Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Building an accessible Metaverse

I've been thinking for months now about the evolution of the world wide web.  What do you find there?  What do you want to find?  What would you like to find, and how would you ideally navigate the evolving web?

I think the web is evolving toward providing us with satisfying access to the real human metaverse.  I am working with a growing team of people to take a small step forward in this evolution that we hope will allow you to better navigate and use it to enrich your life, give it more meaning, and lasting significance.  More on that later.

"Wait a minute", you say, "I understood real and human, but I had to look up metaverse. A metaverse is a computer-generated environment within which users can interact with one another and their surroundings, a virtual world like Second Life.  What do you mean by 'real human metaverse'?"  

Glad you asked.  :)  First: metaverse.  I think we should give the word another meaning: "meta-universe", and specifically, the human inhabited one(s?).  I'd like to borrow metaverse to mean the intangible cloud of human meanings/attribute associations/stories floating invisibly about the people, places, and things in our real world.  We can imagine (actually, do imagine) that this already does exist, intangibly, above (meta-) the human universe. In fact, it is impossible for a person to experience the world without this. 

You've likely had a similar thought.  For example, take the home where you now live. Likely other people have lived in that home before you, or if not, others carried out scenes from their lives on that same spot before it was built upon.  Many significant moments occurred there you know nothing of yet, in a sense, those events exist in the air around you as you go about your business.  To the degree they can be said to exist, those events exist in the minds of the people who actually experienced them alone or with others (at what is now your home location). 

In a similar sense, those events exist also in the minds of (still) others who've received the story of what happened there.  If they have not been recorded and shared and all the people who experienced or heard about those events die, those events are lost from memory. Even unremembered, they still 'exist' in a sense: as causes, somewhere back in the long chain of cause and effect that gives rise to current people, place and thing circumstances.  

In your city centre the real human metaverse 'air' is dense with intangible but real-to-us associations attached to objects, other people and places. These are there in the present, stretching far back in time. These stretch forward in time too, insofar as people have made plans for the future connected to other people, places and things.

Across from my favourite coffee shop is an old cinema that a few years ago was reborn as a live music venue. Right now associated with it are tickets for sales and special offers, plans on many dates for bands to play, and people that are planning with each other to attend them. Right now associated with it are stories of first meetings leading to marriage, deaths and injuries, unforgettable shows, career starts and ends, perhaps new social or business ideas that were born there. For all I know a First Nations village was here, and US rum runners met their Seagram contacts there. Perhaps a city permit has been let to knock the building down and a new building has been designed for the spot. All I see is an edifice with sign. In a fully developed web expression of the metaverse, I could see, interact and transact in regard to any of this others *allowed me to*, if I set my filters to see it.

Daily pouring onto the web are the thoughts, observations and experiences of people, about each other and about places and things over time. About intangible things like ideas, too .  This is all meta-universe or metaverse information. We have begun to associate this people and topic information with places using web mapping services, and by using social web platforms, with the social graph. (Particularly Facebook, which has become the predominant way North Americans at least arrive at pages on the web). We have begun to access this information while we walk about using augmented reality applications on newer smart phones.

Today we all are building toward a web version of the metaverse, although our ability to represent it, learn from it, search it, filter it and interact in and with it is still just beginning. I believe this intangible world inter-penetrating the physical domain literally encompasses and explains all that we value.

Optimism, Pessimism and Magical Thinking

Do you know a friend who subscribes to the belief that their thoughts magically create their reality?  Likely you know many such people, or would if you paid more attention.

This is the sort of friend I mean: say they were with you at the foot of a mountain you were intending to climb together.  This person would react to your checking of ropes, gear and weather conditions as if you were cursing the hopes of your joint expedition. They would avoid any thought about the possibility that a rope could break because having that thought might cause the rope to break.  Having ruled out such negative thoughts, these people prepare by visualizing themselves on top of the mountain, and involving themselves in excited conversation about that with other optimists.  The try mightily to 'make real' now the future feeling they almost certainly believe they will have as they later survey the roof of world, at their feet - and avoid like contagion any thought of failure.

Never climb a mountain with someone who has no fear.

Fill the rest of that mountain climbing story in yourselves...I'm going to assume you're wise enough not to need my help considering the direct relationship between such thinking and the probability of yet another climbing death, gentle reader.

Now let's look at the opposite side of this coin.  The friend who miserably or otherwise thinks of all the reasons any venture will not succeed, and so convinces themselves never to venture anything if at all possible.  This person would be back at home in the city while you checked your ropes for the climbing day ahead!

So, is there no magical power of thoughts by themselves?  I think of the
ridiculous image
of 'psychics' engaged in (wasteful) strenuous effort to move objects with their minds.  Bloody hell!  Reach out and move that thing.  The human body and mind are quite miracle enough. This question about pure thought's ability to cause effects by itself is quite irrelevant for those of us who want to climb mountains of whatever kind.  

So yes, before you start your day, go ahead and richly visualize the future success you want to enjoy, in every detail. Because it is self-motivating, and it is so much easier to determine how to do something if you can precisely define it in any given human or empirical dimension. Admit also the possibility of failure...don't superstitiously fear that such an admission will magically ensure that result. Look risks in the face, and develop risk management strategies and back-up plans.  Mindful of your immediate environment and next task, clear about where you want to go and how you plan to get there, alert to risks and opportunities as they present themselves, succeed one step at a time toward your goal.

Hmm. I like that one could read "succeed" as I wrote above using either one of these two definitions of "To Succeed":
  • to follow in order
  • to accomplish what is attempted or intended

Happy Climbing!