Collected here is the full run of Voices from the Net, an electronic zine that Ric Bohannon and I published, starting in 1993.
WELCOME TO THE INAUGURAL ISSUE OF VOICES FROM THE NET [Keep in mind, Wired #1 is now going for $50.00 American ;)] xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xx xx V O I C E S xx xx xx xx f r o m xx xx xx xx t h e xx xx xx xx N E T . . . xx xx xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx C a n Y o u H e a r O u r V o i c e s ? D o Y o u R e a d U s ? There are a lot of folks with at least one foot in this complex region we call (much too simply) "the net." There are a lot of voices on these wires. From IRC to listservs, MUDspace to e-mail, Usenet group to commercial bbs - all kinds of voices - loud and quiet, anonymous and well-known. And yet, it's far from clear what it might mean to be a "voice" from, or on, the net. Enter "Voices from the Net": one attempt to sample, explore, the possibilities (or perils) of net.voices. Worrying away at the question. Running down the meme. Looking/listening, and reporting back to you. * * * ISSUE #1.1 * * * This issue: --VOICES CARRY introductions, musings, ... --TOM MADDOX brief bio, followed by Q&A --SIGNAL/NOISE assorted trains of thought from IRC, a MOO, and e-mail --A FEW MINUTES WITH... ANDY HAWKS brief bio, followed by an essay --A SHOUT IN THE DARK conclusions? and other ramblings --COMING ATTRACTIONS preview issue #2 * * * __VOICES CARRY__ Can you hear our voice? People...? Do you read us? Are we coming in loud and clear? hmmmmm... "Voices from the Net" - With a title like that, you know we're just looking for trouble. Trouble of the most basic, definitional kind. With a title like that, what could our zine be about? What are these "voices from the net"? Lean back, look away from your screen. Can you hear me? (You looked back. Don't think that we don't know! ;-) If "bookish" falls in the MOO, and all you get is the emote message: --->bookish suddenly crashes to the floor does he make a sound? At the risk of getting too literal, too philosophical, let me ask again - What are these voices from the net? The question is one of mediation, and it is of a familiar type. Communication technologies, beginning(?) with writing and progressing(?!) through VR, confront us with a range of mutations of the voice. They defy the limitations in space and time that bound oral face-to-face communication. So that the voice is "read" when it is "loud and clear." Confusions of the ear and eye abound, particularly in cyberspace(s). CountZer0 and I hold an impromptu editorial meeting by "finger"-ing and "talk"-ing online. But my fingers only touch the keyboard of my Mac, and those same fingers do the talking while I listen with my eyes. We need never have fleshmet, spoken face-to-face, to produce "Voices from the Net." Confusions, contradictions, and paradoxes. I lean back, look away from my screen. It's 3AM and very quiet. But most of us know how "noisy" even our favorite virtual environments can get, how completely the "signal" can be drowned. Signal/noise. Sound/silence. What ARE these voices from the net? These are the conundrums that will occupy us, which we will worry at with all the monomaniacal intensity of a Usenet group. ;-) "Voices from the Net" is the record of a search, an ongoing enquiry into the nature(?!) of our net.voices. We'll be starting close to home, with environments we know and voices that are significant to us, but you can bet that we won't hang around those regions exclusively. Already, we are moving/being moved into new spaces. We're finding new voices. We want to "hear" what they have to say, to "see" how they say it. And we want you to join us, to help the voices carry. To help carry the voices from the net. C'mon. All aboard! It'll be fun... * * * __TOM MADDOX__ Who is Tom Maddox? That's a question that requires a variety of answers. (The kind of question we like at "Voices...") He is a published author of science fiction stories. His first, "The Mind Like a Strange Balloon," appeared in _Omni_ in 1985, and he has had others published in _Omni_, _Isaac Asimov's SF Magazine_, and "small magazines and not so small anthologies--including _Mirrorshades:The Cyberpunk Anthology_." Maddox was among those first associated with the the term "cyberpunk" and received special thanks--along with Bruce Sterling, Lewis Shiner, and John Shirley--in William Gibson's _Neuromancer_. He has also written literary criticism. His first novel, _Halo_, was published by Tor Books in 1991. Maddox teaches literature and writing at Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Washington. He describes his situation simply: "Good school, good job." He is married with two children, plays guitar and is a "regular" in several online environments. And in his spare time... Back - oh, a month or so ago - when "Voices from the Net" was little more than a gleam in our collective eye, we put together a list of people who might be willing to talk to us about life on the net. Tom Maddox appeared very near the top of that list, for a variety of reasons that should become clear. Among those reasons is his willingness to talk about issues like "voices from the net." In his "spare time" he was gracious enough to share his thoughts on a few questions... <Voices> You expressed surprise that we had put you at the top of >our list. Let's start there. Do you think of yourself as a >"significant voice" on the net? >What, then, would you consider a "significant voice"? <Tom Maddox> Let me take your first two together. One of the most interesting things about the net is that all voices are potentially significant, all potentially insignificant. It's not only a a functioning anarchy, it's also a pure democracy. A significant voice is any voice that says something significant. Which is neither to say nor imply that this makes everything wonderful. Anyone can achieve significance by being an unspeakable pain in the ass, of course--by posting enough abuse or gibberish or simply by sitting hour after hour spewing the first thing that comes to mind. But I believe in an uncensored net. Moderated groups are fine in their place, but unmoderated groups are, at least from this point of view, still more important. As to good taste, consideration, and allied virtues, they're fine, but freedom of speech is finer still. <Voices> More generally, what parts of the net do you frequent. Why >those, and why not others? <Tom Maddox> "The net" is ambiguous. Which net or which part of it? For instance-- On Usenet, I frequent rec.arts.books, alt.cyberpunk, some of the Mac groups, misc.writing, and a bunch more that I scan at high speed: alt.hypertext, sf.written, eff.talk, and others. Depending on what's happening topically (the goings on at EFF in the early part of the year, introduction of the Clipper Chip proposal, etc.) I might drop in on ones I don't ordinarily look at. More generally, on the Internet I also read and now again contribute to several mailing lists--on Pynchon, deconstruction, artificial life, other odds and sods. I check in on various machines by ftp or telnet: eff.org, for instance, or places like sumex or umich that have new Mac software. And when something new comes up that I hear about--like the JPEG images from a Library of Congress exhibit from the Vatican Library--I check those out. On the WELL I mostly lurk--I've never been able to adapt to the social structure there, for reasons that utterly elude me. On GEnie, I look at some of the Mac groups and a very few of the sf groups from time to time. I almost never say anything there, for reasons you might infer from what I say below. On BMUG (the Berkeley Mac Users' Group, one of the great ones in the country) I look at the new software and some of the discussions of books and free speech. Etcetera. Why these? They amuse or inform me more than others, and I can cope with their volume. I used to frequent talk.bizarre when I first started reading Usenet, and wouldn't mind reading it still, if it were about one-hundredth its usual volume. <Voices> Do you think that there are certain areas on the net where >it is easier to be heard? What makes those spaces more >"speaker friendly"? <Tom Maddox> Low volume spaces, chatty spaces, *regulated* spaces. For instance, GEnie's sf groups are both chatty and censored: nobody can call anyone a motherfucker or engage in repeated, focused abuse. So new users can kind of scuff their toes and say "ah, shucks," and join right in. Violations of community etiquette are gently reprimanded, and so on--stuff that would get you nuked on Usenet is dealt with quite kindly. Moderated groups on Usenet have some of this quality, though even they tend more toward demanding on-topic discussions and some substance, while the chatty groups on GEnie (or Fido [FIDO? PHYDOUGH?], for that matter) wander all over the place All of which pretty much bores me, I'm sorry to say. I prefer the freefire zone of Usenet, even though I've had my own ass shot off while wandering through it at various times. <Voices> Given the enormity of the net, how significant are even the >voices that get heard in a single sphere? Is that enormity a >weight that has to be carried by each communicator or is the >interconnection, and the nearly global "reach" it provides, >more than enough compensation for net-inertia? <Tom Maddox> Well, yeah, it's a big net. "Single sphere" I don't get. A newsgroup? A "region" of the net such as Usenet? Each of us is a small voice sounding among millions (billions? how many messages constitute, for instance, Usenet at a given moment, and how do you count them?), so it's possible to feel quite unimportant, but then again each of us *is* unimportant in the larger scheme of things, so I look at this aspect of the net as a reality check. In other words, the global scope of the net is one of its most important characteristics and is especially salutory for Americans, who tend to believe the world centers on the U.S. <Voices> How much effect can this rather ephemeral form of >communication have on "the world," either in some global or >local sense? Why try to be an audible voice on the net? <Tom Maddox> Because despite our relative unimportance, many of us really do want to be heard. What effect will we have? The historical jury's still out on that one, I think. As a writer of fiction, this is a question I've had to think about quite a few times, and I still don't know the answer. Why make up stories for people and go to a great deal of trouble to make them as interesting, imaginative, intelligent, and so on as I can? I certainly can't prove that doing so is of particular benefit to the world at large. Why post something interesting to rec.arts.books or bother to correct a particularly egregious lie or misstatement? Why risk ridicule, reprimand, or flames? Why not? It's only rock and roll, so fuck it: say what you mean and learn from your experiences. I am either simple or stupid enough to believe that I've actually learned some important lessons from the net--about public argument, effective rhetoric in an electronic medium, and so on. Also, lessons about what kinds of experiences I do and don't want to have, on the net and elsewhere. In my early days, a few years back (about five, actually), I got involved in some fairly outrageous flame wars. Those were interesting for a while; the emotional situations they generated were new to me. But they got old: they're simply too much damned trouble in most instances. They require too much investment of energy and time and thought. But I'm glad I went through them because I feel they taught me something about myself, other people, the net, and so on. And I quite enjoyed the smell of napalm some mornings in alt.cyberpunk. <Voices> The net is growing rapidly, and that seems likely to >complicate an already complex situation. How do you think the >net's expansion will affect the average person's chance of >being heard on the net? <Tom Maddox> The larger the net, the more it demands good writing-- intelligent, informed, imaginative writing, also writing free from the kinds of technical miscues that so often characterize writing on the net. In short, writing becomes more public, more like writing for a journal, a magazine or newspaper, less like writing to a friend or small group of people. Somewhere along here the usual net semi-literacies--"their" for "there," "your" for "you're," it's" for "its" and so on--become real obstacles to getting heard, just as they are when someone submits an essay or story to a magazine. And chatty misinformation gets correction in a hurry (or, failing that, starts a firestorm of charge and counter-charge, which is not characteristic of the net, by the way, as some people assert, but of humanity, as witness the equally bizarre flame wars that occur in such august journals as _The New York Review of Books_). Some quite intelligent and net-aware people treat the net as a casual chat, so they don't bother to proofread what they post or to rewrite it. I find this attitude quite bizarre, given that for many people the net is the biggest audience they will ever have. Looked at positively, the increase in the size of the net means that all anyone needs is a computer and modem and a little wit to get heard by millions of people. The "average person" I'm not sure about. I don't know who that is or what he or she is capable of. Also, as a long-time teacher, I'm committed to the idea that everyone can escape the ugly imputation of being average. <Voices> Along these same lines, do you think that as the net >becomes less-and- less a place just for the "cool few" there >will be an increase in the kind of defensiveness about >territory that we already see? Might this tend to inhibit new >voices? <Tom Maddox> Bigger net, more inhibition, for reasons I've just talked about. It's hard to stand up before a big audience and say your piece. However, it's easier to do so electronically than to do so in person. <Voices> When you're on the net--as Tom Maddox, Man & Beast-- >posting to alt.whatever, is that the Tom Maddox that goes to >the grocery store, or do you play a role? Does the online >environment "naturally" lead to the development of net- >personas, or at least facilitate it? <Tom Maddox> Depends whom you talk to, and when. Some days I believe that the person who does the writing (music making, painting, programming, whatever) is not the same person who goes shopping and so on, but I have no strong argument to support this belief--it comes from reflection on my own writing and second-hand knowledge about others'. In short, that's how it feels to me. Besides, the net is a new medium (or several of them), one in which I think we can see empirically that persona creation occurs easily (if not naturally, whatever that word means in this context). However, in this regard I've heard from people who just don't understand how anyone could regard a net.persona as something different from who that person is. Such people believe in a coherent, unified personality, I suppose, and I just don't. I believe, rather, that we are all mixed bags of contradictory impulses, actions, possibilities. On the net we manifest one set (or more) of these, in the grocery store another. <Voices> As a writer, you're associated in many minds with >"cyberpunk." Clearly, a lot has changed since you wrote >"Snake-Eyes" with regard to what that term could mean. How >do you understand your relationship to "cyberpunk" these >days? Could you respond to the oft-heard cry that it >(whatever it is) is being spoiled by commercialization? <Tom Maddox> No one can control the evolution of a meme. Like similar terms before it ("surrealism," for instance), cyberpunk has turned out to have a certain viability in the memetic habitats of worldwide culture. I can't say I've really been surprised by this since the early days of _Neuromancer_'s success, because it seemed obvious early on that Gibson had quite unwittingly tapped into an emerging set of phenomena of some importance. In those days he'd call me and tell me the latest news, and I'd laugh and say, "Yeah, the Russian program is still running," a Gibsonian reference you can explain if you wish. And of course everything is commercialized, nothing is sacred, everything is permitted: total commodification, the triumph of world capitalism. If you don't like it, try to change it in the best ways you can, but there's no point in pretending it ain't so or in pissing and moaning as if there were a chance it could be otherwise for cyberpunk when all around there's evidence to the contrary. Of course, on the net, in groups such as alt.cyberpunk or mailing lists such as Future-Culture, young folks are in the process of developing their selves (or personae, if you wish) and get quite worried when what seemed very hip and bleeding edge suddenly appears in _Time_, but this is not my concern. The process by which hip culture constantly redefines itself in an era of total commodification is anthropologically interesting, to say the least, but those of us who have more- or-less fixed repertoires of self simply can't get bent out of shape because for the nth time the commodity culture is feeding at the throat of hipness. Cyberpunk hasn't been spoiled, it's simply evolved in the ways characteristic of organisms in its environments. <Voices> _Halo_ shows the influence of a variety of postmodern >philosophers and artists. How important is that sort of >thought to your vision? For example, you cite Donna Haraway >at least twice in the novel. Do you see her notion of the >"cyborg" as useful to understanding our contemporary state, >perhaps particularly when we're plugged into the net? <Tom Maddox> Maybe. To coopt a Bruce Sterlingism, Donna Haraway's a heavy dude, so to speak. (Though a kind and funny one. I sent her a copy of _Halo_, feeling I owed her at least that much, and she said she liked it when I met her in Seattle. So she's *obviously* a woman of taste.) Anyway, I don't know that the notion of the cyborg has much depth in the context of net.culture. She applies it to contemporary feminist theory, which is a very sly tactical move on her part. She's arguing against the notion of the "goddess," you see, and she's also using the idea as a wedge into the complex of anti-scientific and technophobic ideas that dominate so much of feminism. But with regard to pomo luminaries in general (Baudrillard, for instance, whom I also quote), I figure the best way to treat them is the way they treat everything else: rip them off and run and don't worry. Sort of a semiotic variation on "kill them all, the Lord will know His own." I'll continue to do this so long as I find it interesting. <Voices> Ken Kesey has said, "I'd rather be a lightning rod than a >seismograph." As a writer and net-denizen, do you see >yourself more in the lightning rod category? Is that a virtue? <Tom Maddox> Seems to me that such claims are arrogant. Sure, we may want to be leading edge prophetic voices telling of our experiences with forked fire, but we may just be lightning bugs. As writers, we do the best we fucking can, I'll confess to that much. And as Dorothy Parker said, one of our great sorrows will be that it is the best we can do. <Voices> Finally, are you working on anything currently that you >want to crow about? <Tom Maddox> Crow? No, but I'll talk a little. I'm working on a novel whose title was _Wildlife_ until the outline got sold to Tor Books, who have a novel in the can with a similar title, so I'm using _LA 2033_ as a working title. Guess what it's about. Well, in addition to the obvious, it concerns artificial life, the panopticon, and the fall from grace of several privileged people. I'll finish it as soon as I can, which will probably be a couple of years. I've got a story almost done called "Their Worlds and Starry Skies" that is a very different sort of thing for me, almost a fantasy, really, though based on quantum mechanics at some level. And my last _Omni_ story, "Gravity's Angel," has just been reprinted in Gardner Dozois's _Best of the Year in Science Fiction," which makes me happy. Also, my monthly column in _Locus_, "Reports from the Electronic Frontier," continues to hold my interest, and folks have said kind things about it. Finally, the Capital City Playhouse of Austin, Texas is planning an adaptation of "Snake Eyes," my story in _Mirrorshades_. It is being adapted and directed by Jessica Kubzansky, who usually works out of Los Angeles. It is being presented with some sort of hot shit, high tech interface that I don't understand at all, apparently under the auspices of Eyecon Robot Group of Austin. I talked once with Ms. Kubzanksy on the phone, who seems to me to have very solid ideas about dramatizing the story. They are planning to present the play around the end of July. Tom Maddox * * * __SIGNAL/NOISE__ Signal/noise: the ratio between the useful information in a given environment and the useless nonsense that inevitably accompanies it, even threatens to drown it out. It's a useful measure, as long as you don't need to reduce it to a number or something. But always remember: one net.entity's signal is another's noise. And an environment which one person finds objectionably noisy may seem serene to someone else. There are many voices out there - many kinds of voices - and many environments that affect how those voices appear to other folks across the wires. What follows is a first dip into the ocean of such voices, presented in such a way as to preserve the feel of the particular environment. Much of it was generated on the spot in realtime interactive settings, and it has that mix of exciting spontenaity and confusion. It's up to you to decide what's signal and what's noise. VOICES FROM MOOSPACE: We - that's CountZer0 and bookish - conducted our first group interview on a MOO (Multi-User Dungeon (MUD) Object-Oriented) that we frequent. It was rather a spur-of-the-moment affair. A group of our friends - thoughtful folk - had gathered and we just decided to go for it. The group didn't disappoint us. The discussion lasted for several hours, although by the end we had moved very far afield from our initial topic. The resulting text is not the most user-friendly of narratives. MOOspace can be a confusing place.But that did little to silence the voices in this particular corner of the 'net. Look: Interview Room A spacious place with comfortable seats for all. You can hardly resist the urge to sit and answer odd questions. You see Bookish, CountZer0, Greymalkin, xero .oO<and listen...> Heinrich teleports in. Heinrich waves Simone enters obediently after Heinrich. Greymalkin [to Heinrich]: hey there CountZer0 says, "did anyone here get our new announcement?" Greymalkin says, "which one?" Heinrich [to Greymalkin]: Hey, hey! CountZer0 [to Bookish]: did we send it to these folx? Heinrich says, "I didn't get dinko!" xero says, "the announcement about the net.interviews?" xero says, "I'm quite interested in that!!!!" Heinrich says, "Net interviews?" Bookish [to Heinrich]: yep CountZer0 says, "hey guys, can we ask you all some questions" Heinrich . o O (I'm being setup!) Greymalkin is available for questioning xero says, "sure" Heinrich says, "Whatever." CountZer0 [to Heinrich]: we have a new e zine CountZer0 [to Heinrich]: Voices from the Net Heinrich says, "Ahhh." CountZer0 says, "well some questions then, it would be nice if all of you could answer" Heinrich says, "Who's got the copyright on this?" Heinrich smiles xero says, "do we have to sign virtual releases?" CountZer0 says, "is this where you spend most of your time on the net or do you do other things?" Bookish hands out virtual releases Greymalkin says, "sign here: x___________________________" CountZer0 hands out virtual pens xero signs his virtual release Heinrich says, "I do lots of 'things'!" Bookish [to Heinrich]: such as.... Heinrich scrawls something Greymalkin says, " x___Greymalkin____________" Heinrich says, "On the net or in RL?" xero says, "most of my time on the net now is in here" CountZer0 [to Heinrich]: net.time Bookish [to xero]: why is that? Bookish [to Heinrich]: on the net Heinrich says, "50-50 here and in gophers." Greymalkin spends most of his net.time here CountZer0 says, "to reiterate , why here?" xero [to Bookish]: I like the fooling around with the environment here, and I like the conversation and the fairly constant self-reflexivity here Heinrich says, "As to why here--because of excellent folks like you!" Heinrich smiles Bookish blushes xero smiles Greymalkin says, "similar to xero's answer, I like being able to have some direct influence over the environment, and the crowd here is a pretty terrific bunch Bookish says, "do ya'll think of yourselves as having a 'voice' on the net?" Greymalkin has nothing on the net except a voice! xero says, "I think of myself as being a voice, but it is somewhere between writing letters and using the telephone and face-to-face communication Heinrich says, "A voice implies power and I've little power here if power is Net-knowledge." CountZer0 [to hein:]: well what do you think that means Greymalkin says, "the only way I can impact the net is through ascii... in a sense, my voice here in a world of text..." CountZer0 says, "yes but so many people can see that ascii" xero nods Bookish [to all]: how significant do you think our voices are here? Greymalkin says, "exactly.. and thus my impact on the net... All I can hope is that the memes I throw out there are fairly successful at spreading.. if so then my influence is maximized, if not, I am nothing more than noise and wasted bandwidth.." xero says, "For me the voices--the ascii streams--are about the most significant part as everything else is a fun, malleable adventure-game- type thing, but the interaction with words connected with RL people is the best CountZer0 says, "do you all see the Net as being a great equalizer?" Heinrich [to CountZer0]: I use gophers for info on RL political activism. I don't feel the 'power' on gophers as much as in here. CountZer0 says, "as far as your voice is as "loud" as anyone else's" Heinrich [to CountZer0]: "NO. xero [to CountZer0]: in what way as an equalizer Greymalkin says, "sure, you can have as much bandwidth as you care to waste on rant, spew or whatever... it's there for the taking.." Heinrich says, "Knowledge=power is especially evident on the Net." CountZer0 says, "you all have the same power here sa much as email@example.com.." Greymalkin says, "moreso on the net I think..." xero says, "sometimes the jargon and abbreviations seem elitist, but after you catch on to them, they save time, but it can get cacophonous and if someone is a jerk..." Heinrich [to CountZer0]: That's a red herring! CountZer0 [to Heinrich]: how so? Heinrich says, "The Prez's power is dependent on the knowledge he can garner from programmers around him and Net semi-theorist like Gore...." Heinrich says, "I, on the other hand, am a one-person show" Bookish [to Heinrich]: but what about that power to explore and organize activist alternatives? Heinrich says, "Knowledge=Power." Cayenne has arrived. < connected: Cayenne. Total: 14 > Greymalkin says, "the apparent limitation is really overestimated I think..." Cayenne says, "Hi, people!" CountZer0 [to Heinrich]: yes? xero waves to cayenne CountZer0 waves CountZer0 [to Cayenne]: feel free to jump on in here Heinrich says, "This is going too fast. That's a question that I can't answer right now." Cayenne says, "What's going on?" CountZer0 [to Cayenne]: what does it mean to you to have a voice on the net? Heinrich [to CountZer0]: But it is a v. good question! CountZer0 [to Heinrich]: c'mon now's your big chance Heinrich says, "No, I need more time to think about that one. Sorry!" Heinrich [to CountZer0]: Thanks anyway. Cayenne says, "Do you mean the virtuality of our voices here, or the metaphoric use of voice as in "having a say" (although that's the same metaphor...)" CountZer0 [to Heinrich]: can you email me an answer CountZer0 [to Cayenne]: either or both CountZer0 [to Cayenne]: just spew CountZer0 [to Greymalkin]: but is the bandwidth too ephemeral to truly accomplish anything? Cayenne [to CountZer0]: At its simplest, or the most simple aspect of my response, I like the voice I have on the net, both its virtuality and its potentialities. Greymalkin says, "no... no more ephemeral than the human spirit..." Cayenne says, "I know that simple liking isn't very theoretically sophisticated, but nevertheless..." CountZer0 [to Cayenne]: and getting more complex? CountZer0 [to Cayenne]: what would you say are the potentialities? Cayenne says, "Some of the potentialities that excite me are the fluidity of identity and self-presentation, the leveling of certain tokens of power.. CountZer0 [to Cayenne]: talk to me about those power tokens.. Cayenne says, "at the same time, I'm well aware that who gets access is already a question of privilege." Cayenne says, "power tokens like age, like professional status, which are rather invisible here," Cayenne says, "as well as tokens like class and gender and race, which are probably less invisible, being involved in self-presentation as well." CountZer0 [to xero]: yes, but how widespread is a post to usenet? xero [to CountZer0]: the voices travel far and they are varied and that is good Heinrich waves Heinrich teleports out. Bookish says, "Do you feel you have more or less 'voice' here than you do in RL?" Bookish says, "is this an empowering environment?" xero says, "More in some ways and less in others." Greymalkin says, "yes!" CountZer0 [to xero]: explain? Bookish [to Greymalkin]: which? Bookish smiles Greymalkin [to Bookish]: yes, empowering... Cayenne says, "I often feel I have less voice, because of the narrow bandwidth, but more control over the voice I have." Bookish loves the interface ; ) xero [to CountZer0]: I can say full sentences and not be interrupted, and that's more, but less in that I can't use my RL voice and body when I speak Cayenne says, "What I find exciting isn't so much *how* I can say what I say (i.e., more/less voice, the interface) but rather who I can say it to." xero [to Cayenne]: that's great! I think that's what I love about this. Cayenne says, "and the immediacy and disparateness and distance over which I can talk to people." CountZer0 [to all]: how different is your net voice from your RL voice? xero says, "annihilator of space and time--(it was the telegraph)" Cayenne says, "(although I do like the "sound" of the voice I have here, and I love the interface too!)" Cayenne smiles Greymalkin says, "I'm a baritone in RL, here just an 8 point font of your choice..." Greymalkin smiles CountZer0 grins CountZer0 [to Greymalkin]: c'mon you know what I mean xero says, "its just one of my voices, one for academic stuff, one for fun, one for film stuff, one for tv, one for radio, one for face-to-face, one for phone,..." xero smirks Greymalkin says, "you mean content... I'm probably a bit more outspoken here than at work, but all in all, I'd say the content of my message is similar on and off the net" xero says, "different voices for different places, different moods, different social situations" Cayenne says, "My net voice is much like my RL voice, I think. I wonder, sometimes, though, of what impression you get from my presentation. How much of what I think of as my RL voice, unreflectively, is my physical presence, my physical body? And is the net voice that I think is like my RL voice actually very different in important ways because you don't see what I look like, how I carry myself, how I move, how I talk with my hands, etc." xero nods xero realizes that he didn't *really* nod, but just typed that he did Greymalkin says, "true... you get less non-verbal feedback o the