Come with me, I made you a sunrise. Watch.
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Landscapes Like Mixtapes
Yesterday I watched New Models.io’s first event of the year.
Cade Diehm and Joshua Citarella spoke on “How the ways we live and think in the online-space are materially impacting how the physical future will play out”. The event was billed as addressing how online platforms that gamify narrative-building, rendering us players in MMORPG-like worlds — with the arena being IRL Earth. Whilst I wouldn’t say the talks themselves hit this exact topic, they definitely spoke around it and gave me food for thought.
Before I talk about Cade’s talk in particular I want to take one of my typical 301 diversions before we loop back around to MMORPGS and virtual worlds.
I’m lucky enough to remember making and receiving mix tapes. Growing up as a teen in the late 90’s early 00’s mean that I feel like I got the best of both worlds. Napster existed and I had an infinite library available to me. MP3 players however didn’t the I think i saw my first Rio in 2001 ish and that held 32 meg. Some friends had creative zens. It was until i was 18 Did the ipod become ubiquitous. Even then I didn’t get my first MP3 player until the first ipod touch came out.
Music existed in three worlds.
1. At the desktop computer. With an ever expanding personal music library of alexandrian proportions. Carted from one friends house to the next on portable hard drives via sneaker net. The never ending quest to have ‘All the music’
2. At DIY hardcore punk shows, and on records bought from the bands themselves. Music obtained on vinyl or CD from Distros or ordered via mail order
3. On Tape. If you wanted to listen to music out of the house it had to be on tape. Yeah, CDmans or whatever existed and a few friends had them. They really were crap, they’d scratch the CD and the quote unquote anti-shock protection was pretty useless.
So we had tapes. Loads of them. I remember my friend Lucy had an entire draw of them.
Compilations made by and for friends all the time. Whenever someone got a new album, you knew a new compilation would probably be coming your way. Remember despite Napster being online, none of has means to plug our desktops into a Hi-fi with a tape deck and the music industry were still trying to mug us all at 15 – 20 quid an album.
For those listening who are younger than me. You might scoff at the idea of tapes or Walkmans or whatever. But by 2000-2003 Walkmans were amazing. I just looked up my Sony EX615 and its 215 quid USED on Ebay. They had 1.2 volt Nickel–metal rechargeable batteries that lasted 2 or three days. The slimmest profile you can imagine, slimmer than a tape cassette box itself. And could also do track skipping and variable speed playback and all that jazz. Mine still works, I was looking at it over Christmas. It’s in a box. Anyways.
Tapes. We made them and received them. Later we ended up making each other CDRs.
Still all handmade. Usually with cardboard cases all hand cut and folded from the art shop. Hand written play lists and notes and things inside. Me and my friend Rosy continued to make CDRs for each other as Xmas presents well after we moved away and went to uni. She now has a DJ set called En Vacances. She plays Synth Pop, Disco, Italo etc. It’s worth checking out if that’s your Jam.
There was a significance to the objects created and prepared by people I cared about, and how natural it was that they circulated when was the last time anyone hand made you anything? Now the reason I bring this up is not to go all high fidelity a nostalgic on you about mixtapes and the art of playlist creation.
But instead to talk to you about something that I totally missed the boat on. And thats Minecraft. I played it a little bit during the beta at my friend Phils house. But I’ve never really had anything to do with it at all. I feel that it’s something that I regret having missed. I messed about in Second life in the really early days as I had a dodgy graphics card bought in the uni bar and a blazing fast T1 connection of 1.5 Mbps.
I didn’t play any sort of MMORPG again apart from one glorious 2006 summer spent playing WOW. Then. I didn’t own a computer for two whole years until 2008. I got a Mac Pro and a HTC G1 in the same month. I went from being extremely offline to extremely online in one go and have been struggling to unplug since.
I bring this up as I’ve never experienced the wonder of building and shaping a persistent online word. Making or leveling mountains. I’ve never shared a virtual world consistently with friends either. In his talk Cade talked about Reddits MinecraftDataMining project. Thats mapping and exploring 100k abandoned online worlds. They find wonders. Landscapes built and sculpted by whole teams of people. Grand monuments to dead of lost loved ones. People that still haunt servers they used to spend time in, leaving notes with the date they visited lost friends in the hope they will reconnect one day. Some messages are heart breaking, so much more dynamic than social media memorials pages.
My professional life right now is full of thinking about AR and VR and that’s amazing. But as I said, there is a little bit of me that wishes I’d been around to create landscapes in mine craft.
The teenage emo kid inside of me that swapped hand made CDS with friends grew up and got into permaculture and landscape architecture wants to make landscapes like mixtapes.
I want to say to a friend halfway around the world who’s with me in a simulation:
Come with me, I made you a sunrise.
The above is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in audio due to time constraints.
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