The Story

What Is An Archivist?

I'd like to take us for a moment away from the future to the world of the present. Our present. Let's call it an Archivist's exploration if you will.

The film adaption of Masamune Shirow's GITS:
better known as Ghost In The Shell.
In the world of the Pleroma, it is a future in which our technology has grown to connect us one to another and to an AI intelligence that is an unbiased sort of overseer of all things. A bit similar to the world of Ghost In the Shell, certainly one of the early influences for the world of The Archive (I've been watching Ghost In The Shell since 1997, about two years after the original movie's initial release). I certainly can't wait to see the live action movie with Scarlett Johannson.

The world of the Pleroma is much different in many ways as it is an allegory for all of living social existence at any given point in time where each of us that are alive are actually part of the Pleroma whether we like it or not.

In the future world of the Pleroma, Archivists are sort of like historians who travel back in time via simulations to find lost or hidden artifacts and knowledge of history. Our computer technology is so powerful at that point in time as a result of second generation AI actually designing the third generation AI and so on ad perpetuum. A side effect of that technology is that it actually allows us to peer into different points in the timeline via the quantum field in such a way, that we can retrieve information from an actual past time without actually the timeline at all. It's a simulation after all. We're interacting not with the universe, but a digital copy taken from a past (or future) point in time that contains information even that we did not uncover at that time. So essentially we can explore it as if we were there, without resulting in a time space paradox such as going back into the past and preventing your parents from meeting therefore they'd have never had you as offspring which in essence would mean that you never existed to travel back in time in the first place.

So the people who actually peruse these simulations are called Archivists and they're akin to virtual archaeologists and visionaries. An example of what they might do, is travel to a past point in time to retrieve an unknown plant or animal whose existence was previously unknown to human kind so as to add that knowledge to our current accumulation of knowledge in the Pleroma. The retrieval is just as real as if we'd done it in the real world, because it's a mirror snapshot of the quantum field at a given point in time and all of the unobserved potential at that point in time. We can't change the real past or our timeline but we can delve into it to retrieve information without breaking Max Planck's or Heisenberg's limitations on what we can actually know about time space at any given point. So we've established what an Archivist is and if you're reading this, you can if you'd like consider yourself one for the point of conjecture and this is going to end the pseudo techno-babble part of this article so we can focus on the point.

An Archivist may benefit humanity much as an Archaeologist does by obtaining information about the past. In addition an Archivist may also benefit humanity by gaining information (though only speculated) regarding the future of a simulated timeline that is based upon our current time much the same way we try to predict future weather by running probabilistic simulations based upon current conditions. So to benefit humanity the overseer AI comes up with possible solutions for future problems based upon common patterns it already knows and has used in the past with a required degree of success. The problem is that the AI cannot come up with solutions that fall outside of these patterns in a truly unique or inventive way, hence the imperative partnership between humankind and their progeny offspring, the AI. The AI as it turns out is a bit more capable than we anticipate but I'd rather keep that part for the readers of the books and stories.

Do We Really Create?

Some might argue that human thinking is just a complex pattern based means of solving problems and that we don't invent anything through a creative aspect of our being. That we like the AI of the Pleroma are trapped within the limits of what we've observed and experienced when we try to create something. That our creations and solutions are just a mish-mash of everything we've seen or done arranged in a logical and deterministic way that masquerades as invention or creation. There is more to consciousness than that and we are not the only living organic beings that possess it. A child can figure out that a square tile cannot be inserted into a triangular space without first folding the square diagonally corner to corner as in the diagram at right (hence yielding a triangle) without understanding the concept of what a triangle is or even having seen one. Surely there must be more to our creative aspect than we know or currently understand. Its that creative aspect of our being that can be found in our earliest means of education, discovery and speculation. I'm talking about the story. This is not a self gratification session for I speak of the term story in a more encompassing sense in relation to everything from our ancient myths and legends to our current modern media of books, television and celluloid become digital storytelling. Not just as a medium of experiencing the past but as a means of illuminating our way ahead into the future.

"The Medium Is The Message" Marshall Mcluhan

In a prior article I spoke of the importance of one such medium, the relatively new medium of Virtual Reality which is still in it's early stages but is set to revolutionize the way we tell stories and share ideas and concepts in the future. In the future it will bring more of us together despite the distance between us much the same way that the web, mobile technologies and online video currently does. That's the near future of an up and coming story telling medium that won't replace what we have now, but it will certainly change it. Everything we have today in terms of our means of telling stories is just an extension of the first time early humans sat around a fire and shared tales of what lurked beyond the shadows of their camp fire. From that point the first sojourners who dared to imagine a road map of what lay ahead in time had begun the age old tradition that is very much alive today. It's importance is directly related to those whose skills and talents can make that road map into a reality. Like those who could take the ideas of William Bourne, Cornelius Drebbel and Jules Verne and create the first submarines. Arthur C. Clark is also another visionary credited with having predicted (or speculated) the global satellite revolution amongst many other modern technologies through his writing.

Indy Sci Fi film: Interstellar Civil War.
Contending for the title of cult classic.
In our time and in this world, it is through our many different mediums that we imagine our future and in the process we define it. In fact this is as much a big business as is making those stories into a reality and part of our civilization and social fabric. Television, Film and more recently Video Games are the mediums through which we create these road maps and inspire the next generations to make real what we dream.

