Mapping everything I’ve written about the multiplayer web

15.32, Wednesday 9 Nov 2022

Two birds with one stone:

1. Getting my head straight about multiplayer

Premise: right now, apps and the web are generally single user, and multiplayer experiences (like Figma and Google Docs) are the exception. In the future my hunch is that multiplayer will be the norm.

I’ve been tracking this transition for about a year and generally feeling out the consequences.

And there’s so much to explore! When you assume multiplayer it’s almost like a lo-fi metaverse, which means the reference points are architecture and sociology and cinema. I’ve ended up thinking about how people socialise; various spatial metaphors; the value of serendipity; where this overlaps with AIs and NPCs; psychology and visual design… etc.

So I’ve a feeling that all of this comes together somehow.

But the first job is to map it.

2. Experimenting with how readers find their way around this blog

Finding old posts on my blog is hard. Which is a shame.

Some rough stats: I’ve written 280,000 words here since the beginning of 2020, across some 320 posts.

It’s hard for readers to know where to start. It’s hard for me to find posts, when I’m referring back to something for my own research (it’s my public notebook after all). I noodle on this problem from time to time.

There’s a decent amount of interlinking (if you look at old posts, they always connect forward to follow-ups). I post a “best of” each year; some posts are categorised which is linked from the bottom; there are date archives. BUT: none of this is delightful or mind-expanding. You need see more than a post title when you’re exploring. You don’t get a sense of the domain given just a list. There’s no context.

However. Maps!

Since seeing Tom Critchlow’s Map of Inquiry (Open questions and areas of interest) back in January, I’ve been thinking about how to make a map of my blog.

I tried to automate the process.

In idle moments, behind the scenes, I’ve been adding topics to posts and playing with auto-generated visualisations as a top-level overview. All the visualisations are rubbish.

Then: a realisation. The map itself is my point of view. I can’t automate drawing the map because the map has to be something I author just as much as any blog post would be.

And so: I mapped my posts about the future of multiplayer

The best way to experiment with making a map of blog posts is to actually make a map of blog posts. I have a topic to try first…

So I made an old-school mindmap of how I think about the emerging multiplayer web, then I hyperlinked posts from the archive. It’s clickable!

Explore the map here.

I think the map works, as an approach?

It’s ugly (the text is teeny and it doesn’t fit on small screens) and it’s kinda tricky to make (there’s no automation; I wrote the file in DOT and generated an SVG using Graphviz).

However, assuming fixes, I would be pretty happy if the archive of this blog were a series of strong pov overviews like this – I think? A map would be a good, informative next step for anybody reaching the bottom of a post and wanting to read more.

More specifically, the map is functionally useful when it comes to this topic of “multiplayer.” I feel like it lays out a good chunk of my perspective, and possibly helps other people navigate that perspective better than prose would do. Plus I can see where I want to write more.

A work in progress.

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