Bird stories

A BIRDER'S DIARY

Feedback from Cloud City
and other bird stories

There is a tendency it seems to put up content for others to see and wait for their reaction. This ritual has been around Cloud City for a while now, even if on a smaller scale. Since virtualization started to become an asset, all residents began to embrace flaunting as a social habit. They call themselves “online personalities”, “influencers”, “gurus” or “hosts”. Some write blogs, some post photos, others record videos or do talk shows. What they all have in common is an audience they know almost nothing about. Like blind peacocks unfurling their tails for nobody in particular.

Feedback from Cloud City and other Bird Stories

Prelude:Eve

      For every ten degrees increase a server room experienced, the life of the equipment used to get cut in half. Overheating has been eradicated. Virtualization is almost complete. The symbol of the Cloud is puffier and plumper than ever. The year is not important. You are the Manager of Cloud City. Your extensive experience with databases and networking appliances landed you this position. You maintain records. You write reports. You retrieve tables. You get things done. That’s your job. It used to be more demanding back in the days. Now it is all about inventory. Fetching rows and columns is like picking up stones at the beach. All nice and fun then you grow tired of it. It’s not like you don’t like what you do, you have always enjoyed it. But it gets boring doing the same tasks from 9-to-5. No one can blame you. You are getting jaded.
    One thing keeps you going through the day - a new hobby. After work, you go spelunking, exploring the depths of the City. More than spelunking, it feels like birdwatching. Without any purpose, your mind can wander on the servers. Among blinking lights and client requests, you give in to the voyeuristic pleasures of looking at the residents of Cloud City. You wonder who they are, what are their stories or their dreams. Peeping through ethernet ports, like a dumb fish in a sea of content. Attracted by shiny things in front of lonely cameras and overhead microphones, binge-watching on their latest condition. It is crazy to think most of their lives is now stored away in warehouses, blowing in the wind of dozens of fanning rows. Like aged beef waiting on racks to dry off.
    Dressed up as a birder, you take pleasure in observing various city dwellers going on with their lives on the web. There is a tendency it seems to put up content for others to see and wait for their reaction. This ritual has been around Cloud City for a while now, even if on a smaller scale. Since virtualization started to become an asset, all residents began to embrace flaunting as a social habit. They call themselves “online personalities”, “influencers”, “gurus” or “hosts”. Some write blogs, some post photos, others record videos or do talk shows. What they all have in common is an audience they know almost nothing about. Like blind peacocks unfurling their tails for nobody in particular.
    There is a routine they all seem to follow like a credo. You assume it has to do with their usual strive for more subscribers and page-views. Before anything goes online, everybody is preening, finding their good angles, adjusting their pitch and “getting in the zone”. The space around them needs to always have good lighting and air flow in order to keep them engaged and going for hours. When it comes to their energy levels, there are different schools of thought. Some indulge in protein bars and sugary drinks, others swear by green smoothies and aroma diffusers for good vibrations. It still baffles you sometimes how complex nature can be.
    It takes a while to understand what is going on. You try to catch up with the latest content on the web-vine, but the information overload makes you struggle to take hold of anything important. You may find this ironic, since you are after all fluent in Big Data. Somehow, the amount of things happening at the same time puts you in a difficult position. They call it a “fear of missing out”. A feeling of not being able to take part in something happening elsewhere. Maybe you just missed the opportunity of a lifetime. Like flowers blooming once every century or the Moon turning red only once a year. How can somebody go on without witnessing these milestones? How can someone feel accomplished without tuning in for the latest historical event? Well, sometimes it happens and you cannot do anything about it. You will never be able to know what everyone in Cloud City is doing or thinking. Nor any of their darkest secrets. The nooks and crannies of their souls. You promised yourself to just live in the moment. To take things as they come. To just enjoy your free time birdwatching and to make the best out of it. It doesn’t have to be that deep. 

*

     From above, it is an aviary. It keeps them in, behind maximum-security portals and steel walls. Whatever their aims might be, they all exist under the same canopy stretching beyond the horizon. Since it nests so many, Cloud City might also resemble some kind of a huge birdhouse. You prefer calling it “aviary” since it keeps an aristocratic feel to it. 
    The fashion of building aviaries peaked in late 19th century Europe among the most wealthy, who fancied displaying exotic birds. You can spend hours looking at illustrations of these sophisticated-looking structures in all their Victorian glory. All those cupolas and wrought iron decorations transport you to a film setting -  a garden trimmed to perfection with labyrinths of shrubs and miniature roses. Pathways of white stone cutting through a green lawn and extending into a crossroad where an aviary rises up against tree leaves. Its mesh underbelly crowded with birds stretching their wings on dried out branches.
     Of course, Cloud City does not exhibit that kind of exoticism, but one can still role-play through the servers in their spare time. You follow the walkways carefully, making sure not to disrupt the local fauna. You have to remain hidden so you can capture the most genuine behaviors. It smells like heat and overclock. You proceed with the anticipation of a toddler waiting for his favorite show to start. Your ears are peeled. Your eyes get bigger. There is always something interesting happening in Cloud City. 
    Over the last few months, four City birds - pretty birds doing their chirping just like everybody else - managed to grab your attention. What drew you to them in particular is how prolific they seem to be in their fields. You see twelve figure integers - the real stuff, they say. Influence. Since IDs and IPv6 addresses seemed too colloquial and hard for you to remember, you decided to name your new friends in alphabetical order.

SELECT ID, Name, Platform, Views, Likes, Comments, Occupation FROM [Bird_Stories];

    You are getting attached, do you? Parasocial. It refers to a psychological relationship experienced by an audience in their mediated encounters with personas such as celebrities, fictional characters, and social media influencers. You reach out and pick whatever information about them from the branches. Just like apples. You assume you know just about everything you need to know. Not that this task might be difficult, since now everybody is so used to sharing their private lives on the web.
    Sometimes birds exhibit unusual lapses in their conduct. Negative thoughts they share with others: about being dead inside, about feeling watched or becoming obsessed. They talk about it for a moment, then they return to their normal ramblings. You get worried when you see these anomalies. But then again it’s like sneezing. You never quite know when it hits them and then it’s already gone. You cannot interfere, but it sure troubles you when you witness these types of events. You decided to start a journal. In the vein of your work etiquette, you do transcriptions and take notes. You retrieve words and patterns. You observe behaviors. You analyze actions. You decode, you make assumptions. You care. Warning: live parts are exposed if cover is removed. But this does not concern you.