicles, there are about one hundred eighty of them, divided into four main categories.  
Some vehicles are on loan, mostly podracers. Also, visitors can explore only the largest ones, such as barges, boats, or ground vehicles. Riding speeders is not allowed, but driving simulators are available for those who want to feel the thrill of speed.

Four Docents are available in the Hangar Bay. They can enlighten visitors about mechanic issues and variants, or explain more in details why sentient beings have felt the need to use a variety of definitions for the same type of vehicles, or else why podracing is so popular.

From the Lounge visitors go back to the Entrance. The inflow and outflow are separated, of course, but visitors can head to the cloackroom, information desk or to the reception area at any time if they want to.

From this starting point, the current state of the GM, we moved to look for information about the actual efforts taken to set up such a large project.

How was the making of this project possible?

After visiting the museum, we wondered how all that was made possible. We must admit that there are no records of the whole work, and we managed to collect data exclusively from personal memories of those involved in the project.

The standard logistics aimed at moving entities from accessible worlds. Most of them were carried out by Corellian Transport Services (a nationalised company of the NR), while some were commissioned to neutral transport groups such as Freelance Alliance and SYT Transport. Not all attempts to collect entities were successful.

Several entities in enemy territory and under shields were retrieved by two people who volunteered to risk their lives. In a very limited number of cases, explaining that the entities were destined for the GM opened doors that were tightly closed.
A rough estimate of the people involved in the logistic aspect of the project sums up to 35-40 people. The whole logistics took half a year to complete.

In order to refine the pedagogical and rhetorical skills of the selected experts, the Docents were required to attend a training program. The course took one year, with the initial months spent to research the material already available, and the following months spent for practical activities to become proficient in giving the most information in the most interesting way for the listeners.

The costs of the GM project were beyond three billion credits. Reportedly, the NR Academy allocated a budget of over three hundred millions monthly to buy the rarest entities. Costs included new acquisitions, logistics, production fees in factories or shipyards, and custom paintings.

If we take into consideration the communication exchanged with traders, ambassadors, company CEOs of specific datacards, and foreign governmental key figures, the number of people involved raises rapidly and approaches a good estimate of two hundred people.

The Academy Headmaster was in charge of keeping the records of all cash flows as well as logistic and production needs. He also kept contact with the galactic top authorities to guarantee the safety and neutrality of the area. Negotiations to allies and other governments were delegated to the High Ambassador and the Republic Diplomacy Corps. The NR Chief of State and Ministry of State supervised the decision-making process. Therefore, we can conclude that four people alone had the whole vision of the project.

How is the GM perceived in the galaxy?

The next step of our analysis was to ask the people what their thoughts about the GM were. Many positive answers came from NR citizens. Not all of them had gone there to visit it, but nonetheless they believed it was a good thing. Those who visited the GM reported enthusiastic feelings, but for different experiences: some were mesmerised by the wealth of the technology, some others just browsed around but didn’t talk to the Docents or explored the ships, some others restricted their visit to the areas of their own interest, ignoring all the rest.
A few people replied to have never been there, though they always wanted to check it out.
The ones who said they were not planning to go visit the GM were mainly the ones opposing the NR. They were afraid of being arrested on the spot. And this is a crucial point in our analysis. The perception at galactic level is still that the GM belongs to a government, specifically the NR. But is it really so?

What is the aim and scope of the GM?

To reply to this question, we have retrieved the recordings of the public press release by the NR Minister of State (MoS) announcing the opening of the GM, which was held on Year 14 Day 97. The declared aim of the GM was to serve as a source of knowledge about past and present technology, allowing researchers and fans of technology to expand their understanding. Also, when asked whether the GM would have been available to all sentients, and not a Republican exclusive good, the MoS replied it was the NR highest aim. Despite the NR put a great amount of resources into the project, the NR resigned its sovereign power on the station and delegated the security and freedom of any visitor to an independent third party, that is a Council composed of the highest galactic authorities not associated with the New Republic or any other government.

An enlightening reply gives a new depth to the actual aims of such a big project. “I believe that dreams are important in this life, and that sentients are created to express their dreams, and the bigger they are, the better.”, said the MoS to the journalists.

