WDD And The Commoditization Of Your Attention; Part One
During the time I’ve worked in and around sales, from tire sales, to sales lead generation, to account execution, to sushi sales, the question of the day always weaved in and around ‘ATTENTION’; a mythical construct, ‘ATTENTION’ was the jiminy cricket whispering in everyone’s ear, ‘ATTENTION’ was the safe, the last gatekeeper before the ‘buy!’, ‘ATTENTION’ was the trophy, acquire it and know you’re doing you’re job right, ‘ATTENTION’ was and is and will be because ‘ATTENTION’, like ‘consciousness’ (and maybe they’re the same thing?) or ‘reality’ are substanceless concepts that serve mostly as pegs for a whole host of disparate experiences: Money has our ‘ATTENTION’ but not in the same way that our spouse has our ‘ATTENTION’ but not the same way that ‘GOD’ has our attention but not the same way that…after awhile it becomes apparent that there as many different types of ‘ATTENTION’ as there are activities, as many as there are people to activate them. Well that’s a rather dull point you say, and perhaps you’re right, but here is a stick to sharpen it.
Imagine you’re one of the first humans to develop what we would now recognize (by feel if not by sound definition) as a true consciousness, a true reflecting pool for the myriad of sensations that occupy the mind. Imagine you are this creature; maybe you have language to externalize this spotlight you hear sweeping through your skull, maybe you don’t, but consider what it would be like to interface with your peers, who haven’t taken to this keen trick of self observation (don’t blame them, it’s quite the trick!). Imagine you and your band are delighted on the heels of a fresh kill, each carrying as much meat as they can, back to the camp. On the way there, another exciting find! Fire! The mysterious devil substance that you can pass your hand through, but hold it close for too long and! Ouch! But, as your band has learned from much trial and error, this substance is good for, for, for, well there’s really no word for it, but introduce fire to meat and the meat gets…better! Much better! So much better! But fire is fickle. It starts when it wants, stops when it wants, there’s no controlling it. If only there was! Now for instance, your band has come across a patch of fire already burned out; all that remains is some weak bright sparks, like small stars trampled on the ground. The disappointment is communicated among the group in snorts and grunts, sighs at your misfortune. Instinctively, the band starts to move away together. You, however, you astoundingly smart stupid ape, hesitate. The bright sparks of the fire have captured your…something in your head, you can’t turn away. The fire, wicked beast that it is, has captured something in you that you didn’t even know existed until the moment you lost it, and now you can’t help but bend over, bend closer to the dull, fading heat, bend down so close that the stars take up all you vision, so close that the ash starts to clog your throat, you can’t help but cough, and when you do…the flames get brighter! You cough again, reflexively, and the sparks light up again, brightening again, breathing again. Maybe the fire needs breath? The thing in your head now won’t shut up, won’t stop hammering away about these stars, there’s something about them, something about them, something about them that makes them just like you. Maybe you can save them. Maybe if you pick them up and breath on them! You move your hand closer, accidentally knocking some fresh stalks of grass onto the stars, momentarily smothering them. No! You think you ruined it, but the glow gets bigger! You shout glutternally, catching the…whatever it is of your friends, and they come back, watching as you clumsily and unintentionally fan the dying flames back to life. More breath, more fresh stalks, and the fire is rebirthed in a small sputtering start. Your friends are amazed. You brought fire back to life. But it wasn’t you, was it? No, it was your thing in your head, this ‘ATTENTION’ drawing you inwards and downwards with the same force as gravity. SO WHAT’S THE POINT?
The point is that getting someone’s attention is as easy as telling a good story, and the best stories are those that align with the values we hold individually. The point is that if you want to tell the best possible story, you have to let the listeners impact the narrative, otherwise you will never fully express their point of view. The point is that WDD inc. is a entity dedicated to telling a story that does just that.
What, above all else, gets people’s attention? Asked another way: if you could sell one thing, what would it be?
The answer to the first question is undoubtedly, ‘The End of The World.’ From Doomsday cults, to doomsday preachers, from Y2K to the end of the Mayan Calendar, to global warming to climate change, to an asteroid impact like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, from the supervolcano under Yellowstone, to the super bug sitting in some security lax lab in some secret government location, to the absurd stockpiles of nuclear weapons, it doesn’t take long to recognize the human fondness for imagining (and even facilitating!) our own end. And no wonder! What greater mystery in life is there than death, and what does the apocalypse represent if not that ‘final death,’ that closing curtain on all of humanities vain efforts.
