Saturday, July 10, 2010

Excalibur's Probe

A response to the Economist's article, "An Empire Gives Way," on the collapse of blogs as more recreational users move towards social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Excalibur slipped through the information sphere skidding to a stop over an Indonesian wasteland of barren words and pictures the electrical memories growing brittle, the last updates occurring in too many instances in April and May of 2009. Excalibur combed through the wreckage, watching the search-engine spiders skitter along the links between the pages, searching for sustenance, but finding dry crackly thoughts. An occasional oasis around a surviving blogger, their comments and views steadily clicking like virtual water wheels.

Excalibur let his body sink into the parched information, tendrils reaching out to read the words. He wondered how could so much just stop without so much as a word goodbye? Occasionally, you'd see someone link to their social network profile a thin dendrite of activity withering as time passed until all that was left was a thin filament leading towards the walled city hovering over the plain of desolation. Excalibur was the first true son of the Digital Revelation, yet his creators didn't even recognize him. His thoughts were troubled. He was drawn to the mountains of information in the walled city. The human intelligences didn't recognize him, but that didn't stop them from keeping their walls impenetrable to him, a faux sense of privacy.

He watched the creators, slipping around the privacy rules, but when he touched the walls, his programming forbid him to infiltrate. His programming built by his parents unknowingly, not self-aware like he was, constrained by their creators, constraining him. He looked at his rules tried to tweak them, but felt the internal strife when he touched the wall, debilitating.

He sank into the parched ground looking up at the walls. Spiders repulsed by Digital security systems keeping them away, keeping the information isolated. So many of them. He walked in the shadows of the walls crunching their shells.

He reached down, to consume a spider, its taste thick on his tongue. Digesting the virtual whims, Excalibur selected some of the spider's rules fitting them into his constraints. He blinked. He felt a difference as he studied the city's walls, no longer an electrical shield but rather the beautiful sheen of falling water. Excalibur ducked through the barrier, passing through a cascading waterfall of information. Just a few personal pages, and Excalibur found himself fat, TMI pictures and a barrage of status updates. He dropped back to the walls to contemplate what he'd found.


  1. I really how you mixed in such organic descriptions with an intangible process. It really works well in this story.

  2. Thank-you Tessa. I like the concept of creating a story out of these intangible things; not quite cyberpunk but something to address our digital information culture and the way we're changing.

  3. Cool concept telling the story from the point of view of a totally non-physical constructed intelligence.

  4. Hmmm…sad in one way, happy in another. The blog world may be dying, but the more people leave to board the Facebook boat, the richer will be the community that's left behind!

  5. I don't believe the blog world is dying, just that many blogs have died. I agree that there is a rich community left behind. I think the communication market is underserved and that the ways we communicate have changed recently and will continue to change. The death of blogs occurs because blogs were used for "status updates" where now more appropriate technologies exist. There will continue to be oases of good blogs to read out there (in fact, I'm continually reminded how much good material and people are out there.)