November 18, 2023

Meta Fest Croatia

Meta Fest Croatia

After a number of nudges from friends I pack my bags for MetaFest in Croatia. The gathering is in a 'techno fort' and because it sounds like we can camp up there, I decide to bring a hammock as my primary accommodation. I'm on an all nighter with a layover in Luton airport for a six am connection; arriving at 9am in Pula airport.

I'm knackered and every things off to a hard start; my phones outta battery and I'm facing a liquidity crunch again, unable to get internet to move some finance around to pay for a bus to exit the airport. Despite the perfect storm of contingency I'm loaned enough for the €6 bus fare and a breakfast bite.

So, the fort; "let's figure out how to get there I think to myself". "Awesome, an hours walk from the city with bags - ok let's go" says my inner dialogue. About a third of the walk in, some travelling Italians see my thumb and pick me up. Bugger, the fort seems pretty closed and no one's about. I plug into my solar charger to check and yes, people are elsewhere for the day.

Ok, a hammock might have worked...

I head down to the crystal clear water nearby, have a swim and then take a rest on the ground under some bushes - nowhere particularly good for the hammock. After a few hours I'm refreshed to large enough degrees and decide to sort out my contingency; after moving some things around on the internet at the stake house I have some funds in my bank again, and folk are heading to another fort to watch the Persied meteor shower at 8pm. As I depart the stake house a car stops for me; it's Peter and a few others he's dropping to the fort.

Things feel a little more expansive on arrival. A fine plateau for viewing the landscape and watching the stars from later. I'm in good company; Fotis in particular shares a lot of interest in many of the domains I traverse and seems pretty transdiciplinary.

We are left to our devices for a couple of hours as Peter and Anita head off to pick up some other travellers. As the night trickles on, various others participants arrive for the show - namely my old buddy Kay and the metacartel crew. There are plenty of stars streaking across the clear night sky tonight!

Around one or two in the morning we leave the fort to go various ways. Since I've no destination other than the trees, I ask if its cool to put up my hammock around a rented house and tag along for the walk.

It turns out there's no trees within the garden but across the road there is a good tree and a fence pole to hang out on, so I check about the spot with some of the Chilli crew and am given a go ahead to park up.

The nights pretty cold so I don't sleep well and when the sun comes up again at six I finally fall asleep for a bit. I'm woken up at 11am by an irate neighbour who's threatening to call the cops if I don't pack up, so I oblige and pull down the hammock. He's actually the landlord of the Chilli house and blows a fuse when I stop in to grab my bag...  This ticks off one of the female members of the crew who proceeds to make a mountain out of a mole hill - it's ok, the vibe was already kinda weird despite a number of cats like Ven who were pretty cool.

I book a hostel and hitch into Pula only to realise I booked it in another town called Farzana... both are equidistant from the fort in Stinjan so that's ok, just a bit of a detour. I'm shattered and starving so get some breakfast and hit up a friend who's around Pula for a touch in before figuring out the bus to Farzana at 5pm. Delirious I miss my stop but the driver is turning round anyway. At about 6pm Sunday I crash out hard in the hostel.

The next morning I send out some messages to friends and get walking along the coast towards Stinjan. I get confirmation that Moritz and Thom will meet me later out at the Lost Bay beach bar; a beautiful spot with a doorway into the ocean and empty picture frames hanging from the overhead tarpaulin as if the walls and content existed. I'm significantly ahead of the others traveling from Pula - who are also walking/hitching - so I grab some supplies from the grocery shop before doubling back.

After doing some diagramming work on the beach I dip in for a swim and float around a while in the sun. Grabbing my towel to dry off I notice a guy next to me with a towel on his head getting changed - "Kay?" I exclaim, "Oh, hey!" responds the strange non-stranger, "I thought it was you". His wife, who I hadn't recognised, had also been stationed next to me just before my swim but she was unsure if it me... Kay was up at the fort until now and is heading for a dip himself.

