Cybernaut Club - a social experiement

About a month ago I was working from home in a typical way and suddenly a phrase popped into my mind. That phrase was "cybernaut club". I don't know where it came from, what influenced it, but I wasn't going to ignore it. I had previously taken some ideas through conceptualisation and not executed them and regretted it. Experience thought me to act fast. There is an old story or myth passed down about genies. I heard that ideas come from genies. They whisper them in your ear. They put new ideas in your mind and when this happened in the past the recipient would thank the genie who gave them the idea that brought them success or fame. Thanks to the genie! they would exclaim!

Over time, people would say, ah that person was visited by a genie. This then turned to, "That was genius", which then became, "What a genius idea you just had!", and finally, "I am such a genius". The focus shifted from the ethereal to the individual, from the spiritual to the self-congratulating. Inspiration can come out of nowhere and hit you. I've always been gifted with ideas, solutions, problem-solving abilities and thinking way out of the box to the point where I am often wondering if I actually have anyone to relate to on this planet. I am so often misunderstood that I am left thinking that there is something wrong with me. Sometimes, I it me or them? then I am reminded, everyone must have these exact same feelings at some point and I move on.

I've always kept that genie in mind though - I don't know everything - and I wouldn't want to upset the source of inspiration. I want to court inspiration and romance her. I want to be best friends with her and give her offerings in exchange for ideas and concepts. I think that the best way to do this is to act quickly. I wrote earlier about my disappointment and regrets when not capitalising on ideas. One such idea was Weatherspoon's ordering app. I recall 2015, I was in a Spoons with 3-4 mates and I was telling them about how the process of ordering could be improved. I'm a master of computer science and had completed research about BPMN 2.0 process modelling. I was familiar with algorithmic thinking, decomposition and algorithm design. It was obvious to me. I tried to get my friends on board to focus on this one idea. Dan kept going on about setting up a system to deliver food, McDonald's and other goods to hungover people...little did any of us foresee the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020/21. Rob wanted to stand on the seafront and sell pre-made crisp butties. Another missed opportunity? I had a diary full of business ideas broken down into service-based opportunities and product-based opportunities. I couldn't get anyone to commit to anything solid. The lads were too interested in gaming, girls, booze and watching sports. They hadn't been to university and couldn't get into the delayed gratification mindset. They wanted success, power and women today, in most cases without putting in the work.

Flashforward six-years and I'm now in a different town. I don't see those guys anymore. I still speak to some of them on social media but not much has changed for them. I'm teaching and lecturing full-time in computer science, digital design, and ICT. I have new colleagues but the lockdowns, the relocation and having a young family have all put a damper on making any new (really-good) friends. The lockdown has made it impossible to socialise outside of my household. I'm too put out by it. It means that I have more time for my family, me, my work, my own individual projects and planning for the future. I am disappointed that I haven't been able to start a business with a friend and pursue a common goal with passion. I see childhood friends like Rhett and Link from Good Mythical Morning (not a sponsor) on YouTube and I think to myself...I'd love to do something like that. Just me and a buddy, talking about random stuff, trying new foods, reviewing things all in a fun way.

So, I give it one more try after the genie hit me with the phrase cybernaut club. I honestly sat here at my computer and thought to myself..."...huh? where did that thought come from?". I took action straight away. I went onto (not a sponsor) and typed in the phrase. Available?!?!?! Hmmmmm - okay how much? So the domain was a couple of quid (£2-3GPB). I signed up, bought the domain and transferred the service over to Wix (not a sponsor) because I was familiar with how to design a website using their tools. I then set about getting an idea together. I am a child of the '80s and 90's and love the neon retro style that was so infamously exploited in "Cyberpunk 2077". I'm a fan of the originators, Tron, Blade Runner, They Live and more. John Carpenter is a huge musical and directorial influence. I've always been inspired and excited by Synthwave, Vaporwave, Outrun, Retrowave, Future Synth and the sound, visuals and feeling of the genre. It's something ingrained in me. It started to resurge in May 2015 when Kung Fury Offical Movie [HD] blasted its insane way onto YouTube (watch it here: Seeing the trend as early as then, I knew that the aesthetics of the genre were coming back in a big way. It's taken six years, but I think we are at the tipping point of the look, feel and sound of Synthwave going mainstream. This is just the beginning.

