Flutterby™! : Cyberspace vs. Meatspace

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Cyberspace vs. Meatspace

2002-01-10 05:43:49+00 by ebradway 17 comments

Today, while I was in savasana after yoga, I couldn't quell an internal debate. I am poised before a period of rebirth. I am about to reach a point where I can erase my existence as I have known it: a denizen of cyberspace, eric@bradway.net. My ashtanga practice has, if anyhting, grounded me more firmly in meatspace. Playing Ultimate and working on my Porsche reminded me that I have natural talents outside of cyberspace. The meaning I am searching for in life seems to be stronger in meatspace than cyberspace. All of my accomplishments in cyberspace to this date have less meaning than a week spent with my daughter. Essentially all of the work I have done professionally has been scrapped for 'bigger, better faster' and if I unplugged my server at Chattanooga Online tomorrow, would anyone really notice?

[ related topics: Chattanooga Eric's Life ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:21+00 by: meuon

You have summed up an interesting problem for many of us. The most rewarding part of what I get to do is my dealings with people. I may not be the code monkey you are, but I still have people using stuff I created in 1989. I think it's not what you know how to do, but how you apply it. I like to solve problems and help people. If it were not for Debbie, I'd probably forget to get paid for most of it. You would like to get paid to code and see it as it's own art form, not as a means of helping people do things.

You do have talents outside of computers/cyberspace. Develop them in constructive ways. And I really think if you want to evolve in cyberspace, do something that interacts with meatspace with other people.

Flutterby is an interesting community of people. A usable technology (the forum system), but what makes it is the community Dan has gathered and nurtured. Although I am infrequent visitor/contributor, I would miss it, and a distant relationship through it with Dan and others. www.bradway.net is just a personal geek website. Flutterby interacts with meatspace.

As for noticing: I was hits 1989 and 1990 and 1991...

re-invent yourself.. get out of the while() loop you are stuck in. Harness some positive chaos energy... the negative chaos just sucks.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:21+00 by: ghasty

Eric? Been drinkin' much at Stanton's this week? <grin> Disconnect???? How would you ever get eBay updates?

I can see where you're going with this and would say that Mike hit it between the nail head thingy....I kinda reached this point after "Dave's world" (Micro Sports) in our employment history together...ok, maybe more of like in the middle of "Dave's world"...okay, maybe the 1st week...

I feel much more rewarded now with the little things I do outside this Net-thingy...being with the kids...working on the house (amazingly). But now, of course, since I'm "meeting boy" I've learned that coding isn't what I want to do for a living..."meeting boy" status is hopefully a transitional role as I move closer to "meeting manish-boy" status...but all in all, I do enjoy interacting with peeps a helluva lot more than when I was a geek that had the specs thrown under the door to my darkened office to complete...

I've resigned myself to the Net being the toy that I once enjoyed. I like playing with it...but ain't gonna stake my career and/or happiness on it...

DAMN! Gotta run, VPN flaked out on me and I'm working on a presentation for a meeting <grin>

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:21+00 by: ebradway

So how did I get 'Interactive Drama' as category?

Thanks for the input Mike. You are right about making stuff that interacts with people. You are wrong about seeing code as art. My problem is that I get duped by the people I think I am helping. In the truest capitilistic sense, I thought I was doing the most good because I was working on the projects that people were willing to pay me the most to create. I also believed in the logevity that these people wanted for the project - I was righting code that would last. There is a certain art to making code that can last for decades, reliable and maintainable.

What you said about not getting paid is probably the key. Some of the code that I wrote that's still being used is the stuff I wrote while contracting in the back of COL.

And I am not adding a break to my while(!meaning) loop. I'm redefining the variable meaning. The reason the loop exists won't go away.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:22+00 by: Dan Lyke

A note on Justin's Journal about this.

Columbine has done some musing in the past on this topic, though I don't remember exactly when or enough keywords to track it down quickly right now.

I think you've got two issues going here:

  1. What sort of human relationships am I building when I spend time online or in the computer world.
  2. How long does my work persist.