It’s such a nagging question that the disciples even badgered Jesus into admitting he didn’t know when the final time was supposed to come, only the manner in which it would.
So if we’re going to tell the best story ever told, it has to be about the end of the world. Simple, that’s the albatross hanging around our collective necks. So how do you go about ending the world? Well first you have to pick a date.
Because I’m an American and a patriot, I thought, what better day to end the world than July 4th, Independance Day. And if we’re going to pick one Independence Day to be theIndependance Day, then we better pick a good one! So how about July 4th, 2076 (USA! USA!). This date is doubly great, as it is both far enough in the future as to be within our discernible lifetimes, while still being far enough out to allow us a lot of time for planning and preparation. Perfect.
Done, now we know when the world will end. What next?
Well that’s the answer to the second question; if you could sell anything what would you sell?
See me, personally, I would sell something everyone wants, something that shouldn’t really be available, but through some loophole, is. So I’d want to sell a way to survive the apocalypse. And not just the apocalypse; some way to guarantee survival through everything. I’d want to sell Eternal Life.
So I created a way to do just that. I created a world you can live in, where you can embody a character, watch as they go through the end of their world. I created a way to give free reign to the human attention cricket, allowing for all things to be true, all lies to be real, all seeds to grow into what they will.
And it is a seed. So small that if you breath on it wrong it might go out. But it is also a star, and if you lean in with me ever so slightly, and if you feed it your dreams and hopes and desires
WDD And The Commoditization Of All Attention: Part Two
Write here. Add images or a video for visual impact.
Regarding the fire-star story: the primary point is that the focus of human attention is often indefensible. If you were to ask the primitive face down in the dying embers why it was he was so drawn, the answers you can imagine have nothing at all to do with utility (the possibility of discovering a way to coax the fire back to life) and everything to do with self-absorbtion: there’s something in the head of every creature so enthralled, something that inexplicably draws us without and sometimes in spite of our rational dispositions.
For sure, over the course of our evolution, we have become ever and ever more sophisticated regarding our own backstories: we’ve developed ‘rationalization,’ as a way to cover up the sometimes infinite gaps that separate the conscious beliefs we hold dear, from the unconscious actions we take every day (actions which often betray those beliefs). We can’t control the operations of our recessed lizard brain, an organ honed over millions of years of brutally effective evolution, but we can and do come up with all sorts of explanations and outlets for our base tendencies, in order to incorporate the dinosaurs lurking between our neurons into the marvel that is a functioning human society.
Function We Do, But To What End
The moment we occupy is totally existentially indepted to each and every moment that came before it, just as the next moment will be a total product of where we are now. Those portions of our experience that we deem as ‘unnecessary’ or ‘bad’ or even ‘evil’ may truly be all those things from an isolated perspective, but taken in total those things are just as ‘necessary’ and ‘good’ and ‘right’ as everything else that exists. Our negative judgements arise from an impartial understanding of the situation, much in the same way that our fire-breather was operating under an impartial understanding of the substance he was interacting with. Does this mean these perspectives are wrong? Of course not! It means only that they too are misunderstood.
What does this have anything to do with business?
It is my argument that the trajectory of human evolution has been towards a greater and greater EXTERNAL realization of our INTERNAL landscape. The major steps in this progression mark many of the defining points of our species: the development of shared language (allowing us to communicate externally the things we experience internally), the development of operate economies, the development of mass communication… each and every step in the infinite chain has lead to better expression our internal standing, to benefit our feelings and sense of self. While the end point of this path is not clear, the next step seems inevitable: we are in process of developing a network which is instantaneously accessible, has a living memory, and is translatable (granted, not entirely) across a variety of mediums. In short, we are building a living brain (not a new idea). A reflection of our own internal projection, carved out in 1s and 0s and cables and servers and millions, billions of access points worldwide, solar system wide, soon galaxy wide.
Oh The Humanity
So how should we interact with this brain, with this system that we are at once creator, at once creation, of. WDD holds an answer.
If we truly are building an entity comparable to the seat of the human intellect, then we must ask, ‘what are we to it?’ We are it’s attention, we are it’s conscious, we are the indefinable tip, the roving spotlight with a mind of it’s own. We are each of us a voice in the head of the Internet, often conflicting, often vitriolic and angry and screaming and crying, often rational and loving and open for discussion. We are legion and we are beyond legion. We are humans and we are hungry. For what?