net... no looks that say "where did YOU get off the bus?" xero thinks--is there a difference to everyone else? Bookish [to xero]: "sure...and i can 'read' your nonverbals here too xero [to Bookish]: but the nonverbals are under tight, conscious control by us xero says, "not like in RL, at least not most of the time" Greymalkin [to Bookish]: only the one's that are expressed though... you don't get the un/subconscious communication that you get from a fleshmeet CountZer0 [to all]: do you all find yourself using terms like by the way etc..in rl? Bookish says, "right, i was talking about this textual experience" CountZer0 [to all]: I mean does this effect rl as much as rl effects this? Greymalkin often wiggles his fingers on an imaginary keyboard while talking... xero says, "I don't use by the way, btw" xero [to CountZer0]: ooh, you're playing with my head Cayenne says, "Well, here's a small example of what I mean. I speak rather quickly. I used to speak more quickly, especially when I was an adolescent, I think because as some level I assumed that people didn't want to hear me, so I tried to take up as little room in their ears as possible. Here, whatever vestige of that self-effacing speech habit I have is washed out by the effect of typing speed, which is probably completely unrelated. I may think that part of my voice is that speech characteristic, but it's actually only a c" Cayenne says, "it's actually only a characteristic of my RL speech, not my net speech." Greymalkin [to CountZer0]: actually I think its very difficult to draw the line between here and RL... xero [to CountZer0]: do you draw the line between the telephone and rl? CountZer0 [to Greymalkin]: well where would you draw it? Greymalkin [to CountZer0]: after all... in RL I'm sitting at my keyboard conversing with you Cayenne says, "I've picked up net habits in things like writing a note to my husband to tell him I'll be home late; I'll use :-)'s, for example." xero [to CountZer0]: or a handwritten letter? CountZer0 [to xero]: I want to know where you all draw the line Cayenne says, "No, I don't draw a line between the telephone and RL. It *is RL." xero laughs, his 4 year old daughter sends smileys in e-mail to her dad Greymalkin says, "and in VR the only difference is peripheral.." Cayenne says, "One thing I notice is how quiet it actually is, conversing here. Greymalkin says, "seems pretty noisy to me..." Cayenne says, "I mean, the only noise that's actually meeting my ears is the clicking of keys on the keyboard." xero [to CountZer0]: The roleplaying aspect makes the MOO slightly different, but I don't really draw a line as there are RL folks reading and writing this. xero says, "the silence gets me too" CountZer0 [to all]: so it's just another facet of rl Cayenne says, "I feel like I'm hearing voices, but occasionally I kind of rise up out of the net context and realize it's completely quiet." xero says, "sometimes I imagine voices" CountZer0 [to all]: a different form of consensual reality? xero says, "just like tv or telephone or radio or photography--you learn the conventions and naturalize them" Greymalkin says, "sure... the terminal I'm using is real, the people I am conversing with are real, the net over which we converse is real... I can drive nails through all of them..." Cayenne says, "I think of it like reading a novel--the voices in a novel sometimes fill my head, and then I lift my head up from the book and realize it's quiet." xero says, "but when the novel is really good you forget that you are alone with marks on a piece of paper and when you take a breather, you're alone" Cayenne 's last comment was in relation to silence in net conversations, not CountZer0's last question Cayenne [to xero]: Right, exactly. Greymalkin says, "even the virtual space we create for ourselves here is real in the sense of stored electrons..." CountZer0 says, "can voices on the net affect you as much as rl voices then?" CountZer0 says, "can you make as close a friend?" CountZer0 says, "etc...." xero says, "what makes it real is how it is thought of, created by the words that surround the objects that are numbers" Cayenne says, "I think of virtual contexts as part of RL, in one sense, like telephones; as xero said you learn the conventions and naturalize them." Greymalkin says, "and if we call it artificial, how is more artificial than the environment we wake and live and eat and sleep in?" Greymalkin says, "to cz sure... perhaps even more so.." Cayenne says, "at the same time, I also think of the net as almost like a game, a microcosm of RL the way when kids play house it's a microcosm of RL." CountZer0 [to all]: so grey thinks a voice from the net can be powerful, what about the rest of you? Greymalkin knows Cayenne says, "a re-enactment, a miniaturized reflection, of RL." xero says, "voices on the net can effect you as much as rl voices as much as words on a page by someone who is separated from you by space and time can affect you, they may be dead, but the words and the thoughts that they trigger remain" Cayenne says, "I think it can be empowering. Is that powerful? Does the feeling of being empowered mean you're more powerful? I don't know, that's a whole piece in itself." xero says, "but, you can tilt this mirror to change the reflection and the inflection" Cayenne [to xero]: yes, and in other ways is Cayenne [to xero]: it's a funhouse mirror, already altered. CountZer0 [to Cayenne]: well then is there power to a voice from the net and is it more or less or the same as power in rl?? Cayenne [to CountZer0]: Yes, or stammering, actually (stuttering is repeating sounds, stammering is repeating words or pieces of words) Greymalkin [to Cayenne]: I'm inclined to take a step back and agree with you.. the power has been there all along, empowerment is more a realization of our own potential and choosing to act on that realization.. Cayenne [to CountZer0]: but we learn to hear through stuttering/stammering, whereas it's... xero says, "the moment when you say, "hey, what I can say and do has some sort of effect on others"" Cayenne [to CountZer0]: harder to hear the second half of a sentence when it's been delayed (and I swear this one was accidental!) Cayenne says, "I think stuttering is more like typos. Sentences left half- dangling seems to me to be more like narcolepsy or something." CountZer0 [to all]: to repeat, is there power to a voice from the net? what is it? and is it more, less or the same as rl? potential? xero says, "there is the bizarre, parallel conversations here where one sentence always seems to be slightly behind and you respond to the first before the second one comes in and then you have to change your response" Cayenne knows what xero means and sometimes finds it dizzying. Cayenne [to CountZer0]: I don't think I can answer the question quite as stated because I need to ask what kind of power? xero says, "there is more power in that the voice is stripped of most of the physical stigma of race, class, gender, and that the words speak for themselves" CountZer0 [to Cayenne]: power to be heard and understand, power to make a difference in anything Cayenne [to CountZer0]: Some kinds of power, yes, there is definitely power to a net voice, different and more than RL. WRT [with relation to?] other kinds of power, I think there's a lot about net voices that are chimerical. Cayenne [to CountZer0]: well, make a difference in what? In the bombing in Somalia or Bosnia? I think that this all, as fun as it is, does not provide power. ##### VOICES FROM IRC (INTERNET RELAY CHAT): IRC is a "place" where individuals from all around the world come together on "channels" to "chat" or interact with each other in a bare bones, stripped down, realtime environment. What better place, we thought, to gather some voices. So we made our own channel, put out an open invitation, and let nature take its course. Here's what we got... Welcome to IRC channel #voices <CountZer0> ok let me set my logfile <CountZer0> you all know why we're here right? <KromeKing> yup <Ginster> well, sort of <aron> almost <CountZer0> we're gonna ask you some questions and we want you all just to +spew <scotto> i assume you have slipcovers. <scotto> ha. <Ginster> ok <KromeKing> hehe <CountZer0> the rooms just a rental so we don't care <Ginster> s p e w . . . <andy_> =) <CountZer0> ok #1 <CountZer0> Is Irc where you hang out most of the time? If not, where? * KromeKing rubs his hands together in anticipation. <scotto> I hang out on mailing lists most of the time. <andy_> CountZer0 - in Whole Life or net.life? <CountZer0> on the net.. <KromeKing> yeah, when I'm not deep within my mailbox I'm here. <scotto> Ah -- in real life, I tend to hang out in theme parks. <Ginster> irc = always running while I do mail <andy_> irc, hell yeah..... <jsitz> well, in real life I am found poolside...but my best time of the day +is on irc <Ginster> & the net runs in the background while I write <andy_> irc irc irc irc irc irc irc irc irc irc =) <bookish> Why here, folx? <aron> ummm, well I am logged into irc most of the time, but most often +away, and working in another window, one of which is also mail. <andy_> bookish - REALTIME <andy_> "if it's not REALTIME it's CRAP!" =) <KromeKing> bookish: realtyme is just so appealing. <KromeKing> faster feedback <andy_> relatively more synchronicity <jsitz> realtime human contact <aron> talk is realtime, irc has membrane, thin membrane though, like sex +with a condom <scotto> just because it's REALTIME doesn't mean it is wonderfully +CONTENT-ful. <KromeKing> true <jsitz> expression flows smoother than in mail...points are clearer <CountZer0> scotto: why lists then? <andy_> scotto - yeah, but noone said anything about content yet...=) <KromeKing> more content in mail, but more FEELING in irchaos, imho <scotto> lists include the entire community, pretty much all the time, +provided you want to read. <scotto> irc automatically means some people will always miss some other +people. <aron> scotto, I have seen long posts all over the net without one iota of +content <scotto> i agree; i can delete those a lot easier than I can here <scotto> hard to avoid some ninny (heh) in irc who remains content free <CountZer0> What does it mean to have a "voice from the net" and do you think +you have one? <aron> you said from the net, from the net to where?? <Ginster> i have a voice _on_ the net when I am on the net, but no echoes +off the net.. <CountZer0> Do you think you have a voice on the net? <scotto> how would you hear me if i didn't? <CountZer0> what does it mean to have this voice? <jsitz> yeah, no matter how small my voice is...it plays a part in the whole <Ginster> yeah <scotto> it means, on some level, a willingness to impose your POV on the +flux <voidmstr> its strange that my net.voice turned out to be not words but +pictures <Ginster> or play with the flux <Ginster> or make the flux <jsitz> it means that people are reaching out to other people....ideas get +bounced around....you get to project what you are thinking to an audience +without a megaphone <KromeKing> be the flux <scotto> The Flux: just do it. <KromeKing> zen net.yelling <CountZer0> does having a voice imply some sort of power? <andy_> ideas / information / signal is not entirely == net.voice, imho.... <scotto> not inherently. <jsitz> speaking to another person is the power to impose will...if you choose +to.....power is what you make it <aron> well ideas reaching people is power <scotto> andy: what's missing? <Ginster> depends what we do with the voice <tomwhore> Its got to be the whole gestalt of the typing and the typed and +the readers <KromeKing> cz: yes....even if the power is personal. <Ginster> memes/ideas can be power <scotto> they can be powerful, not power itself <andy_> scotto - i could be the most idiotic flame-hole on the net and still +have a net.voice, with no relevant information or ideas getting passed +along, that's what i'm saying up there... <scotto> well, what's relevant to the goose is gibberish to the gander, etc. <KromeKing> well, if anything helps one to know oneself, it is power. I +believe that interaction with the net does this. <aron> but at least you are having some sort of effect on people andy even if +just pissing them off <CountZer0> How significant do you see your voice as being? Anyone? <andy_> aron - ok, what if i'm not pissing them off, what if i don't +participate in any of the communiteks (sorry for self-referencing =) on +the net...just having an account, that impacts the net... <andy_> significance is relative, specially on the net...next question...=) <aron> true, but minimally <scotto> How do you measure significance? <KromeKing> me? Not very, cz, but I feel that I get heard as much as +anyone. <Ginster> depends on who i am talking to and what we are talking about <andy_> yeah minimally, but, "i'm still here".....i could crash an obscure +computer somewhere, that would be a net.voice... <aron> granted <jsitz> well cz--talking to anyone is a great way for me to expand and +expound on my ideas...whatever the effects of my presence...so be it <Ginster> [interpersonally, a big difference with each other..."globally" = +who knows! <CountZer0> Is this to ephemeral a medium to have real impact?? <KromeKing> NO! <Ginster> not ephemeral at all - <jsitz> CZ hell YES.......it has so many implications <scotto> you can be as loud as you want, sure, but importance is defined from +outside, etc. <Ginster> because we reach the whole world <scotto> which medium? the net as medium? <KromeKing> but cz, what kind of impact are you talking about? <Ginster> and we make contacts worldwide <CountZer0> but that reach is fleeting? <andy_> you can define your own importance tho....i don't think i am as +important on the net as some people do....cuz on the net i control all that i +see and hear, almost.... <KromeKing> I mean, shit, I'M impacted! *** Unknown command: MSAG *** Signoff: NullSet (ircserver.iastate.edu Patriot.mit.edu) *** Signoff: voidmstr (ircserver.iastate.edu Patriot.mit.edu) *** Signoff: jsitz (ircserver.iastate.edu Patriot.mit.edu) *** Signoff: KromeKing (ircserver.iastate.edu Patriot.mit.edu) *** Signoff: scotto (ircserver.iastate.edu Patriot.mit.edu) *** Signoff: aron (ircserver.iastate.edu Patriot.mit.edu) *** Signoff: StVitus (ircserver.iastate.edu Patriot.mit.edu) *** Signoff: urgen (ircserver.iastate.edu Patriot.mit.edu) *** Signoff: watch (ircserver.iastate.edu Patriot.mit.edu) <Ginster> no less so than other mass media <andy_> fuckkkkkkk <CountZer0> patriot just went downnnn <andy_> big split...=) <Ginster> they will be back *** watch (firstname.lastname@example.org) has joined channel #voices *** urgen (poolem@kira.CSOS.ORST.EDU) has joined channel #voices *** aron (email@example.com) has joined channel #voices *** scotto (firstname.lastname@example.org) has joined channel #voices *** KromeKing (raunn@NEURON.TAMU.EDU) has joined channel #voices *** jsitz (email@example.com) has joined channel #voices *** voidmstr (firstname.lastname@example.org) has joined channel #voices *** NullSet (ers0925@TAMSUN.TAMU.EDU) has joined channel #voices *** karp (email@example.com) has joined channel #voices <jsitz> but it also has a solid, earth based driving force... I mean to be +really way out...I was discussing the VR exploration of planets and the +network system in space exploration...ie an expedition to Mars <scotto> my "impact" will not be defined by my own sense of importance <scotto> but by their sense of my lack of it <aron> scotto : so it's relative :) <KromeKing> yes we should <scotto> yup. :) i luv it. * andy_ nods....aron knows...