Surf Solar

Seven weeks ago I got to visit some very dear friends. As these are babes who live far from me, the moments shared felt more precious to me. Thus I find myself wondering about how to make meaning of the experience using the tools and technologies of this place. Put more simply -- what does a trip report look like from here?

For as long as I can remember I've been creating images with cameras. As a creative tool I've always found it stimulating, plus as someone not especially outgoing, I take great comfort in being behind a camera.

One of the more thorny questions I wonder about in this place is the ownership over an image. While much of the community here produces visual art which is wholly fabricated, in my medium of choice the image can have its own set of constituents. It's one thing to have value accrue to the creator of art which is purely abstract. My art includes human subjects -- if I am to do right by them they must be party to the creation of the tokens that will represent the images which feature them.

There's a large intellectual gravity well to be avoided here. The discussion of one's right to be documented, and for that documentation to be available to anyone who can access a web browser. Suffice it to say I will wrestle with the 'what is a photo' question in the future. Rest assured.

For the moment then, the issue is simply a functional one. How to plan out the series and explore the space, as rock legend Bruce Dickenson would say. What are our options? Our levers?

This feels like where some reading material could be helpful. I imagine a great deal of time has been spent in the exploration of tokenomics -- I'd love to be able to learn from others. That said the simplest form is to limit the number to a handful, or even just a pair. If I keep one for myself and leave one in a wallet as a gift then I'll have done something. And in doing so I will be building a body of work over time, and my subjects will have something that will be waiting for them once they make the journey here.

When I was younger, just about everyone I knew had a Flickr account. We posted our pictures there and it was glorious. We had conversations in the comments and more important than that, we kept up with one another simply by pointing our browser at the same place we were sharing our own snapshots and fine art. To many people it was their primary creative outlet. If we were to use Instagram as any indication, the outlet is still quite important.

Trouble is Flickr didn't stand the test of time. Thankfully in this place building for the long term is something most take rather seriously. We'll save the full brief for another time, but thanks to projects like the Inter Planetary File System it is possible to create quite durable storage of digital information. And so presenting something as simple as a photograph can -- I think -- carry more weight in this place. A greater permanence comes along with the representation.

The nice thing about presenting here is that everything about the web is still involved. I can use a platform to act as my host, and the underlying pieces can be reached by anyone, be they a resident of this place or not. This is why you're able to see them in your email client right now.

What is unique to this place is the ability for one to collect one of my images. On Flickr this did not exist. For all its popularity with users and its commercial success, Instagram has not improved this state of things. This is part of what makes this place exciting: Anyone who makes photos as part of their creative expression has the opportunity to develop relationships which are both more durable and more nuanced than ever before. The people in this place who resonate with my art have the means of building a relationship with me which can be visible to anyone while also becoming potentially beneficial to each of us. My hope is that by committing to the practice of presenting my photography I can illustrate a path for anyone to follow.

And so that's what I've done. This is nothing more than a trip report. A series of moments, frozen in time, which tell the story of my week in Seattle. I am unsure that I'll keep doing things in this same way, but I'm fairly sure there will be more photography. It's too big a part of how I enjoy living for me to leave it out.

Plus there must be an ongoing opportunity for me to practice, as they say here, minting.



Vibes and Stuff

When I was a kid we called it tweeting. No one knows what to call it now. In some ways very little has changed. in other ways everything has.

One of the delightful things about this place is how many chances there are to re-think how existing experiences operate. I'm sure this sounds like a foolish pursuit to many. Why take something that's working as well as anyone could ask for and built it all over again?

Because to others there are very good reasons for starting over. And while there are plenty of things to re-build here, I see social networking tools near the top of the list. The combination of what's possible here and the fundamental utility of the tools is too good.

It's Dave's radio all the way down.

All of this is to say, the sooner you show up the better. It will look and feel extremely familiar but don't let that spook you. While part of me wants to tell you about all that could be built, and what I want to build myself, it's more important that you participate. So today I'll attempt to the question I've been asked as recently as Saturday by one of my oldest and dearest friends. The same question I was asked in the 40404 days.

Do you recommend I try this app?

The answer to this question is absolutely. You should show up. The important thing though, in my opinion, is how you show up. That's what I want to talk about. There are behaviors we've all adopted over the years with Twitter, Instagram, and all the rest, which are no longer serving us in my opinion. And just as important as it is to rebuild those tools for this place, so too is it for all of us to rebuild those behaviors.

