Metaverse as Medium | 2220


Why I think the metaverse is important, MUDs, the web as 30 year long distraction, and why worlding worlds means shaping reality.

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Metaverse as Medium

On my blog the other week, I wrote about Wind-up Worlds. World Running, Simulations, DAOs and the urgent collective pivot we need to make towards Slow Social experiences. It generated a lot of fruitful discussion with people much smarter than me. 

I thought I’d use today’s episode to MUDdy the world running waters further. I want to briefly cover two topics that have repeatedly come up during conversation. Worlds as medium, and why the metaverse is important. 

So ‘Worlds as medium’.

The role of a World Runner’s is to continually steer an existing world towards more aliveness. I give some examples of worlds in the wind-up worlds essay. But I’d also add concepts like ‘The Roman World’ or ‘The Art world’ to the list too.

So what are worlds and what is the medium?

Worlds as Medium

For expediency:

A world is a place. A place in which things that become apparent, as part of its goings on, persist and further contribute to the world’s aliveness.

I use the word ‘apparent’ here not in its modern sense. Being understood, or perceived. But its Latin root, meaning ‘manifest’. This etymological history still echoes down to us in words like apparition.

We also need to have some understanding of a world’s reality. But let’s not get too wound up about what’s ‘real’ and what isn’t. 

For the purposes of this initial discussion. I’m adapting and extending Richard Bartle’s metaphysical framework of virtual worlds from 2003.

There are three qualities of a worlds reality.

  1. The Real: That which is apparent.
  2. The Imaginal: That which is not apparent. 
  3. The Virtual: That which isn’t apparent, having the form or effect of that which is.

Worlds are persistent places where the imaginal meets the real. 

The Virtual is the world’s edge, its surface.

Artaud’s 1938 definition of Virtual Reality in The Alchemical Theatre reflects this too:

All true alchemists know that the alchemical symbol is a mirage as the theatre is a mirage. Theatre (should be) understood as the expression of an identity existing between the world in which the characters, objects, images, and in a general way all that constitutes the virtual reality of the theatre develops, and the purely fictitious and illusory world in which the symbols of alchemy are evolved.

The Alchemical Theatre, The Theatre and Its Double – Antonin Artaud 1938

Worlding worlds and running them is therefore about taking responsibility for the worlds medium.

The shape of reality itself. 


The second major discussion point has been “why am I so bullish on metaverse?”

“Isn’t it” I’m asked. “Just failed reheated nonsense. Being pushed by Facebook seeking a monopoly over certain parts of people’s realities.”

If we don’t do something about that future then it could well be. I’m trying in my own small way to prevent that. The thing is, I’m excited about the idea of the so-called metaverse, because I’m still the same person who was obsessed with the Internet as a kid.

For most people, the Internet means the World Wide Web. In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee proposed connecting the concepts of hypertext with TCP and DNS technologies. Internet access (for various social and infrastructural reasons) exploded in the early 90’s. The eternal September began the same year that CERN made the Web protocol and code available royalty free – 1993.

The thing is, the web is just a collection of static pages. Hyperlinked together yes. An exciting concept yes, but not a new one (see episode 22-16). The web really, was a fairly pedestrian idea. Yes I did just call one of the most important innovations of the 20th century pedestrian. 

You see, a far more important invention. A more radical one. With far bigger (and as yet unrealised) consequences, had emerged a decade earlier…

In 1978, Roy Trubshaw, then a student at the University of Essex wrote a program in MACRO-10 assembly language for a DEC PDP-10 mainframe. He later handed over its development to Richard Bartle, a fellow student, in 1980. What they created together was MUD. Or multi-user dungeon. Later known as MUD1 or Essex MUD. 

So named, because MUD was conceived as a multi-user version of the 1977 interactive fiction adventure Zork. Known to Trubshaw by the name of its PDP compatible port. DUNGEN. All, and I mean all, virtual worlds are made in MUDs image. First birthed in Essex 1978. 

This is a point worth hammering home. Before the world wide web, before search engines, before web2.0, Facebook, Fortnite, VRchat and everything else. People were creating and experiencing shared persistent worlds, on the internet. 

Throughout the 1980’s pioneers went online via screeching modems to spend time collaborating, coordinating and exploring worlds together. By 1993, a study of traffic on the NSFnet backbone showed that just over 10% of all bits belonged to MUDs. 

That’s right before the World Wide Web, ‘worlds’ constituted 10% of all internet traffic.

Soon after AOL decided to offer access to the hypertext transfer protocol in addition to MUDs as part of its online portal, and the rest is recent history. 

I believe the web has been a 30 year long distraction from the business of worlding.

I understand why. To the general public in the 90’s Hypertext and the web is far less of an alien leap conceptually than the idea of shared, persistent computationally mediated virtual worlds online. In 2022, however, not so much.

It’s for this reason that I think the metaverse, or the idea of it, is something we should all have opinions about. What should it be like? How should it work? Worlds predate the web, they’ve been there all along. 

They aren’t new, but they are places that we are now finally ready to rvturn to.


The script above is the original script written for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in the edit.

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21 May 2022 at 18:24

Wolves Lane | Weeknotes


I was invited by Matt Plummer-Fernandez to be guest lecturer on the current Computational Art course at Camberwell College of Arts.

The students have just finished up a module on world building and have now moved on to their final work of the year – a site specific work/installation/performance. The theme is Solarpunk.

I already posted about this on my tumblr but I’m going to repeat myself for the main blog crowd. On Tuesday, we took the students to Wolves Lane Centre in Wood Green to meet Elki – the Cactus Man of London.

