If you don't already know, "Virtually Real" is a documentary film looking at what I have been referring to as the "virtual universe," or "Mataverse" as coined in the Neal Stephenson sci-fi novel, Snow Crash. A LOT of looking at this virtual universe has made my view of the Metaverse come in and out of focus on many different aspects of what is important to both me, and the project.
I'm REALLY looking forward to interviewing my two subjects this weekend, as both of them view this space from a very HUMAN perspective, and, after all, isn't that what's ultimately the most important at the end of the day? Well, all of my machinations have finally brought me to the conclusion that the human-ness of anything is the most important element to me.
Odd, since when I was in the middle of my master's degree I took a class on the construction of taste. The professor asked us what our favorite movie was. For some ridiculous reason "Bambi" came to mind for me at that moment. See, as a consumer of culture my tastes have always vascilated. I've NEVER been one of those people fascinated, or obsessed with any particular genre or artist — regardless of the medium. I'm seeing at this phase of my life how this lack of inspiration or focus has lead to the misdirection, or lack of direction I've had creatively over the past fifteen years, but I'll get to that a little later.
So one of the subjects, Julian Dibbell wrote a book, Play Money that inspired to begin the "Virtually Real" project. It was a very personal account, almost personal memoir, about his investigation of stories he'd heard as a writer for "Wired" magazine how people were making real money from the barter, buying, selling, and trading of virtual goods — things, that to the rest of us, don't really exist, because you can never hold them in your hands.
At the time I was only flirting with the idea of getting into documentary film — after all, no one becomes rich or famous from documentary film. All of the creative projects I had had going for the ten years before this had centered around…well, in hindsight they centered around money. How could I write something that would get noticed, and purchased, and make me some notoriety, and some money.
Ugh. How juvenile.
So a move to the West Coast FORCES me to focus on people other than myself, as my job becomes taking care of my kids, and did I rebel against that. I was miserable. I couldn't think about ME!
Yeah. Poor me.
Well, in hindsight (again), I see that this was the best thing for me, since now I'm looking at the stories that are important to me, stories that, when complete, will be authentic, honest, compelling. I, frankly, strive to write something as ernest as that which Julian wrote.
So as I'm scimming back through my copy of Play Money, and reading some the blog of Dana Boyd, I'm struck by something, particularly while reading Danah's materials; there's FOCUS here. FOCUS! But also with that focus is an attention to surroundings. And part of my virtual surroundings is the Spoon.
So here I am again, coming back to re-aaquaint myself with the Spoon and with you, those who have taken time out of your lives to read my ramblings, and to view the art done by Steven Sheffield that have my textual ramblings associated with them.
The funniest part of all of these realizations is that they all make me feel like a little kid. When I was eight years old (maybe I was nine), we built a tree house in our backyard. When asked by my parents what I wanted to do in the tree house I replied, "talk to my friends about human nature." They chuckled. Hell, what parent wouldn't? I was embarrassed. At that moment – a very pivotal moment in my life I now look back and see — what was at the core of my interests was what other people thought about how everything fits together.
The problems with that moment in my eight / nine year-old lofe were: 1) that I was way too young to know what the hell I really meant, 2) that wanting to study "human nature" from the angle that I was speaking crosses way too many disciplines in our vertically focused academic world. Danah Boyd writes in her blog recently about taking a hiatus from her pursuit of becoming a college professor.
I've always loved learning, but after ninth grade my grades slipped because I always wanted to learn about everything that related to the things I was studying, not just drill down to the minutia of whatever I was studying. If I got the general idea of a concept, that was enough. "OK, that's cool," I would think, "let's move on to the next thing."
That's not a great way of approaching things either — fairly immature, and no excuse for not doing well in certain classes — because, after all, society has certain structures and paradigms for a reason, structures and paradigms that you can not question until you are older, and wiser, and understand how and why things fit together as they do…right? RIGHT?!
OK, that's a different tangent all together.
What's important is creatively I finally know around what all my work will now revolve, but now it's the business end I need to contend with. Grant proposals. Funding sources. All the shit that people pursue when they've found a passion and interest that doesn't fall neatly into a pre-defined bucket.