Written in response to Dave Winer's Earth's Website . Also on his discussion board as message 378 .
Asking what we'd like in a website to represent earth is a little bit backwards. We have such a site, actually such a network that's encompassing ever more of what we are, and it represents those of us who've chosen to participate in all our fractious diversity.
An easier mind experiment might be to imagine yourself browsing the web, coming across an alien web site. What would you find interesting? What would make you want to go out and explore that place, meet those entities?
'cause frankly you aliens are the reasons I make a stop at Scripting News a part of my routine.
I've made a small study of story structure over the past year or three, and I'm pretty sure that we're hardwired for conflict. How many books without conflict get read, or movies without conflict get watched? Few. We're always asking "and then what happened?", and "what happened" means something changed the status quo, disturbed the society and its inhabitants. Story is about resolving conflict, but if we don't have the conflict to begin with we'll go out and find some to resolve.
Take your example, Dave, I'm under the impression that had you wanted to at some point you could have picked up your toys, got a cabin somewhere away from the freneticism of the Bay, and lived the rest of your life in leisure.
You're still here. Heck, despite my regular pissing and moaning about the culture of the bay, and the constant availability of laid back jobs in places I find more geographically attractive, I'm still here. Because even if we are going in circles (and we're not) kicking over the torches and rebuilding the city from the ashes in different configurations is fun.
At one point in my life I spent a while with more than enough water and just enough food sitting under a tarp in the woods. I had to do nothing for survival beyond reach in my pack, and refill my water bottles from the stream nearby and add a drop of iodine an hour before I needed the water. It didn't take too many days of that to drive me flat out batty.
On the other hand, I know I don't like constant struggle either. I need to be rewarded occasionally, to know that I got something right, have a little breathing room and some time to catch up on my sleep.
If you look at the cycle this necessarilly looks like a loop, but it's not. It's not because every time I let the waves wash over the sand castle I've learned something, every time I rebuild I can make it that much cooler, and every time I let a piece of work out into the world, away from my control, every time I've considered something finished, it's because I knew that I'd fulfilled my vision of it and needed the input of others to make it into more than I could alone.
I too struggle to find nirvana, but deep in my heart I don't want to, I'm having too much fun on the journey to ever imagine I'd be satisfied staying in one place very long.
Friday, November 20th, 1998 email@example.com