recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : digitalartifacts   3

Before Minecraft or Snapchat, there was MicroMUSE – Robin Sloan – Aeon
"As kids, we make secret worlds – in trees, in our imaginations, even online – but can we go back to them when we’re grown?"



"If you explore MicroMUSE today, you’ll get a preview of the fate that awaits all of our social systems. The streets are empty, but it’s more than that: there is a palpable sense of entropy. You can query the system for a list of commands, but many of them no longer work. It’s half glitchy video game, half haunted house. Sometimes it falls offline entirely, only to return days later.

The system still speaks. You are welcomed by the transporter attendant, who gives directions to all newcomers to this space city. It cautions you: Clear communication is very important in a text-based environment…

When I logged in again after many years away – connected directly, no Gopher required, using the Terminal program on my MacBook, sleek descendant of that old Mac Plus – the first thing I did was look for Nib’s Knoll. In truth, I wasn’t sure where to begin. I had long forgotten the path through the holodeck. There were ways to teleport but, to teleport, you need to know where you’re going, and MicroMUSE wouldn’t, or couldn’t, reveal the location of my old home.

It is very likely that it no longer exists, swept away in a database purge sometime during the past 15 years. I mean, really very likely. Ninety-five percent likely.

And yet, the ghostliness of present-day MicroMUSE – the inability of the system to deliver a definitive yea or nay – leaves space for a dim hope. I wander the empty streets, and I see familiar places: structures and descriptions I remember from the mid-1990s. I remember the things I built with Hacker VII, and the feeling that followed when they actually worked. I remember the scrum of users; there would be five or six of us gathered in a room, and it would seem like a crowd, a veritable riot of life.

Hacker VII’s real name was Joe VanDeventer, and today Joe is a web developer in Chicago. Nib Noals’s real name was Robin Sloan, and today I am a writer in San Francisco.

Both of these paths were prefigured almost perfectly on MicroMUSE. All we did there – all we could do – was program and write. Build and describe. Every additional feature called for more words: words to tell a user what he or she was doing, words to show everyone else. It was a whole world made of words. It was the web before the web; it was a novel that could stand up and speak.

I don’t mean to mythologise a crusty old system; its innocence and simplicity were handicaps as much as they were virtues. But even so, I’m grateful that MicroMUSE, of all places, was my training ground. Social systems have values – arguments baked into their design. For example, Twitter’s core argument seems to be: everything should be public, and messages should find the largest audience possible. Snapchat’s might be: communication should be private and ephemeral. The video game Counter-Strike’s is almost certainly: aim for the head. Back in 1994, MicroMUSE’s core argument was: language is all you need. If you can write, it can be real.

I left the holodeck, but I never abandoned that notion.

It is, frankly, miraculous that MicroMUSE still runs at all. It’s not hosted by MIT anymore; the system has migrated to a server called MuseNet. If you can get yourself to a command prompt, you can type ‘telnet micromuse.musenet.org 4201’ and walk the empty streets yourself."
robinsloan  2014  minecraft  muse  micromuse  play  childhood  worldbuilding  imagaination  computers  creativity  online  internet  degradation  disappearance  digitalartifacts 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Future Perfect » The 3 Audiences
"There are 3 audiences to every presentation: the people in the room; the people tuning in online in real or close to real time; and history. The presenter needs to consider all three.

‘History’ is increasingly the digital memory of event – it starts with the conversations leading up to, during and after the event – it’s the photos posted online, the retweeted quotes, the barbs, the likes, the references, the downloads. The presenter can’t control history but she can nudge it in the right direction.

For any given presentation what artifacts do you leave behind? Where are they linked from? How can they be repurposed, reused? And what is the thread that links them back to you and what you’ve done?

Who is the gatekeeper of your history?

What is their motivation both now and in the future?"

[Related: http://snarkmarket.com/2009/4056 AND http://snarkmarket.com/2010/5979 ]
presentations  janchipchase  history  events  generativeevents  backchannel  reuse  ideas  momentum  artifacts  conversation  audience  trends  live  digitalmemory  digitalhistory  digitalartifacts  generativewebevent  media  memory  sharing  generativewebevents 
november 2010 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read