My advice is this: lead with vibes

Change Your Mind: Operate from the assumption that no one is out to get you. That everyone who bothers to use this tool is doing so because they default to optimism. You don't have to think this is true, just concede that you'd prefer everyone you encounter here to hold some similar belief, and thus you must act similarly.

Bring Something: Reevaluate what you think is worth putting into the wider discourse. Much of what is topical today can feel mandatory, but it's actually entirely optional. When we're at our best we are curious and interested and gregarious and chatty. This is the energy you should bring. Moreover, it is possible to be a decent human being while also checking some of your own beliefs at the door.

Find Your People: Asking for introductions is always a good idea. Human beings love to be helpful and to facilitate people being excellent to each other. As you spend time here, don't hesitate to ask them to point you in the right direction until you feel more or less at home.

Talk About Yourself: It may sometimes feel like being on social networks is supposed to be an exclusively passive activity. But if you don't ever share yourself, you're providing no opportunity for people to connect with you. So speak up. Even if it's silly, because...

You Can Pretend: There's no rule that says you need to be the person your state-issued ID says you are. At least not in this place. If you'd rather go be someone else go right ahead. Keep your true identity to yourself. Or don't. Be one way on Tuesdays and another way on Sundays. So long as you're engaging authentically and earnestly you can be a fish on a bicycle if you like.

Be Excellent to Each Other: Look for moments where you can make someone else feel good about their presence. If you never take the time to express your admiration with something more than a like or a share, you'll be leaving people a little lonely. Actually communicate to the creator of something you've enjoyed. Show appreciation.

Be Psyched: Spend your time engaging with, asking questions of, and seeking out, the ideas and people who get you going. The ones who make you laugh; who challenge your assumptions; and who make you want to keep coming back. Life can take us to challenging places, so it helps to try and return to that which brings you hope, optimism, and excitement. This also makes it easier to survive the moments when the seas get rough.

There are a handful of additional principles I've had bouncing around since before I got here. I'll dig them up sooner or later. Choosing to participate is something that I believe is best done with intention. But the important thing is to start now and improve over time. Your presence over the long run is what's most valuable.

It's a cocktail party. Just treat it that way. Be psyched. Be excellent to each other. Pretend if you want to. Talk about yourself. Find your people. And, most important, change your mind. If you show up on a regular basis, even for just fifteen minutes a day, you will develop relationships. You will learn new things. And you will enable others to get to know you.

By coming along and playing this game with me, you'll be enabling me to do one of my favorite things: introducing rad babes to one another. Plus, I'm confident you'll enjoy the experience of being at the party even without me.



Down on the Street

She reached into her pocket and fished out her phone.

It was size of a credit card. The leather skin was warm in her hand. A small cutout in the leather revealed a monochrome display. On it a piece of abstract art moved slowly, overlayed with her next calendar appointment and the time. A series of icons -- jewels lifted from the Zelda games -- were stacked along the right side of the display.

She swiped her thumb left. The art and time disappeared, pushed away by a status board.

Album art for the song playing through her headphones appeared in a tile. There were other tiles for a messaging list view; her step and cycling counts and the amount of time she'd booked in zone two thus far that week; a Teams icon and an unread integer. And a picture of her boyfriend.

She tapped on the messaging list and unfolded the display with the same thumb.

The interior display showed her unified inbox. Across the top were icons for her cycling group, her roommates, her family, and another from the band where she played drums. She tapped the first entry in the list. The display rendered the message from her mom in a beautiful serif typeface:

Good luck with your interview. They're more excited to talk to you than you realize. I'm making your favorite dinner tonight 馃挏

She smiled as she swiped up to respond. The words shrunk upwards and faded as a small toolbar appeared -- she selected the keyboard and dragged her thumb across the keys, composing her reply. She tapped send and her list of unread messages reappeared. Then she tapped the band icon along the top of the inbox.

