AFP Imported From Epistula Personal social

New Qualitative Analysis in the Dreamworld

Something that interests me. I’ve been used as a psychological study in a marketing consultation report. Or, actually, in 2004, someone took my Names article (Itself three years old at that point, and now seven) and used it as a basis for part of Three Dreams: New Qualitative Analysis in the Dreamworld.

It says:

With that in mind, let us turn to our final sample of data. It is drawn from the website of a British man who calls himself Aquarion. The site appears to have been up and running for some four years and in that time Aquarion has added a good deal of content, principally diary entries, links and opinion pieces. The part of the website that will interest us is a passage of text from a page entitled “Article – Names”. It reads as follows:

(Contents of Names article follows)

EM and DA will help us get to grips with this text. The EM emphasis on personal accountability helps us see that Aquarion is not simply expressing a preference for one or another form of address. More than that, he orientates to his preference as problematic and his account of himself is organised so as to anticipate and deal with those problems. For instance, in line 40, Aquarion signs off “Yours in total sincerity”, clearly an acknowledgement of the problem of deliberate insincerity – deception – as a feature of life online. In lines 9-14 Aquarion justifies himself with reference to some previous bad experience that was the result of his failure to adequately conceal his ‘real’ identity from troublemakers (notice the emphasis on “ever” in line 12, which stresses the severity of the problem he encountered without going into details). His allusion to this experience additionally serves the very useful purpose of rhetorically categorising Aquarion in a socially recognisable group of ‘innocent victims’ and distancing him from a contrasting group of internet wrong-doers. Moreover, in lines 23-24, Aquarion offers the conspicuously rational criterion of public recognisability as the reason for his preferred title (and notice how that distinguishes him from, and opposes him to, the sort of person who would go online for the express purpose of achieving invisibility and hiding from public view). In lines 5-8 and his postscript of lines 42-43 he presents himself as someone who follows “the rules” of service providers by exposing his “real name”, even when doing so is to his own disadvantage and even though the rules are conventionally not enforced. Finally, we should not overlook his ironic self-description of line 38: “Aquarion is a fairly mucked up person” – amongst other things, a display of self-knowledge and transparency that trades on the common-sense idea that someone genuinely “mucked up” would be unlikely to advertise the fact.

At the same time, interleaved with Aquarion’s various acknowledgements of the problem of deception are signs that he orientates to precisely the opposite issue: the idea that the internet offers as its unique and characteristic benefit the possibility of a new self. Insights from DA help us to see how this is achieved. For instance, he makes effective use of techniques of normalisation and nominalisation, both of which are thoroughly researched and discussed in the DA literature (e.g., see Potter, 1996). On line 1 he uses inverted commas and upper-case letters to offer the self-reflective question of “Who is Aquarion” as the sort of question that persons in cyberspace might routinely encounter. He repeats the technique on line 29. It is not just that he personally prefers not to feel confused about who he ‘really’ is but in fact (he suggests) “Who Do I Want To Be Today …?” is a common “problem” of a known “variety” that the reading audience could be expected to recognise. Moreover, notice the wording and structure of “Who Do I Want To Be Today…?”. Aquarion could have offered an alternative, something like “Who Am I?”, for example, but in fact he is hearably drawing on the culturally available resource that is the Microsoft strapline “Where do you want to go today?”. In so doing, he normalises “Who Do I Want To Be Today…?” as a problem of the technology and therefore not unique to the “mucked up” individual. Finally, we cannot conclude even a superficial analysis of Aquarion’s “article” without reference to the absolutely fascinating phenomenon that is “$REALME” (line 28). This ingenious linguistic construction could only happen in textual form (there is no oral equivalent) and indeed only makes sense in the context of the net. It consists of three elements, all working together. There is the use of exclusively upper-case letters, the welding-together of ‘real’ and ‘me’ to form a single word, and the preface of “$”. Away from cyberspace, “$” reliably means ‘dollars’ but in the context of the internet, signs such as ‘$’, ‘?’, ‘#’ and even ‘*’ take on a new and flexible range of functions that are unique to the digital environment and therefore function as metonyms for it. The combined use of these three elements serves to ironise Aquarion’s ‘real self’ and display it as no less constructed and contingent than the online version which is known as ‘Aquarion’. That is, had Aquarion simply inserted his ‘real’ name in place of “$REALME”, readers might have had difficulty accepting that the two identities are different but equal and more or less interchangeable. There would have been the risk that readers would feel that Aquarion’s ‘real’ name was in fact the original and authentic ‘self’ that he ought to use, while the name ‘Aquarion’ looked, in contrast, like more of a costume or a disguise. However, his ingenious and imaginative construction “$REALME” resembles an off-line ‘real’ name even less than “Aquarion” and so the reading audience is helped and encouraged to understand “Aquarion” as an adequately genuine and authentic ID.