=) that's all you have to say to shut people +up..."it's all relative" <CountZer0> What constraints do you see on your voice? <NullSet> I'm constrained by time, mostly. <aron> the chief constraint has to be the number of other voices, +eventually as net population increases it becomes more difficult to get +heard <scotto> what constraints: what people will read, mostly. <andy_> null - grep faster, multitask better.... <bookish> why will more folx on the net make it harder to be heard? <andy_> ;) <NullSet> if I had time to devote to it, I could produce a well-researched +info source that would make me a respected "voice" <NullSet> but, I do other things too <aron> raw number, usenet is already a worthless read, too much shit <jsitz> the outreach...i mean only so many people are here and not all the +time.....it is frustrating to try and be as *here* as you can be in such a +narrow band of time <aron> numbers <aron> so the good stuff is that much harder to find <jsitz> you can't talk above the din if too many people are in the same +space <CountZer0> Is the Net a great equalizer, are all voices equally loud? <KromeKing> very much so, cz, but not totally. <scotto> as long as all voices are equally deletable, they are not equally +loud <KromeKing> even we have our gods <jsitz> scotto- is it so bad to want to spread ideas and take in new +ones?..this is the easiest way for me to do such a thing in a global manner <aron> no, but i would say you control the "loudness" yourself, make a +net.name for youself if you want too <scotto> your voice isn't loud at all if i don't want to read it. <jsitz> I find irc, irc seems to be a more personal, more *human* way to +communicate <CountZer0> scotto: but it still takes up the same bandwidth.. <scotto> more "human"? <jsitz> your volume is how you project it...and who listens to you <scotto> bandwidth doesn't equal influence. <aron> right, but someone will read it, and if enough people like it, or are +just inundated by mass quantities, you will know about it sooner or later <Ginster> but some authors I read first <scotto> see usenet. <Ginster> and some threads i read first <CountZer0> but it does equal potential <tomwhore> It how ya filter that makes up your net.ear <scotto> potential is meaningless until actualized, though. <scotto> you can't measure potential influence by sheer volume of posts. <KromeKing> bah! filter? <aron> no <aron> but it happens <scotto> you look and see which memes survive, that's all. <andy_> aron - yep.....it really does equal it all out (net, that is), cuz +there's just so many people, that even if u avoid something it gets back to +you.... <jsitz> it is face to face ...or voice to voice as the case may be....human to +me is being able to carry a conversation and get input <KromeKing> read it all! right andy? =) <andy_> yep <andy_> =) <CountZer0> Ok, what do you see as the potentialities for a voice on the Net? <scotto> "potentialities"? <andy_> CZ - whatever they and the people with ears decide on <CountZer0> what can you accomplish? <scotto> friendships, art, communities, noise, zines, what else... <jsitz> cz-- friendship, research, common ground <Ginster> all I have on the net is a voice, and I talk more here than other +places.. <CountZer0> Ok all, How different is your net voice than your RL voice? <NullSet> Not different at all, really. <Ginster> same voice, cz <jsitz> CZ- there is no difference for me <CountZer0> no persona change? <CountZer0> at all? <scotto> my RL voice differs strikingly from my net voice. <CountZer0> not more forward? <scotto> yes, big persona change. <tomwhore> No difference in the voice on or off, except when I got a sore +throat or a hang nail <CountZer0> yeah here you're "just an 8 point font" <scotto> in RL, I cannot conveniently <NullSet> no, no persona change for me <Ginster> i try to write just as i am <jsitz> nope, why should I be something I'm not....I have no reason to be +anything else...I am who I am <scotto> subscribe or join to the attractors that attract me. <andy_> you can't compare rl voice to net.voice because of the difference +in, like, sensory input, different environments..... <CountZer0> then why the /nicks? <voidmstr> big change here--i have a verrry straight day job <scotto> what nick? <scotto> heh. <Ginster> because my real name was taken. <NullSet> I'd be "erich", but there's already an "erich" <aron> what nick? :) <Ginster> ok.... *** andy_ is now known as andy *** Ginster is now known as richrd <tomwhore> Yea but rl its all two way differences, on the net its just a font +thing <andy> i feel so....free, now....=) <scotto> ah, making a point, are you? <richrd> it took a while but i figured that out <scotto> my net.persona, my net.voice if you will, was carefully crafted to +help me get around in this particular memetic stew. <scotto> i've found that my net.voice doesn't function well in RL. <richrd> i try to be as real as possible, to do real things <CountZer0> Does your net life effect your RL and vice versa, how? <NullSet> It takes up a lot of time! <NullSet> It keeps me sane. <NullSet> I am very isolated where I am. <richrd> my net life connects to my real life <Scotto> the memes i dig up here strongly affect the way i pursue my rl. <tomwhore> Net life real life =life <NullSet> The net allows me to keep in touch with people far away who were +once in my RL. <NullSet> Recently IRC has allowed me to discover folx who share common +interests. <NullSet> This is hard in my RL situation. <andy> so does the phone, so does a car, so does a piece of paper and a stamp <andy> so does a tv <aron> i would say, irc is bad for spreading useful info in a efficient +manner, but it isn't designed for that <andy> when ISDN gets here with realtime audio/video, i think the net +will be more valid as an *integrated* aspect of rl <Scotto> oh come on, <Scotto> we're not talking about "replacement" <Scotto> i mean, will IRC or elists exist if everything goes +realtime/audiovideo? <richrd> 10 people cannot share a phone call - but it works here <voidmstr> net.anonymity is also free-making---liberating <richrd> 10-way conference calls get noisy <NullSet> voice has a certain immediacy - it has to be attended to <Scotto> but everyone's so hip on expanding and advancing, and all the +theories cover how IRC or how email *simulates* *real* life, but what if +we didn't come here for "real" life, what if we're interested in something +with much less similarity and much more weirdness <richrd> we each get our own line of text here, maybe that is the difference <CountZer0> So do you all see your voice on the net as just an exact extension +of your voice off the net? <Scotto> no, not at all. <NullSet> I do, I guess. <tomwhore> Yea why do we always NEED to get the net to be more RL????? <aron> i just see the net as a useful and entertaining tool, nothing more <aron> I can do stuff with it <voidmstr> i found a new voice on the net---one that i didn't know was there <tomwhore> The net is another input for my mind <richrd> the net reaches more/different people <andy> so the net's an extension <aron> richard: exactly <andy> anyone think the net is revolkutionary? <CountZer0> or can be? <aron> yeah with a k <richrd> yes - i used to publish in print, but now i work on the net <tomwhore> The net is evolutionary <Scotto> a revolution is revolutionary; a medium only facilitates what it +needs to. <voidmstr> i do net.art i never print any of it---my new medium is +electrons <richrd> newspapers were fun, i thought newswires would be even more +fun <andy> it's an extension, an advancement, new technologies, that's +evolutionary, right? <aron> right <tomwhore> New ways of conversing and new ways to listen and learn <aron> unless it is sudden <richrd> like when the telephone was first introduced <aron> and it hasn't been <tomwhore> caves->print->books>computers->net <tomwhore> sort of like that <richrd> or tv - but we have control of this medium <aron> but soon it could be, potential energy is dripping all over our hands <andy> put telephone in there cuz that oral diversion is significant, and the +fact that the net is literal, not oral <richrd> screen art is like cave art <tomwhore> Yea the path is a multi thread that weaves into the net which in +turn will weave out into the next stuff <CountZer0> do you all see your voice on here as more, less or the same +powerful as in non net life? <richrd> more <aron> entirely different <NullSet> more <CountZer0> and why? <aron> apples and oranges <Scotto> i seem to have more influence here, but my perception is skewed. <NullSet> I can reach more people. <tomwhore> If I could reach as many like minded people off the net It would +be the same <richrd> why read about other places when you can talk to them directly? <alysoun> there are no pretenses here, no worry about what people think of +you...you think it and it shows up on the screen <richrd> different audience here than in rl <Scotto> ain't that the truth. <aron> CZ: well in the context of the net compared to rl I would say more, +but in just rl. the majority of the world could give a fuck about the net, +so I would only say more "power" in relation to the net itself <richrd> the majority of the world cannot get to the net <richrd> we all must pass a few hurdles to get here <aron> exactly, or are too stupid/lazy or just plain uninterested <andy> i don't see any real differences in "power", i think the net just shows +u outlets and shit u might not've seen before, but u have the same +potential in either rl or nl <NullSet> on the net, potentially far more people hear my thoughts than in +RL <aron> mine too <bookish> richrd: how's access relate to power? <voidmstr> if you look as net.life as just part of rl, its easier to see how +they must influence each other <aron> exactly <andy> null - u could always do something like, send a letter to the editors +of TIME or somethin,... <richrd> bookish: the power is potential <richrd> the access is real <aron> nl fits into the rl sphere they are not two poles <NullSet> Yeah, but when I post to USENET, I'm pretty sure it'll get +published. <NullSet> "published" in the sense that it'll get to the point that everyone +can read it <CountZer0> but time decides what goes in. Usenet includes everything for +instance <aron> andy, only if they have email :) <NullSet> yes, exactly c0 <andy> that's true...the net is more accessible...masses media....rather than +mass media...that's my big thing... <richrd> only a small percentage of people have computers, fewer still have +net access, fewer still irc... <aron> and although most of usenet is shit, there is good stuff you will find +there that would never be published in Time <NullSet> so in that sense my "voice" is magnified <andy> 2000 people irc at any given time, on a good day <CountZer0> so let's wrap this up then with some final thought, summarize <CountZer0> What does it mean to be a voice from the net to you all? <andy> realtime! <richrd> i get to talk to people worldwide more than to people in my own +town <Scotto> It means having big thick vocal cords. <NullSet> As a voice "from the net" my thoughts have a certain legitimacy +that "texts" have that mere speech doesn't. <NullSet> I mean, the things I say are "in print" in some sense. <aron> yeah <alysoun> i can really be myself <aron> The net while far reaching is shallow however, I feel the net +currently doesn't have much power outside itself, but as a tool it is very +useful <Scotto> Having a "voice from the net" means never having to say, "Hey, +shut up, I'm trying to talk!" <andy> see, that's gonna be a big thing.....most people see literal, like, +culture as an evolution from oral....i only see it as, like, an +abstraction....that's why people like the print thing so much i think.../me +wants to talk about oral/literal and the net...= <NullSet> when I speak, my speech disappears <NullSet> but as text, my speech has persistence <NullSet> my thoughts become "part of the record" <richrd> this is the "new literature" <andy> see i think there's this attraction of the net because of what erich +said, about "publishing" and stuph...society clings to literal culture..... ##### SCOTTO: is a voice in many different communities around the Net. He can be "heard" offering his special brand of self-styled net.philosophy (with a dash of cynicism, a pinch of sarcasm, and more often than not, a thought provoking and eye-opening point of view) on several e-mail lists (Aleph & Leri) as well as on IRC and other places where a platform is offered, and an ear is open. Following is an essay we received from Scotto by way of e-mail... Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1993 20:37:53 -0500 (EDT) From: Scotto <scotto@*******.******.***> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Format Chauvinism FORMAT CHAUVINISM, AND WHY MY EDGE IS SHARPER THAN YOURS Hi. My name is Scotto, and I'm a Voice From The Net. There. Got that out of the way. Now let's get down to business. First of all, the Net is just full of Jerks. I mean, I think we all know that by now. It's just a sad and unfortunate fact that most of the people willing and able to get Net access are also incredible Jerks. Fact is, they're everywhere. At one point, we thought they'd just stay over on alt.jerk where they belonged, but that wasn't good enough, and the next thing we knew, they had the jerk.* hierarchy up and running, Jerk-L was booming, and #Jerk was crashing lesser servers the world over. I suppose this was inevitable. I mean, I think we all know that, in fact, most of the people on the *planet* are Jerks. And we can't just sweep these Jerks under the rug, you know, that whole "civil rights" thing cuts both ways, etc. No, all we can really do is make sure these Jerks stay in their own jerkspace and out of our coolspace. And the easiest way to do that is to make sure that our coolspace is situated right smack dab on the Edge. This is my latest fun thing to do: starting up a casual conversation with an innocent Normal somewhere (as we all know, 78% of the Normals are also Jerks -- they're everywhere!), talk about, I dunno, the weather, cable TV, the latest "Peanuts," and then, BLAM, start into a rant about how human communication itself is in a sudden, unstoppable period of whirling, churning mutation via the global Internet, which will someday take over the planet by way of full virtual immersion and a stray modem or two. The Normal's eyes always grow wide, and then I casually mention how I was recently logged into the Net for 47 days straight, chewing up email like bacon bits, rampaging all over Usenet reprinting old Yes lyrics, occupying 98 separate IRC channels and regaling them all with my dreams of joining a traveling ballet company, and oh yes, keeping up with my stories on the telly (gotta love "All My Children," dontcha?). I say, "Yeah, I guess you could say I was surfing the Edge, zooming on pure information, swimming in an unholy concrescence of datastreams, a virtual wave pool of seemingly unrelated trivia that come together to form a veritable tsunami of Meaning," and meanwhile, the Normal has noticed that my eyeballs are bleeding and is quietly tip-toeing away to call the authorities. I get kicked out of more donut shops this way. The problem these days, though, is that now you can find Jerks practically selling *tickets* to the Edge, I mean, they've got roadmaps and everything, and parking is cheap. Well, obviously, if there are Jerks on the Edge, it's time to relocate the Edge to better digs. The Edge hangs out in different spots in different contexts, mind you. And in the context of the Net, the Edge has everything to do with words and which ones you choose and what order you put them in, blah blah blah -- all the stuff you picked up in Net.Sociology 101. We know Usenet is out; I mean, they may as well just call it Jerknet. For a time there, forming a Community via email -- the Mailing List Phenomenon of the pre-Jerk.Invasion period -- was one way of almost approaching the Edge. However, a plethora of unsightly bugs developed, among them the annoying tendency to assume an audience that was all like You, the crass desire of Newbies (42% Jerks, even way back then) to trot out old Warhorse Topics ("uh, hi, my name is Ghirque, could anyone tell me what the hell 'memetics' is?"), followed by the inevitable Disinterested Blowoff by the Regulars ("listen, pal, I was grafting memes before you were knee high to a singularity"), and eventually, the horrifying period of Lurker Cleansing that took the hipper lists by storm (no accurate stats on Lurkers are available, although a survey of Regulars estimated the Lurker population to be 92.6% Jerks). Yes, friends, we almost lost the Edge during the great Jerk.Invasion, but thankfully, the Regulars figured it out for us, and moseyed on over to IRC. It was an inevitable progression, mind you. Whereas a mailing list was capable of sustained point development and somewhat civilized conversation, IRC turned out to be gloriously inappropriate for anything Of Import, making it the New Conquest of all your favorite Edge-Surfers (swimwear by IBM!). And they actually succeeded in instilling Relevance in a previously Relevance-Free environment; don't let my own person cynicism fool you -- the Edge acquire a brand new medium on that day. Oh, sure, the Jerks tried to follow, but, really, if you ever saw the vapid and empty conversation on #lurker, you know that these Clowns were no immediate threat. From here, it's only a few moments until we eliminate entirely the need to use verbs, and soon we'll be able to communicate in densely-packed monosyllabic semiotic wonders, soon we'll be composing strings of sheer letter-number combinations that will in one line communicate the equivalent of an Anne Rice novel. Some people say they like IRC because it's more like Real Life, but hell, if Real Life was all it was cracked up to be, I wouldn't be on the damned Net to begin with (escapism alert!). Listen, Jerks are everywhere, and the easiest way to keep a safe distance is to render yourself unintelligible by way of our friend the Edge ("it submerses you in an overwhelming futuristic memepool, propelling you headlong on your way to a cultural and symbolic Omega Point -- and still slices this tomato!"). This is the Way, don't you see? The Regulars are already onto it; heck, it's *their* memes that *create* the Edge, remember, while the rest of you wannabes entertain paltry attempts to hold a job *and* read 212 messages a day from the same ten people. Yeah, it'll be rough, but what the Net needs now is not peace and love incorporated, but a separate IRC channel for every single User. It's the future, man, I'm telling you. Or. Forget what I just said. I'm a Jerk myself, as you can probably tell. And, uh, when my friends went to IRC in droves, I went there too, because they were my Friends. And when some of my friends tried to keep a struggling email community alive, I went there too, because Places Like That mean something to somebody eventually down the line. Oh, sure, I also wallowed in Healthy Cynicism and ragged the Regulars because of my own little media chauvinism, but heck, I'm only Human. And some days I think I'll never forgive William Gibson for creating the most vicious, devastating picture of the future and planting that meme *firmly* in the minds of Young CyberAmerica without so much as a single caveat, and if there's one productive thing I can use my cynical Net.Voice for, it's encouraging Communities where other Voices can speak without fear of jaded reprimand. The Voices From The Net that I am most Attracted to are the Guides and the Signposts, and the ones that, umm, Pull Us Together with an intellectual prowess and/or an emotional depth and warmth and passion, in order for us to mold our future all the easier. *Yes*, I am laying on the cheese, this rant is practically sliced and pasteurized, but what they hey -- you can't Lurk forever, huh? Your pal, Scotto * * * __A FEW MINUTES WITH... ANDY HAWKS__ If you're asking yourself, Andy Who? Or maybe, What's this voice doing ringing in my ears? Well, here's a quick autobiography of Andy Hawks. Hopefully this will answer both of your questions: i have been using computers since i was 7, been telecomputing since i was 11 or 12. alas, i only found the internet two or three years ago after a long time of exploration and probing throughout various types of virtual communities and information systems. upon finding the internet i created a file called "The Futureculture FAQ/Cyberography" to help me keep track of resources talked about on various Usenet groups. that file became a valued resource to other people (.ed note- most recently the FAQ has been mentioned in the Utne Reader magazine, and on the multimedia disk being distributed with Billy Idol's new album "Cyberpunk") and spawned an email-based list (e-list) to discuss aspects of cyberspace, technoculture, the new edge, cyberpunk and cyberculture, etc. i no longer run the list directly but still belong to the community that the list spawned...things continue to propagate. i continue to search, explore, and probe the net and real life for interesting information and items relative to tomorrow's possible realities, and try to make them real today. And now.... a few minutes with Andy Hawks... vox et praeterea nihil ---------------------- We can live together love together Do whatever we want together Best of all Possible Worlds Nothing is impossible. -The Shamen possible worlds I remember gazing at the image on the t.v., letting my mind sprint through seemingly magical imaginations, trying to think of the realistic prospects of such a phenomena. The picture was of a human figure existing in a dimension somewhere between synergistic ecstasies and a serene unity. Energies flowing within, without, around, and through the figure, forward and backward across the space and time enveloping the image. It seemed to represent a constant harmony of the inner reaches of the mind, heart, and soul. I commenced the picture to motion in my mind, flashes of the figure in realtime traveling through dimensions alongside these universal energies, a hyperreal wonderland beyond infinite spectrums of ethereal, electronic sound and light. Somehow I felt that in the gestalt pyramid of the human collective, this visionary portrait already existed to some degree: a place where energy propels beyond time and space, instantaneously from another person's mind, or a group of minds, and into my own head simultaneously with the ease of a dolphin playing among clear calm Pacific waters. Effortless communication in waves reaching heights unbeknownst to the common human experience. We endlessly strive towards something resembling a post-human condition like the one I offered above under the shield of technology, the wand of mystery, and the helmet of knowledge, battling towards an abstracted ideal, an invisible dragon, The Perfect State. Jeesh. We're never going to get there. Never. Yet it is an innate aspect of our existence that we *move forward*. Bigger, better, faster, stronger. Just do it. Seek out new life and new civilization. Be fast and dense. Sigh. Moving forward is so relative. More aptly I think it appropriate to say it is human nature to *move*. So, in this McLuhan-would-be-proud age of CNN and fiber-optic telephone lines, where any pertinent movement in the world is only a "where'd I put that damn remote" hunt away, how does one move ahead of the Jones'? netopia in blue Ah, the Internet. I'm not going to describe it in oversimplified "well, it's kinda like this, it might be compared to this, it's made up of this, but it's not that" terms appropriate for cheesy mall-computer-store books. If you don't know what the Internet is, ask someone. Lessee, there's at least 10 million people on the damn thing, growing exponentially, and assuming everyone followed the right path down the yellow brick road, you *should* get 10 million different responses. That's the beauty of the Internet. Each to one's own. The environment is as subjective or objective as you make it, you are as close to it as you want to be, the virtual-circles you found yourself in are by your own choosing. It's the closest thing on this earth, imho, to that post-humanistic state at the beginning, where a person coexists in harmony with all these energies, oceans of effortless communication, dolphins in the information Caribbean. If you think you're moving forward, towards The Perfect State, if you're an individual who has reached "the Goal", odds are it either had something to do with a completely natural state of being, or the high point of technology. The high point of technology right now that's available to the masses would probably have to be the Internet, so that's probably where you found your white-light - enlightenment. Scary thought. i'm not an ai I am one of those who climbed up the gestalt pyramid towards "the Goal" with the rope named Internet. In fact, I have gone many places with that trusty rope [insert Indiana_Jones multimedia soundbyte here, overlaid with background images of Tron]. I don't believe in final frontiers. There is always going to be new territory to explore, whether it be undersea, in space, in human understanding, or in virtuality. I guess I might be considered a Settler as far as the Internet is concerned, if forced to reference back to real life and historic events. Living in the matrix, in cyberspace, is just like any facet of real life. I can't over-emphasize that enough. The only difference being the (for now, for a decade or so) lack of extended sensory input, and the fact that physical geography has no relevance. (Or rather, it is only relevant if you make it relevant). Other than that, (which are two major points mind you, the hallmarks of cyberspace as we know it), virtuality and "normal" reality are the same thing. Don't think they're not. Even self-proclaimed and labeled net.gurus and net.gods talk about the addictions of the net. I used to think that, too. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb thing to think. If the net is an addiction, then so is reality, day to day living. It's the same thing. My parents were among the first generation to grow up with TV. I am among the first generation to grow up *in* cyberspace. I owned an Atari before they renamed them the Atari 2600, I owned my first Apple (praise Woz) at 7, I have been modeming since I was 11. I began running a BBS at 13. I am 19 now, I have been on the Internet for 2 years. In those 2 years, I ran the FutureCulture E-list, created the FutureCulture FAQ, helped do the alt.cyberpunk FAQ, contributed to a variety of other e-lists and Usenet groups, spent an incredible amount of time on IRC, gained, a bit of attention and notoriety through various territories on the net. I am just your average net-maven, netfiend, net.addict, whatever you want to call me, that's fine. I can't really relate to Generation X with the Brady Bunch, but, umm, maybe there's a FAQ for it I can gopher and then grep through. I think that I have some time free for a dentist appointment, but let me double-click on my appointments program on my palmtop and to make sure. I am more at home in front of a keyboard then a TV. More at home in front of a keyboard than a chalkboard. I "type" smilies through an obscure hand-motion, in real life. Friends greet people by saying "re". A MUD is sweeter than a Hershey's bar. Sometimes when I speak, I see myself typing the words out. I prefer an email address to a phone number. I've had Gibsonian dreams of being a ROM construct. Tron and WarGames reign supreme to my fellow Indiana Netopians. Goddamnit I live here, in cyberspace. On my voice-mail message right now, I have this sample from Wild Palms that featured William Gibson's quirky cameo which talks about cyberspace, and then I come on and say "Hi this is Andy. I'm not here right now, I'm 'probably hanging out in cyberspace. You can reach me there or leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I check my messages." I calculated one time I have spent months of my life on the Internet. People for whom the net is foreign are analogous to an ancient foreign language of which I am completely unfamiliar and have no real desire to go back and learn. That's the past, I'm here now. This is the place I have chosen. I remain on the net, living, loving, feeling, growing, learning, experiencing, exploring, flaming, lusting even. The net is not a magical place to live, no more magical than I allow myself to be mystified, and it's not an exotic place to me, no more exotic than the places I have yet to discover, but will eventually. The net is only confusing or challenging when my lack of effort or devotion fails. The net is only substandard or inane when I allow my ego to hang out beyond its usual belt-loop. I know all there is to know about the net only when I am lazy. I lose faith in the net when I lose faith in my self. I worship the net only when I am unsure of my own space in time. I care enough about the net to seek vengeance upon people who pluck one of its pedals and ruin the glory of the flower. I travel its subways, its highways, its sprawl, and its farms. Uncharted territories and virtual urban ghettos. Oceans of information and desserts of noise. The Internet changes lives, shapes futures, helps shape society at large. It is a mirror of humans and society, it is also an empty canvas waiting to be painted upon by Picassos and preschoolers. I simply just can't lasso the net into a perspective that does it justice. the revolution will not be revolutionary There is nothing historically revolutionary about the Internet, though, because every technological advancement, no matter its degree of importance, is always at least somewhat revolutionary. In other words, each new technology supersedes the one that came before it in a specific area, that's why it's an advancement. The old one becomes outdated, the new one becomes accepted, and the next step forward is undertaken. That's not revolution, that's progression. Say you are in the basement of Macy's department store (or the metaphorical human pyramid), and have this incredible unceasing desire to reach the top. So, you climb the stairs (escalators and elevators are a free ride for the lazy =). Are you going to stop after each stair and say "wow, I just climbed the 4,038th stair!". No, you don't stop, you move forward, keep going. The Internet seems to be the magical 4038th stair for a lot of people. And that's fine I guess, but, just don't forget the stairs above and below you. And don't forget that Macy's, as far as my allegory is concerned, is in an intense period of growth and prosperity, and has no desire to stop expanding while you continue to climb. Yet I also have to say, continuing with the analogy, Macy's is the best place I have yet to find to shop. Especially the Internet floor. I think I'll live there, at least until the ISDN floor, which is now under construction, gets completed. more real than realtime ISDN, brings me to the next point. I am just sort of rambling here, spewing/ranting about whatever I feel, which is pretty much my style (facilitated in part by extended net.usage =), but I would like to mention the next step up. ISDN. Integrated Services Digital Network. If we who are on the Internet now, who have been, who came after the pioneers and explorers of the 60's, are the settlers, ISDN will mark the rise of cities in the c-space frontier. A lot of the Lewis and Clarks out there on the net are filled with one of two things: fear that ISDN and this slow process of commercialization will forever corrupt the net, or, second, this idiotic reactionary bravado attitude that the net can survive any obstacle in it's path because of it's history and the people who use it and all that bull. I think it's safe to say that ten years from now, you won't recognize the net. The net *literally* changes by the nanosecond. Time moves five to ten times faster on the net, depending on which net.cyclones