Sunday, 28 December 2008

Wandering Aimlessly

It's good to have a sense of purpose, but it's also good to wander aimlessly. I tend to wander aimlessly when I first start using a new bit of technology that I sense has huge creative potential.

I did it when I first started using the web all those years ago. In the days before Google, Yahoo had a random website button on their search page, and I spent hours, days, months clicking on it and discovering all that the early web had to offer. The early web mostly offered purple and green striped backgrounds covered with red body text and "My Home Page!!!!!!!" in 72 point yellow Times New Roman. There was no real sense of purpose to my expeditions, but my brain was in a kind of 'neutral-receptive' mode, feeding on the dross and allowing my subconscious to speculate on what might be.

Webcams were my next meaningless time waster. You were lucky to get 1 frame per minute in those days, but I found these nearly live windows on the world fascinating. No immediately obvious creative potential, but feeding the brain all the same.

I did it again when I first signed up to Second Life. This time, I got into double clicking on random location on the map, seeing where I ended up and flying around for a bit. I got a bit obsessed with this, spending hours soaking up the nonsense and storing it, encrypted in my subconscious, for a later date.

During this Chrismas break, I've allowed myself the luxury of more meaningless meandering through technology. This time, it's Google's Streetview. I've spent far too long over the last few days wandering the streets of Lille, Paris, lots of random locations in the U.S. and some bits of Sydney. Not the interesting obvious places, but the normal streets and suburbs and backstreets and remote woodland tracks. Nothing of any great significance. I don't know why. It's like there is a secret hidden somewhere in the banal. Maybe the secret will be unlocked when Google start to make use of the 3D laser scanner data that they have started to capture from their cars. Wandering through Streetview is lonely, but if Google give us a detailed and accurate 3D world to explore, wouldn't it be fun if it was full of avatars to share the experience?

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