15 years of fun online: nonfiction transcription to layering game

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Fifteen years ago, my web site looked like this
.  Today, there's a lot more links, everywhere!  Internal, external, updated passively and actively - there's just more digitized data permeating our lives.

When I started writing I wanted to find a place for myself in the world.  I wanted a mate, I wanted to work with passionate people, I wanted to explore computers and publishing.  Those things have come to pass, I need to find new things to write about :-)

So just about nearly all of my creative energy these days goes into my job.  I'm fortunate because I'm working with fantastic people, and the work we do touches on very deep questions I've had for a long time: how do we make hanging out on the internet more fun?

In 1994, I thought "fun on the internet" meant trading lively fun links.  Because there was fascinating stuff popping up in the corners of the web, and no way to search, and no one to tell you what was recommended(only NCSA telling you what was "new").

Now I have a Twitter client open to hundreds of lively minds I follow, and these folks send out < 140 characters a few times a day, and I can harvest fascinating articles, awesome helpful tech, the most artful distractions from the links they find remarkable.  I have access to millions of web jockeys who curate links on thousands of subjects.  Most every publication I want to read is on the web somewhere.  It's a fantastic sea of information. Finding fun on the internet is not so much of a problem; making time for fun might be.

I'm not sure the world overall seems happier now than it did when I first encountered the web.  Is all this online communication bringing us closer together, with more understanding, more access to knowledge, more evolution of ideas?  Maybe we haven't quite arrived at cyber-utopia; it's nice to still have something to shoot for.

These days I'm shooting for immersive social fun across all of human information on the internet.  It's an experimental Firefox toolbar we've been working on for almost three years.  We call it PMOG, the Passively Multiplayer Online Game.  And it's just the sort of boundary crossing I have found so exciting working with media.  Telling personal stories on business machines? Using the internet to trade endless pictures of cats and captions? Using all this nuclear failsafe network tech for idle human expression?

Hell yeah!

So it's exciting to find another media boundary to cross: what do you mean, surfing the web is a game?  Well, computers can quantify stuff, so let's take computer brains and hook them up to the work we do sifting media to entertain and educate ourselves, so we can start to keep some scores, and then we'll use game dynamics to link ourselves up socially with other folks, and now suddenly the web has another layer of reality and excitement on top of it.  A game layer!  A game layer on top of our ongoing lives!

Why bother with games? Spend a long weekend with extended family and try earnestly expressing yourself the entire time. See if someone doesn't suggest that trivia, property-trading, word hunting or card matching would be a better use of time.

So next time you stop by this weblog, and say, hmm, man, Justin used to be a lot more interesting when he wrote more about his life online, visit http://pmog.com/ and play the game that is like I'm writing my life online, except it's happening right now, and you're a part of it :-)

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Justin published on January 26, 2009 1:35 PM.

howdoi was the previous entry in this blog.

year(s) in (p)review is the next entry in this blog.


FOO Camp 08 - thanks Joi!
Photo thanks Joi Ito!

Hi, I'm Justin Hall and this is my personal web site, something I've been poking at since 1994. The content on the front page is relatively recent; if you search through the archives, you'll find old pieces of Justin. Recently I was CEO of an online games company GameLayers - now I'm a Producer working on mobile games with ngmoco! I'm an avid video gamer, primarily on the Xbox 360. Some kind folks have indexed my doings on Wikipedia. You can email me justin@bud.com!

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