I decided to leave all doubt behind and focus on what I enjoyed the most. Design, the genre, the music, the movies, the art and also, behind it all - technology. I decided at that moment that I wanted to build an online community dedicated to all areas of technology and futurism. No more messing around. I had dipped my toe in so often it had become wrinkly. The neon purple-pink-blue-black water was in the Goldilocks Zone. I pushed forward and committed to the idea. I went onto Freelancer and ran a competition to design a logo for the brand. I'm happy with the result and made a great contact from Bangladesh from it in Rayhan. If you would like to hire Rayhan too then use this link to his profile. I know he would appreciate it: To view all of the 81 other entries from the competition, check them out using this link: Thank you to everyone who competed for the business and interacted with me to achieve the look and feel that I was after. It took a village to raise this kid. Cybernaut Club was born and a community started to grow. I launched on all of the social media accounts I could think of.

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Reddit, Twitch, LinkedIn, Spotify, Discord, WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, QQ, Tumblr, Telegram and Signal to name the majority of them. See the bottom of the page for some links to the major ones. With so many options for one guy to choose from and to try to maintain, it became obvious that I would need help to manage this new beast. To grow it, tame it, make it become something more than an idea would take People-Power not just Paul Powers. I asked one of my friends mentioned earlier, Rob, as he was active on Twitch and trying to grow his presence there. After a falling out over Pokemon Go raids (what are we 10?) that put that plan to pasture (You still owe me a quid, Robert). I had to rebuild and replan. It never happened with Rob despite all of the hot air and enthusiasm coming from his hot head. None of our plans panned out. I needed a new strategy and I foresaw one that would not only benefit the platform but my students and my work-life too!

Roll on early February and Unit 8 springs on the scene. Business Applications of Social Media was the title of the unit that my Level 3 year 1 cohort were about to embark upon with me. The stars have aligned! The fates have me in their sights and they want me to succeed, finally! Again, seeing an opportunity, I sprung to action organising teams and handing out action points and tasks. We now have 23 youthful, passionate, tech-savvy, generationally in-tune students on the Cybernaut Club team. (Rob who?) We have the following teams working on the project: Lettuce, Cookie, Lemon, Pizza, Mayo, Paprika and Cucumber.

Team Lettuce are in charge of Twitter. Any posts on Twitter are the sole responsibility of three amazing students. The stats since they took over speak for themselves with huge increases in every category. We then have Team Cookie who is the leading team in the whole project with the most responsibility out of any. They are in-charge of redesigning and developing the website and Instagram. These are my two favourite platforms to use and so I keep a close eye on all developments. Next up is the largest of the teams, Team Lemon who is maintaining Facebook, with the team leader developing and monitoring the Discord. I couldn't have set-up the Discord to how it is today without the digital skills and communication abilities of the Lemon Leader. Next, we have the venerable Team Pizza. A strong team of three of the brightest and best students who have taken to Twitch like me to a Pizza Hut Buffet before my keto diet. We also have the smallest team made up of two students responsible for Tumblr, Team Mayo. Team Paprika have dual responsibilities in equal measure they divided up YouTube and Reddit because of previous experience, current ambition and sheer intestinal fortitude. They confidently sold it to me why they should take over these streams. I look forward to seeing what they come up with in the coming week. (updates to follow). Last but not least we have a trio who make up Team Cucumber. Much like a cucumber, the team is nowhere to be seen on my plate or in lessons. They were put together for a reason. Here's hoping they can pull it out of the bag and take LinkedIn off me, so I can focus on looking good and administrative duties.

This is where we come full-circle to the title - Cybernaut Club - a social experiment. It truly is an experiment of dramatic consequences and proportions of trust to hand over your entire social media portfolio and web domain including log-ins and passwords to 23 Level 3 students. Was I mad to do it? Only time will tell. Stay posted for weekly updates on how the project is progressing. Use the links below if you want to get involved and join the Cybernaut Community - It is completely free.

All the best,

FutureBeard (aka Paul Powers)

Editorial note,

Please, share this blog with your friends, family and even enemies - heck, they might like it too! Don't discriminate, send it to old Doris from book club. She might not look the interested type, but she may just well be. Thanks in advance. Any support received goes back into helping the students succeed. God knows, they need all the help they can get with a teacher like me leading them into the future!

Yours sincerely,

Paul Powers

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