What is the upshot for marketing? Clearly, the number and range of ways that it’s possible to exploit the dream of Transformation far exceeds traditional ideas of purchasing products so as to become a muscular hero or raving beauty, although those functions of the dream are still going strong. The lesson offered to us by Aquarion is that there are certain aspects of contemporary social life in which consumers themselves will put Transformation and Alter Identity on the agenda. The point, then, is to achieve some insight into why and how that happens, and to understand both the triggers and barriers so that we can offer products and services that help consumers do what they are attempting to do of their own accord. For example, the Aquarion text suggests that people are going to respond well to any product or service that helps them take advantage of the internet’s opportunities for self re-invention while simultaneously facilitating their display of themselves as one of the ‘good guys’. People are evidently looking for ways to mark themselves as honest and transparent, not despite but because they also want the facility to be anything but. Moreover, it may be that “Who Do I Want To Be Today?” articulates a consumer need that’s even more relevant and genuine than “Where do I want to go?” and this is certainly something that would merit some more research. Evidently, thinking of the internet as a ‘space’ around which consumers travel – ‘surfing’ to places of interest and eventually returning ‘home’ – is only one possible metaphor for what people are actually doing online. It might be even more relevant and useful to provide people with metaphors that facilitate identity play, freedom and work on the self as well as those that facilitate travel and exploration.

This amuses me. Partly because of the seemingly genuine attempt to work out how “online people” think, partly the outsiders viewpoint that puts a remarkable emphasis on my throw-away phrase that includes a pop-culture (or, at least, pop-geek-culture) reference.

But mostly that the article, which was part of a sequence of me slowly over-analysing myself and my identity until it (the identity) completely collapsed under the weight of my own theories, has itself been over-analysed, and was apparently presented at a conference!

I do hope someone took the presentation and dissected it into little pieces with logological scalpels, that would make my day.

Of course, I’m also interested in the very fact that Ms. Lowes took it upon herself not to contact me at all when she found this goldmine of pseudo-intellectual claptrap and used it to base her paper on. However, since I’ve just reprinted a large swathe of it, I should probably avoid throwing stones.

I only found it because I did a search for my old usenet sig, ‘Yours in Total Sincerity’.

AFP Imported From Epistula music

Not Easy

Kermit sings Radiohead’s Creep

(Via, via AFP. Thanks a lot, AFP.)

AFP Imported From Epistula weblog


Am back from con.

Had fun.

Dead now.

AFP Imported From Epistula media music Personal social Theatre


This weekend I inhaled more weed than I intended to, had my arse grabbed, drank lots of beer, watched an entire football match, bought a hat, nearly had my mobile ran over by a taxi, saw every Radio 4 Comedy Panel Game Evar live, and went to a Blockheads concert featuring Phil Jupitus and Geoffrey Perkins.

It’s 10 past 1 on Monday Morning, and I intend to see how far into this I get before I fall over.

So, lets start with the Strawberry Fair. The Strawberry Fair is, basically, what happens when you take your average village fete, blow it up until it is a City Fete and host it in Cambridge. It appears to be the hippy summer migration point of the universe, and there was not one but two massive stalls advertising “Herbal Highs” and “Legal Speed”, both with massive inflatable blue pills above them. I left home without my hat or my personal mobile (I also have a work mobile. The personal one was uncharged, so I plugged it in and diverted all calls to it it to the work one. You will be quizzed on it later), got to Cambridge, wandered around to see if I could find anybody, failed, and wandered around the Fair instead. At three, I went to meet larpers under the big blue pills (having sorted out which set of pills it was) and we hung around in the hot sun for a while, before half of us went home, and the half involving me wandered around the fair a bit more. By this point the streaming hot sun was giving me a headache, so I bought a hat. My Larp character is called Panama, so I bought a Panama style hat. It is a good hat.

It is slightly complicated to contact people when you answer your work phone with your real name which the people you contact don’t generally know you as, especially when they phone a number that diverts to the current number and are therefore phoned back on a number they don’t recognise. We met people, then we promptly lost them again. Then I went home.

On the way home I had my arse grabbed by a strange woman who proceeded to attempt to look innocent of such an act. This is a rare event in my life, so I am documenting it here. In fact, it hasn’t happened since university.