The second is the tougher one. Part of movies losing their allure was 2 years of hard labor for a 10 week run. The CD-ROM games I worked on were on sale at list price for years, it was hard to justify putting that much effort into something that went "poof" in a few months.

On the first, human relationships are where you find them rewarding. If it weren't for BBSs, I don't know if I'd have met Meuon, or Justin. or Keevah, or Topspin, or a number of other people who've become part of my community. Of course it's interesting that all those names are pseudonyms, that to some extent we maintain a slightly different persona online.

But I think even people with whom I've only had a virtual relationship would notice if my web presence suddenly went away. With about the same level of mourning that I'll have when one of my coffee shop regulars disappears; weblogs are kind of the equivalent of the morning discussion in-line, "how's work? the kid? what you been doing lately?". And I've thought about that, would I want it to continue? Back in the days when my whitewater pages got most of the traffic, that would have been an emphatic "yes". Now I'm less certain.

When Genehack (although I've got other channel communications with John) or Ethel the Blog doesn't update, I wonder. I miss those voices in my daily mix.

On the other hand, if J.D. Salinger died, despite that his work is presumably going to last longer than any of our weblogs, I'd hardly blink: He's added nothing to my existence since I was exposed to his work in high school.

My influence on the world has a limited life. Different projects have different effects. Obviously your daughter extends that influence out decades, where a web site might give 6 months to a completely different audience. To me the web site gives a bigger payback because I'm still searching for what that impact on the world wants to be.

No conclusions, just assent from a different perspective.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:22+00 by: Dan Lyke

Normally when posters don't go in and edit their own categories I try to fix them. This time I think "interactive drama" is staying [grin].

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:22+00 by: ghasty

Category kinda sums up Eric's life right now...

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:22+00 by: other_todd

Dan, I think I generally have the opposite problem from Eric: What bothers me is that all my work, most of my play, and a great deal of my interpersonal relationships have been built on the Aether for the latter half of my life so far, and I don't see that changing. In other words, I'm worried that my cyberspace life is cannibalizing my meatspace life. Unlike Eric I don't think I HAVE much of a meatspace life (although I have friends, thank heavens, who would dispute that).

It strikes me that Aether is not really a firm foundation to build a life upon.

That said, the impermanence of the things I do here has never bothered me much. I figured that was built into the medium. I have become an expert at judging the work to fit the lifespan, which is why so many of my games and projects are low-impact; I refuse to put in the effort for something that people will have forgotten or put aside fifteen minutes from now. Quick thrills, that's the deal. Slap it together and have done.

Sure, once in a while I try to do something that shows the quality of work I know I'm capable of when I want it ... but then who sees that quality? Who can look at what I do with an accomplished enough eye to know where the welding is crooked? My code is rarely inspected by other eyes; what I do is beneath contempt for most of the people I work with. My stories ... well, most of the people I know who would read them THAT way are now professional or semi-pro editors and have enough trouble getting through their respective slushpiles.

Eric, I don't suppose "Because we'd miss your voice when you were gone" is an adequate answer?

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:22+00 by: TC

I think there is something intrinsicly wrong with making life decisions while in something called the "Corpse Pose" har har. Todd B. and everyone else seems to be nailing it but I'll add my voice too. Do what you think is best for you(be selfish here) but I'll miss your company if you leave. If you want to go out and reinvent yourself, thats cool too. I hope to meet the new you. I could tell you a great story about how I created a new persona in Ultima-Online and got to get to know my old meat-space friends from a fresh perspective. As for the daughter time, I understand this and it's not fair to the rest of your life to try to compare the two. your relationship with your children will always blow everything else away(accept and enjoy that)....

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:22+00 by: ebradway

Gary: I spent almost ten years doing the 'Daddy, husband, Mr. Fixer-upper'. Because I made that a priority over my work, I ended up passing up two really good job offers (wife wouldn't move to Seattle so I could go to work for the dark side, neither would she move to Orlando so I could go to work for EA). Now I'm divorced, unemployed and the house is going into foreclosure. My problem with that lifestyle was that the person I was sharing it with wasn't willing to make sacrifices that would allow me to maintain the balance between work and home.

