In 2023, I’m taking the Time Travel Institute in a new direction.
Years ago, Mop was set to shut TTI down for whatever reasons he had at the time. Participation was low, the server was a mess, and he was ready to move on to other things. Thankfully, I was able to acquire ownership in 2014 and have been doing my best since then to bring things back to what I remember.
If you’ve been around for any length of time, you’ve seen the forums flip between a few iterations. We’ve tried a few platforms, moved the furniture around quite a bit, but ultimately none of that really helped. In fact, it’s probably done the opposite. The advent of social media changed the landscape for online communities like ours, and I don’t want to be a clone of what Paranormalis is already doing well. I feel like what we ended up with over the course of 24 years is still effectively that, though. Another paranormal or fringe forum, and an inactive one at that.
After 9 years of ownership, I can empathize with Mop and how difficult it is to steer a ship of this size.
I wanted to continue TTI because it’s an important part of cyberspace history (at least to me), but continuing the way we have doesn’t honor or elevate the community that came before. I can’t pivot in the direction I want to go without continuing to damage that original foundation, so we must start fresh.
The original boards are still available, and will remain so until they’re absorbed into the Chronovisor (details on that below).
One of the reasons for the reset is to utilize a more capable platform, Discourse, which is what you’re reading this on now.
Permissions are based on trust, and trust is based on your activity and contributions. If you’re an active contributor, you’ll naturally gain influence and owneship of the community you’re helping to build. You can read an in-depth explanation of this system over on the Discourse site, but the tl;dr is that the more you interact and contribute, the more abilities the system will give you.
This platform also provides the commenting system for both The Library and The Chronovisor, automatically creating topics for those entries as they’re needed (rather than flooding the forum with empty topics like we’d done before).
There are a number of other great quality-of-life features that you’ll discover as you use the new system, and I’m happy to answer any questions about it to help you learn to use it (send me a PM or create a thread in this category).
We will not be migrating the old content to this system. We tried that in a past iteration of the BBS and it simply isn’t worth the headaches it creates trying to cram everything into a new box. The purpose of keeping those old posts is to maintain an archive, which is what we’re doing with The Chronovisor.
One of the major new directions for TTI is focusing on the golden age of the internet, and restoring long-defunct boards. An improved version of The Chronovisor has been devised to index, catalog and recover these old communities into a searchable and easily browsable format, and you’ll be able to contribute as well.
This is an idea I’ve had in mind for several years now, but did not have a good way to implement given the tools I had at the time. Comments, for example, should be allowed… But not within the archived thread as that creates confusion. The same goes with usernames; how should one approach a scenario where a member of our forums has the same name as someone from The Chronovisor, but is not the same person?
The forum reset, along with the new setup solves that. Each thread in the Chronovisor can be continued here, but keep the original context over there. Here’s an example:
This is “Stargate in the Andes”, started by pamela on the original TTI boards in '99. We want to allow comments on these old posts, but have a demarcation between “then” and “now”. Each Chronovisor thread auto-creates a discussion counterpart here on the BBS, and is made visible once someone decides to comment on it:
Remastering the Original TTI Posts
Along with recovering long-defunct boards, we’ll also be remastering TTI’s original posts to their original format. Over the years, we’ve flipped between software and structures, and doing that tends to break links or mess with formatting.
The original TTI posts deserve to be preserved, and will be my primary focus within the Chronovisor as we move forward on that. Every link, every image, every guest post. As those are recovered, they’ll be removed from the archive and live solely within The Chronovisor (where the conversation can still be continued).
Like many of you, I grew up playing games like The Journeyman Project, Quest for Glory, Space Quest and the classic 2D Zelda games. There’s plenty of great games out there today, but nothing that feels like those ones did. Not necessarily the mechanics, but the stories they told and the things they did to my imagination.
Part of TTI’s new direction will be creating Time Quest, a 2D adventure game which is the first step towards building out the Time Travel Institute Universe.
The basic premise is that in the distant future, you’re a janitor at the Time Travel Institute where an elite taskforce monitors for and acts upon breaches into the spacetime continuum from The Church of Titor, a mysterious organization with (possibly) nefarious intent.
One day while cleaning the time machines, you accidentally spill your lunch into the main computer, and trying to escape the resulting meltdown, hop into one of the time pods only to be shot back in time. With all the other time machines out of commission, and your own machine severely damaged, you must find your way through time, stop the Church of Titor and return home.
Homesteading & Survival
Earlier this year, my wife and I purchased 16 acres of land in the Ozarks and moved our family out here to escape the growing insanity of living near the cities (specifically the Portland area). This is something I’ve always wanted to do (after all, I’m an introvert), but I didn’t truly understand how rewarding it would be until we got here.
It made me realize: The way forward is the way back.
Living a simpler life, and having the capacity to be self sufficient has been such a paradigm shift that it’s changed my outlook and opinion on, well, everything. I no longer feel like I need to live on the computer, which is a big shift for someone who’s been a programmer for several years and grew up glued to my Nintendo and Netscape.
Something changed in me over the past year, beyond just being a dad in my late 30s. “Things” no longer appeal to me the way they once did, and I’m finding joy and satisfaction in basic things like chopping down trees, nailing some boards together, painting a bedroom, and planning my garden.
Living this way is a form of time travel, I think. We definitely have amenities that weren’t available long ago (internet and electricity), but everything else is effectively off-grid. We’re working on getting back to the land and homesteading our way to sustainability, creating something that feels generational rather than what most people seem to be expected to do today.
As part of refocusing TTI, I’ll be sharing more and more of the homesteading projects I’ve been working on since we arrived. Most of the time so far has been spent cleaning up the land and getting an idea of what we can do, but now it’s time to start the doing part. Returning to simplicity and rewinding the clock is something I’d like to share with others to help them feel the sense of freedom this flavor of “time travel” has given us.
Maybe seeing what we’re up to and how we’re doing it will make you want to pursue something similar.
Finally, there’s The Library, which will be making a return. Many of you already know what this is, as you’ve seen a few iterations of it over the past year, but for those who aren’t already familiar:
The Time Travel Library is a collection of the best examples of time travel in fiction. Through these, TTI hopes to expose our members to imaginative concepts and ideas to further fuel interest in the world of temporal manipulation and inspire interest in unlocking the secrets of time.
The Library is currently in a minimized state, but using the same commenting mechanism as The Chronovisor allows us to continue on our original path without cluttering up the forums. You’ll see more about that soon.
If you were a member of the original BBS, we’d love for you to return. I’m happy to answer any questions on how to use the new software, so you’re welcome to ask n this forum or send me a private message. I’ll do my best to help you out.
If this new setup isn’t your cup of tea, that’s okay! I understand where you’re coming from more than you might expect, but at the end of the day, I made a commitment to keep TTI alive and running when I took it over. This reset, coupled with the Chronovisor and other prongs of the refocusing, is how I’m able to do that, and I hope you’ll consider giving things a try to see where they lead.