I am frequently asked: What's going on here? Is this fictional, or did this conversation really happen?
There are two schools of thought about this...
Doug: During the mid-1990's, I spent a lot of time hanging around the old Encounters Forum on CompuServe (may it Rest In Peace...). People there talked about UFOs and aliens and such things. I had some pretty bizarre conversations there.
One day, I got a message from some guy who called himself Bob. He had obviously been lurking around the Encounters Forum too, although I had never seen him post there. He asked me about some of the things I had written, and we kept corresponding for some time after that. It just kept getting weirder and weirder. By the time of his last message, I had no idea what was real any more.
Unfortunately, I was not able to save all of his messages. But it was obvious he intended that I should share my, umm,... "experience" with others, so I spent a huge amount of time trying to reconstruct the conversation from memory. You can tell which are the parts I wrote - those are the clumsy parts.
On Valentine's Day in 1996, I posted the first draft of this reconstruction in the Library of the Encounters Forum. Within 24 hours, all hell broke loose. I saw very little message traffic in the Forum about it, but I later learned there were a lot of private messages going back and forth. People were sending messages to each other saying things like, "Send me your phone number! We gotta talk!" I think some pretty big phone bills went out that month... these people were spread around the world.
Some people really liked it. Some people really hated it. But one thing was obvious: almost nobody wanted to talk about it. At least not in public.
I continued to add to the file. Over the next year, it got about 50% longer. Much of the new material related to what is now called the plenitude. I had to really wrack my brains to figure out what Bob was trying to say there. Only recently have I discovered that a lot of mathematicians and physicists were arguing about such things.
On the first anniversary of publication, I uploaded the latest draft to the Internet for the first time.
More than five years later, I still occasionally remember something else Bob said, and edit it into the file. I'll keep doing it as long as I can... or until Bob comes back.
Bob: Don't believe a word he says. He made the whole damn thing up himself.
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