The first entry was from her guitarist. It showed a quoted public cast from the artist they had commissioned to produce some visual work their upcoming release. It was morning there and the cast showed of the sun rising over the ocean:

going out for a surf with the latest from @turquoise.bird in my ears. feeling inspired to deliver for them. can't wait for everyone to hear this

She tapped the reply icon and entered a quick response. Then she tapped the quote icon to share the artist's message. She mentioned the SF and Music channels, along with the venue where the band was scheduled to premiere their work next week. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of someone across the street waving their hands in front of their face. Another glasshole.

She was still surprised whenever she saw someone wearing Apple glasses. She used them herself at work, but the idea of wanting to wear them all the time was bizarre to her. Why someone felt the need to constantly have software in their field of vision was beyond her. Only her parents and their friends seemed to think it was normal. Of course, they all still lived their lives in Apple's bubble garden.

The thought of having to suffer the iMessage experience in order to stay in touch with them was brutal to her. Thank goodness she'd got her parents to use Farcaster. She was able to use Daylight devices exclusively because of it. She clapped her phone shut and slid it back into the pocket of her coat.

She reached into her bag and she pulled out her computer. The white Dyneema fabric covering the machine was well worn. There were patches sewn into place, with autographs from her classmates in permanent marker in between. She opened the keyboard case and flipped out the kickstand.

Her home screen appeared. Photos from her last trip to Japan rotated in the left corner of the display. Underneath the image of huge cedar trees, she tapped the album art and then tapped the bookmark icon underneath the song title. From the dock along the right edge of the display she tapped the golden Omnivore jewel.

The reading assignments from her professors filled the display, along with an empty notes file along the left side of the window. She pulled the stylus from out of its pouch on the machine's fabric case and snapped it into the charging position on the top of the device. She took a sip of her tea.

From the bay window in Leah Culver's converted Victorian home, she could see kids skating the park's retaining wall, and what looked like a birthday picnic further up the hillside. Her drummer had been an early backer when Culver put out the call to turn the building into a historic landmark and cafe. When her drummer was out of town they always staked her with their token so she could study there. In another year she would have accrued enough visits to get airdropped one herself.

She picked up the stylus and started studying. As the synthetic voice over read to her, she waved and tapped the stylus in the air. Omnivore kept up -- highlighting passages and transcribing her voice notes as she went. After a while, the pink jewel in the lower right corner of the display began to rotate and glisten. Her interviewer would be arriving soon. She had just enough time to do some drawing.

She picked up the machine, quickly folding the keyboard behind the display and adjusting the kickstand angle. The album art in the corner shifted as she tapped the jewel.

The most recent additions to her mood board flowed out across the top of the display. She put the stylus down and began drawing a basic pantsuit over the dress form template. It was important to her that the outfit she was putting together for the band's premiere reflect her recent influences as much as her own style. She was going for a Bryan Ferry meets 80s skater vibe, and the mood prompt engine had got her most of the way there.

She zoomed in on the wide lapel of the jacket. From the mood board she dragged a piece she had collected last season from @tomato.eth and dropped it into place. The flower stem bowed under an imaginary breeze as the rotating petals danced. The shifting color gradients in the petals stood off the deep blue of the jacket perfectly. The enhanced view of her was ready for showtime.

Tapping the layer toggle she checked the IRL view. A circular button with tomato's pfp sat on the lapel, pinned to the linen texture of the jacket. She'd prefer it be cast in copper but given the time constraint the best she could get would be charred bamboo.

She tapped the mint icon on the toolbar and a compose window appeared over the drawing. "So happy to know you and to have found your work. Thank you again for getting this token produced -- I can't wait to see you backstage next week!"

Her appointment jewel spun and glittered in the dock. Her interviewer was nearly across the panhandle from Golden Gate Park. She tapped the send icon and the compose window folded in on itself, shrinking into the Farcaster symbol at the top of the display. She tapped on it and selected an away message from the dropdown menu.

From the dock she opened her calendar and tapped the interview appointment. The note for their conversation filled the display. She whispered 'do not disturb' into the stylus and watched as all the ui elements faded from the display. The notes she had dictated to her phone over the last week, along with the casts she had bookmarked from her bandmates and supporters filed down the display and formed a stack. She clicked the cap on the stylus and the reference material shrunk, leaving only a graph and prompt cloud in the corner of the display. As the interviewer approached, a red light illuminated where the stylus had been charging earlier just as he called out her name.

"Sydney! So nice to finally meet you..." The words scrolled out across the bottom of the display, crawling along with his gravelly voice as he extended his hand.