Todd: I'm surprised it took someone that long to catch the 'corpse pose' reference. To make one thing clear, I doubt I'll ever stop being eric@bradway.net. I was just trying to decide what was more important and what direction to move in. Of course, posting that question here is like asking the priest at your church if you should stop being a Christian.

Other_todd: I even did the "all-work-and-no-play" thing once (with Dan as a matter of fact). Four years of my life spent toiling over someone else's misguided dream.

Actually, being adept at cyberspace has allowed me to make and maintain some significant friendships. As I am about to go through personal bankruptcy, I've found that my friendships are about all I'll be coming out with. Fortunately, they are the most valuable thing I have. My house is being foreclosed on. My Porsche is being sold. My accounts emptied. But I still have my friends!

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:22+00 by: ghasty

I've been lucky that Lisa has been willing to do whatever the hell comes by. We moved to Dallas and she was fine with that...moved back to Atlanta (primarily to be closer to grandparents and uncles.aunts for Ella) and she was fine with that...one thing to remember...you may not be "husband, Mr. fixerUpper" now...but you'll always be "Daddy". So far I've been lucky enough to find work that's typically satisfying...makes a enough money and I can still make Lisa & kids priority #1.

I do wish you all the luck...primarily with finding what makes you happy. I still have the majority of my ol' BBS friends from the Comfy Chair days and hell, the person who brought me here to BS was a friend from those days too...

#Comment made: 2002-01-11 04:54:17+00 by: flushy [edit history]

I spent many good DAYS of my life in an online persona. I MUD'd pretty heavy in college and even more during a stint of unemployement. If my family had not grabbed me and beat the living hell out of me, my life could be different. I don't MUD anymore. I would love to, but I fear I would throw everything else away (which right now is work and friends). In a way, I know how you feel, Eric.

Though, now, this cyperspace enchances my meatspace. I treat it as a tool for information, yet I also use it to communicate with home (this community is not Chattanooga, but it's based in Chattanooga.. so that's close enough, right?). As Justin was saying on his blog (thanks for the link Dan), by merging the online presence and physical presence you can enhance your everyday life. I totally believe that. I've met and retained some really good friends and associates from the BBS days to now (the Broadband days). Some of these relationships have spanned over 10 years.

The chia list is very special to me as it remains as my icon of the perfect merger between meat and cyber space. You have your debates and discussions via email, and on Friday's you can sit down and have a good lunch with the same people - even putting disagreements aside (unless you are tom and Frank).

If we could get something kin to a cyber cafe to work like this, you'd have something very special which you could offer to everyone.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:23+00 by: ebradway

flushy: I think you are misreading my intentions. From a personal standpoint, I have enjoyed enormous benefits from my cyberspace personality. I was introduced to many of you by Dan back before anyone offered internet access in Chattanooga. I stopped BBS'ing back in high school when I left Texas. The BBS community in Austin in the early 80s was something truly phenomenal and I had trouble getting back into it when pretty much the entire world was running variations of Fido on commodity PCs. I guess I should clarify, in the early 80s in Austin there were about 40 BBS. Only one was running on an IBM PC (actually an AT - it was the largest BBS in Texas - two phone lines, 20MB of hard drive space on a 286!). Half the fun of BBSing was seeing how people cobbled together BBS apps on different platforms. I even ran one on my C64 for a little while - until my parents got tired of the phone ringing all night. Hell, I even did chat then - some guy managed to 'network' four Apple IIs together to proivide 10 lines of chat! But I'm digressing...

The question I am trying to answer is: Where do I go from here? By declaring bankruptcy it will enable me to change to less financially lucrative fields. My dilemma is that although I enjoy working with computers, I haven't found anything enduring. Will I find this elsewhere?