For entertainment! For something so good, so bad, so pure and true and false and evil that it mirrors the vast cacophony that daily erupts between our own ears. We want a story that is worthy of our own. We want a story that scratches every itch, infects every surface, lives and breathes and dies with us. WDD is that story. How?
- Transparency: Would your head be your head if there were areas within that you weren’t allowed to investigate? What if you could look through your own eyes, but couldn’t control your own body? What if there was a box in your head you were forbidden from opening? In most stories, you’d be obsessed with finding out what’s in that box. We at WDD think the same general rules should apply to the Internet- everything should be accessible, for a price. There is no information that is inaccessible, there is no expectation of total privacy. If we’re all going to learn to share this headspace together, then we all have to get used to the idea that concealment breeds only mistrust and fear. It’s time for us to grown up and learn how to truly share information. More to say on the subject in Part 3.
- Crowd Genesis: I take it as fact that each and every person has but one story to tell. Some people tell theirs in conversations at the bar, spread out over beers and cigarettes, bad karaoke. Some people tell theirs in books; those are usually the easiest to figure out. Some people tell theirs in a single word, whispered softly to their true love, at just the perfect moment. I will never be able to perfectly tell those stories, because I only really know my own, can really only tell my own. So the end goal is to create a platform where everyone can tell their story, where everyone can create a universe around their story, and then they can take those universes and mash them up with other people’s universes, so that we create a giggleverse of unending proportions. Infinite story. Unending entertainment.
These are big goals, and we’re only at the beginning of an unknown incubation period. But we know the stakes, and we know the date everything will end. At least there’s that.
WDD And The Commoditization Of Everything: Part Three
As a Content Creator at WDD, my primary concern is obvious: the creation of content. The end goal of this creation process was discussed in Part Two: the goal is the creation of a living, breathing world, a universe with all the variation and vibrancy of the real world. A place where people can invest in stories, in connections between entities both real and imagined. A place where anything and everything is possible.
With a goal that large, there is some question of where to start. Do you begin by trying to reinvent the wheel, do you begin as God did, separating the waters from the void, the sea from the firmament? Personally I feel that’s copying good work. For fun though, we thought to reverse the order, to begin at the end, to define how we wanted this particular world, this particular set of vast connections, to die.
The most important detail of this death I’ve already shared: the world I’m creating and the story I’m telling will end on July 4th, 2076. Although the exact time of that end is yet TBD, the method has been well hammered out.
On July 4th, 2076, a young boy, a boy deprived of all comforts, all securities; a boy bereft of friends, of family; a boy in doubt of love and truth and peace and everything humanity holds so close to our chests…
On July 4th, 2076 that boy will have to make a choice. Will he trust in the trail humanity has been treading since our birth? Or will he decide to appeal to the stars, to abandon the earth and the hope it contains. That boys name is Daihiro Daitokuji. That boys fate is yours.
Now we have a base. Now we have something to trace backwards, a trail of breadcrumbs partially pecked by pests, just barely discernible enough to follow.
Now we can see other characters, ones strewn along the way, helping and hurting and loving and hating our Hiro, molding and shaping him into the person capable of making the terrible choice he will have to make. We can see his best friends, themselves outcasts, although of another sort, themselves destined for a terrible tribulation. We can see his mentor, the man who could have been the one to save the world, the one who didn’t have the strength. We can see the swirling myriad of political and religious forces, their fervor ratcheting higher and higher the closer we come to WDDay, the closer we come to the end we’ve set our hearts on.
But since we started at that monumental terminus, since we already know how things will end, we see this terrible confluence from another perspective: for us, the end of the WDD world is already done, already accomplished. All of the pain and tragedy and dashed hope and longing that the inhabitants of our world will soon experience, have already experienced, are, in some way, experiencing even now, all this suffering seems not only necessary, but good (in that it allows us to empathize with these poor souls, with these creations of ink and nerves). So should we feel guilty for dragging these characters, these persons, through hell and back, just so we ourselves can experience some indefinable chemical high? Do we have no compassion?
