Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,
Insomnia
insomnia

Rolling up the world.

So, a few days back, one of our friends came over, brought Katamari Damacy, and actually left it here for us to use. (Yes, I know that's hard to believe. We all should have such friends...)

Before I started playing, I viewed Katamari Damacy with a kind of guarded interest. Sure, people have been raving about it, but the level of attention it's gotten amongst the fad gadget digerati has made the game appear agonizingly hip. And it is quite hip, but not agonizingly so. It's the most brilliant, creative game... deceptively simple with lots of hidden depths. It's hard not wishing that I could invite imomus  to sit down on our ratty old couch so that I could see his reaction to this game. He'd be the right one to tell us about it, really, with his finely honed j-pop sensibilities, sense of aesthetics, and brillance with words. He would dive into the depths of Katamari and bring back a precious pearl... but you'll have to settle for me instead.

Katamari Damacy simultaneously combines the vivid, happy world of Teletubbies, and the calm, shiny, indulgent bliss of Japanese indie pop... while at the same time, you get to roll everything that's ever frustrated and intrigued you into a giant ball. Perhaps one day, an advanced version of Katamari Damacy will help us clean our houses instead, but for now, it's a game that makes one feel blissfully happy about bringing the apocalypse down upon humanity. As such, it's perhaps the perfect game for the early 21st century, where we are all simultaneously pushing the ball and being swept up in its wake. Sorta like LiveJournal, really.

For those not familiar with the early, heady days of LiveJournal, December 2000 was, at least in my experience, the the Golden Age of LiveJournal. When Brad, at my goading, took a prototype and a large collection of ideas that I had and released LiveJournal communities, there was a lot of good feelings and happiness amongst the 50 or so of us who were the most active LiveJournal users. The only problem being, we just had this really cool, self-empowering new feature which 25,000 people didn't know how to use. We didn't really have any good way of telling them all about it, either. So, you got all these communities that popped up in the first few months which had 10, 20, or sometimes even 30 users, and a post to the community every few days or so! If you listened closely, you could hear the electrons peel off the walls... And yet, I saw communities as a great way of growing the site.

Much of the attention that the site was getting back then wasn't because you could go there and read the rambilngs of us geeks, but rather, by a fortuitous coincidence of connections, LJ had attracted a lot of the early camgirl contingient. Ana Voog probably brought more people into the LJ fold back then through her journal than the next ten most popular people combined. At the same time, we were also facing this incredible site growth -- doubling in size every 75 days or so -- and it was starting to really tear the original community apart. Someone invited the trolls -- invariably abusive young males -- and there just wasn't enough of a community ethos in place to slap 'em down.

So, being the defacto Mr. Business Guy, I looked at the trifecta of problems -- we wanted site growth, we wanted communities to take off, we wanted to encourage a culture of respect -- and came up with what, in retrospect, seems like a pretty stilted and biased solution, that fortunately worked pretty well. I'd promote communities with a focus on a kind of geeky, sexy, woman-oriented diversity/perversity... promoting LJ communities to the rest of the Internet for cutting/bleeding edge social groups that were underrepresented in other, more general communities. BDSM. Bisexuality. Polyamory. Pagans. Women's issues... and Linux, of course. Lots of little niche communities that had a dearth of community, and a lack of good space for personal expression. 

Being an introvert at heart, I've always been a bit of an outsider, even amongst communities that intrigued me. That said, I was a pretty well-connected geek, and I knew people in various communities, so I started really promoting LJ's communities to various niche groups online. Soon, many people from outside of LJ were checking LJ out... and bringing their friends along for the ride. And it worked. Nowadays, you practically can't be polyamorous unless you have a LiveJournal account. I mean, where would you find other polyamorous people otherwise, and how would you keep track of what they are all up to?

So, for me, it's really interesting to me to see charliegrrrl  mention the journal for patcalifia, who has been a part of her literary reading series in San Francisco. Pat pretty much invented the BDSM scene, and Pat's sex-positive attitudes and emphasis on self-reliance and self-responsibility picked up the flogger and gave traditional 70's feminism a good, hard beating (... and it liked it too, I hear!) When Pat became a FTM, he not only pissed off traditional feminists, but many lesbians as well. As such, it has been hard at times for Pat to write anything anywhere without starting a series of ideological flamewars. His latest LJ entry reflects what can only be called an incredibly different lifestyle... I suddenly feel very, very vanilla. Somehow Pat, too, has been swept up in the wake of what started out as something quite small.

 It's all soooo Katamari Damacy.

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