you find yourself spinning around in. ISDN has the potential to rock your world, take it right into the Jetson (as in George, boy Elroy, etc.) Age. However, there's a screenfull of variables that can affect how ISDN reveals itself - political, economic, technological concerns, power games, and under the table wheelin'-and-dealin'. Those that stay current on ISDN-related topics are probably watching the interactions between the telco/media giants (AT&T, Times/Warner, US West, TCI) and the computer companies (Apple, Sun Microsystems, et. al, even MIT's technogeek-trendy Media Labs seem to be a significant voice, not to mention organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, etc., who also want their "vox populi" heard and respected). If the computer companies have a lot of input, the Internet may live long and prosper, but if the telco/media giants come out on top without hearing the computer companies, the net may live long and flounder. Expect a lot of changes in the net, then, some of which are already coming true: multimedia all over the place (sight/sound - email messages may be Quicktime / MPEG movies, for example), an increase in realtime-oriented app's and features out the butt (faster, and denser with more sensory input), and other neat toys to dream about. I can't wait for ISDN to get here. However, I think we need to start *NOW* talking about the socioeconomic and political aspects of full-out ISDN, the impending cultural shifts, not to mention "secondary" topics, such as changes in our perspectives on the humanities. Issues that arenUt really being addressed, but need to be, before ISDN gets massive. pulse Until then, however, we've got this Internet thing lying around. My relationship with the net is as close, if not closer, than any person I've known or loved. I generally spend two hours a day around any given person in real life, I generally spend four to five hours each day on the net. I jonez for the net when I find myself away for an extended period of time (two/three days). There is no methadone for the net, because as I said before, because there is no true methadone for the substance real life. The energies on the net plant their juices in your mind eventually, and it's a permanent symbiotic relationship, forever evolving this crystalline, fractal circuit board of information. Nowhere else but the Internet can you explore the inner-forces that reside in the maelstrom of hardcore information overload -- when your email reaches 1000 messages per day, multitasking with two or three email sessions, a couple telnets going, an IRC session, MediaMOO or some other MUD, ftping, doing some shell programming and reading Usenet when you allow yourself the time. And you have complete control over the environment. Engaging in post-psychedelic ("cyberdelic" for lack of a less-trendy word) netrips -- if LSD is mind candy, a netrip is a can of Mt. Dew and a couple piracetams. Feel it, feel these wires. Every generation has a primitive urge to gather together in praise of it's specific perspective on modern time. The hippies and Woodstock, Gen. X has an occasional Ravestock-esque event, but the beauty of virtual culture is that the tribes are constantly gathered. Permanent, lasting substance. Forever sending signals through thunderous clouds of noise. Exponentially the net grows, morphs, and we as individual cells in the womb congregate for specific and undetermined purposes, consciously and subconsciously, traveling underneath the flesh of cybernetics. Silicon, chrome organs linking together the human experience in pounding rhythms. In silence, you can hear these rhythms as keyclicks on some keyboard far away in Osaka, Tel Aviv, or San Francisco. The hands of the keyclicks remain forever across tomorrow, but the minds are constantly linked in synchronicity on the Internet. The voices are silent, the minds breathe. * * * __A SHOuT IN THE DARK__ "Each of us is a small voice sounding among millions, so it's possible to feel quite unimportant, but then again each of us *is* unimportant in the larger scheme of things, so I look at this aspect of the net as a reality check" --T. Maddox The reality check is here! Looking out across the enormous terrain of the Net it is not difficult, nor does it take long to realize the insignificance of one single voice amongst the great crowd. One voice, your own, reaching out to the deep entangled void of the matrix. Getting lost is assumed, taken for granted, expected. What can be lost by one, may be found by another. (net.confucianism, the Tao of Net?) One voice alone gets lost, swept up in the vast ocean comprised of millions of similar "sounds." Each, on its own, a slight whisper, a barely audible noise to the ear of humanity. But look into the ocean. Look deeply. It is easy to get caught in the riptide without remembering that the waves were once only ripples, the ripples nothing more than a glassy surface, a standing pool. One small pebble breaks the plain, and a small wave appears, echoing out from the center and dying before it can reach the edge. A thousand pebbles and the pool is a spastic series of rolling waves, emanating out to reach towards the edges, filling in the calm and faraway reaches of the pool with swaying rushes. Splitting into separate forms and patterns as the waves impact and intermingle with one another. A million pebbles and the wave is no longer just that, it is its own entity, its own tide, its own current, it has its own name. It is called, the Net. What is the Net? Is the Net a place or a thing? Where IS the Net? [why, you're soaking in it... ;-)] How do I get there? These are basic questions and distinctions. In the 5,000 some odd year history of the human race, the question of the substance and existence of "reality" has been often considered, but , to a great degree, unsatisfactorily answered. And before we could find an answer to this basic question, we have added another facet to its ever burgeoning weight. Virtual Reality. Virtual implies a state of "not being in actual fact." But the words are here. I can see them. You can see them. You are reading them even now. Is this virtual? Importance. What is important. Can something that is "not being in actual fact" be important? What is the importance of the "pebble" to the "ocean"? Alone, it is barely noticeable. But combined with all the others, it is a force to be reckoned with. It is this force that we are trying to gauge, to analyze, to understand. Of course, this understanding may never come. As I said, we have never answered the questions of reality in general. How do we expect to now face this tremendous task? The answer, we must realize, may never come. The world is a subjective place in which all answers seem relative depending on one's situation: "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me." "The pen is mightier than the sword." Which is the answer? Both? Neither? The best we can do is to offer some semblance of explanation for the world around us. And that is what we attempt to accomplish by adding this bit to the stream. This is another "pebble" to strike the surface of the "ocean". Another element added to the tide, creating a current that we hope will someday carry us to a state of greater understanding. Voices are like fingerprints, everyone has their own. There are many different voices on the Net, as there are in our face-to-face everyday world. But these voices are defined, in many cases, more by where they come from than by who they come from. IRC, MUD's, USENET, E-MAIL, BBS's... All are different ways to be "heard" on the Net. TONE, SEMANTICS, GESTURE... All these exist on the Net. The forms change: capital letters = shouts CAN YOU HEAR US? emote messages = actions CountZer0 sits down and writes something akin to philosophical babble. ;-) - the meanings remain. They have impact and importance. They can be soothing or maddening, quiet or deafening. But it IS time to notice the words, and not just the mode. Together these voices create what we call the Net. The whole of which is greater than the sum of its parts. Without them, it is nothing. And for all of these "pebbles" cast in, it remains a largely dark, still and empty place. Our aim is to make the waves from these pebbles reach out further, to land on the shores of previously uncharted areas, to fill the space with the ripples of enlightenment. We'll attempt to sidestep the perils of pretension (and the alarming actuality of alliteration). It is easy to indulge and to wax rhapsodic about such subjects [As you see I am doing now to a great degree]. Our words and ideas may be grandiose, our goals set precariously high. The ends to our means may be unattainable or possibly even non-existant. But that fact has never stopped anyone from reaching towards the holy grail that is knowledge, and the truths and missteps of our attempts will be born out here as we add our input to this new wave. In future issues the matters at hand will be more deeply discussed. But here in our first issue, I think it is important to relay to you from where it is exactly we are coming. We hope that this has been accomplished and that you will decide to join us on our journey. And in the expanse that is the Net we hope to be an amplifier which allows this wave to wash over, soaking us in its kinetic splendor. * * * __COMING ATTRACTIONS__ Once again we thank you for joining us in our project. We do hope that it has been enjoyable and informative for you. If so, tell your friends and neighbors about us (we crave publicity and dabble in self-promotion). If not, don't tell anyone! Well, we're all excited about issue #2 of Voices From The Net. We're already hard at work putting it together so that we can keep your regular supply of voices coming, as we said earlier, on a more or less monthly basis. That's right, September 1 is the target date for #2 and here's a little preview of what we're planning for it: Volume 1 Issue #2 Voices From The Net On the "shelves" -- September 1, 1993 Being a new voice from the net. Interviews, essays, and random, multi-flavored spewing from: Adam Curry (Mtv) Billy Idol (that Cyberpunk? guy) Margie Ingall (Sassy magazine) Various and sundry other voices from newbies around the Net. See ya'll next month. Take care, and tell 'em Voices *sent* you! --------------------------------------------- To Subscribe to "Voices from the Net" or to send us your comments/contributions: send email to: Voicesemail@example.com [if you want to subscribe] subject: Voices from the Net body: subscribe [Aint nothin' to it!] ================================= "Voices from the Net" also has official Internet Archive sites at: ftp> ftp.dana.edu uglymouse.css.itd.umich.edu ================================= We can also frequently be found bouncing around the net in various places, catch us if you can! Look for-- Bookish firstname.lastname@example.org CountZer0 email@example.com NEURO firstname.lastname@example.org see ya' dare.... ================================= There is also a Macintosh Hypercard stack version of Issue 1.1 available. look for: VoicesFromTheNet1.1.sit.hqx ================================= Voices from the Net: Acceptable Use Statement: In a perfect world, we could just post this, send it out through the wires and forget about it. In a perfect world... In this world, we have things like copyright laws, legal permissions, the need to "own" one's words. This document is free, but it is not public domain. The individual authors retain the rights to their work. You may reproduce and distribute it. In fact, we encourage it. Spreading free information is part of what "Voices from the Net" is all about. Just keep it FREE. We hope that the zine will be useful as well as entertaining. If it seems useful to you, then use it. But be collegial. Cite your sources(*), and don't take liberties with the text. Respect the voices contained here. [* Thanks to Bruce Sterling for inspiration, and for support.] Voices from the Net 1.1, copyright 1993.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xx xx V O I C E S xx xx xx xx F R O M xx xx xx xx T H E xx xx xx xx N E T . . . xx xx xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx C a n Y o u H e a r O u r V o i c e s ? D o Y o u R e a d U s ? There are a lot of folks with at least one foot in this complex region we call (much too simply) "the net." There are a lot of voices on these wires. - all kinds of voices - loud and quiet, anonymous and well-known. And yet, it's far from clear what it might mean to be a "voice" from, or on, the net. Enter "Voices from the Net": one attempt to sample, explore, the possibilities (or perils) of net.voices. Worrying away at the question. Running down the meme. Looking/listening, and reporting back to you. * * * ISSUE #1.1.5 * * * __VOICES CARRY__ Voices carry (and how!) Sometimes, these things just happen. You set up an interview or two--for other projects, of course--and then you find yourself in the magazine business. Just about like that. That's the way it happened for us. We sent out a couple of queries, and people responded--net.speed! "Sure, we'll talk! Sounds great!" Almost before we could ask... (In fact, some folks have beaten us to the punch, and asked us.) So we did a little advertising--not a lot--and the subscriptions started rolling in. Sitting in front of my little Mac in Ohio, I started counting foreign countries... The rest is a blur of interviews, copy editing, mailer problems (thanks for your patience!) and trying to keep up with our email. Crazy, stressful, exciting stuph. It's tough learning the ropes with an international audience. =) But I can think of much worse ways to spend my free time... And the responses so far have been very positive. Thanks to all who took the time to write, comment and make suggestions. We'll be back with our second full issue soon, but there's a certain amount of housekeeping and administrivia that needs to be cleared up before then--archive changes, etc... And we had a little something extra just waiting around for the right moment. So, without further ado, here is a Voices administrative update and more... Archives: The text-only edition of Voices from the Net 1.1 is available via anonymous ftp from: aql.gatech.edu /pub/Zines/Voices_from_the_Net uglymouse.css.itd.umich.edu /pub/Zines/Voices wiretap.spies.com /Library/Zines The Hypercard stack is available at: aql.gatech.edu /pub/Zines/Voices_from_the_Net sumex-aim.stanford.edu /info-mac/recent And Mindvox subscribers can find both editions in the Uploads section of the archives. And now.... __BRUCE STERLING__ A long time ago, in a summer that now seems far far away (okay, it was just in May), we were fortunate enough to corral science fiction author, cultural observer, and all around cool guy Bruce Sterling for an interview. We talked to Bruce about this, that, and the other thing for quite a while and we thought that our readers out their in net.land (this means you!) would maybe be interested in his thoughts on a wide variety of net related subjects. The interview didn't quite fit in with our subjects for the first few issues of Voices, but we wanted to get the info out to you. Unlike fine wine net.info does not age well, and you know what they say, "Old news is no news." Especially on the net. So, we hope, a little interesting reading in your mbox. Enjoy, thanx for listening to us, and we'll see you again soon when Voices From The Net 1.2 comes out sometime near September 1 (although this one might be just a tad late, but what the heck, you've got this neato Bruce Sterling interview to sift through between now and then.) Welp, hit it Bruce...... <voices> What does Cyberpunk mean today? <Sterling> I have no idea, my basic answer to that is "if you don't know by now don't mess with it!" <voices> How did the writers that are considered in the Mirrorshades group, how