June 20, 2015

†h∑ Kπ◊wl∑dg∑ ∑xp∑d¡†¡◊π§: Virtual Travelers go to the International Space Station


“Mike is getting into it!” said Joachim.

“Mike! I want the Easter Eggs too!” Said Steph.

Mike laughed. He was endlessly exploring commands in the SPICE interface to find Easter Egg sound effects.

They were in the virtual Sagarmatha Café having coffee, getting ready for a Knowledge Excursion, already engaged in it really, because they had imagined this place into existence together, using SPICE affordances (Sensemaking Platform for Immersive Collaborative Experiences).

There were several people at the Café, some chatter and clinking.  Steph was seeing off her friends before returning to the actual world.

“Steph, Zeynep, James, Mike, Michael, Soiree, Ron, Joachim, Joe — great to see you and read you — most welcome everyone!” said John.

“Hello” said Zeynep.

“Looks like we are ready to go,” said Joachim.

“Enjoy Soiree,” said Steph.

“yupper steph” said Soiree.

“Going to try get that story that you posted out to the world, Steph,” said Ron.

“Which one?”

“You’ll see.”

“All Aboard!” said Joe.

The quantum-drive Feynman Airstream virtuereal liminal transport vehicle was parked in front of the café, ready to go to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where a Soyuz spacecraft would lift the travelers into orbit, to board the International Space Station.

Everyone was filing into the Feynman Airstream.

“Steph, will it hurt?” said Zeynep.

On the (virtual) launchpad at Baikonur, inside the Soyuz spacecraft:

Soiree: me’sa here…sweating inside this damn suit

Joachim: T-30 seconds… hold on tight… ignition sequence… main engines start…

Soiree: damn helmet…thing…where’s the tequila?

John: Roerich Vodka and Tequila will be served upon return landing  :)

Joachim: All systems GO… we have liftoff… flightpath is stable… keep breathing

Aboard the International Space Station:

“You know, I’ve seen lots of pictures but the ride up really puts it in perspective,” said Mike.

“Check out the moon set on the other bay window,” said Joachim.

Looking out the window at moon setting behind earth, vast, dark Space above, John said “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love” in homage to Carl Sagan.

“I wonder how the world would change if everybody got a chance to come here and see this,” said Mike.

“Let’s make that happen Mike” said John.

“John how?… This really is an amazing trip.. kudos to all involved.”

“Little scary up here” said Soiree. “Looking down and knowing we could all fall. then there’s that science thing…”

“I know it’s scary” said Station Commander Sunita Williams, floating up to the group of Knowledge Excursion Travelers looking out the bay windows.

“Don’t be scared. I’ve been here for eight weeks now.”

After touring the space station with Sunita, as darkness falls on Earth, lit below by its cities of the red night:

Remembering what Oshi said on her visit to the station, Joachim quoted her, “The only visual clue that humankind exists is the lights at night. MAN – always trying to hold back the darkness!”

“woah is that lightning?” said Mike.

“Yes, lightning” said Joachim. “And Northern Lights.”

“cool. Wow”

Ron and Sunita could be seen, through the bulkhead and into the next section of the station.

“Cool. Wow. You can do that Sunita? I will tell Steph when we get back to Earth, and back to the actual world for that matter. Thank you!”

Back on Earth at the landing site in Kazakhstan:

“On behalf of the Space Sherpas I’d like to thank the crew and the participants for enacting today’s Demo Excursion to the ISS. We hope you come back for more,” said Joachim.

“Thank you” said Zeynep.

“Congratulations everyone – you are now Seasoned Enactivists!” said John. “Semionauts having completed this Knowledge Excursion through the virtuereal realm – my thanks for your enactive presencing.”

The group of veteran Travelers chatted as they prepared to leave.

“Joachim Imagine voyages through the body, brain, gut. It would be a gift to kids and even groaning ups,” said Michael.

“Yes, it’s the perfect platform for many things, and education is a big one,” said Joachim.

“And the interface is simple enough not to get in the way,” said Michael. “I think you guys are being very smart about the approach.”

“Before we go,” Joachim said to the group, “I would like to hear ideas about how we can keep developing the Knowledge Expeditions and the SPICE platform.” He took out a notepad and pencil.

“The conversation window obstructed the view… use a full set of emoticons… there is a little pressure to say something, but knowing there are other people in the room is a critical aspect of why the platform is cool…”

“May be getting in the way with the jargon… I like the straightforward interface… what you’re doing is new, different, emotionally affecting and everything you say it will be on the website… it would be worth explaining somewhere in plain language what it actually is…”

“Thank you,” said Joachim we’re constantly feeding back information into the system. You are part of our design team, as well as of our enaction troupe. John, did you see the Roerich Vodka?”

“I could do with a celebratory shot,” said Mike.

John served Roerich Vodka, Tequila and Swedish Absolut.

“A round of applause for the team,” said Joachim, to everyone’s applause.

“yay! Tequila!” said Soiree.

“To all involved… no fooling…this feels like it could become a big deal… one of the best things I’ve seen in a while,” said Michael. “The music track, the guide is a new and really cool thing… it could be a great tool for K-12, and for anything if done right.”

“Really rewarding to hear” said Ron.

“I think that I know Sunita, which is a strange and powerful thing…ahhh the human brain” said Soiree.


Sunita set up the ARISS radio downlink to periodically broadcast from the ISS the moving comments of Oshi and Michael aboard the ISS, and of the story Steph posted, back in the actual world.

Broadcast as voice and text on Ham Radio frequencies 145.8 and 145.825 MHz, via NASA in the US and Energia in Russia, using Italian antennas and German repeater stations, it sounds like — and you may hear this some night, musing on the sounds of virtuereal radio — it sounds like this:

“… The only visual clue that humankind exists is the lights at night. MAN – always trying to hold back the darkness!…”

… Gawker: “Do you think there’s a tipping point of inequality where parts of society start to break down, and what is it?…”

… Nick Hanauer: “Yes. If you understand the mathematics of complex systems, then you recognize that the challenge is that you never know where that tipping point is. You only know that if things continue as they are, it will come…”*

“I wonder how the world would change if everybody got a chance to come here and see this… ”

+Michael Josefowicz +Oshi Shikigami +John Kellden +Joe Raimondo +Joachim Stroh +Ron Scroggin
and Steph, Zeynep, James, Mike and Soiree

*Hanauer Gawker interview, via Steph Kent: