Floating Worlds

Earlier this month I spoke at ‘Open Croissant’ a fringe event coinciding with ETHGlobal. What is interesting was how the event came to be.

7 minutes

Find the Others

Last month I wrote about game designer Paul Cezge’s new newsletter and titled the post ‘Real Things For Real People‘.

My own efforts making a zine over the last two years – creating, printing, and mailing physical items – stem from a belief in the importance of tangible connections with people.

The act of sending and receiving real things – be it a zine, a newsletter, or even a one-dollar PDF to real people is an important antidote to the impersonal nature of the kinds of digital exchanges we currently find ourselves with. 

Maybe it’s a legacy of having grown up in a DIY punk scene or because I’ve been making zines since I was 10, but making and creating real things and putting them into real peoples hands is something that I’m increasingly feeling more and more passionate about as we head into the mid 2020’s.

A few people have asked me how I square his with my consulting job being almost entirely about techno-social systems, virtual worlds and narrative metaphors. But I honestly don’t see any disconnect at all … We live inside of techno-social systems.

The Internet (and the virtual worlds that precede it) is for meeting people. It’s always been about discovering a shared place online and subsequently sharing your ideas, time, and attention with people who have the same interests as you. The Internet is about meeting people and facilitating/coordinating action in real life. I’m not just talking about politics here, I’m talking about everything.

The memories of my 20’s are punctuated by secret warehouse noise raves, guerrilla gardening mobilisations, and beach parties. Remember how weird and wild flashmobs were in the mid 00’s I went to a few of them too? All of this stuff was organised online. The most important socialweb era ‘social technologies’ are in my opinion, things like meetup.com and Facebook events – before they got weird, shit and spammy.

Party’s aside, these technologies facilitated other things in my life too: The Murray Bookchin reading group I used to attend in a squat, RPG design meetings in cold and draughty social club spaces, and things like WordPress or camera nerd meet ups.

My point being, that because of the way that the Internet has impacted my life, I have an unshakable understanding that it’s a coordinating mechanism for finding others. Building community, and then meeting real people and doing real things in real life.

Check out this 1995 video of Bill Gates talking to Letterman about the Internet and ‘how you can use it to find people with the same interests as you‘:

I’ve queued it up the important bit 4m21s

Almost all of Letterman’s ‘funny man’ objections through out the interview are him pointing to existing cultural coordination technologies that dominated culture back in 1995 – the example in the clip I queued up – Magazines. Unfortunately for us 30 years later, magazines are all gone. And trying to find the others on social media in a way that isn’t algorithmically mediated by ad-tech is almost impossible.

Floating Croissant

In the 2020’s ‘The Others’ are mostly found the Dark Forest. I’m not sure how you, but I’m in lots of little Telegram and Signal groups chats, plus Discords both big + small. And one of these group chats is called ‘London AW Floating Croissant Chaos Agents’.

During DevConnect last year an existing Telegram group chat was used to pile London based people into as we met each other around the convention. It’s a group of people all interested in building Autonomous Worlds on the blockchain.

The group chat is a lively one. Full of artists, programmers, theorists and games developers engaged rolling discussion about books and articles on virtual worlds, metaverse legislation and recommendations for locations of finest baked goods from across London. The group chat’s name still retains an element of its original function – to coordinate a breakfast meeting on a narrowboat on the Regent’s Canal.

Unlike other groups I’m in however, this one has enough escape velocity to manifest things in real life. There’s been several whole chat group meet ups since November 2023 and some smaller impromptu pub meetings too.

There’s a lot of energy in the chat as it’s made up of a collective of people who have all had several ‘lives’. As a result we all have a lot of motivation and skills to make things happen. And earlier this month two things happened…

Open Croissant + Floating Worlds

First, a few people in the chat who are founders at two companies building in the scene decided to run a fringe event on Autonomous Worlds to coincide with ETHGlobal London 2024. They named the event ‘Open Croissant‘.

Upon hearing the news, I and a few others decided it would be cool if the group produced a semi-regular journal/zine on the subject of worlds. Just 10 days later, all 56 pages of Floating Worlds went to print. Then we waited 7 working days for delivery, and then further 2 for the conference.

The zine included essays from Tonk, J David Osborne, AWTNMY, Me, A manifesto from the AUTONOMOUS CULTURE RESEARCH BUREAU, OPNPC, and Kitty Mayo. And includes a games corner with a word search and a pastry related solo RPG.

I went though a weekend crash course in print design and layout, and Goblin Oats from tonk.gg did all the art.

As an aside, its the first time I’ve used print.work – the company single handedly keep the zine economy alive in the UK – and my experience was great. They held my hand though my PDF export as print PDFs are more complicated than literally rocket science! No issues (apart from the ones on my end!).

Playmint got some mech made up, a dice and a nice tote bag, and the conference where we handed them out went really well!

It was well attended, with lots of familiar faces and some Twitter handles materialised into meat space as actual people. Tonk.gg gave a talk and several of the Playmint team also spoke. The zine came out of Tonk’s marketing budget, but in future Floating Worlds is going to be funded by dues at our meet ups to ensure that we can print/make another issue later in the year.

It was quite amazing that we managed to go from *we should make a journal* to *here’s the journal* in side of 10 days. Folks in the chat are the sort of people who had essays ready to go.

I’m super proud of our little London based worlds chat group. I learnt a lot (and a hard lesson) about doing more ambitious print things for my own zine.

This zine isn’t for sale or anything, they are all gone. A limited run for a single event/conference.

REINERΒ 6 Digit self incrementing mechanical number stamp

Speaking of zines. Because this was a blockchain related event, and we all know that crypto people sure LOVE a non-fungible collectable. We thought that Floating Worlds should probably be a numbered edition.

Let us all Un-fung the fungible with numbers.

So went and bought myself aREINERΒ 6 Digit self incrementing mechanical number stamp.

There’s a whole bunch devices on Amazon and various stationary sites online, but in the end I shelled out for a German Made hand stamp as the significantly cheaper Chinese made devices have 1 star reviews on Amazon that include words like ‘Abomination’.

Let me tell you. This thing is the pure embodiment of a mechanical doohickey.

A mechanical contrivance even.

Check out the video! It makes such a satisfying noise when ca-chunking the stamp.

When I come to making my own 50-60 page edition of Start Select Reset (SOON) I’ll be using this stamp to number the copies too. As of right now my amortised cost of the mechanical hand stamp is 50p per use. But that will come down further as I use it for the rest of my life making my own zines lol.

Anyways. If you have a chat group with high escape velocity. Make a zine or do something IRL.

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2 responses to “Floating Worlds”

  1. Petervan avatar
    Petervan

    Hi Jay!

    Nice post. Don’t you have the PDF version of the Floating Worlds magazine?

    Warmest

    Petervan

    1. Jay avatar

      I do! But we’ll probably build a little microsite and release it when issue 2 comes out.

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