My dude makes art.

When we go to the neighborhood open mic on Thorsdays, they pass the time drawing on the iPad. The pieces they produce are wildly abstract -- filled with color and texture and the fearlessness of youth. Each one is inspired by the music being performed. Lately they made a habit of showing the finished works to the musician who inspired them.

In the past we've printed the dude's work on t-shirts. One for them, one for me, and one for mom. This has been great, but it also feels limiting. Give how large of a role art plays here, it's clear to me that the tools of this place can enable their work to find a much greater audience. So how might they go about that?

Each piece of work can be represented by a token. As many tokens as they choose, actually. One for each of the years they've been alive. Or simply their favorite number. Or they could choose to offer each piece as what people here call 'an open edition' and place no limit on the number of tokens.

Once these choices are made, the next step is to describe the work. What ideas or feelings or experiences does the piece represent which can be put into words? Part of the task of putting any form of creative work into the world is to offer some set of memetics for one's audience to grasp, like APIs for emotional and intellectual connection. And given that these works are delivered to one's audience over the internet, these memetics can be quite important.

With the artist's statement complete, the last considerations regard the terms of collection. If someone is so moved as to collect one of the tokens associated with a piece of work, what is that collector receiving? It is up to the creator of the work to specify their preferences for its usage. As we covered last week, whatever commitments the creator encodes will be enforced throughout this place. However, given that this place inherits aspects of the web, and on the web screenshots are a thing, it's worth taking a quick sidebar to discuss the Mona Lisa.

Whenever a print or postcard or coffee mug is sold with a rendering of Da Vinci's infamous work, a number of things are happening. First, the collector of that rendition has obtained something with a degree of utility. They are able to display the print in their home or send the postcard to someone or take the mug to their local cafe.

Second, the purveyor of the rendition has benefited from the transaction. By purchasing the print or card or mug, the collector has transferred some value to the purveyor. Whether any of that value flows back to whomever holder of the rights to the Mona Lisa is an open question. If the print were purchased from an authorized purveyor, perhaps. If the mug were purchased from a second-hand shop, perhaps not.

Regardless of whether any value is realized by the rights holder, one very important thing happens: the cultural value of the work is enhanced. The Mona Lisa has, in some small way, become more noteworthy as a result of the transaction.

What is fascinating about this place is how tokens can clarify the relationships between original creators, the collectors of their works, and the purveyors in between. And how the tokenized work can be enhanced by the inescapable realities of today's internet.

If there is a single recommendation I will make to the dude, it is to be fearless about putting their work into this place. Because while the details of rights may always be imperfect, the token is extremely durable. Recall that whenever a token is created, collected, or otherwise exchanged, there is a record of that interaction. Given this fact, each new work the dude shares with the tools of this place acts as a reference back to them, the creator.

What is native to this place can live forever. Anything the dude creates here is like another LEGO piece in the project to build something which can outlast themselves.



There's a lot more to say about tokens. However there are other aspects of this place which need exploration, so with this we're gonna put tokens to bed for the time being. Next week something completely different

Funky Shit

The most important noun to understand is token.

In this place there are few terms more common or fundamental than this. We'll come back to wallets and keys, but not today. Because while those things are important concepts, they are only the tools for relating to tokens.

I won't attempt to provide a comprehensive description of the term's meaning today. It has far more breadth and depth to it than would be reasonable to cover in one go. I think it's enough to review our understanding of the word and illustrate how it's used differently here.

According to some half-assed internet research, a token is defined as:

(1) a thing serving as visible or tangible representation of a fact, quality, feeling, etc.

(2) a voucher that can be exchanged for goods or services.

With these two definitions in mind, here are a handful of examples of their usage which will sound familiar.

In a couple hours as I write this, my dude will ask that we stop for milk tea on our way home from school. Because we do this regularly, we have a frequent-buyer's card that is fully stamped. They'll hand over this token as evidence of our repeat business and be rewarded with a no-cost beverage.

Every pay period at the bar where I work the management hands out wooden coins stamped with the brewery branding. At any point I am able to exchange these tokens for beer. I cannot use them as currency to purchase other products, nor can I transfer them to anyone not employed by the brewery.