I've been trying to formulate a 5-year plan for myself. I actually chose the goals a while ago. Significant among them are: get out of debt and finish college. Bankruptcy appears to be taking car of the first part (although when I started formulating this plan, it wasn't the method I intended to take). And for many reasons, I really want to try to finish my undergraduate education at the Harvard Extension School. So my plan of attack looks kind of like this:

  1. Finish dealing with the personal financial shit
  2. Enlist in the reserves and spend a year in Monterrey
  3. Build up enough GI Bill money to be able to settle into Cambridge comfortably
  4. Complete Ashtanga teachers training (not time intensive but a little expensive)
  5. Move to Cambridge and find a reasonable job to support myself (for instance, WGBH was recently looking for a Web dude - low pay for Boston but high warm, fuzzy return).
  6. Finish undergraduate school at Harvard
  7. Go on to grad school someplace?

That will take care of 3-4 years and I'm sure I'll figure out where to go next.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:23+00 by: TheSHAD0W


Let me tell you what I've found:

  1. Meatspace relationships are much preferable to those in cyberspace.
  2. Cyberspace relationships are, however, not without value, and should not be discarded entirely.
  3. Some of the best relationships take place in both worlds, and such should be encouraged.

#Comment made: 2002-01-11 20:44:29+00 by: topspin [edit history]

If those I met in meatspace didn't behave like they were in veggiespace, I'd spend less time in cyberspace.

Having riffed that, I'll add this from my own experience. I had the chance, via divorce, to significantly re-invent and restructure my life. It was the most wonderful experience of my life. Having little left that mattered made me extremely powerful in my life. Lots I walked away from went unnoticed and if you walked away from cyberspace, you'd be missed by some of us, but in the end...... life is transient.

My personal advice, Eric, is sorta Zen/Taoist, I think. There's a flow and you're in it. Dan may explain this better than me (since I don't kayak and I've never met a canoe I couldn't swamp,) but there's a subtlety to riding a river..... it ain't about stroking hard to get somewhere, it's about understanding what the river is doing and using the energy provided positively.

And don't forget to grin at the "sun bunnies" as you go by.....

#Comment Re: made: 2010-02-04 17:48:39.854528+00 by: ebradway

Wow... Eight years later. Hopefully I'll not make so many typos!

Of my goals above, here's how they panned out:

  1. Personal finances took a terminal nose dive. Just last year did my aggregate income since 2002 match my 2001 income. But it came back full swing and I was able to buy another house.
  2. Didn't have to enlist in the military. Thank god. But also didn't get to spend a year in Monterrey.
  3. Racked up student loans instead of GI Bill. Turns out bankruptcy doesn't effect your ability to get student loans.
  4. Completed Ashtanga teacher training in 2002 (soon after the original post). Met my wife, Asha, through yoga. Don't practice as much as I should anymore - but it's still in there when I need it.
  5. Stayed in Chattanooga until 2006, then moved to the Boulder, Colorado area. Not Cambridge, but close.
  6. Finished undergrad at UT-Chattanooga in Applied Math, then MS in GIScience via online program.
  7. Currently about 3/4 way through PhD in Geography at CU-Boulder.

In my current job, as a research in cartography for the US Geological Survey, I spend a significant amount of my time fostering relationships. Almost all of the rest of my time is spent reading journal articles and writing. I get to code maybe about 8 hours a month if I'm lucky. I kind of miss it. But I also get to focus on technology as a tool rather than an ends in itself.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-02-05 11:26:04.311195+00 by: meuon

"technology as a tool rather than an ends in itself" - Important to remember that ever once in a while. Kudos on your evolution.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-02-06 11:48:28.229555+00 by: DaveP

Earlier this week, I had (another) hardware failure on the server that hosts my website.

I ended up starting the process of migrating everything to dreamhost (and yeah, I priced highertech.net, but their base package wouldn't hold all the crap I've accumulated over the years. Sigh.) and decided to keep an online presence, but it was a near thing.

Still was considering just hanging it up until this morning, when I got two emails from folks who find my "list of gun shows in Minnesota" useful, one with an update, and one with a query about an upcoming show. For now at least, that's tipped the balance back towards keeping things online.

Don't really have much to add beyond that, except to say "You're not the only one."