This is an observation. Not a complaint, really, but… it was odd.

Went home, remembered I was going to London Sunday and attempted to organise an instameet.


Wake, headache, laundry, shower, clothes, station, fight with ticket machine, buy tickets, wish Oyster would get this far, Train, London, Rearranged Kings Cross again, Tube, Tube, Chinatown, De Hems.

De Hems is a dutch themed bar. It sells very nice beer in the traditional glasses, and me and Random drank lots of it. Nobody else turned up.

Now, De Hems is a dutch bar. The World Cup not having started yet, it did not even occur to me to check to see if there was going to be a match on in there today. There was, it was against Australia. The entire bar was bright orange, the staff had orange dungarees on. It was very odd. Anyway, being sat next to the TV, and having had beer (which, I found, helps) I ended up watching the entire thing.

One team or the other won, I forget which. Doesn’t really matter.

Got fairly drunk, owe Random much beer, then rapidly sobered up by mainlining Coca Cola (Careful not to use the common abbreviation there, fact fans) when I realised I was going to have to go to the theatre very soon.

Got to Victoria Palace Theatre in time, thanks to Random knowing the secret secrets of London Above, and I met my mum for a trip to the theatre.

The thing we were seeing was a tribute to Linda Smith, one of Radio 4’s panel pool of comedians who tend to appear on the various panel games. She died earlier this year, and this was a charity concert in her honour.

It started by being hosted by Jo Brand, not one of my favourite people of all time, and with Sandi Russell a jazz/scat singer and her group. The Jazz trio were excellent, I was less a fan of the singer.

Despite a few sound problems involving a dodgy mike, the rest of the evening was excellent, with the whole crews of “The News Quiz”, “Just A Minute” and “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” on hand to do a few rounds of their shows. It was like a “Best of Radio 4” theatre show, which is either your idea of hell or a wonderful evening, depending on who you are.

(Phil Jupitus made a joke which won’t make the broadcast, so I shall record it here for eternity: On Paul Macartney’s relationship problems: “You shouldn’t fuck a pirate”)

Also around doing standup bits were Hattie Hayridge, Barry Cryer, Mark Steel and Mark Thomas (Who talked about wandering around an arms fair as an anti-war campaigner. It was really complicated, he asked for a ticket and they sent him one, which apparently was the last thing they were expecting him to do. He is far funnier than the few TV bits of his I’ve seen would lead me to believe).

There was an interval, in which I had a gin and tonic. I blame Sian, who is a bad influance on my spirit drinking.

But the music was the best bit. Apart from Humphrey Lyttleton and his Quintet being wonderful, and Steve Gribbin doing a few political songs the best bit was the very last act.

One of my favourite bands of all time is Ian Dury and The Blockheads. The end of the evening was Phil Jupitus taking the place of the late, lamented Ian Dury for a number of the Blockheads greatest hits. The man was living my ultimate dream in part, and looked like he was having the time of his life. He was better at it than I thought he would be, in fact he was very good indeed. They opened without Phil with a song called “Spread It”, which I hadn’t heard before, and then Phill joined them for went though Wake Up And Make Love To Me, Billericay Dicky, Hit Me, and finally…

The last track of the evening was wonderful. They brought up on stage the BBC news/continuity announcers, Geoffrey Perkins to Charlotte Green, and they joined the Blockheads to sing “Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll”

It was glorious.

There was a recording made, though I’ve no idea if it was for broadcast, or sale, or will never be seen again. If you see mention of it, find it. This show will never be seen again, and deserves to be heard.

On the way out of the theatre I dropped my mobile on the road, and was nearly run down by a taxi and a bus trying to get it before it got ran over.

AFP Imported From Epistula Personal social


Work – Work – Work – Weekend – Yay – Lift – Station – Cash Machine – Out Of Order – Ticket Machine – Peek Rate – Wah – Single – (Single – Single – Single – Magic – Flaming – Double – Though) – Train – Train – Train – Flitwick – Harlington – Leagrave – Luton – Luton Airport Parkway – Harpenden – St Albans – King’s Cross Thameslink – Platform – Underground – Ticket – Ticket? – Ticket! – Outside – Kings Cross – Ticket Machine – Stairs – Victoria Line – King’s Cross St. Pancras – Highbury & Islington – Finsbury Park – Seven Sisters – Tottenham Hale – Blackhorse Road – Walthamstow Central – Platform – Walk – Walk – Walk – Walk – Walk – Cookie Jar – Yay.