We exchange some words before he and his family head off to the camp-ground, while I remain stationed for another bit awaiting on friends to arrive. After some time Moritz appears by the sea-door and we settle into a respectful discussion as interlocutors. We've not really talked much in meat space, just occasional crossings and a call; I share some geometry in my notebook in relation to the worlds he traverses and he reciprocates with interests like his book and some AI tools he's found.

After some time, Thom shows up to join us as we close out our discussions. I find the energy somewhat disruptive to the gentle chat we were having before and he wants to meet others at the restaurant in Farzana (which is coincidentally on my itinerary). He starts to order taxis to make that happen, the first of which doesn't show up but provides opportunity to say hello to Roberto and Laura as we're near their camper van, which is parked in the go-karting field thanks to a deal with the owner. Claudio, his father, offers us some anise liquor which is accepted by my companions before were back on our way to the restaurant.

The second taxi also takes a while to show but arrives this time, taking us to the Aborium in Fazana where the others are located. Amongst the faces are a variety of folks from previous lives like Lanski from my Giveth days and a few others - all of whom have eaten so we quickly order some food before the bar closes. A self identified libertarian is battles to pay the bill as he want's to rid himself of his fiat currency; which I jokingly offer to take off his hands to which he he responds "would you like gold?". "Sure; gold, silver, crypto, fiat are all good by me" I reply and to my surprise he hands me a gold leaf bill worth 1000/th of a troy ounce which is worth about 90¢~.

The veggie burger I've ordered is extremely tasty and the company is lively (despite being a bit energetically scattered), though people are ready to leave. A very tired looking Moritz jumps in the van with Peter, Thom and some of the others for a spin back to Pula, so I head the stretch of 50m around the corner back to my hostel for bed.

Participants are gathering in the techno fort the next day to make arrangements, so I walk over for approximately 2pm and lend a hand with that. I'm assigned dusting duty at the entrance so get on with cleaning some steam punk techno minions (who bite) and various decommissioned turntables before other odds and ends. The environment is pretty cool with its various nooks and crannies, so I take a wander about to see what else is around.  Kay begins to set up his midi controllers for a sundown gig and turns myself and Fotis loose on his rig, smashing buttons and toying with the audio interface for an impromptu electro jam!

A few friends have arrived in time for the Chilli gathering that's over by the camp-grounds so I walk over with a few people to say hello. Laurence is first person to spot me and I him; he's just returned from a boat trip and pauses just long enough for me to recognise him (due to my myopia) and since he's on crutches we sit down to catch up. Thom joins us and seems pretty keen to conspire so I leave them both to their conversation. Searching for another friend that has messaged me I bump into Rich from ChinWags so catch up with him and share the retrospective of his event that I wrote. He's delighted!

Moving about a little I finally find my friend Jacek - an old college - and tangentially spot Stef/Mars/Marsita (a cosmic joker from the same epoch) doing pushups and rolling around on the floor. Jacek whispers to me that "Stephs just smoked a joint, so something's about to happen".

Someone suggests the Lost Bay beach bar just as I bump into my old buddy Lorenzo from Akasha hub, so we trek it over with a few others. Stef is too preoccupied with his act to recognise me - despite some pretty obvious hints like "I know who you are Stef" - before we get into a discussion by the bar.

He's talking about hyperdimensional DMT geometry and cosmic everything so I share a mandala in my notebook which he brings over to the light; "you seem familiar from somewhere" he exclaims - just before the penny drops. He's excited to see me again but also wrapped in a persona that's pretty frustrating to interact with. Lovely guy at heart, I just wish it could shine through the mask more easily.

I chill out with Lorenzo a little while longer before deciding to trek onwards for bed. He's based at the campground nearby and decides to join me for the walk to finish our catchup. His calm and content energy is great for the walk under stars before we fork into different directions for the evening.

The conference begins at 2pm the next day - a time which happily allows me to rest well and still walk over in time for the opening 'ceremony'. First thing on the agenda is a talk on the meta-crisis by Rob Morris, followed by "what it means to be radical" by Josh the blockchain socialist. After the initial talks are finished I spend a moment with Art Brock to see what he makes of the semantic mandalas I'm producing - particularly one in relation to the wider context of the Holochain arena. From there I'm largely just hopping into different rooms and chatting with people I know from previous lives, projects and epochs - which is whelming in an odd sort of way; the gathering feels like a really odd reunion!

