Field notes weekly #5

This is a weekly update on my progress to document the history, perspectives, and narratives of the metaverse. For more on the contents and structure of the book, please see “Structuring my field notes“.

Current book word count: 70,109


The interview with Julian Dibbell is in the review stage. We talked about the intersection between the legal realities of virtual worlds and their theoretical potential to be something more – and in that context we have touched upon Web3 as a movement to regain some of the earlier optimism and semi-utopian visions that shaped the Web in the beginning.

Also, I talked to Edward Castronova about virtual world economies and their relationships to reality. We started with his seminal paper “Virtual Worlds: A First-Hand Account of Market and Society on the Cyberian Frontier,” (2001) in which he analyzed the economy within EverQuest and showed that virtual worlds had become economically meaningful environments. We went into how the paper was received academically and commercially and eventually arrived at the current state of commercial virtual world design. I will write up the interview and you can expect it in about two weeks or so.

I also had a fascinating conversation with Jay Springett, writer, podcaster and strategist, who is currently writing his first non-fiction book: “The Web Was a Side Quest — an exploration of worlds and how they came to be.” We talked about how virtual and imaginary worlds had an impact on the real world and how we approach this in our respective books. I won’t turn this into a formal interview, but it for sure had an impact on the content.


Last week, I haven’t been writing new content. Instead I read through the book in it’s current state and added comments where I got new information, what didn’t feel right, or generally needs work.

My “rhythm” for writing this book is: Pick an empty chapter in the book’s “scaffolding” and just start writing. Repeat. At one point, take a step back, read, and iterate. This has worked well for me. It allows me to not get stuck by jumping around and write about whatever I currently feel inspired about, while also making sure everything has a consistent structure and tone by constantly reading the whole thing (or entire sections).

This also works well when collaborating with the reviewers, who add their comments and feedback directly in the document.


Until recently I have used generative AI to create visual assets in my work. But due to concerns about the ethicality of the training data used to generate some of these models, I have looking into generative AI tools that use models created from a licensed body of work.

TLDR: It’s been a struggle. Bria AI creates excellent real-world results, but struggles with anything fictional. The output quality of Adobe Firefly is, well, bad. The solution by Getty is still invite only. Meh.

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