Further aims can be inferred by the future plans stated during the press release. “If the Museum project appeals to the Galaxy, we are also considering expanding to other kinds of technology, such as personal weapons, survival gear, and communications technology. In addition to all of this, we do hope that this project will add a new drive in this galaxy, and a common goal for many to achieve.” and “Sentient beings can contribute in many different ways, if they want to become a part of this creative project. The space station is very big, so there is plenty of room for everyone."

All the above is the official vision of the role of the GM in the galaxy’s life.

Problem Statement

Notwithstanding the time and efforts spent to set up the GM, as well as to broaden the richness of entities and activities offered, we believe that there is a lack of awareness in the galactic population on the GM as an opportunity to exploit.

As a matter of fact, none of the galactic information agencies – as well as universities and academies – have ever focused on the GM with further articles and different perspectives. It is true that the Scholars Guild did call for papers on this subject on the very same day of the GM announcement, however that call has still been ignored despite the allocation of a monetary reward.

Also, other than the NR itself, no organisation has taken advantage of this landmark to host events or important ceremonies. Actually, there has been an attempt to use the GM for a galactic event – here we are referring to the Grand Galaxy Tour – but it never took place because the organisers went bankrupt and, after that unique attempt, no more parties asked to use the GM for special events.

As for the wish of the NR MoS to receive creative contributions from sentient beings to expand the GM in unforeseen ways, no one has come forth with new ideas and proposals, or has taken an active part in the project to leave his or her personal mark for the next generations to admire.

On another note, the GM stop along the galactic transport network assured an increase in the number of visits. However, that stop was removed for inexplicable reasons after about 226 of active service (from Day 176 of Year 14 to around Day 37 of Year 15). Pointing out this issue to the Council of the highest galactic authorities who control the GM gave no results. It is still very difficult to understand if the issue will be solved, and when.

Another issue we noted is that the GM holosite is apparently not updated, at least for the Governance data. In fact, the Minister of State and the High Ambassador have changed after the recent Chief of State elections.

Lastly, the GM has been planned to exhibit also all technological items produced in the galaxy. However, if the galactic population doesn’t show its interest in a cultural project like this, it will be difficult for the GM to continue on its planned expansion.

The potentialities of the GM are enormous. Yet, there is seemingly a general lack of interest.
It is now time to draw our conclusions on what has been analysed – as objectively as possible – so far.

Conclusions

In the first place, we were positively impressed by our visit to the GM, although some conversations with the Docents ended too abruptly for our tastes. Overall, the number of entities and the fact of being able to enter them has given us a sense of vastness and possibility.
The whole collection, albeit not complete, can surely be defined as the largest collection in the whole galaxy. More entities are added from time to time, with some of the rarest being acquired, and this is evidence that the project is still alive and taken care of.

However, many descriptions in the data sheets were too short. This could depend on the fact that there is an objective difficulty to trace back the past owners or manufactures, and collecting information is almost impossible. A possible solution could be to give general information relevant to that type of entity, or to add blueprints or technical specifications that may be of interest to visitors.

As for the holosite update, this may not be an urgent matter, but since the Artifact Recovery Office details are outdated, this could lead would-be sellers, donors, and loaners to contact the wrong people. Therefore, this could damage the NR image as a reliable party in the negotiation. In our opinion, updating the information would be a little effort in exchange for a greater benefit to the common perception of the GM at galactic level.

With regards to the direct connection of the GM to the galactic-wide shuttle network, we understand that this issue eludes the NR sphere of action, and responsibilities lie elsewhere, but it is still unclear why such an useful option has been suspended, if not forgotten completely. If the NR alone has not enough weight to have this issue solved promptly, perhaps a galactic-wide petition could change the odds in the GM’s favour. If the same would-be visitors ask for such a service to be re-implemented, the controlling Council might be more willing to satisfy their demands.

In the second place, we believe that the GM problems may originate from the wrong perception that the GM is not a neutral entity.
Now, it is true that the NR invested billions of credits and employed dozens of people, so the galaxy must be grateful to the NR for its existence, but could things have gone differently?
If we take into consideration what has been necessary for the project, we can speculate that only a few governments had the financial, sentientarian, and political capacities to set up a GM-like project.

At that time the galactic economy was much richer than today’s, however three billion credits was a significant amount even for the standards of the time. With the credits spent on the GM project, one could have bought three highly populated planets and possibly control three star systems. Moreover, those billions were spent in addition to many other expenses for the daily running of the republic.

