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timewarp: CyberGuru 2008.

"Verum est, certum et verissimum, quod est, superius naturam habet inferioram et ascendens naturam descendentis."

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The CyberGuru Project

Project Summary - A digital soliloquy

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The cyberguru project is an example of what might evolve to be "digital cryonics" or "mind-uploading". The project is a foresight of the first "cyber cemetery": a database and web museum for researchers of the past of cyberspace and humanity. As such it is an attempt to preserve personal information in a structurized way providing a sample framework, as well as creating one that reflects my own personal character.

What is a personal web page if not a digital representation of one's self image? A collection of structured information one considers important at the time of creation. Looking back on what was considered the self representation, what personal image of the self was created at that certain age. Observing how information shifts levels in the years of personal progress shows how relative those values and images are. With the progress of time a full spectrum of past selves will have emerged tied to a thread of personal history.

The process of creating a personal webpage is kind of digital cryonics. Information that you try to preserve and communicate to the future. Once you die what will be left in cyberspace is a personal web reflecting something of your personal character and history. I see it as a development of what historical photographs of ancestors and passed family members mean for each individual. I hope my great-great-great... grandchildren will enjoy looking back on these old time multimedia collections of their ancestors.

The unfolding "museum of personal websites" also constitutes data for researchers of the past and future of cyberspace. Styles, images, beliefs that bare the mark of trends of the historical age as well as leaving a collection of digital selves of humans as they perceived themselves in their interpreted environment at a given age. What will emerge is a digital cemetery of personal webs. The question is if they will be hosted and how.

For me creating a personal web is a kind of meditation about my own life and position. Questions of what is important, what is relevant, what carries a value for others, what is to be exposed and what is to be kept in secret? What does the projected web image reflect of your own being? It is a game of constant re-evaluation of your actions and reflections.

The creative process is a transformation of the ego. One starts with collecting the bits and pieces of his own personality: historical biography, family information, education, professional life, hobby and so on. As one does so questions about the creation arise touching upon the most intimate part of one's personality: What can one preserve and represent to others of the self? How does content relate to form? How detailed should one topic be, how extended the information, where to draw the borders of self-identity? What are the limits of the infinite information that constitutes one person's life? Space seems to be infinite but time certainly is not...

Collecting and organizing personal data helps to identify one's position in time and space. Once collected it can be selected for distribution or concealment. What is chosen for preservation has to be transformed to content and organized in structure. But what is the structure? Every web is just images and words organized in an artistic form of design and structure, just like one's personal memory of things.

When I created my first web it was strongly hierarchical. The hierarchy of the web reflected the hierarchy of my personal attitude towards things. Things on "top" were more important then things at the "bottom" so to say. The automatics of the tree structure were applied to personal achievement and biographical data. This hierarchy remained in the webs for a long time.

What is interesting in the hierarchy is how certain elements shift their position in these virtual trees. One example is how my educational achievements listed on top in my first couple of webs slowly started drifting to the bottom and how others things like my professional life or family life became more important taking the top positions of the tree. What a perfect parabola of my very own life.

Another interesting aspect of hierarchical tree webs is that it splits the content into channels. The information you dispose is diverted into channels of classified data. This creates a false illusion of personal integrity: as if any of the constituting elements of personal integrity could be dissected into channels of "education", "profession", "family", etc. This is completely false. Much of what relates to one area of life just as entirely relates to other segments. This approach to life and thus the representation leads to segmented self identity.

The inner need for expressing self identity is exactly what drives humans to create a personal web - they want their own personal cyberspace organized in a structure reflecting their ego. Personality and Egoism are the two major driving forces. The process can be however very transformative.

Similarly my first webs were merely about my ego - my portrait dominating every page is one good example. The first webs are nothing else but a display of my personal 'achievements', a show off of my qualities. This was a useful stage, because it helped me collect my 'qualities' and also helped me to archive what is now the Library [« go ]. My qualities which I was so much proud of at that time now seem to be so much less important. Slowly something began to transform so subtly I hardly realized.

One important change was the realization of how reality can be "interpreted". Every fact of life can be dressed up or disguised to look different than its full reality. This also brought up questions about what is a fact - what evidence can one provide to support the truth of one statement. Cyberspace is a lot more uncontrolled in this respect than our physical reality and an individual can create any kind of virtual reality about himself especially in terms of a personal web.

The question was also ethical: how much should one distort the reality of things so they look different. Although my intentions were pure and I was not interested in creating a false image, my early attempts clearly show how I tried to "polish" everything in my life representation so they project the best picture. Every aspect of my life was exaggerated and everything I have done was expressed in a way that the medium showed more than the pure fact. This only reflects my personal psychological state of that time when I thought that everything I done was very unique and I was the center of the galaxy.

With time that slowly changed - I became more "zen". I was less interested in interpreting the environment I was in, and trying to restrict the database to facts. This of course involved the re-evaluation and restructuring of my whole digital ego.

I realized how hierarchical my thinking had been and first I wanted to discard and turn away from my past selves. On the other hand I realized that there are many fundamental elements in my past that I should not abandon. Therefore I understood that restructuring could only be achieved if one integrates his own personal history without evaluating it in terms of good and bad or important and not important and embraces it as karma.

In fact there were many outcomes of this realization: I elaborated my family database with a genealogy and started opening chapters for family members. In time I hope to dedicate at least one page to every single member with as much information as I can substract. My intention is to create a web where I can link as many people as possible and where the qualities of others are also accessible. I have started including other people's writings in the Library as one example.

Another outcome was the creation of the Archives [« go ] which is the collection of my past cyber-selves as they were. Instead of discarding them as old and transcended, I have decided to build a structure where I freeze my digital ego in time and make it available for future selves to see the progress. In time it may also be a find for researchers of the past of the internet.

One step further was the development of the "Timewarp" function (found on the bottom of the pages). This is an extension of the Archives, where you can jump years within the topical framework. Accordingly it is possible to view one content as it had been interpreted at certain stages. This also shows when a certain topic was added to the web or when it was omitted. This function is only available from 2004 onwards since adding it to previous webs would have destroyed their original hierarchy.

And exactly the most important outcome of my digital meditations is the new structure: where time is presented vertically, but no verticality is present in the present. Horizontally the web is completely interlaced, based on topical relationship and not on "hierarchy of importance". Accordingly visitors can browse the content freely without being diverted into channels of biased information and can follow their own course of interest.

This also reflects my own attitude towards things: I am not trying to place one thing above the other or be anything anymore, but rather reflect the many things constantly surrounding me...

Another feature I have started to include on the pages are the "Soliloquy" boxes. These are personal honest remarks on how I see the content from my present perspective. Very often these statements seem to contradict the original, since much of the representation shows only the positive aspects of the issue and not the full picture. This is my new line of Zen. In time I hope that all areas covered will have at least one short remark on their true nature.

As technology advanced in 2008 I added an ALICE AI chatbot [« go ] to the personal section of the web. This is a step forward to mind-uploading and foreshadows the site turning into an interactive Virtual Avatar - an Artificial Intelligence Character Simulation of my real life person... This Character Simulation is based on a pre-defined response matrix matching the psychological character style of my personality. Thus (as long as the service is running) you can have converstaions with my virtual avatar and will have chat responses similar to what I would have said to you.

So what is the result? The result is a manifestation of my digital meditations: a virtual egotrip and an artistic statement, but also a digital framework for archiving personal information. If nothing else, it has been a great tool for personal discovery - a method I strongly recommend for others.

To be continued...
Soon enough.

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Last updated: 01-09-2008