If it hasn’t already got a name, I’m going to coin the phrase “Scene Diving”, because that’s the best way I can describe it. By “scene“, I don’t mean an arrangement of furniture and people on a stage. I mean a group of people interested in a certain common idea, and all the things associated with their communication and productivity. By “diving”, I mean “information diving”, which was probably best outlined in Neuromancer. This is just another “involvement” analogy that uses water (“get your feet wet”, “in over your head”, “jump in at the deep end”, etc). I like this because it makes information a tactile thing that you have to navigate. With all the cyberpunk I’ve read, “diving” into information has such a romantic feel to it. Also, the idea that you’re out of your natural element, and that you’ll have to return to the surface at some point is very apt. It sets this apart from joining a scene.
Scene diving is something I’ve noticed I do a lot of, since there are so many subcultures in the online world. It may just be stating the obvious, but I think it feels like a specific skill. I’ve had people ask me in the past to find things for them, and I tried to show them how I’d go about it, but they weren’t interested in it, or didn’t have the patience. At it’s core, scene diving is just research. It’s really a form a applied research, but it isn’t something that could be done very easily prior to the Internet because of one critical element: communication.
The communication (or rather, language) of a scene is very specific. For example, it’s not immediately obvious to the average person what “BSG” stands for. But if you’re researching the backstory differences between the original and new Battlestar Galactica television series, you’ll find this acronym a lot, and the meaning becomes obvious. If your subculture isn’t online, there is no way for an outsider to observe your language without joining the subculture. This kind of communications research is much more voyeuristic.
Continuing the example, I really like a lot of Science Fiction. I’m a big fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, BSG, etc. However, I don’t really have a lot of time (or, honestly, interest) to dedicate to these individual subcultures. I’ll watch Star Trek religiously, but I can’t tell you any of the character’s middle names, and I don’t know starship registry numbers off the top of my head. I used to think that meant I didn’t like these shows as much as other people, and that somehow meant I was missing something. It took a while for me to realize that I’m not missing anything, for the very reason that I’m not interested in that level of involvement.
However, there are some things I want to get out of a scene. I have always been fascinated by Star Wars Stormtroopers. Several years ago, I scene-dove and found out how to get myself some white armor. It’s very cool. Recently, I got it into my head that I wanted my very own TARDIS, and scene-dove until I had measurements, parts lists, etc. I still don’t have a TARDIS, but I think that’s because I can’t foresee having the time to build one. I really wanted to see the new Serenity movie from the Firefly series. Again, I scene-dove, and came away with the tickets I needed. My level of involvement in any of these subcultures is rather low, but this kind of diving doesn’t seem to be something a lot of people do. Other people tend to join just a few scenes and maintain a very high level of dedication and time investment. Perhaps I’m just too scattered to stay interested in one thing. Whatever the case, it seems that there is a skill to scene diving, and I enjoy using it. I’ve also met some extremely cool people as a result.
For me, the basic outline for successful scene diving is:
Research the top layer via Google
- “Public information” sites
- Discussion forums
Learn the language
- Build your own FAQ — answer any questions you have on your own
Find stuff not out in the open
- Share resources
- Be a useful to other members of the scene
© 2005, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.