Welcome to the August 2022 edition of...
What I'm Into, What I'm Up To
I'm sitting at a picnic table under a sunbrella on the patio outside our local gym. It's very hot out, 89 degrees but feels like 98 according to my weather app. Sitting still, staring at a laptop, I'm starting to sweat. It is almost 1pm, so, you know, it's my own stupid fault for being outside in Florida in August in the middle of the day.
Also our plumbing has been out for over a week now. The pipes are old and apparently roots have broken through and clogged it up, so... when is the last time you pooped outside? It's an interesting experience, especially in your own backyard.
Anyway, elementary school is back in session here, so I'm getting back into the school schedule rhythms of pre-summer. It's a little rough, but it's good, and I think it's definitely more productive in terms of writing and that kind of stuff.
What I'm working on...
- Publishing a chapter a week of my never-ending memoir
- Brainstorming the next creative projects
- Metaverse research (see below)
- Coping with existential anxiety, which I've been plagued by lately, around questions of death and loss and getting older and the true nature of God and the universe and our place in it. I might write about this on my blog. Any kind of anxiety sucks, and as a parent I feel it all the time, but I do think maybe there is some kind of value in going through this particular kind of deeper-questions-anxiety. It breaks you in ways that may never be whole again in this lifetime, but I think maybe it is bringing new depth and a more expansive compassion? Hopefully?
What I'm into...
- Movement: Effective Altruism
'Effective altruism is a philosophy and community focused on maximising the good you can do through your career, projects, and donations.' Despite some criticism, this movement seems to have legs and be directing money and energy and ability to good places, though a good friend made a valid argument that if we focus on solving long-term risks, like containing A.I. and preventing nuclear war, we are able to pat ourselves on the backs without actually helping the people in the world who are suffering right now. Overall, though, I sleep better knowing people are working passionately in all these spheres.
- Docu-Series: Light And Magic
I love watching behind-the-scenes documentaries about favorite movies and this is like six straight hours of that with all the big movies Industrial Light & Magic have worked on from A New Hope to The Mandalorian. I also love any good story about a ragtag bunch of outcasts who together are able to do what no one else thinks is possible. This is both of those things and very well done—what's not to love?
- Audiobook: Tip Of The Iceberg
On a recent road trip, I was looking for a good audiobook to listen to on Alaska and this showed up on my Libby app, so I gave it a go. It was a nice mix of travelogue and history, with the author shadowing a research trip from a hundred years ago starring John Muir and a diverse range of scientists aboard a research ship traveling the Inside Passage. I've never been to Alaska but I want to go more than ever now, especially with how quickly its landscapes are changing.
What I'm researching...
- Universal avatars
I was curious recently with all this attention on the metaverse if anyone is working on platforms to create avatars that can be used in different online contexts. The two most substantial so far seem to be ReadyPlayer.Me and Alter.
- The Sandbox
The Sandbox is a game platform sort of like Minecraft or Roblox, except they have decided to fully embrace the blockchain and cryptocurrency. I think, like with all this stuff, the jury is still out on how that's going to work out long term, but it looks like they are raking in investment money and have built a very robust platform for creating digital objects and even games. Also, everyone and their brother has gotten on board with partnership deals, from Atari to Snoop Dogg to Paris Hilton to The Smurfs. I would think they were in over their heads, except the company has been building different versions of this game for a decade. It will be interesting to see how it evolves.
On the other end of the spectrum, Veloren is a fairly new (since 2018), completely free, and open source MMORPG with similar blocky graphics to The Sandbox and Minecraft. For a bunch of penniless volunteers, they are doing some high quality work—like really cool dynamic weather effects and epic procedurally generated worlds. I'm very interested in the place where a game like Minecraft meets a game like World Of Warcraft, and this is close to that, though unlike Minecraft Veloren does not focus much on manipulating the terrain of the world, and unlike WoW it does not have a massive player base or the support of a big studio and huge dev team. I'll keep watching it though.