Art and Exploration, Deep Thoughts

Inflammatory Speech and Bumpy Roads

My mouth was inflammatory. Or my gums were flaming my sense of well-being. Whatever you want to call it, I ended up with half my face in a state of paralysis for a week or so, dribbling coffee on my keyboard and leaving a trail of food crumbs behind after every meal. And that was easy compared to the rest of my unsettled life, everyone seemed to have health issues, I spent one morning helping someone choose their first course of HIV therapy, which left me feeling – well, it left me feeling quiet I suppose, and there were other things as well, but whatever, this isn’t a diary.

Now, the thing is I’m a bit of a masochist or something. Gloom begets gloom. A cold begets global warming. The flu begets the end of civilization. I like to pile on feeling a little under the weather with big doses of melancholy and despair. And the one thing I’ve learned is to put the pen down, dammit…or the blog, anyways – no point in sharing all this darkness and pain, I’ll just crawl under the covers and whimper along with a dog-eared copy of Borges.

Clearly I’m still at the tail end of this, because I’m still finding myself irritated. I took a scan of some of the blogs and looked back at the comment stream from my last post and there seems to be a high level of angst in the air….or maybe I’m reading too selectively, I’m filtering out the ‘gee whiz’ stuff and focusing in on the high drama. And although I always resolve to try, oh try, to write something constructive unless larger fates are in the balance or whatever, I’m not sure I can get past these irritations so I’m just going to spit them out. (My alternative was to reprint a bunch of press releases, but I’ll do that next.)

Shiny Things
So, the first thing that was bugging me this week is augmented reality.

Actually, not augmented reality (AR) per se, but rather the sudden flashes of panic that somehow AR is going to suck the hype out of virtual worlds. And the sudden rush to augmented reality seems to be happening amongst the same people who, well, hyped virtuality.

Now, this is MY issue really, not theirs. I was always the first to a party or the last to a trend, so I was either arriving awkwardly too soon and lingering over the chip dip wondering when everyone else would show up, or I was the one who bought a Commodore 64 from a garage sale – I felt cool for about 10 minutes before I realized that no one else was using them anymore, there was something else with more power and more programs and the best I could manage was 10 lines of code that would allow me to calculate compound interest, which was hardly mind-blowing for a 12 year old.

Augmented reality is cool. It will be useful. The world around you will soon be filled with all kinds of information and data shadows and we’ll all be plugged into our cell phones even more than we are today – embedding them in our contact lenses or wearing special goggles, splashing 3-D artefacts on museum walls and playing global AR Pac Man.

I’m happy for AR because I believe in the metaverse. And I believe that the metaverse road map is as close as we’ve come to explaining the technology trends that will drive new ways to interact with each other and with information spaces, whether the venue for doing so is in separate ‘worlds’ or its in the world around us.

I suppose I’m of the opinion that when stuff is shiny and new it’s really fun to toy around with, to make mistakes, to make a mess, to tinker and fiddle and jump up and down with excitement – I mean, that’s what hype is, isn’t it? Our collective kid-at-Christmas enthusiasm for the latest shiny toy?

But the harder stuff – and, in my world anyways, the more INTERESTING stuff is once the fiddling phase is done, when you actually have to turn something that was once experimental into something that’s well-designed and USEFUL. The number of excuses have been reduced – you have most of the tool kit you’ll ever need, the thing (whatever it is), is working OK, and now you have to actually think it through and make it sing.

So, sure, I’ll keep my eye on AR, I love the range of possibilities….but I’m just as interested in what happens next with the things we already have, I’m interested in what happens when a technology stabilizes and becomes kinda BORING – because THAT’S when the real innovators jump in, when the IDEOs and the Apples and the Frog Designs hop in and do their magic.

What I Think the Lab Thinks and What I Think Are Not the Same Thing
My second irritation is that I’ve been spending way too much time trying to say what the Lab itself should just spit out without prompting.

As Prokofy said in the comments on my last post:

“(The Lab) have Dusan to play that role for them, they don’t need to do that — they’ve just done it with this blog post*. Dusan as a solutions provider was invited to their SLE roll-out, he spent time hob-knobbing with the Lab, and now he’s doing these blogs sort of leaking a bit and speculating a bit and posturing that he is worried a bit – and *that’s how they do it*.”

And Prok is dead-on correct (except for the posturing part, because I’d propose that I am worried, but I’ll leave that for now).

But it begs the question – why doesn’t the Lab just do it themselves? And most important, why hasn’t Mark Kingdon shown any interest in communicating with his customers using things like, oh, a blog post say?

I suppose what bothered me more was that by playing that role – by trying to figure out how changes like the ‘freebie’ rule for XStreet might fit into some kind of larger plan, that anyone would read into this agreement or complicity in their plans. But if you want to project motives or opinions on me that I didn’t say, I suppose that’s your business not mine.

Now It Gets Interesting
So, this week I’ve been kind of slugging it out, grinding along, feeling these flashes of irritation – Google Wave has me pulling my hair out in frustration, for example. I’m missing one of my DVDs from season 3 of the West Wing. I broke a shoe lace.

But maybe it’s because now….well, now it’s about to get interesting.

There’s a confluence of things – whether it’s in Second Life with mesh imports and marketplaces and unknown policy changes still to come; or its in the wider range of technologies that are changing how we interact with each other and with designed experiences and flows of information; or its in our own personal journeys through love and joy, despair and heartache.

And maybe all of this is just me projecting, but I can’t help feeling that either the wider world is at its own cusp of change or I’m just more awake to it this week….and that regardless, I’ll growl or sing or grind or dance along as we take this ride, as bumpy as some weeks it might seem.

I am part of the load
Not rightly balanced
I drop off in the grass,
like the old Cave-sleepers, to browse
wherever I fall.

For hundreds of thousands of years I have been dust-grains
floating and flying in the will of the air,
often forgetting ever being
in that state, but in sleep
I migrate back. I spring loose
from the four-branched, time and space
and cross
this waiting room.

I walk into a huge pasture
I nurse the milk of millennia

Everyone does this in different ways.
Knowing that conscious decisions
and personal memory
are much too small a place to live,
every human being streams at night
into the loving nowhere, or during the day,
in some absorbing work.

Rumi, ‘We Are Three’


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