It is of the nature of idea to be communicated: written, spoken, done. The idea is like grass. It craves light, likes crowds, thrives on crossbreeding, grows better for being stepped on.
Gemma sketched out many of the ideas we had talked about so far, and reviewing these visualisations highlighted more precisely what we're interested in, and what isn’t addressed successfully by existing tools. The ‘slow-mode’ process of reflection and connecting of thoughts, the taking of time to link and develop ideas is what we'd like to focus on fostering.
There are many existing projects that hold values or ideas that resonate with us; Paragraph Club, Chat Roulette, PWR itself — small scale social games, between a limited number of participants, with regular participation, in a limited timeframe.
A mushrooms' flavour and shape depend on its surroundings, and this indeterminacy feels important. We are moving on from the AI trained on your own writings, to the premise that other people are key to helping you mine your previous ideas. They have unpredictable input and perspective, and so draw out what you already know. This is something we’ve found when we meet up to further this project; we share references and make connections we hadn't when alone. The connections we make alone are multiplied because we share, bounce, and weave with each other through conversation.
As we talk we pull up articles, profiles, and other sites, augmenting the verbal exchange with references. This pair browsing is as exciting glimpse into someone else's online mental map; sharing a computer, seeing how someone else navigates, and the choices they make. We're reminded of We See In Every Direction, The Waffle Game, The Button. Games as a re-framing of the habit/ritual idea we've been developing. There is a lightness, a playful spirit, a defined structure of start and finish, and social element baked into games. Players are cooperating by abiding to agreed rules, there is a social motivation to continue, a convention of replying.
We spent the rest of the session devising the ideas around and rules for a conversation game, designed to habitualise small bursts of reflective writing, and began version 0.1 of the game with a mutual friend.
Maybe we can even agree that authorship is more an act of porous absorption than monolithic assertion.
The indeterminancy of fungal growth is one of the most exciting things about fungi. Human bodies achieve a determinate form early in our lives. Barring injury, we'll never be all that different in shape than we were as adolescents. We can't grow extra limbs, and we're stuck with the one brain we've each got. In contrast, fungi keep growing and changing form all their lives. Fungi are famous for changing shape in relation to their encounters and environments. Many are "potentially immortal", meaning they die from disease, injury or lack of resources, but not from old age. Even this little fact can alert us to how much our thoughts about knowledge and existence just assume deteriminate life form and old age. We rarely imagine life without such limits – and when we do we stray into magic. Rayner challenges us to think with mushrooms, otherwise. Some aspects of our lives are more comparable to fungal indeterminancy, he points out. Our daily habits are repetitive, but they are also open-ended, responding to opportunity and encounter. What if our indeterminate life form is not the shape of our bodies but rather the shape of our motions over time? Such indeterminancy expands our concept of human life, showing us how we are transformed by encounter.