A confession that may be startling to some: I have had a virtual home for more than 10 years. A home that is like some of these artists’ homes you read about in novels – with all sorts of people coming in and going out all the time, where you’re never sure of how many people will show up for dinner or pop in for a beer. A home that is cranky and wonderful, exasperating and lovely, has it’s disputes and (blimey!) a lot of caring support. And yet one that hasn’t interfered too much with real-life life (in fact, it sometimes tend to be the other way round). Actually, my wife actually gave me tickets to London as a birthday present once so that I could go an actually see some of these lovely internet weirdos…
I must confess that these news made me feel uneasy. It may be difficult to comprehend how much at home it is possible to feel in a virtual place or why somebody might be daft enough to hand around there for years and years.
But, see – there are so many things that has been valuable to me there.
Save from the one scientific article that came out of my master’s thesis (and there I’m even only a “middle” author, so it’s not like I submitted the whole thing), my first public writings have been on h2g2. Edited (yes, there is a formal peer-editing process) articles, essays, rants – even my first ventures into poetry. Something I would have never done without the support and feedback of people there.
A group of friends with whom I can discuss anything, even under-age ironing (yeah, you probably should have been there…). Maybe because we’re not burdened with too much information about each other’s lives, I don’t know, but the quality of listening, consoling, supporting and just there-being certainly has been second to nothing. Maybe on a par with friends in scouting – which is the highest praise I can give, of course
And I’ve learned so much. I know things about the political climate in the USA, about sights, history and bars in Melbourne, how train and buses cope with snow in Stockholm, about the local gems in terms of restaurants and beer in Munich, … Oh, and my English language skills have been expanded and honed considerably.
I’ve even expanded on the virtual universe there by fiddling with (…virtual) brick, mortar & timber in a lovely corner with a magnificent view and created an outdoor resort with many a splendid path through the world’s nicest sceneries. And with a bar, of course, where relaxing with a drink after a brisk walk is a pleasure. It must be said that there has been more relaxing with drinks done than actual walking about – the bar conversation has passed 32,500 comments (postings, if you will).
For these reasons – and many more – the news were unsettling. So I do support all the initiatives going on to support this universe. BBC’s endeavours – whatever they may be – to find us a suitable and caring future owner. And also of course the community run one, as it is such a strong – and not unexpected at all – trait of the society within this website that it cares for itself and all its members. Very much.
Want to know more? What is this thing? Well, it’s the Earth Edition of the Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as imagined and told by Douglas Adams in his increasingly inaccurately trilogy of the same name. And then some… I’d like to invite you to have a look if your curiosity has been just a little piqued:
The site itself (also linked above):http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/
The site’s own paper: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/thepost (a paper? Sure. And there’s likely to be a central station somewhere – if not, at least there has been solid playing of Mornington Crescent…)
About the site, including a brief history: http://www.h2g2c2.co.uk/?pid=7