did you all meet? <Sterling> U.S. Mail <voices> U.S. Mail <Sterling> yeah <voices> And did you have a concept that this was going to become a Zietgiest? <Sterling> Yeah I was actually, I you know, I always had fairly large ambitions for it. I mean there's one of the early Cheap Truth things I did where I wrote a sort of long paean about Arthur Clarke, and sort of how cleverly Clarke had shaped his own role in society and if you actually look at it, I just saw Clarke last week he was at this particular gig Gibson and I were at, he was live via satellite from Sri Lanka, you know and this is a guy who you know I admire him a lot, I'm not that enormous a fan of his fiction, I certainly loved it when I was younger and everything, I think it's a bit dated now, but gee whiz he is in his eighties or something. It's just that he was able to play off sort of unspoken cracks and weaknesses in our society, he was able to position himself very deftly in order to really make his voice heard without having to play any of the conventional power games, you know he doesn't have tenure he's not in the employ of the military lndustrial complex, and yet he's able to write what he wants when he wants, he's not a hack writer he's not a pawn of the publishers he's not enslaved by passing whims of fandom, he's really able to sort of cut a niche and make a stand and say some things that are worth hearing. So yeah, I think that can be done and it's sort of what I aim to do in a way. I didn't think it would quite look like this, but I'm not really surprised to see it look like this, I don't think you've seen anything yet really, It's gonna get extremely twisted after the turn of the century. <voices> Where do you think it's headed as a literary thing? <Sterling> Well the Net is going to play a major role in this, the Internet is like the apotheoses of stuff I was doing in 82 and 83 when I was doing my non-copyrighted 'zine "Agitation". Here you've finally got a method of distribution which is global which is incredibly cheap, and which, you know, as long as you stay away from the commerciality aspects, you don't' try to make any money from it, you really can proselytize on the Internet with like fantastic ability, and basically all it takes is the willingness to say something worth hearing and the willingness to say it and let it go, not try to control it just release it, just release it. And obviously not everybody's got it together to do that, but it's sort of a whole new literary landscape that's going to take shape there one way or the other. <voices> You've read TAZ by Hakim Bey? <Sterling> yeah, sure. <voices> Did you get ideas for the Data Pirates in Islands in the Net from that, or did he get any from you? <Sterling> Well I think those are natural ideas, the ideas for data pirates that I used were actually from a computer crime book that I read in like 82 or 83 by some British guy, computer security expert, whose name unfortunately i don't know (it's in my notes), but he referred to them as something like gold, he had an acronym for them goldfish he called them goldfish and essentially they're offshore data banks which use encryption you know and this is a fairly prescient thing, when I read this I immediately thought "this guy's on to something", "this is something really plausible" cause it is you know it's the Cayman island banks at large, it's sort of BCCI, and BCCI as a Temporary Autonomous Zone, the idea that like a TAZ is going to be something clever and sweet and you're all going to sort of go out and have a lovely kind of non-gender rave or whatever, and it's the same thing as a virtual corporation that was on the cover of Business Week a couple of months back. It's like you throw together this jim crack organization they do this shit and they vanish before the authorities can find out, well the authorities might be brutal L.A. cops or pig dumb London 40bbies or something, but they could just as easily be authorities like labor unions, fair employment enforcers or you know non-pollution people. I mean, you could use a temporary autonomous zone to commit ecological crimes or drug hits or you could sack towns with one or something. <voices> Ok staying in that mode of thought then, do you think cyberpunk has been a temporary autonomous zone for slipstream literature, and it just happened to land in science fiction this time? <Sterling> Well i think that if you look at the way literary stuff is structured, literary movements and artistic movements, they're never very well organized, they're always extremely tribal. I mean, anything that comes out of a Bohemia type situation is going to be tribal, and the ugly aspect of that is like Manson-esque tribalism, and the happy aspect is if you've got some guy who is sort of genuinely brilliant and does not go nuts from it. In any case they very rarely have any kind of rules, they're less organized than like say a Greek campus fraternity or something, it's just like a bunch of guys who come out and have dinner ever other Thursday or something. <voices> It just happens to form then? <Sterling> Yeah, it's autonomous in the sense that real kinds of power structure, legitimate power structure, are basically forbidden in that milieu cause they're not really workable, but there's nothing new about that, I mean it's the same way the pre-raphaelites used to run in the 1850's. <voices> Since you're sort of in the "original" group, does the commercialization of the term "cyberpunk" bother you at all now? <Sterling> I don't think it's really been that successfully commercialized. <voices> Well they just had an article about it in "Sassy". <Sterling> I quite liked that Sassy article, I thought it was a great article! I thought that was actually a fairly prescient article, I'd love to see people make internet boxes that look like make-up cases. I have no problem with that idea at all, in fact I would encourage it to the extent that I could. <voices> The whole thing with Billy Idol's new album coming out have you heard about that? <Sterling> Yeah, I've heard it's called Cyberpunk. That's nothing, there was an album out in Japan years ago called CyberPink by a band called Pink and there's been lots of Neuromancer takes, and bands called Neuromancer, and bands called CountZero, and there's a band out now called Difference Engine. I mean my feeling is the thing to be upset would be if some particular person in the movement had like you know... <voices> Tried to trademark it or something? <Sterling> Yeah, that would have been something more ugly. You cannot defend a word, you can't defend a word, you can't defend a concept, the only thing you can defend in this world is your own integrity. So yeah, there are guys out running around making absolute pots of money from just copying the same successes over and over and over again until they run them into the ground, then you'd have a situation where it would be ugly and sort of stupid and useless, but I think actually that there's still a lot of potential in the people who did it, and on the contrary, I'm really like chuffed that the Clinton/Gore regime is in power now. I feel like I had to swim under water for 12 years. <voices> Yeah, well they have some interesting proposals to I'd like to talk about in a little bit. <Sterling> Of course, they're just politicians, they're not the be all and end all, but at least they're not these malignant mother fuckers who have been sitting on our heads for the past twelve years! Oh man! I think you can go places with this stuff, things are going to turn interesting here. <voices> I've heard this train of thought going on cyberpunk like, any kind of art form, like music, literature, anything, starts to go stale after a while, and then there's always something that comes up and changes it, just like punk music did in the late 70's, and kind of like Cyberpunk did for Science Fiction in the early to mid 80's. Do you think that's valid? <Sterling> Well I think there's likely, well that's sort of the rhetoric of youth there. I mean, what you're saying is basically "these guys are all forty and where are my little buddies out here who are gonna really set it on its ear?" . Yeah we're forty and it is time for somebody else to come out and really set it on its ear, but that doesn't, I mean, science fiction is not like pop music. If it were like pop music I'd be dead of heroin by now. There are science fiction writers, I mean yeah, a lot of them run out and just sort of ease into meeting the kids college payments, but there are people around, Ballard, Aldiss... <voices> Clarke? <Sterling> Clarke, even, I mean to an extent. There are guys who just really have enormous amounts of imagination. I mean, Aldiss, everything Aldiss does is different, he's always trying something new, it's not necessarily easy to understand, but the guy never repeats himself. He's just like a fount of brilliant weirdness, and there doesn't seem to be any end to it, and I think he'll be that way until he's too sick to lift his hands. Laugherty, a guy who didn't even start writing till he was in his 50's, one of the weirdest American popular culture writers, truly gifted strange individual. Of course I say that, otherwise, it would be hard to go on, but I feel like I can do interesting work here. I can't be 20 again, but you know, I'm not interested in pretending to be 20 again. But I am interested in working cause there's a lot of interesting material around that is very little explored. <voices> What are your thoughts on the new Data Superhighway proposal? <Sterling> Well, you know, I asked somebody once "what's the deal with this data superhighway? Is there anybody against it?" and she replied "it's like being against goodness" and it sort of is, I mean sure, if they want to go out and build a data superhighway, what the hell! I think there's something goofy about the idea of linking it with supercomputer centers cause I don't think supercomputers really count for that much anymore. That kind of has the distressing air of "Big Science" it's kind of like the superconducting supercollider. <voices> So "they" can keep their hands in It? <Sterling> Well, it didn't work very well with the Internet, which had a stranger thing. I think that it's useful that the government is paying some attention to this, and I suppose that you could always say to yourself "well, it's just a plot by 'them' to come and get 'us"', but you know, the "us" are the "them" the Internet was a military project originally. It's a thing from DARPA. You don't get anymore military lndustrial than DARPA. That's who made it and look at it now, it's really weird. I have no real objection to that at all, what I have an objection to basically, I have an objection when the police come into your house at 5 a.m. and carry off all your equipment without ever charging you with anything. That's a problem ok. That's a problem. Whether you've got broad band at 96 million baud or 98 million baud yeah it's not really that crucial a problem. It's true that the architecture is political to an extent, and it would probably be a good idea to go out and run some ISDN so the chipmunks would have some way to make a living in the mean time, but I think the thing is here, it's on its way, the Internet itself is growing at like just a fantastic rate, and may render the data superhighway irrelevant by the time they can start laying glass into the ground. I'm just pleased that people are aware of it and that they're using it and that it does sort of strike me as being sort of a "good thing" with a capital G and a capital T, and I'm pleased at the way things are going. I'm pleased, for instance, to see that there seems to be no rhetoric left about young hackers crashing the American phone system. <voices> Yeah, that whole "War Games" thing. <Sterling> Yeah that whole phantom has just gone away. I mean, there's a new phantom now, the child pornography phantom, but that's so unpleasant to even think about that I don't think they can push it to the extent, I mean the thing about the child pornography thing is that essentially saying "we don't want perverts to use computers" is a less workable form of repression than saying "young people should not own modems because it's too dangerous". Saying young people should not own equipment because it's too dangerous, that's a direct threat to electronic freedom of expression. Saying some of these guys with modems are pervos, well A. it's true and B. there's nothing you can fucking do about it! <voices> Some of everybody is a pervo. <Sterling> Yeah, there's nothing you can do about it. You can sort of try and whip up the level of hysteria like "they're Satanists", and you're gonna see that sort of ridiculous nonsense, but it's not the same as the massive seizures and that sort of material. <voices> You've already told me generally what you think about the Internet, tell me thls, do you think well, Can it? or Should it? be used to foster socio-economic change? <Sterling> I'm something of a cynic there. Ideally, yeah, if you knew exactly how to wing it you could actually change things a lot, but to what end and who's gonna do it? It's sort of like asking "do you think a newspaper Should be used to foster socio-economic change?" Well, yes, of course, and they are every day, and we're changing, I mean the world is changing and it's changing really fast and it's changing in a direction that nobody understands. Tell me where the hell you're aiming, If you're aiming for the collapse of large institutions and the general outbreak of low level anarchy, that seems to be where the fuck we're going! We're getting there as fast as we can, it's not a pretty sight. I mean, that's real cool unless your Dad or your Uncle or your Mom is in IBM or DEC or something, and AT&T's probably next. <voices> So you see it as an agent of change simply because of its nature? mean people aren't gonna go out there and do anything like "I'm not going to be a racist on the Net", "there's no color on the Net", that sort of thing? <Sterling> Yeah, but I don't you know, I mean, of course there is. I can show you a list of black BBS's where guys are going out and going "I'm black! and I got a modem! and boy am I black! and of course there's race hate BBS's and all this stuff. <voices> There's rumors out that the government is thinking about trying to take over the administration of the Internet again. <Sterling> Whose government, and what Internet? The thing's all over Europe man! There are Internet nodes in Antarctica. <voices> I guess it would be like registering. To be on the Internet you'd have to register. <Sterling> I guess to be on the **mumble** backbone or something, but you know, what about FidoNet, they've still got Internet feeds, you can get Internet mail on FidoNet. It's everywhere, It's in South Africa, It's in the Soviet Union, It's in India, It's in China! I'm sure there are guys around who are thinking about that, but I don't think they understand what's going on. <voices> They don't get the concept of what it actually entails? <Sterling> They don't get the concept of how much it would cost! Prodigy has gone broke trying to maintain any kind of order over their little Net. It's like "well you know, we've got to have this clean and decent so that Tipper will approve, and so we're gonna like read all the email beforehand" It costs $70 million a month to do that. Imagine going to Congress and saying "Well these 12 million users are doing all this shit for free and we have to scarcely pay anything, but in order to take it over we're going to need at least $500 million a month so give us $6 billion so we can run it". <voices> Doesn't seem feasible to me. <Sterling> NO! <voices> That's why it got out of hand from them in the first place. <Sterling> Well there's a lot of ridiculous paranoia by Internet people who just can't believe that