Random – Sian – Cookie – Ruthi – Wave – iPods – Geekery – Gin? – Beer. – Beer – Kwak – Traditional glass – Easter Eggs – Chocolate – Strawberry Chocolate – MMMMMMMMM – Chocolate in Powerbook – Good Food – Beer – Zzzzzzzz

Tea – Breakfast – Maluple? – Maluple – Samurai Jack – Samurai Jack – Dangermouse – Pol – Random -> Ulla – Geekery – Food? – Food. – Dr Who – Wolves! – Torchwood House – Food – Geekery – Babylon 5 – Babylon 5 – Babylon 5 – Babylon 5 – Babylon 5 – Babylon 5 – Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Tea! – Suit – Bye – Walk – Walk – Walk – Walk – Walk – Blackhorse Road – Oyster Card – Tottenham Hale – Seven Sisters – Finsbury Park – Highbury & Islington – King’s Cross St. Pancras – Kings Cross Thameslink – Ticket – Kentish Town – St Albans – Harpenden – Luton Airport Parkway – Luton – Leagrave – Harlington – Flitwick – Bedford – Walk – Walk – Walk – Fortress One – Samuarai Jack – Email – Phone Home – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Food – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmet – Transmezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

AFP Current Affairs Fiction Imported From Epistula

A Quote

‘Mr Winvoe?’ he said, after whistling into it. ‘Ah. Good. Tell me, how much do we have in our vaults at the moment? Oh, approximately. To the nearest million, say.’ He held the tube away from his ear for a moment, and then spoke into it again. ‘Well, be a good chap and check anyway, will you?’

He hung up the tube and placed his hands flat on the desk in front of him.


‘Yes, Mr Winvoe? Really? Indeed? I myself have frequently found loose change under sofa cushions, it’s amazing how it mou … No, no, I wasn’t being … Yes, I did have some reason to … No, no blame attaches to you in any … No, I could hardly see how it … Yes, go and have a rest, what a good idea. Thank you.’

[Terry Pratchett, Hogfather]

2006 AFP Imported From Epistula Personal RPG

Woooo Woooo

Sliding stealthily from the planes of unexistance back into the happy joy-filled world that we call reality. This is Radio Free Aquarionics. Hi there.

You may have noticed Aquarionics vanished for a little while. DNS hicup caused by the freak coincidence of a badly made gin and tonic, a small disposable sink and about four bottles of pure white sand.

Don’t ask, you really don’t want to know.

Livejournal syndicated readers? Don’t worry your pretty little heads about it. It was a complicated thing.

Bloglines syndicated readers? That was why we got a little red exclaimation point for a little while.

So, what has happened since we went off air? Well, we’re nearly nuking Iran, which isn’t good, but on the other hand we had a sucessful meet in Cambridge, where there was curry, geekery and stuff.

Ah, Cambridge. How I miss living in Cambridge. Land of Bridges, Cams, Kams, Reality Checkpoints, CB1

And I was convinced to try something new. A New, Exciting thing. All my friends were trying it, and the first one was free, apparently, but I said “No”, for I am true and knew it would end up putting me on a slippery slope.

“But it’s fun” they claimed, their arms drifting around me, “And loads of people you know already do it.”

“And”, they added, knowing my weak points as they do so often, “You’ll have an excuse to go to Cambridge more often.”

So yeah, I’m going to be trying this LARP thing.

I am a weak, weak man.

AFP Imported From Epistula

See Sea Dee Eeek

I went to CCDE.

It was good.

I am back.

I have photographs.

Some of them went to flickr but I ran out of bandwidth, and I don’t have a pro account. Yet. I’ll put the photos into one of my own galleries at some point.

On the way from CCDE I lost my bank card, which was annoying.

At CCDE I caught something Nasty. Or possibly more than one Nasty thing which hit me like a ton of lego yesterday evening. I am now dead.

I played games with New People and People Who I Thought Were New People Until I Discovered I Already Read Their Livejournals And Therefore Know Everything About Them.

Also not-so-new people.

Now: Sleep. And attempts at wellness. But mostly sleep.

Oh, yes. The comic I was pimping at people was Commercial Suicide and you should buy it.

2002 AFP Imported From Epistula stories

Aquarion and the Snail Invasion

(This happened sometime in 2002, while I was still in Cambridge. I wrote this for AFP, but decided to cross-post it here)

It was a dark and stormy spring day in the calm and peaceful city of Cambridge.

There was a knock at the door.