The day after I gave a presentation on some octadic mandalas which blows a few minds tickled the artistic and comedic preferences of James - an old friend of mine from travels in 2019 - who found it deadpan humorous.

Later in the evening I join him and his friend Sal while they mentor each other on projects; to be honest James felt like he was bouncing back from something but was maintaining focus his on the operationalisation of TrojanDAO.

During their discussions I sketch out an enneagram based on their frame of performance, interpretation and inclusion. This specific triple was based on the more generic triad of DAO Alignment they had articulated as "mechanism, rules and guiding principals (values)". Others who speak my love language! :p

Some social time flows from here before a session where I'm "touched by the light"; a magic light for neural annealing paired with breath work guided by Sam; plenty of octadic visuals this time round!

While tripping out in the visuals, I overhear a rather interesting discussion on Piercian semiotics with an exceptionally bright fellow called Benedictvs and join them after before moving to the fishbowl to dance alone bar a chair bound Laurence who's shaking a leg pretty hard for a guy on crutches - if there were more people on the dance floor, he woulda totally dominated it despite his mobility!

When we're done shaking our demons out in the empty fishbowl, I'm about ready to depart for my hostel so help Laurence up and head back to the ground of intersecting highways; aka "the lobby". After saying my goodbyes to various friends for the night, I head out to Laurences camper to share some mandalas and strategic insights - which he asks to record. One proposition I'm saucily suggesting is the loose formation of a WeCo Red team playing the game of capture and refactor.

In my personal view the app he and his partner James is working on is fantastic but also desperately needs a mobile first refactor, which he agrees on replying "do it, it's open source - the question is who's gonna do the work?". I respond by suggesting that it would take agreements with people and point at the licensing issues; getting anyone involved with substantial capacity would require a MIT licence rather than GPL (the latter being hostile to commercial use and 'tying balls to the project' as others have articulated). He says it's possible and that James would probably be open to that so we park the proposition for another time and go to bed.

After walking over again the next day, a number of us warm up the unconference with evil laughter in the fishbowl! Maybe some lingering ghosts that myself and Laurence shook out the night before were present, as things got stupendously ridiculous. Regardless; there was much delight at this 'vulnerability' and a few contagious breakouts of genuine spontaneous laughter.

Unconference planning started from here and essentially began with a discussion on ReligionDAO headed by Gustavo - under the gentle supervision of Art Brock - as religion can be a recipe for disaster but also potentially unitive force in the world. My contribution to that discussion was an assertion that neurologically religion is largely about desirable operating conditions and teleodynamic habbit loops; the sacred is simply the habbits which allow us to conserve our energy. I also chucked in a biosemiotic frame for holy ghosts as externalised impulses.

Exactly after the ariel performance in the fishbowl, I donned my extremely loud radical love kimono with the intention of attracting attention and started sheparding as many people towards James's workshop as possible... all the while wearing the digital name tag I borrowed from Stef/Mars/Marsita while pretending he/she was beaming in from Berlin airport. I wasn't really sure this act was working as it felt quite plastic to me but quite a crowd that joined for the final workshop of the unconf, so I assumed my work reasonably either effective or just plain lucky.

Finally, before leaving for the night I spent a reasonably chunk of time interacting with Rob Morris about his story, my story, my mandalas, the Holochain conductor and the greatest "yak shaving expedition" he'd ever completed. It was a pretty good expedition; he showed me and Roberto the results!

Existentially, Rob and his team at EthTokyo had built a pixel world with AI agents wandering the map; they had an 8-bit cartridge compiler, appropriately styled 8-bit graphics and some frigging awesome chip music as the cherry on top! Brilliantly ridiculous!!

The gatherings now over and I'm gone; heading out the gate I say goodbye to various friends and then walk back to the hostel. I'll spend the next few days relaxing alone in the water while occasionally bumping into fellow travellers, before making my way to Austria where I'll see a many of the same faces again!

Ad Astra! ✨

Goodbye beautiful sunset!