Filtering for Bags of Gold

By | September 17, 2011

Last night I stayed up incredibly late. Combed over the Change MOOC threads. Analyzed my opinion about comments on the main site vs my blog. Signed up to help with the eBook project. Listened to DS106Radio. Y’know a usual Friday night.

Around 5am I drifted off to sleep as I think I hear It’s…Later…Than…You…Think was playing. I don’t remember any of the episode.

Data Visualization of a Learning Community?
[Screenshot from: Deb Roy, MIT Media Lab Ted Talk March 11, 1011]

But I had the oddest dream

I was sitting with all the listeners from across Canada (BC, ON) and the world (NZ, USA, UK, AU, JA)


even though we were geographically far apart
we could still see each other
we were sitting on this large patch of sandy earth
plugged into our devices
I was on my laptop
others had mobiles
a few people sat at large desktop PCs

then suddenly
the ground moved upwards
and we weren’t on the ground at all
but rather a giant sieve box

like the kind that maybe you’d use during the gold rush
to filter out the gold from dirt
or what they use for compost
to filter between nourishing earth and waste
and the box lifted the listeners and their devices away from the earth
and the sand fell through the sieve
and all that remained were the listeners
having a conversation
and the words shapeshifted into
these incredible hybrid beasts

they were
beautiful and slightly grotesque mashed up beasts
straight from mythology
Miyazaki’s Totoro inspired,
or something from Spirited Away
impossibly combined
hirsuit insect dinosaurs
grasshopper legged yeti

and all the listeners sat physically in this filtered sandbox
but trapped
with giant brick walls around us
we were in a box
though we didn’t notice
because we were
having fascinating conversations
but people from the outside the giant walls
below our huge sieve box
in the rest of the world
had no idea what was going on
and it was impossible to describe the beasts of the conversations properly
and the outsiders couldn’t see the beasts
so they were just mythical

soon enough,
outside the box
the beasts rose in popularity
out of context
not as pieces of conversation
rather, instead, as products on shelves
children had them as beloved stuff toys
colouring books
there were handcrafted interpretations for sale on etsy

at first we enjoyed the popularity of our beasts
we had shared the wonder of our experience
and they were so flippin cool
of course they should take many forms
beyond a conversation

I wanted to collect all of the beasts
to put on my shelf


there was also this acute sadness
a loneliness
a feeling of incompleteness

that we were unable to describe the feeling
of sharing
of being
and learning together
of the ideas
that sprang forward
without commodifying it
or objectifying it

17 thoughts on “Filtering for Bags of Gold

  1. onepercentyellow

    What an amazing dream and a beautiful description of it. I have been wondering about this identity split as well. Our past selves, conversations, experiments, revelations become trapped in this world of 0’s and 1’s and take on a life of their own. Even if I disappeared, returned like so much compost to the soil, my digital being would live in perpetuity, chasing her own tail down the rabbit hole. But like a marionette, she would be empty. Strings cut. Dancing done.

  2. Zoe

    What an enchanting story. I read and smiled. In poetry, you mixed your words and thoughts with such beauty. Identifying with your dream I smiled, but also felt a bit of sadness. The friendships, stories, anecdotes that we construct and sow are unfeigned but yet, still, I yearn for more.
    Thank you Guilia.

  3. D'Arcy Norman

    Gold? I don’t have TIME for gold. How can I fit it in? Now, you want me to deal with bags of gold AND patches of magic ground?

  4. Rodd Lucier

    It’s nice to know that you can be so poetic when putting words to paper. It’s interesting to me that you often do the opposite, converting words and ideas to images. Either way, I really appreciate when you share your dendrites have been up to. 🙂

  5. Heather Durnin

    #unplugd11 after we left each other. Perfectly described in the last stanza.
    But I don’t feel lonely. Thankfully, I feel like part of a like-minded community where technology facilitates our participation. Thanks for letting us into your beautiful dream.

  6. Easegill

    That feeling of incompleteness is important. Do you think it might relate to understanding how something like #ds106radio can have value for more than “30, going on 13” people? I sometimes feel like I’m in a glass box and being selfish about being part of this great community. Others can see me but can’t join in because they can’t see why. And if the world joined in then how would that change the community, the sense of belonging?

  7. Tony Searl

    I’d shower on that lovely dream a Wonka Golden Badge
    But I can’t
    ‘coz, that, not magically, is not The Proper Way.
    Or is it, Harbour Masters; aloud, allowed and basking at false summits?

  8. Giulia Post author

    Wow, ok. I tell a dream and all of you give me so much to think about. Thank you. I’m mulling (and basking in so many kind words) but mostly mulling.

  9. Tony Searl

    “Oi, Mozilla, rustle me up a party pack of prefab Wonka Golden’s, level up on the fries. And pwn a large diet cake. There’s a chick outahere who wannas one. Can you believe that?” #Badgemysteries101

  10. Giulia Post author

    I wrote it as soon as I woke up so I managed to catch all of it. That’s why it’s written in such a stream of consciousness format 🙂

  11. RebeccaF

    I loved this post. Particularly because I had visited so many blogs that spoke of being lost in a sea of links and information, or of feeling that this MOOC is perhaps too serious and too worthy and lacks creativity. This poetic dream gives so many pauses for thought and openings for new thinking.

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