Tomorrow when go to the market I will take the empty milk bottles from my kitchen. The market will give me three dollars for each of the bottles returned. These dollars are printed with the description, "federal reserve note," as well as the phrase, "this note is legal tender, for all debts public and private," which is to say I can use these tokens to settle business with anyone who also has a relationship with the United States.

Finally, my father gave me a watch on my 40th birthday. Cultural tradition gave the gift meaning in marking the occasion in my life and his. At the time, he described it as a token of his love for me.

All of these examples should be familiar to you. They are all examples of the use of tokens in society. In this place, however, there are a new set of ideas about tokens and their capabilities.

First and foremost is that we now have the ability to create tokens with software, and such tokens can be both enumerated and scarce. It is only since the fall of 2008 that this was understood to be possible.

This is worth underlining. Before 16 years ago, it was functionally impossible for a collection of data in a computer system to posess these qualities. Ask anyone -- duplicating information has been a fundamental capability of modern computing since World War II. Copy pasta, baby.

So now we can create tokens with software and move them over the internet. Because facts are relatively new and novel, there is a great deal of unsettled thinking about how tokens can be used. Part of what makes this place so fascinating are the ways in which people are exploring what's possible.

For example, the creator of a token can decide whether there will be an unlimited number of them or a fixed number. And that decision is encoded into each token when they are created. Those decisions are then enforced by the computers used in this place. Rather than depending on active policing or regulating oversight, the tokens themselves do the work of guaranteeing predictable behavior.

Some tokens are interchangeable with others of the same type. Others are unique even within their collection. Similar to wooden brewery coins or cafe punch cards or US Dollars, some tokens can be used only in certain contexts, or they can be generally applicable in any circumstance. It depends on the decisions of the token's creator.

The last and most important aspect for today, in terms of how tokens work here, is this: every time someone or something interacts with a token, that interaction is logged and made available for others to inspect. In fact, there are people in this place who are dedicated to this inspection. And that work ensures that this place isn't going anywhere.

Dinner time in my world. Next time we'll keep going on tokens and explore some of the jobs they can do.



The Prodigal Sun

I've been here about a month now.

My key takeaway is that I'm not too late. A big part of me thought, or rather felt, it was over.

That Andreessen quote -- thinking the web was over upon arrival in the Valley in the nineties -- was really ringing in my head. It's the nature of adapting to any new environment I suppose. When you first arrive everything is new and novel and there's so much new input, and so the natural assumption is that one is behind the curve. How wrong I was.

There's plenty more to do. As they say: we are so early.

Spending time on Farcaster has been instrumental. This place wouldn't be half as compelling or interesting if I were exploring alone. Meeting others who are already here makes exploring easier. Everyone I come across is building and learning in public. My maxim has been to treat it like a block party -- engage freely and openly with everyone. Default to being curious.

Case in point: I had my first one v. one exchange at the beginning of the month. I put out a request for someone to act as a spirit guide (馃鈥嶁檪), and the person who responded wound up giving much more of their time than I would've expected. Their willingness to share was refreshing, and what they had to say was fascinating even while our points of view didn't overlap as much as I had hoped. I came away with a greater understanding of this place and better context on how to engage.

That conversation, and the ones which have followed since, make me want to kick off an interview series. An ongoing series of deep dives into the personalities that are already here. Facilitating conversations is something which comes easily to me, so going forward I hope to have people answering questions and telling stories to share.

Sharing those conversations, as well and these dispatches and the other sorts of things I have planned, needs to be done with the tools of this place.

A case in point is Paragraph. Odds are the domain where this dispatch lives might be new to you. publishing here is about forcing myself to be of this place. If this is where I expect to see everyone sooner or later, getting familiar with the native tools is the right thing to do. It should feel indistinguishable to you from a Medium or Substack or anything else you may have read on the web. From my point of view however there are material differences, which will be worth covering in greater detail down the line.

The last thing worth outlining today are a couple of the most common nouns in this place. They're terms you've likely heard before but their usage here is going to be an area of ongoing education. They are: Keys and Wallets.

These two things are tightly linked. The object which enables me to publish this letter is a wallet, and the key is what ensures that I am the only one who can do the publishing at this particular web address.

The same goes for my ability to participate on Farcaster. Rather than maintaining a password, I have a key. On the surface this may sound like a distinction without a difference, but that's actually not the case. The machines operating the Farcaster protocol don't hold a copy of my key, as tools in the old place do with my passwords. In this place, I use my key to gain access to a tool without ever handing it off to anyone.