How silly! We are real, and these are just characters, just spectres of those same chemical exchanges, vague phantoms that have only what substance we give them. However, in the interest of transparency, before we set out on this grand journey, let us profess that the substance we wish to impart on these subjects is not one of fear, or terror, or misgiving. No, those emotions are only byproducts of a misunderstanding, byproducts of the illusion of the two-dimensional existence. What we write for, what we create for, is for the good: for the good of those who hear it, and yes, in some as yet misunderstood way, for the good of those who are ‘experiencing’ it, for the characters themselves. There will be dark days ahead for our heros, for the WDD world as well as for our own. But if we, poor creatures that we are, are so devoted to the salvation of a world that exists solely between our heads, then…
Still Know Point…
The point of this posting was supposed to be Transparency, the further elucidation of ground we covered in Part Two. This venture, this whole WDD enterprise and idea, rests on many assertions and assumptions; primary among them is the belief that western society is heading for a crisis of privacy. Every day, techniques and technologies are invented that curb, what now seems to be an invention of the 20th century: the idea that we are all entitled to some degree to non-interference (non-observance maybe a better word) from our peers. (I say ‘non-interference’ as a hand wavy way to get past the tricky task of defining privacy. Like so many things, privacy gets wiggly when you try to nail it down.)
Although I would be the last person to try and salvage the totality of what we consider our ‘private lives’, there are obviously some very practical benefits to ‘not knowing what our left hand is doing.’ Privacy, in many cases, is an incredibly useful stimulator of the human intellect, leading to God knows how many advances in thought and decorum. Privacy as it exists now gives us all sorts of benefits; the ability to surprise others (and aren’t surprises great?), the ability to experiment without concern of judgement…
But perhaps the first and foremost luxury that privacy affords is the ability to hide ourselves, to divorce the feeding of our deep seated desires from the necessary day to day pretenses of our personal personas, so that we may appear to be something in public, which in private, we are not (and vice versa). The point, and yes, finally, after all of this, all of this muttering and sputtering and splishing and splashing, we truly have come to a point: the point is that privacy is and was and always will be an illusion (just as our characters ills and trials are illusory). As it is most commonly conceived in western societies, privacy deals with unobserved, the separate, the concealed. Privacy is the art of encryption, the art of putting up barricades against discovery, against intrusion. At this point in the twentieth century, we use things like passwords and dot patterns, incognito modes, thumbprint recognition, SSL certificates, etc., etc. to confirm that we are the unique individuals we claim to be, and this system only functions because the bad actors are (on the whole) one step behind the good actors.
Let’s return our fire-breather from Part One for a moment, the straggler who accidentally (funny how what is an accident to one perspective is authorship to another) rekindled the dying flames; this poor nomad accidentally stumbled upon another secret: the totality of his experience was not ‘above the water,’ so to speak- he wasn’t really all that aware of the particulars of his persuasion” he could only feel that there was something beneath the high_line of his understanding, obscured or buried or obfuscated or…encrypted. Something from his future understanding was impinging on his confused present, impinging so strongly that it dictated hsi response, ‘forced’ him to enactions he couldn’t rationally justify. Time travel.
And we mean and can attest to that literally: we were that force, and we constructed the entirety of the fire-breather’s existence, from start to finish, far in advance of when he actually came alive on the page. But this is all a smokescreen. Of course not, all you have to do is concede the point that sometimes you do things that you cannot possibly explain, in the moment, reflexive actions, echos of the instincts that once ruled us. Now, centuries, thousands of years of hard work have given mankind the unbelievable luxury of total self-reflection, in that we have an observable impact on the direction of our future, defining and making our choices as we come across them. One such choice brings us back to the present consideration: Will we cling to our piddling (albeit momentarily necessary) definition of ‘privacy,’ or will we accept the challenge of redefining ourselves, redefining what is public information and what is personal, what information can and cannot be had with this and such and such amount of effort.
These considerations erred on the light and airy so far, but the problem of dissolving privacy is all too real; from leaked personal videos/photos, to the adverse tracking done by government agencies, to the amount of information multi-nationals like Google and Facebook command, to police taping and stingray utilization, to the advent of camera drones, to… the issues are a hissing hydra, splaying off in a million different directions with a million different faces, but each and every one ultimately collapses back to the question of what we consider of value. Information is power, maybe moreso in this brave new information age than ever before, and new technology is always making it easier for us to gain information, so that more effort equals exponentially more information.
