Today I started furnishing six new bulletin board systems for KUNST KAMP, based on Omnium, the KAMP’s didactic BBS. (Furnishing because the nice folk at Omnium did the real lifting). While not perfect, Omnium includes many of the facilities that were ardently desired by the people on the old sevcom Twister system. While it is a BBS with threads and forums, everybody has their own portfolio ‘pin up wall’ where they can show off their art, they can move that art into communal gallery spaces, set up versions that multiple people co-author and so on. The system allows team enclaves, such that small work groups can shut themselves off from the world, KDX style, while leaving the main areas open to the public. So here it is, the system that was needed for the ‘next move forward’. And designed by people who had no overlap with our little experiment, which just goes to show that the technical problems we saw back then were universally recognised.
The cavalry arrives only to find the settlers all dead. Too late.
Not as in too late to save that experiment. Too late as in the experiment went way beyond the goal of the perfect container and became a psychology experiment. Trap some children on an island and you get Lord Of The Flies. No amount of technology was going to save that monster, because it had decided to be a monster and it didn’t want saving.
This leaves mixed feelings. On the surface, I get to continue the experiment with a new system, a new audience. Hundreds of students spread over six BBS systems, a WordPress mu system (thanks CSU!) and a new video storage system that (may it please Data God) will switch on around March 4th (thanks UNSWTV!). And because they are students there is clear reason for having it and clear authority for moderators. If you were reading the history of this you might think, hey Twister became OSMA, nice crossfade. In reality I have extremely ambivalent feelings about the entire notion of online communities.
Stewart L said it the other night, over a beer. Whenever he sees ‘community’ on a web site he just thinks ‘uh oh’. We agreed that there was something terribly empty in the promise of ‘online community’ but couldn’t finger just what is needed. When explaining the advantages to my workmates I can find many positives. But that doesn’t reassure my doubts.
Right now is all the panic of trying to organise and document a moving structure – three disparate systems that must work together as one tool. Then come the pleading and coercion to get students to start typing. If and when the momentum comes, the probing of … what? How big an island you need for Hunt The Pig? Hell they do that on Facebook.
Actually this a long winded way of saying that this blog might slow down for the weeks where I am trying to forge this behemouth.
And also I am distracted learning the most beautiful programming language in the world. I hate program languages like ActionScript because they are inhumane. They try to make me into a machine. Machines should be machines. But look at this example from the manual. This is the actual code:
“The Hypnotist of Blois”
A person is either hypnotized or alert. A person is usually alert.
Persuasion rule for asking a hypnotized person to try doing something:
Understand “hypnotize [someone]” as hypnotizing.
Hypnotizing is an action applying to one thing.
if the noun is hypnotized, say “Already done.” instead.
Carry out hypnotizing:
now the noun is hypnotized.
say “[The noun] slips under your control.”
Instead of waking someone hypnotized:
now the noun is alert;
say “[The noun] returns abruptly to consciousness.”
Check someone hypnotizing someone:
stop the action.
Maison de la Magie is a room. “In a darkened room, a few hundreds of paces from the chateau of Blois, you give to tourists three shows a day: displaying to them power they do not comprehend and spectacles they do not deserve.”
A volunteer is a woman in the Maison. “A volunteer from the audience stands facing you, [if alert]skeptically awaiting hypnosis[otherwise]her face worshipful and obedient[end if].” The printed name of the volunteer is “volunteer from the audience”. The description is “A distracted, susceptible woman.” The volunteer wears a t-shirt and a baseball hat.
The player wears a top hat and a cape.
The language is Inform 7. I am in love.