A word about my method of dress. Generally, I don’t wear socks or shoes while I’m at home. Ever. It just doesn’t occur to me to put them on unless I’m going somewhere, a fact of minor irritation to various house-mates/parents/girlfriends over the years as bare feet are better at tracking things around the house than socks are. One year, for example, my mum put a small shovel-load of smiley-faces glittery things in my birthday card, which obediently fluttered prettily to the floor. Despite hoovering many times thereafter, there was still a small drift of them under my desk when we moved out some four months later. Bare feet make things drift.

Anyway, I digress.

Actually, I digressed away from the initial digression, so I should finish that digression – which was relevant – before I go back to the main thrust of the story. Bare feet then.

There is very few things less pleasant, I have discovered, than stepping on a snail whilst not wearing either shoes nor socks. There is a deeply unpleasant “crunch”, followed by an even less unpleasant squishy sensation, which makes you take a step backwards, leading to another deeply unpleasant crunch. I was in the back garden, either putting up or taking down washing, in our snail-infested garden, on an afternoon after heavy rainfall, when there was a knock at the door.

I carefully “crunch squish ick”-ed my way to the front door (Wiping my feet with relief) and attempted to open it.

I failed.

Snails, you see, can move like lightning when the little buggers feel like it, and several of them (I discovered a minute or two later, after a show of manly force) had managed to crawl inside the door frame in the time it had taken whoever left most recently to open and close it.

I don’t actually know if anyone has ever used snails as a raw ingredient for making glue. I can say, without a doubt, that it would have been incredibly effective, as the three or four snails that had completed their suicide mission to seal the primary means of escape from our house had succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

Then, with the above thought process, it hit me. It was a kamikaze mission! They had sealed the door deliberately, and the ones crawling slowly up the back garden path were merely a scouting patrol for the huge army of snails that were coming for revenge for their squished brethren!

I got the front door open. The two Asian ladies beyond explained they were looking for people who would like to read the Watchtower. I, in turn, explained that the snails were invading and I had to go and stop them. I closed the door.

The Witnesses have never bothered me since.

AFP Imported From Epistula social


From: Aquarion;
Subject: Re: [I] Copyright and rambling // was Televised books // was Top 100 Musicals (Re: [I] Re: Buffy/LOTR)
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 2004 12:10:34 +0000
Lines: 72

Take a letter Miss Jones: To Graycat, Re: [I] Copyright and rambling (long) // was Televised books // was Top 100 Musicals (Re: [I] Re: Buffy/LOTR):
> On Fri, 26 Mar 2004 23:04:57 +0000, Alec Cawley
> wrote:
>>In message , Graycat
>> writes
>>>On Fri, 26 Mar 2004 20:04:10 +0000, Alec Cawley
>>>>In message , Graycat
>>>> writes
> Well, I think that the copyright and benefits should rest with the
> creator. As long as the creator is around he/she should get to say
> what’s to be done with it. If the creator is dead he/she can’t have
> financial or intellectual interests so it doesn’t matter that
> copyright has ended.

My penny: (Two cents at current exchange rates)

I) Copyright is a Good Thing for current authors, since it enables them to earn money from what they do. Nobody trys to tell a blacksmith he shouldn’t charge for his work, I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to. (Not that anyone – in this argument – appears to have put forward the Information Wants To Be Free thing, but it’s a basis)

II) There are times when a copyright should follow a company instead of an indervidual. Whilst Disney are still using Mickey Mouse as a logo, they should be protected from people being able to produce “Mickey Does Dallas” legally.

III) When something is no longer commercially viable to reproduce, it should fall out of copyright. This means that things like Gutenburg and the Abandonware archives become useful (Not that Gutenburg isn’t useful, but it’s useful because things have fallen out of copyright)

So far, so standard. The difficult bit:

IV) The idea that upon my death my entire oeuvre falls into the public domain isn’t really good if I want my work to support any decendants I have, or if – citing J. M. Barrie – I want to leave all profits from it to a charitable institution. I would prefer to have the freedom to do this.

IV.b) On the other hand, the last thing I want is a Tolkienesque/Fleming/Scientology world where there is an organisation whose entire purpose in life is to milk my entire output until it dies, chop the meat and sell it for sausages, then sell the bones for glue.

So, basically, I want to take copyright extension out of land law altogether and give creators the ability to say in their will “I cede all rights to my works to $foo, on the condition that on his death the rights fall into the public domain” with sub-clauses to the effect that works based on these rights don’t fall into the public domain immediatly, but will do eventually as negotiated, or something.

I don’t think blanket copyright is working, and individual cases would probably be better.

Good sigmonster, Have a bikkit.

Yours in total sincerity,


copyright, noun

The notion that you can protect from the future what you stole
from the past. <>