This terrible equation means that the bad actors will eventually win, will eventually gain the technological means to absorb every piece of information, gaining access to all the things you wished they wouldn’t. The only hope here is to change what we want, so that we can redefine the terms of our submission. What does this look like practically?
WDD And The CELEBRITY Of Everything: Part Four
Let’s take a minute to divorce ourselves from the overarching argument and cleave unto something more immediate: celebrity. All of us are familiar with the phenomenon of celebrity intimately; we think about it in our cars, listening to projections of people thousands of miles, years, distant; we dream about it while we’re taking out the trash, passing through our empty garages and filling it with imaginary vehicles of spectacular means; we have spent the past two hundred and fifty years inventing and honing the tool that is celebrity, and all but the most stoic among us take full advantage of it’s benefits. Which are? First let’s examine the costs.
John Lennon was killed by a fan. Bernard made off with millions of dollars in Celebrity cash. Every day, famous people the world over are bombarded by the camera flash, assaulted by attempts on their personal funds, harangued by the harsh winds that whip like whips when one is living life one hundred feet up, all eyes on you, artifical and those like jelly goo, watchin-OUU! Did She Just! Did He Just! Isn’t all of this a must see, glitter and glam and illusion of the highest pedigree, a manage, an airy harry carry of magick made in fairie lands, never, never gonna give you, up, lands, never never gonna let you, down, turn this upside-
Celebrity is that to live your life on the edge, observable to all, an image to all, giving up your all, in exchange for something not material, something divine, something to feel as God is must to feel, the indefinite knowledge that you are known, that you are realized in the minds of others as others are in yours…what price can you put on such a treasure? Only one.
Privacy. Celebrity is the antithesis of Privacy, the other end of the scale, the counterbalance holding frayed nerves together. We have examples of the disciplines of Privacy, too, harsh Disciples they are, plagued not by the needs of other men, but do they know the need for other? Men and women, sister, brother mother father friends enemies lovers; do these nomads crave not those bonds? Surely they think themselves free, but cannot see, are blind too, lack the other perspective they could rely to tell them, the bonds are still plenty, the shackles still sure, their grip the more all deaden on the utter they think most pure. They are beholden, you can be ______, but then so is the person hanging on an adjacent tree, across, a cross, all the attention and obligation in the world on you, it’s a cross, a crosshairs, attention focused in like laser beams, the pressure of observation channeled in steam or the dream of steam, cranking rotating fits, almost breaking it-
The phenomena of celebrity, (and privacy, perversely, conversely), became a realized American dream because the technology and the general strength of economy allowed for the monitoring of the lives of a certain class of individuals.
At first this class was exclusive, and near exclusively under the control of conglomerates that had an interest in capturing the attention (the technology to translate attention into dollars had been in development since the late sixteenth century [Ibid.]) of the public. Gradually, as the barriers to entry, as the costs to capture ratio decreased, Celebritties themselves gained a level of autonomy, becoming the creators of their own image. Or at least, co-creators. Or at least, co-co-co-co-co-co-co-creators. Or at least…the exercise continues forever as we suddenly realize that not one person has the same idea or view or creation of another, that each individual casting has unique flaws or features or fingerprints that attune it directly to the person doing the selecting, the sensory inflection, the preference for some things, over others. Celebrity exists because God exists.
The trend for innovation is obvious, from selfie-sticks to Snap glasses to Google mapping drones to VR DDR concerts, the possibilities for our own exploitation are near limitless, but the price is, well we’ve already covered the cost. Which leaves us with little option but to bump into it, this terrible reality that awaits us, where all our striving finally gives us the power to know the location and position of every thing, every one, nothing under the sun will be hidden from our artificial peepers. Jeepers.
That day is coming, for the same reason the day of gunpowder came, for the same reason the nuke came, for the same reason everything comes in it’s time, facts both repellant and divine: like how if we cling to anything it will be ripped from us, we have to trust, we must float along this lazy river, playing games to keep ourselves at ease, a gambling mindset please adopt, otherwise all this cops to babbling, rivel drivel spivel, sputtering, muttering, are we, hear for anything, other than, our own entertainment? Our own creation of celebrity. Trippy.
This is not supposed to make obvious sense. This is not supposed to be apparent. This is supposed to be a puzzle. The origins of the company, a puzzle. The end goal of the company, a puzzle. The mindset
Are you entertained yet?