269: TCMP

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A big obstacle in experimenting with the mind's dream-simulation-engine is holding onto the details as you wake up. With TCMP you can bring back any information you want.
Title text: A big obstacle in experimenting with the mind's dream-simulation-engine is holding onto the details as you wake up. With TCMP you can bring back any information you want.


Cueball trained himself to type while asleep, so he could communicate from inside his dreams. He calls this Trans-Consciousness Messaging Protocol, or TCMP. He succeeds in using this system to send a message from inside his dream, but his friends, Megan and another Cueball, are disappointed when that first message is a trollish "F1rst p0st!!", in this case, "trans-reality trolling", instead of something constructive.

Firstposting, or thread sniping, is the practice of posting short messages to brag to others that you found and saw this content first. This practice was far more common at the time this comic was written, when high-traffic and poorly-moderated social media sites tended to display comments in increasing chronological order by default; as such, the oldest comments would be most prominently displayed at the top, while the newest comments would be buried at the bottom. These days, while low-traffic and closely-monitored forums still use this approach, social media sites instead tend to sort comments by rating, so that the most appreciated comments are given the most prominence and trollish comments like the cliche "F1rst p0st!!" are buried. See also 1019: First Post and 1258: First and regarding trolling 493: Actuarial.

"Bell & Watson" refers to Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant Thomas A. Watson. Bell is traditionally credited with inventing the telephone, because he was awarded the patent for it, although that is still controversial. His first phone call was to Watson in another part of their lab.

The forest Cueball is in may be a reference to the Wood Between the Worlds in The Magician's Nephew, from the series of childrens' books, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

The name "TCMP" is likely to be a portmanteau of TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol), which are actual protocols used in computer networking.

The title text explains how this protocol, if real, would be of great value in dream research, since you then would not have to worry about forgetting the dreams after waking up like as in 430: Every Damn Morning. You can relay the dreams as you experience them.

A possible downside is that in order for this to work, the dream has to be lucid, where the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming. This type of dream is very fascinating to Randall, as mentioned in the title text of 203: Hallucinations. Because this method could not be used to study regular dreams, some possibilities for studying dreams would be limited.


[Cueball stands with a keyboard next to a bed. The keyboard is connected with a wire to a computer on a desk to the right. He talks to Megan and a Cueball-like friend.]
Cueball: Hey, help me test the Trans-Consciousness Messaging Protocol.
Friend: What's that?
Cueball: I've been training myself to keep my fingers moving slightly as I fall asleep. So I can type from inside dreams.
[In a frameless panel, Cueball sits with the keyboard on the bed.]
Cueball: I'm going to sleep now. My computer will relay my messages to you as I explore the dream world.
[Cueball stands with the keyboard in a forest with tall trees. The leaves are not visible; they are above the top of the drawing. At the top, there is a frame with text:]
In the dream:
Cueball (thinking): So strange to think none of this is real.
Cueball (thinking): And yet I have this lifeline to the internet back home.
[Cueball places the keyboard on a stone, bends down, and types.]
Cueball (thinking): A chance to speak from one reality to another.
Cueball (thinking): I feel like Bell & Watson. I get to write the inaugural TCMP message.
Cueball (thinking): Let's see...
Keyboard: *Type type type*
[Megan is at the computer, and the Cueball-like friend behind her looks at his message from the dream. At the top, there is a frame with text:]
Megan: "F1RST P0ST!!"?
Friend: Great. He's jumped straight to trans-reality trolling.

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F1rst p0st!!
...seriously, if I could remember, I would rather start with 'What Hath God Wrought!' That is far more solemn and dedicating... not just to Morse-sensee, either!Greyson (talk) 02:22, 28 September 2013 (UTC)
The second paragraph screams of this comic. I've been a big fan of the Lucidity Institute and their work since about 2010. 07:48, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

Yeah, I was gonna say "Didn't LaBerge do something like this irl?" and then I found this little citation: LaBerge, Stephen P., et al. "Lucid dreaming verified by volitional communication during REM sleep." Perceptual and motor skills 52.3 (1981): 727-732. -- 19:53, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

There is a community portal discussion of what to call Cueball and what to do in case with more than one Cueball. I have added this comic to the new Category:Multiple Cueballs. Since there is clearly one Cueball that is the protagonist and do the "talking" he should probably be listed as Cueball. Just made a note that the other guy also looks like Cueball --Kynde (talk) 20:49, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

It's real! https://lsdbase.org/2012/05/11/hello-dream-world/ 04:13, 26 September 2016 (UTC)

I feel like there might be a connection to the Choices pentalogy just before this comic - "Will I wake up thinking this was a dream?" 19:23, 1 May 2020 (UTC)

A recent lucid dream two-way communication experiment! https://www.vice.com/en/article/4admym/scientists-achieve-real-time-communication-with-lucid-dreamers-in-breakthrough 15:50, 20 February 2021 (UTC)