I found myself at a round table looking at a bunch of tablet computers. They were not piled on top of each other, but rather sort of arranged tightly in different directions. People were looking at them, and wandering away.
Each tablet computer seemed to be running an identical program, taking up the full screen. It was like a chat program, except instead of being chronological it was ordered with person's names in columns on the left, and lines of text were whirring by for each person. As if it only monitored a single instant in time for a conversation.
Noticing my name in one of the columns, the lines were whipping by fairly fast. I wanted to read what they said, but the print was small. I was worried someone would mind me picking up the tablet, but no one seemed to notice or care that I had. To make the print bigger I used the two-finger "pinch to zoom" gesture, but it got me off in an area of the names list that was alphabetically close to mine but too far down. I tried to scroll but got caught in a mode where I seemed to be highlighting areas of the screen--as if to take a snapshot.
me: (frustrated) "What is all this? Does it pertain to the upload I've been hearing about?"
A man handed me a small Zip-Loc bag with some electronic items that I perceived as things I had owned, like an old MP3 player.
man: "Yes, archiving and sorting. Cross-referencing. There's information you can find about the music that was in the recovered players, line it up with things posted on the Internet. Tie things together to get the full picture."
By the time I'd looked up from the bag he had moved on, people seemed to be in motion and messing with various things in the house where I am currently. I walked away from the table and encountered a seating area with bookshelves that was more modern, and found a young man there looking at something in his lap.
me: "So why am I here? Am I anyone important, did I do something that turned out to be important? Something that turned out to be ahead of their time, like Charles Babbage or DaVinci or something?"
young man: (somewhat distracted) "I don't know who you are, offhand, or those other names you mention. I think the spectrum of what you consider "importance" or "fame" is more localized than you realize. You didn't have to do anything profound to be worth including in this upload. Maybe you just sped up someone's else's code at some point."
He wandered off and I went through a few other rooms looking for people. Sometimes there'd be a lot, then I'd turn around and there weren't any. Eventually I found a black man with a very large bulbous cylindrical nose...like a cartoon character. I seemed to be able to catch his attention.
me: "So why is this being done? Is it malicious hacking, indifferent data gathering, is it being done out of love for those being archived?"
black man: "I can give you my answer. But up front I will put a big disclaimer on it. When people start throwing around the word "love" you shouldn't just take that at face value. To make an analogy, think about if you were at a party and some drunk guy puts his arm around you and says "I love you, man!" I think you will find that in dealings with that person later, it's not something you can necessarily take to the bank."
A girl in a skirt got in between me and the black man, and seemed to stand on the table next to him, such that I could see up her skirt. She wasn't wearing underwear. The black man seemed to collapse her by hitting her on the head so that she fell and flattened such that the visual up her skirt collapsed into what looked like a picture torn out of a magazine of some other body part.
black man: (annoyed) "Try to ignore that. Back to your question: what I think is that what we are doing is based out of love. But it's tempered with a sense that if love is to mean anything at all, it must be informed. People aren't always careful with attribution; so you can point your love at the wrong place. Someone might put great song lyrics in a message and is just quoting it, but they couldn't have written it. Like right now I can sing one of my favorites, out of context..."
He began to break into song, though I can't remember the lyrics. It was nothing I recognized, but it was kind of blues/soul, and it did mention love. The scene began to dissolve a bit, and the people in the room were vanishing.
I walked over to a counter where there seemed to be some people.
me: "I have one more question..."
A guy behind the counter rolled his eyes at me.
counter man: "Forgive my skepticism that you have only one more question."
me: "I meant I'll probably only manage to ask one more question before waking up. I'm part of a group of people who are pretty comfortable with ideas of simulation; we realize it's not necessarily a perfect idea, but find it hard to imagine moving past biology without it. So I understand this, and I even understand if you think my questions are boring... there may be a perfectly mundane explanations for how I "materialized" here, or what "here" even is, or why I'm wandering around in rooms where people appear to be cooking and ignoring me, in an era where nobody eats? Could be a by-product of the interface for talking to me...some puppetry method that's probably distorted on both sides of the channel."
counter man: "Okay, sure, and?"
me: "...AND so what about the stuff that isn't like this. The stuff that's solid and coherent, seemingly unrelated to you, where the technology is shocking and multi-dimensional? You can call me insignificant, but this seems like a little backwater of a data mining operation with simple filtering. Do you know of these other operations? Are you related, are they competitors or enemies? Or do you simply doubt their existence, as many I talk to would doubt yours?"
I didn't get an answer, as the scene sort of disappeared. I saw a couch and an old woman laying on it.
me: "Well do you mind answering a question?"
She said she didn't mind, but I noticed upon closer inspections she looked like one of my deceased grandmothers and seemed to be immoble. Wondering if there was any overlap with "the dead", I changed what I was going to say.
me: "What do you believe to be your name?"
old woman: (laughing) "Jessica Bernowitz. That wasn't exactly "The Edison Question"."
I think she said Jessica, last name thrown in as a placeholder. Either way, not close to my grandmother's name. Also, it's a bit strange that after discussion famous Earth figures earlier someone would be invoking Edison's name to indicate brilliance.
Currently I am experimenting with using Disqus for comments, however it is configured that you don't have to log in or tie it to an account. Simply check the "I'd rather post as a guest" button after clicking in the spot to type in a name.