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Deep Dreamers in 2018: A Retrospective

What an amazing year it was for deep dreaming: Deep Dreamers was born in 2018!

DdgBefore that, dreamers on the DDG voicelessly inspired each other with their dreams. When all of a sudden a dream popped up asking dreamers to join the Deep Dreamers Facebook group, I thought: genius idea! This is just what I’ve been waiting for. Now I can communicate with other dreamers without using a dream with a one-way text message.

Ever since Daniel Prust pioneered the group on March 4, 2018, it has been growing steadily to 330 at end-2018. Contributions by this diverse crowd have covered enormous dreaming-related creative terrain!

Deep Dreamers’ Admins and Mods

Daniel Prust added Xymo Nau and Ben Beekman first as administrators. Moderators soon followed to help handle the workload. All mods and admins provide their own special skills on behalf of the group. Running the group does take a fair amount of time, which is why one of the earliest moderators, Pam Coleman, left. Thank you for your work, Pam! What does running the group involve, anyway? Well, for example, the three admins or five mods check whether applicants have a profile on DDG, keep the member list up to date, structure the manifold information available to deep dreamers, put out the occasional fire, and respond to questions.

Best of Dreaming

As the group expanded, some of the best ideas were organized into threads. These are a few of the concepts that engaged dreamers most successfully:

Dily threadEvery day, one of the admins or mods posts a daily thread where dreamers can display their daily creative output as is or with an explanation. The daily thread has arguably become the most popular activity communication platform in the group.

Challenges may well come a close second. Source and style challenges take dreamers out of their comfort zones and get those creative juices flowing. Usually, challenges have a theme. Members sometimes post personal challenges to see other dreamers’ take on a subject. Also, the group mods or admins post a fun challenge, especially when a holiday rolls around.

Wendy Bandurski’s music thread also proved wildly successful and inspired the DDG Music YouTube channel. It has certainly broadened my music horizon!

Another top contender for popularity exemplifies the goal of helping each other make better dreams. Dreamers who hit a wall trying to make a good dream with a particular source image can tap other dreamers’ creative angle by posting their source image as a white whale.

The connotations thread presents those dreams that use style transfer to give a source image a deeper meaning – a new connotation – as a dream.

A fairly new messenger group, DeepStylus, serves as an instantaneous communication platform among dreamers.

Other Themes in 2018

A number of recurring themes fascinated dreamers, others irritated them: How does the algorithm for trending and best dreams work, or not work? Remember when the DDG made a major system update in August, it was excruciatingly slow? Also, the algorithm system was out of whack for a good two weeks of so. All of a sudden, dreams with zero likes were on the first page of Best.

The issue of likes was a constant irritation, as was the issue of using other dreamers’ styles. Dreamers posted in frustration for example when they felt underappreciated or when they weren’t sure about using other dreamers’ material.

SettingsA less contentious issue was the curiosity about what the settings and different source/style image sizes in Deep Dream actually do. Also, the workings of the AI algorithm itself was discussed in depth.

And lo and behold, dreamers discovered that they could mail the DDG team and be heard. For example, DDG developers responded to some dreamers’ fears about DDG becoming a paid service that their “goal is to make AI freely and easily accessible to everyone.” Of course, the DDG team tried to find ways for dreamers to help by volunteering CPU power (remember the droins program?) or to provide financial support (the Patreon program).

Resources for Dreamers

One of the biggest benefits of being in Deep Dreamers is to hear about resources other dreamers have found and to discuss their usefulness for dreaming. Interests ranged widely from tips on building your own AI network (for intrepid and highly knowledgeable dreamers) to flagging various resources.

In response to dreamers’ perceived needs, Daniel Zamir programed two nifty programs for dreamers, a bulk downloader for dreams (it comes with an easy and and advanced tutorial) and a random collage maker (also with a tutorial) to produce style images.

Several dreamers, notably Peter Barlow, have contributed source and style images to what finally stabilized as the Flickr style and source image repository. Daniel Zamir kindly hosts a Flickr pro account for the group. Also, Ben Beekman and Peter Barlow spent a lot of time organizing, tagging and uploading the deep style collection. The images are cc0 (Creative Commons zero), so they are free to use for dreaming, and they comply with DDG’s stop to public posting of dreams using copyrighted material.

Ddg musicYouTube has emerged as a complementary platform on which dreamers can present their work in various ways, such as Mark Wacholtz’s challenge compilations, Filipe Cruz’s records of livestream dreaming, and of course DDG Music.

The most comprehensive dedicated information repository for dreamers, ddg.wiki, had a turbulent 2018. The knottiest problem was the migration from the free Notion platform once the material became too extensive for the free resource. An upgrade of Notion at cost was out of the question, so Ben Beekman implemented ddg.wiki as an alternative. Essentially a blogging site, the wiki offers much more flexibility for posting material than the old Notion option. The wiki is constant work in progress. Whenever someone flags a new resource in the group, one of the admins or mods tries to review it and to post easily accessible information. It sure beats searching through some old thread on Facebook!

Tutorials, Tutorials, Tutorials

Figure 3 3
Figure 3 3

One key purpose of ddg.wiki is to give dreamers unfamiliar with how to use particular resources a hand up in the form of guides, e.g. quick tips and tutorials. The object of the guides is to help dreamers make exactly their dreams look exactly the way they want them to.

The Last Word

It’s hard to anticipate what changes 2019 might bring. Certainly, loose ends in the wiki will need to be tied up, such as publishing posts that are still at the draft stage. Let’s all hope that the DDG will be able to handle the rapid influx of new dreamers. Let’s all hope to welcome many talented new members to Deep Dreamers, too. Here’s to sweet dreams in 2019!