By definition, expenses turn out to be investments if they produce a cash flow that earns the initial expense back, however we cannot say that the NR has invested in the GM project because it had no return from it, not even a return on its image, since no news and reports have been produced so far, nor the GM was used by them as easy propaganda.

Actually, the NR seems not interested in pushing ahead the idea of the GM, and we wonder why. We presume that it is a deliberate choice from the NR: in their intentions, taking a step back could have lessened the idea that the GM is “a trap for NR enemies”, or else, to strengthen the message that the NR made the GM, but the GM is something that belongs to any galactic citizen and not to them.

However, even though it is true that the GM is not a NR exclusive property, it is also true that the NR is in charge of its maintenance and management. As it is now, the GM is trapped in a “limbo,” where responsibilities between the NR, the Council of galactic authorities, and the galactic citizens are not well defined, if defined at all.

So, who should be in charge to promote the GM and take care of its public relations? According to logic, it should be the NR Academy, but would a message from the NR attract people in discordance with the NR ideals? Probably not. Thus, what direction should be followed to improve the GM public relations?

The paradox here is that evolution in technology has always occurred thanks to the efforts of different parties. Most breakthroughs resulted from fights and wars. Therefore, conflicts united scientists and researchers towards a common goal. The GM houses technology developed by any race and any side of the galactic civil war. Cannot the GM be another common goal to reach, with the participation of all parties and regardless of who is the enemy of who? We believe so, because it has already happened that the GM received entities from political opposers of the republican (or rebellious) ideals.

Exhibiting technology may also be a show of strength and power, and inspire awe in the visitors. Increasing the number of Docents, and having Docents trained in specific sectors or even single entities could serve as a subtle propaganda. As an example, we imagine a Super Star Destroyer displayed parallel to a MC80 Home One Class Star Cruiser, and a Docent lecturing on the features, strengths, and weaknesses of both. Wouldn’t the impact on the visitors be enormous? Wouldn’t it be cheap propaganda for both parties?

Furthermore, some entities could not be retrieved because of planetary shields on “hostile territory.” Here again, if only the local authorities of those planets would realise that anyone, even their own citizens can go visit the GM, perhaps they would appreciate the fact of being mentioned in some entity’s description, and perhaps their citizens would be proud of their own membership when reading that entity’s data sheet.

During the mentioned press release, the MoS was asked if other governments were involved in the project. His answer was: "We thought that, before taking such a step in order to expand the collection, it was better to give a real and concrete example of the project. Now that the Galactic Museum is a reality, it is easier for all to see what it is about and to build trust in this project. We have already established loan agreements for major technologies."
Anyone can loan entities after signing a loan agreement. This agreement serves exclusively the purpose to define the responsibilities and duties between the museum, the loaner, and the neutral Council of galactic authorities.  
When magnates and key figures will understand that loaning their entities to the GM and contributing with their own Docents will add to them and their side, not subtracting anything, a new world of possibilities will open up.

Many people believe that this galaxy is too occupied in fostering economy, disregarding other aspects of life. The galaxy needs to foster culture as well, and the GM is the first and foremost opportunity the galactic citizens have. Galactic citizens must become aware once and for all that the GM has been created to benefit every single sentient being, not only a minority.

The galactic civil war is causing much suffering, but it should not stop people from dreaming of a better world and a sentientarian common goal. The GM must wake up from its limbo with the effort of the galactic citizens. Galactic citizens must claim what is legitimately theirs, a combat-free zone where creativity and dreams can come true.

Currently, it seems that the GM be a precious gem that nobody wants. Perhaps this gem is still in its raw state, and most people don’t understand its value because they haven’t seen a raw gem before, and don’t know how to identify it. However, we do hope that anyone will eventually take part in its refinement to make it beauty and bright.

References


  1. NR Press Release: http://www.swcombine.com/community/news/gnsarchive.php?display=2&postID=33603&category=20
  2. Grand Galaxy Tour Announced: http://www.swcombine.com/community/news/gnsarchive.php?display=2&postID=33705&category=20
  3. Galactic Museum holosite: http://www.new-republic.org.uk/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=GM.HomePage
  4. Floor map of the museum: http://www.new-republic.org.uk/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=GM.Map
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