If that's not immediately clear, don't worry. There will be plenty of time to internalize the differences and why they're important. What's important right now is that wallets and keys are fundamental to making sense of this place.

That's it for today. More soon.



Tomorrow Never Knows

I meant to publish yesterday. Going on stage a bit late. That feels like the right attitude though; more indie band than professional entertainer.

I've wanted to write a piece of fiction for a while.

There's a set of drafts on my disk. It's nearly ten thousand words. A collection of puzzle pieces I've long wanted to fit together into a sort of character study.

The interesting thing is that when I sat down to write tonight I wasn't planning on mentioning that project at all. Honestly I haven't thought about it in over twelve months. I was going to talk about my progress through Read Write Own, or my excitement for the next book in my developing syllabus. Or my feelings on proper nouns and their creation and how it always feels like the death of me to name something. Or how I talked to my family about what I know, one month into this place, and they didn't respond as if I'd gone mad.

Earlier tonight my dude and I went to the open mic. It's in the coolest spot. A great third place. While they sketched abstracts on the iPad inspired by how "the songs make me feel," I sat and read the orange book.

When it was my turn I got up and read from John Perry Barlow's memoir, as I've done the past four weeks. I'm early in the book and every thorsday i'm sneaking up on people with these brutal snapshots of life in Wyoming in the 1950s. It's wild stuff. Long story short -- if John Perry made it through the life he had, I really have no excuse.

I've got a half dozen of these letters in rough draft. I'm not sure when they'll trickle out but if I had to guess I'll be out of dry powder by my birthday. Which is to say, I aim to hold myself to an aggressive publishing schedule in order to force output. This place is so fascinating that finding things to write about shouldn't be an issue, but carving my observations into shape isn't going to come easily either.

I have a number of different styles of writing I plan on exploring. Hence the mention of the fiction I thought was going to sit on a shelf for at least another year. But all of these styles are in service of understanding this place. I want to explain what I'm learning, who I'm meeting, and how they are shaping my beliefs. I feel like a lunatic on some exploratory mission, sending reports home.

I'm here because of my parents. They were freaks enough to be in Silicon Valley in the seventies, and one of them wound up with a career in the tech industry. As a result of their choices I have a strong affinity for exploring the weird; the confusing; the difficult internet. That's the internet I miss, to be honest. This present moment of the same set of massive businesses iterating on utterly predictable strategies just isn't doing it for me any longer.

I grew up alongside this industry. I remember when it felt wild and uncharted. Like this place feels.

As a dude who thinks spending money on virtual goods is as obvious as tying one's shoes, my dude is growing up in a very different environment. I want to be able to show them some cool shit, and to demonstrate that not everything is set in stone. That they can change things. This is why I need to throw myself into the deep end and figure out how to live in this place.

This place is familiar. It has nearly all the land masses and transit systems and taco stands. The people are not much different than those you'll pass on the street today. Some of their clothing is different, and the words they use feel strange to my ears. By far though they are the most kind and warm people you'd ever hope to meet. Most everyone is excited about being alive in this place. Everywhere they look they see possibility and they pursue their ideas openly and with exuberance. It is so very refreshing, even if I know some of them are hucksters and scoundrels.

I could go on but for the moment what you need to know is that I want you all to come with us. Because I promise you'll have a great time. If you show up with authenticity and curiosity, I reckon you'll wind up wanting to invite everyone you know. There are parts of this place that are unfinished and imperfect and confusing. But no one sweats it much because they're all here to build.

Okay my realities are collapsing. I'm going to bring this in for a landing. This month is about planting trees. I'll tend them over time, as often as I can. My hope is that by investing in them they will grow into something of an orchard and throw off some knowledge to anyone who visits.

I'm just a dude. Living a life of blond fragility. And I'm great at doin' stuff.



PS The fiction has a whole bit about custom-built mechanical keyboards. Also surfing. And music. So much music. You're gonna love it.

a couple days ahead of schedule

that's where we're at right now.

not really going to get started for a few more days.

T-Minus whatever. Just a soundcheck.

I did write a bit of a banger tonight. it won't be the first one you read but if you're watching closely you'll catch it