He is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. Channeling ancestral knowledge though ritual and music, Elki has become one of the foremost cacti growers in the UK. The cactus house is laid out like a body, with a womb, a heart and stepping stones representing the cardinal directions and the elements. He also explained how he ‘translocates’ (my word) Mexico City into London though the use of ritual materials.

In his adopted greenhouse in Wolves Land he is attempting to create the UK’s first edible Cacti farm. His life and back story is just amazing. Some of which is covered in the short documentary above.

The whole community at Wolves Lane centre is incredible. Other greenhouses are occupied by groups like Edible London who are tackling food poverty and revitalising grey urban areas by turning them into green accessible growing spaces.

The place is a GEM, in the heart of north London. The students I think, had their minds blown. (Some of them inspired enough to enquire about volunteering)

Whilst I was there I also met two permaculture market gardeners from California, we had long chats about the ins and outs of regenerative design patterns and how they translate from Mediterranean LA to the UK and Northern Europe.

We’re going back to the venue in less than 4 weeks to see the work the students make. Updates To Come.

In other news, I’m going on holiday next week. 🏖

So this week has been dedicated to getting ahead (podcast for next week is already scheduled), and crossing off outstanding commitments on the list of things to do before I leave.

We’re going to some all inclusive resort in Crete. My plans consist of eating huge buffet meals, drinking lots of brightly coloured cocktails, swimming, and reading at least a book a day by the pool. I may go visit Knossos, but as I’ve already indicated my schedule is already pretty full.

When I get back life will no doubt fall back into the usual weekly work rhythms, but It also marks the beginning of a huge writing project. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to find an extra hour a day to take myself off to the local coffeeshop and work.

Once I figure out my daily cadence or tempo I’m going to self impose some aggressive deadlines.

Speak to you all next week!

Photo 365


Permanently Moved

Metaverse as Medium

Why I think the metaverse is important, MUDs, the web as 30 year long distraction, and why worlding worlds means shaping reality.

Support the Show

If you regularly enjoy my writing or podcasts please consider supporting my work


Just 57p an Episode!

The Ministry Of My Own Labour

  • Camberwell stuff
  • Daily writing rhythm work
  • Calls about a short sharp project that needs managing
  • Calls about making a very silly short form TV show
  • Convos with the team about mecanics
  • ADMIN 🙁

Dipping the Stacks

Pop Culture Has Become an Oligopoly – by Adam Mastroianni

A cartel of superstars has conquered culture. How did it happen, and what should we do about it?

If you are going to read one thing from the links list this week read this! it provides some hard data about Cultural Fracking.

Viral SXSW Tweets Spark Convo On The Economics Of Touring

Why Are Musicians Expected To Be Miserable On Tour Just To Break Even?

Infinite Images and the latent camera — Herndon Dryhurst Studio

Spawning, a 21st century corollary to the 20th century process of sampling. If sampling afforded artists the ability to manipulate the artwork of others to collage together something new, spawning affords artists the ability to create entirely new artworks in the style of other people from AI systems trained on their work or likeness.

An Awfully Big Blog Adventure: A Cautionary Tale by Paul May

A few weeks later when I was summoned to the headteacher’s office. Mark’s parents had written a letter of complaint, not to the headteacher, not to the school governors, but to the County Education Officer himself. And what was the problem? The problem was knickers. Knickers were referred to in the book (Machine Gunners), not once, but several times and Mark had already been taking what his parents felt was an unhealthy interest in such matters, before a teacher, who should have known better, had recommended this appalling book to him.

Funnily enough they made no mention of the fact that on the very first page we learn that the girl from the greengrocer’s shop has been blown to pieces in an air raid. 

How knitters got knotted in a purity spiral – UnHerd

So when someone comes calling from “realityland” with a list of questions, the mere fact of having their viewpoint interrogated represents an existential threat to the sacred viewpoint. They circle the wagons.


I’m still reading The Chip: How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution.

I’ve just finished The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths. It was really good. English folklore wrapped around a murder mystery/police procedural.

After being on the ‘to read’ pile since his appearance on Interdependence last year, I’ve finally started reading Daemon by Daniel Suarez. I’m only 10-ish % of the way though and holy hell its amazing.

I am taking a *heap* of books on holiday with me. I wonder how many I’ll read 🤔

Music Spotify Playlist

I still need to write about Ethel Cains new album. It’s probably the only thing I’ll be listening to by the pool.

LIVE A LITTLE – Sam Gendel & Antonia Cytrynowicz

I read this and had to listen to it!

Sam Gendel and Antonia Cytrynowicz didn’t set out to make a record – it just happened. LIVE A LITTLE, a collection of songs resulting from one late summer afternoon in Gendel’s Los Angeles home, is less an album and more a moment. The ten tracks here were recorded mostly in one sitting, fully improvised, in the order in which they appear. It was the first and last time the songs have been played – a snapshot of an idea, an artifact of inspiration, at once both a beginning and an end.

At the time of recording, Cytrynowicz was only eleven years old. The younger sister of Gendel’s significant other and creative partner Marcella, Cytrynowicz is an artist in her own way. She has no formal musical training, but is the product of a creative family and is someone who makes art the way many kids do – in the purest way, simply because they are moved to.

What unfolds on this album is a dreamy mix of weird and wonky electronic bleeps and bloops, and improvised wind instrumentation. Vocals float though through it all. They feel like channeled previously unheard and unknown Jazz standards. Wonderful album. Refreshing.

Remember Kids:

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The post Wolves Lane | Weeknotes appeared first on thejaymo.


22 May 2022 at 15:32

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