Think if you will for a moment about how much of the world economy is made up of the story. When we take into consideration every medium from books (U.S.Europe, Globally) to Television, to Film (box office revenue) and video games we can see that this is a serious force in the world economy and a part of our every day lives. Now think of all of the other business that is derived from each of those mediums such as merchandising, construction (to build broadcast stations, theatres, office buildings and warehouses etc), amusement (such as Disney World, Universal Studios or Canada's Wonderland etc), transportation (to deliver merchandise and hard coded media such as DVDs, DVD players, computers etc), distribution and presentation and you'll see that this is a serious component of the global economy and very much a part of what shapes us and our future. The same as those fire side stories told by one of the elders of the tribe to Gutenberg's printing press and on to wired and
Ridley Scott's vision: Giger's worst nightmares.
The upcoming film Alien Covenant based upon
the original horror sci-fi classic penned by
Dan O'Bannen and Ronald Shusett.
radio telecommunications, and most recently the global digital mass medium. This is the sum of such influence from books, magazine and comics, television production, modestly budgeted independent films, games and media to production blockbusters. All take part in this and have their role in the grand story that shapes what is to come, of what we should be wary or even to face the fears about what may lie beyond the shadows of the camp fire.

Transition Of Taking From It To Being A Part Of It

The strongest forces that led to the emergence of the hacker and pirate culture is demand, self esteem and peer pressure. The power of the motion picture, video game and software medium is so powerful that having access to it before the rest of the public does has become a form of power unto itself. This has shaped itself into the emergence of underground demand for such mediums and provided the peer pressure to motivate the technically inclined into making that early access possible.

Let's face it. For those of us who started this journey as nerds, we weren't really the social staple of any circle. In fact many of us were the targets of bullying and social propping (promoting one's social status by stepping on someone else of lesser social status for the amusement of the crowd). Many who were more technically inclined than socially had trouble making friends or being accepted by the many circles in the social hierarchy common in any school. So when those technically inclined nerds figured out they could be accepted by misusing their technical talents for the purpose of getting access to video games or even movies for free (by downloading and copying them illegally), they'd found a way to elevate themselves within the complex social circles and to put themselves on the risky and daring side of the fence. That results in the people pleaser mentality. Doing or not doing things based upon the fact that you might lose or gain others as friends.

Most who learned to find acceptance this way never learned or understood that such people are not real friends. Nonetheless many sold their integrity that way to earn such false friends and to fill the growing demand that having access to the power of those mediums gave them. The power of access to a medium before official release to the public for home consumption. That is the lure of the hacker and pirate mentality especially to the young. Many such youths would likely never take a step down that road if they possessed and understood self esteem. I've often spoken of the fact that is the barrier in most people's lives that results in the people pleaser mentality and way of earning friends and acceptance, rather than roughing it out to find people whose values truly match your own. It is this mentality that led to the early foundation of piracy during the digital revolution because by the time that power made it to the form of an underground market, there were already many technically inclined post-nerds who were willing to sacrifice their own integrity to profit by such a market whether it be downloading copywritten material to selling it on discs to those in your community for a few dollars.

Hugh Jackman and crew filming: The Wolverine
Let's consider the impact of doing that for a moment. In the beginning there is someone who comes up with a concept and possibly writes a book or a script. That book and script becomes the basis for a production of some kind whether it be a television series, movie or video game. It becomes the bread and butter of a growing number of people who become involved from creation to completion to distribution to merchandising etc. Let's say that such a movie when stolen and copied before the release date makes it into the hands of a million people who did not pay a cent for that movie but might have ventured to the movie theatre to see it if they hadn't a pirated copy. How much of an impact does that have? If you consider that movie tickets are about twelve to fifteen dollars a piece now, not to mention snack food and maybe dinner for a night out, we're talking about thirty to fifty dollars per person for even a modestly pirated motion picture. If you do the math that's fifty million dollars. That's money that could have supported the income of on average about two thousand people for a year (with the relatively low income of $25K salary). So that's a sizeable impact upon the livelihood and income of many people. Some families. Some not.

What about the impact it has upon the revenue that making movies at a given location generates for a local economy? First of all there's hiring the film crew to shoot the movie. The performers to play in the film. The local equipment rentals. The transportation of studio production assets to the location. The local catering required to feed the cast and crew. Police officers hired to stop or redirect traffic. Local security firms as well provide protection for the set after shooting finishes for the day. Permit costs to the city for using the location. The local hospitality of providing residence, cuisine and entertainment for the cast and crew. The publicity generated by film and studio productions at a given location which pays out years after the production for a location. We're definitely talking about a lot of income and a huge economic impact for a given location where such a film shoot might take place. Now does stealing movies and software seem like such a good idea? It certainly doesn't make those who do it Robin Hood, or the rebel with a cause. Hence it is imperative and important to change this mentality in both ourselves as adults and our youth so we can make the transition of being a part of that wonder story.

Would It Really Change Anything?

Some might argue that the kind of people who would download, sell movies or buy pirated movies would never venture to a theatre to see a movie in the first place. I would argue that's not true at all and that most people who never had access to pirated movies might actually had spent the money to treat themselves and someone they care for to a treat such as a film and dinner. More importantly is that nobody especially, the nerds who possess the technical prowess to make those things happen should ever lack the self esteem to sell themselves out in such a manner if not only to make friends that really were not worthy of their friendship in the first place. Now that such markets have solidified and are driven by money and criminal enterprise dealing with it is going to be that much more difficult but the place to begin is by realizing that we as consumers (and producers) of content can impact that by changing the way we regard even casual piracy.

I'm speaking of television shows, movies and software obtained illegally without paying for the content so that those who produce it are reimbursed and the market continues to flourish. Someday the job that depends upon it might be your own. More importantly how does that impact the telling of the story and how it defines our future? Wouldn't you much rather be a part of the epitaph that defines our future than a parasite living on the fringes? One of those who might soon be forgotten and fade to nothing? Regardless of what you might believe about redemption, isn't it something that is worth a try?

Brian Joseph Johns

Hadden 92CF34781XXY

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