Who are you being here?

What do our virtual environments bring out of us?

I had a dream a few nights before 2020. I dreamt about the early web and how inspiring it was. It could have been a fluke that I hit puberty while web was still shiny? Or was there something really different about source code you could read/steal, finding a friend with a static IP address and hosting our own Movable Type instance. I still recall meeting people on IRC and waiting 30 mins to download a .wav file of some poorly played guitar music. The low quality staticy music of Smelly Cat made me feel like a modern day Alexander Bell. It was magical.

I saved those files, I saved our chats. Our connection felt special and meaningful. Connecting from my basement room in Michigan to friends in New Zealand was like opening your eyes for the first time, grainy and low resolution, yet still in a strange way so much more real than what passes for connection on social media today.

What’s changed? Speed, resolution, availability, mobile phones. This article claims that the 2010’s have broken our perception of time, in part due to the non-chronological newsfeed algorithms twitter and facebook rolled out. Perhaps.

In my life, I confess, I was sold on the rise of the self, the idea of the influencer, the personal brand. I was told careers are dead and that to be safe I had to be famous. The more followers you have the more successful. That I had to have my own URL, that I needed to get on each social media platform early and post often to make sure that I got followers. Somehow it fell under “need” rather than “want”. That this is simply how to get projects going, this is how the “work” is these days. I believed it and it helped to dim the magic of the internet for me.

All is not lost though, I get fleeting feelings of connection when I post deeper content or make requests. I recently asked for book recommendations and was surprised to find some people still respond with insight there. Twitter as well. Today I had an incredible video chat with my friend Cesar in Hong Kong over 3G as he biked home, a technology which would have been mind blowing in 2002.

This makes me wonder if there’s a lot of beauty and magic //still// happening online. That perhaps all is not lost, and that there is a greater amount of it on Minecraft, in discord servers, or in decentralized communities. What if my online experience is a mirror of myself and I’m getting out of it what I’m putting in. There is a diversity of people online. If I contain multitudes, what about the multitudes themselves?

My friend Pavel and I had a pokey question about the value of creating content that no one reads, that’s harder to scale with a tweet, that’s more than 140 characters long, that has no picture attached, that doesn’t even have a singing emoji or gif.

Let’s take creation VS consumption. The tendency online for me is to trigger conversation rather than contribute. The tendency for me is to scroll or to go from one wiki link or article to the next, rather than to sit and contemplate or draw and share.

Architecture shapes reality, that’s for sure. Having a blog //is// very different than posting on facebook, that’s for sure. So it seems to me that first I need to determine first is who I want to be online and to find the enabling spaces that support that.

Who would you like to be online?

Here’s my commitment to trying to be who I want to be and sharing as I go.

Wrecklab Makelab

Wrecklab / Makelab is project which is an effort to create more awareness about how the products we use every day work, to inspire creativity, and to have fun taking stuff apart! During Wrecklab we take things apart with any tool available and investigate the core of the gadgets of yesteryear. Makelab is the opposite, during this session participants are encouraged is to put the destroyed objects back together again in a novel way. The idea is to empower people with the knowledge of everyday objects they may mistake for magic. Cell phone: magic. Refrigerators… magic. Printers: sorcery!! Having the knowledge of the inner workings of their thingsgives people more ownership over the stuff they buy. If your watch breaks, you’re not out all the parts, you can use that stuff! Also there’s the potential for fixing it yourself.

I hope that more happens, that through this destructive and constructive play people find themselves inspired to experiment, to realize that science is done by people solving their own problems. That a playful experimenting mind is a fun thing to cultivate, and who knows what fun hacks we’ll develop along the way!

All Hands Active

All Hands Active is the Hackerspace in Ann Arbor MI. AHA started as a series of brainstorming sessions in fall 2009. Initially floating from chocolate house to coffee shop we soon teamed up with DigitalOps and a beautiful flower bloomed. A flower filled with all the stuff you’d find in the corner of your garage. The concept was based on the examples of Hacker Spaces from around the country I found during The Two Hands Project. With membership growing AHA is coming to it’s own as a collaborative community space for tinkerers, makers and beautiful people in Ann Arbor.

MakeZine Visits All Hands Active

Events are hosted by members who are excited about what they know love to share! Here’s a knitting class held by Katie and Alex:

Sexify Your Life I: Yarning from Matt Mayers on Vimeo.

But what is AHA really about? Maybe this stick can help clear things up:

Modati and UV ink at Spring 2010 Collection at the gallery project

2010 spring gallery project runway shot

Spring 2010 Collection description at annarbor.com at The Gallery Project

From the release:

The 27 local, regional and national artists have created their own collection line or individual pieces specifically for the exhibition, and have made work that will be modeled on the catwalk show during the opening reception. Artists explore the myriad influences and contexts of fashion, investigating issues such as identity and values, innovation and retrogression, trends and fads, materialism and consumption, high and low fashion, globalism and regionalism, thrift, reusing, recycling and reclaiming.

We participated in the runway showcasing our new UV fluorescing inks and in Basement6 doing live silkscreening. It was really cool to be able to finally present my own home town with the stuff we’ve been pitching all over the country. If you want to come hang out, we’ll be printing live every Saturday till Jan 11 from 6-9 if you want to get something made, bring by your clothing, we’ll print on it for free!

With Punch.

The Alibi Venue Ann Arbor

The Alibi full to the brim
The Alibi full to the brim

The Alibi was a privately owned space for music performances, film screenings, and art gallery showings. We started it as a way to try to gather creative people together in a creative space with the methods for production, performance and sales all located in the same building. The concept was to help sponsor creative people by creating a small local economy centered around making, sharing and selling. The space was allowed free room to grow and evolve and overtime we had people curating events of all sorts including a group which began a community garden in our backyard.

Jeffery Lewis came last April and performed at the Alibi.

Jeffery Lewis and The Alibi Crew at the Fleetwood
Jeffery Lewis and The Alibi Crew at the Fleetwood

Facebook Group
Videos of some shows
Pictures of shows
Map and pictures of location

The Alibi was a fun experiment in sustainable creative economies but after a year in operation my company (http://modati.com) was offered a education oriented relationship with the Neutral Zone teaching teenagers screen printing while promoting entrepreneurship and the main source of income for the Alibi moved. The Alibi is gone, but it’s successors are awesome! Yellow Barn in Ann Arbor

Alibi Alumni:
Actual Birds
Alan Patrick Schuerman
Allan Fullerton
Annie Palmer
Charlene Kaye
Cojum Dip
Cut to Scene
Diane Cluck
Fatter Than Albert
The Fire Flies
Fred Thomas
Gary Lutz
Gunday Monday
Jae Stevens Live
Jeffrey Lewis
Legendz of the Fall
Looking For Mammoths
Lord of the Yum Yum
Matt Wixson
Mick Bassett and the Marthas
Old Big Bear
Stuck Lucky
The Ruined Frame
Tipton Lea & The Victorian Army
We Are The Union
Wesley West