they've got it so good and it's bound to be taken away, you know, this is so fucking wonderful, and they're just flattering themselves. They somehow feel that if they post something to alt.smash-the-state.violently anything they say is going to upset the authorities so much that they're just going to come down on them. They don't care ok! They don't care. I mean they care when you start your own private army. When you start buying .50 caliber machine guns then they care. Every once in a while some guy on the make will care cause you're running a "legion of doom" BBS, but most of the time you could do all this shit and they don't care, they just don't care. <voices> Sort of related to all this, you've heard of the Clipper Chip? <Sterling> Oh yeah yeah! <voices> What do you think about that? <Sterling> Well I'm kind of a Clipper Chip Aficionado actually. I think it's kind of a good idea. I think it's a great idea for instance that the federal government should have really shitty encryption. As far as I know they're not saying they're gonna outlaw other kinds. <voices> There's some debate about whether that's in the proposal or not. <Sterling> Well if they try to outlaw encryption, I mean encryption is outlawed apparently in Europe, lots of different kinds of encryption are simply illegal. But I was sitting right next to the acting director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology who said, in so many words, that they are not planning to make any other kind of encryption illegal. So you're gonna have this product right, let me put it this way, suppose you're trying to buy yourself a clipper chip cause you think somebody's spying on you phone calls, you're in DEC or something. And you're afraid the Japanese are gonna listen or somebody's gonna listen, are you really gonna worry about domestic American phone calls? Like you calling Peoria. Fuck No man! The thing you're worried about is your New York office calling Paris cause you know that the French Intelligence has got the French system tapped. And the French are not gonna put up with the Clipper Chip, they're not gonna go out and buy all that stuff that they know that the Americans can decrypt whenever they want to. So it's not going to meet the real need for encryption, the thing that it meets is, it's a anti-Camilla gate thing. It's like you're driving around in the back of your van, and you're a really rich guy or something, and you're talking on the cellular phone to your mistress and you say something really indiscreet like "I can't wait to get home with the latex and the ben-wa balls" and some guy is out there with a scanner. It happened to Prince Charles, It happened to Diana, it happened to Governor Wilder, it happened to Felipe Gonzalez in Spain. There's no reason for Bill Clinton to be real happy about the disgruntled mistress aspect of taped phone calls and stuff. <voices> But one of the main reasons they give in the proposal is the concept that the reason they're mainly doing it is because they want to be able to bust criminals. <Sterling> Yeah, Yeah. I think as long as they don't make other kinds of encryption illegal and you and your buddy say "ok we're gonna use PGP on our phone and look we've got a chip from this guy we know at Sun", look, let me put it this way, if you think that you are gonna get away with some kind of massive conspiracy because you and your buddies all have some sort of red hot encryption, you're out of your mind ok, cause one of you is gonna rat! <voices> When they come knocking on the door? <Sterling> In any group of 10 guys, 2 of them are gonna be rats and seven of them are gonna be stupid. And one of them is going to be like a really smart dangerous type character. But the rest are just gonna like get drunk in a bar and blurt out something one day. <voices> Well it's like you say in your book, they have to tell. <Sterling> They have to tell! They have to tell, and besides, even if you do imagine that encryption gets out and it does all this wonderful stuff, all its gonna mean is that they'll shift their attention to bugging people's homes, and their cars, and their bodies! Sure man, I mean, you're gonna bug their cellular phone itself like they did in the Waco thing. <voices> That's my next question Do you see parallels between the Waco thing and all the stuff in Hacker Crackdown? <Sterling> Well I was really glad that he didn't have a BBS in there or an Internet node. <voices> Yeah, that would have been on the front page! <Sterling> Yeah it would of like, "a computer cult butchers harmless ATF agents". Yeah I think there's a problem there. I think the Feds, some of them at least, have a swat team complex now, and it's for a good reason. The American Populace itself has become extremely violent. They just will shoot cops. It used to be when the cops arrived people would run away, now cops arrive and people just fucking throw bricks at them. I mean, they will shoot cops, the level of violence out there is just extremely high so they've taken it upon themselves to get into this sort of crack gang, all pumped up, they go out and they're gonna bulldoze these things in, and they're just gonna take these guys out, and I'm sorry you cannot run civil police enforcement like an armed camp, I mean that just doesn't work, it only makes the cycle of violence worse and worse. <voices> Yeah look what happened. <Sterling> Yeah they charged into this thing cause they think 'well this guy's a nutty cracker and we'll get this over with in a hurry cause it's becoming an embarrassment'. They fucking wiped them out! They just laid them waste. And they meant it! They didn't burn all themselves by accident! It's not like they didn't intend to go and die, these are people who didn't give a shit about consensus reality! They were completely in their own, you know, and they're not the only group like that either, there are dozens of little Jim Jones people all over. <voices> That was just sort of the group of the week and it turned out to be more. <Sterling> That's right. They happened to be into buying guns, but I can guarantee you that there are plenty of people out there who are fucking crazy as loons, and not all of them off by themselves either, some of them in Urban situations and so forth and so on. But they should have shown more skill there, they should have just nailed they guy, they should have gotten Koresh, they should have said "David, c'mon down to the sheriff's office we need to talk". They should have called him in and just arrested him. But they wanted to go do ninja Tobacco Inspector. It's a wicked situation, and people shouldn't get into situations like that and now they're all dead, and as far as I can tell they didn't break any laws that demanded that they all be put to death, but once they had gotten into that siege situation there's a Masada complex, you just can't push them like that. <voices> They weren't just going to walk out with their hands above their heads. <Sterling> No, they shouldn't have hit them like that early on, but you could see that once the dynamic gets going there's no way to back down. <voices> Yeah it just builds up. <Sterling> I hope they do better next time. <voices> I certainly hope so, a hundred people. <Sterling> Well, yeah. <voices> On alt.cyberpunk there was a thread going through about the supposed return of the Legion of Doom, have you heard about it? <Sterling> Yeah, I got one of the distributed things where the guy said he wants to go out and do the Legion of Doom technical Journal, and come up and do all this stuff. <voices> Is that a load of crap? <Sterling> Well, I thought the LOD originally was pretty much a load of crap. I mean they certainly were never anything that was supposed to make the universe tremble and they weren't the high tech street gang, and as far as I could figure, with the exception of a couple of guys like the guy who's being tried over in California now, I forget what his handle is, he actually managed to make some money, he went on the lamb and the police came and seized all his stuff and he actually split, he went underground and then he actually made a living ripping off stuff. Apparently he was making a living mostly by diverting phone calls to free call-in the LOD people, the Atlanta three and so forth, I mean if you meet like Lex Luthor, you can't imagine a more harmless little guy. He's not a malignant character and he just did not deserve to be painted in such broad stripes by people who were anxious to puff them up so as to inflate their own reputations when they went and busted these ~'terrible menaces to the national whatever". LOD was always coming back, and I'm not surprised to see it come up again. I'm not surprised to see Phrack being published again. I'm not surprised to see the Hacker underground reassert itself again and again and again and again with all new people. But if they think that the cops don't know about it this time, they do. There are cops on Mindvox there are cops on all the major boards. <voices> Well he posted to Usenet. <Sterling> Well, I wouldn't write anything for it if I didn't want to end up on a Secret Service dossier immediately, but some people like being on Secret Service dossiers, they really get off. <voices> It gives them a kick. <Sterling> You know but you will probably get busted. <voices> So you are going to release Hacker Crackdown out on the Net? <Sterling> Yeah. In fact there's gonna be a new afterward in the paperback which will be out in October, and I'll probably write a new forward for the electronic edition that kind of explains what it is you're supposed to do with it. <voices> You're going to put it out to FTP sites and places like that? <Sterling> Yeah, anywhere who wants it, Gutenberg project, various FTP sites, EFF files, underground boards, anybody who sends me email can have a copy. <voices> How do you see that sort of thing changing the social and economic paradigms of that whole... <Sterling> The mere fact that I'm doing this isn't going to make any difference. <voices> But it's starting to become a trend, Agrippa was release out <Sterling> I don't think it's starting to become a trend at all. It's starting to become a trend in that it's something cyberpunks are willing to do, but on the contrary I see people trying more and more desperately to make money from electronic releases of stuff, and I don't know it's like asking "say doctor, didn't you cure that lepper for free? 'why yes I did my son"' Well what do you think this is gonna do to the AMA Nothing! I mean, charitable acts, this is a charitable act, it's not going to change the structure of anything <voices> Well what do you think as an author, I don't know how close you are to your work? <Sterling> Well you may notice I haven't given away any of my fiction yet! I do give away journalism. <voices> When it does get put out the subjectivity gets morphed. <Sterling> Well I think the structure will change eventually, but it's not going to change anytime extremely soon. I kind of see electronic publication as equivalent to having a single played on the radio, I expect that a lot of people will see the thing on an FTP site, download it, look at it, and go out and buy the book. .... and that's all for now folx, pretty abrupt yeah yeah, but worth the price eh??? *** Acceptable Use Statement: In a perfect world, we could just post this, send it out through the wires and forget about it. In a perfect world... In this world, we have things like copyright laws, legal permissions, the need to "own" one's words. This document is free, but it is not public domain. The individual authors retain the rights to their work. You may reproduce and distribute it. In fact, we encourage it. Spreading free information is part of what "Voices from the Net" is all about. Just keep it FREE. We hope that the zine will be useful as well as entertaining. If it seems useful to you, then use it. But be collegial. Cite your sources(*), and don't take liberties with the text. Respect the voices contained here. [* Thanks to Bruce Sterling for inspiration, and for support.] Voices from the Net 1.1.5, copyright 1993.
From email@example.com Mon Sep 6 01:10:01 1993 Date: Sun, 5 Sep 1993 20:12:37 -0400 (EDT) From: bookish <firstname.lastname@example.org> Reply to: Voicesemail@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: VoicesFromTheNet1.2 ************************** Can * VOICES FROM THE NET * you * VOICES FROM THE NET * --- hear * * our * 1.2 * Do voices * NEW VOICES * you ? * "The Origins Issue" * read * * us --- * VOICES FROM THE NET * ? * VOICES FROM THE NET * ************************** There are a lot of folks with at least one foot in this complex region we call (much too simply) "the net." There are a lot of voices on these wires. - all kinds of voices - loud and quiet, anonymous and well-known. And yet, it's far from clear what it might mean to be a "voice" from, or on, the net. Enter "Voices from the Net": one attempt to sample, explore, the possibilities (or perils) of net.voices. Worrying away at the question. Running down the meme. Looking/listening, and reporting back to you. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- THIS MAGAZINE WAS CREATED ON A VAX 8650 AND A MACINTOSH NO LONGER PRODUCED BY THE APPLE CORPORATION, USING MORE-OR-LESS WHATEVER SOFTWARE WAS AT-HAND. (obligatory DIY tech note) -------------------------------------------------------------------------- _1.2_ ==== THIS ISSUE: --VOICES CARRY --FEATURE: Margie Ingall --SIGNAL/NOISE Ivan the "Newbie" Net-Bio: Indigo --FEATURE: Adam Curry --A SHOuT IN THE DARK --PREVIEWS --INFO/ARCHIVES/ACCEPTABLE USE ==== (New) VOICES CARRY: "In which the truth comes out..." Newbies. That's our focus for this issue. What is it like to first encounter the net in all its daunting splendor, its richness, its rudeness? It's a question to which we all have our own answers. There's no escaping it. We all get to be newbies for a while, until we learn the ropes. Until we find our place(s) and voice(s). And we may get to relive the experience, if we move to some new virtual environment, take on some new online task or challenge. Because it's not exactly a matter of "How long have *you* been on the net?" If it were, then perhaps you wouldn't be reading this, since, to be excruciatingly honest, none of us at "Voices" have been online all *that* long. Only a little longer than some of the new users that we interviewed, in fact. And yet, here we are, and it looks like we'll be around for a while. Thanks to all of you, new and experienced users, who have made us welcome in your hearts and mailboxes... But if our new(bie)ness is not just a matter of duration, of logging net.hours, then what is it? Perhaps there's no one factor that's decisive, but let's explore a few: Maybe it's a matter of welcome, of the first interactions. Every "Sure! I'd love to talk to you" has drawn me deeper into the net, as has every "Oh, did you know you can <insert your fave trick here>?" But it can also work in a negative sense. You learn quickly which corners of cyberspace to avoid. Or perhaps the lack of welcome is a challenge... A little adversity only sweetens the moment when you can say, "Hey, I've carved out a space here!" For this issue, we've talked to some folks who have been greeted with less-than-completely-open arms by various online communities. And here they still are... So perhaps it's a matter of immersion. Time is a funny thing out here, and a lot can happen in almost no time at all. Say the wrong thing on a newsgroup or e-list and see if you don't become suddenly experienced. Much is made of the distinction between lurkers and posters, as if action was privileged here, as it is so often in "real life." You're a newbie until you take the posting plunge... Or maybe there isn't really a magic moment where you master the system, and suddenly you're a *REAL* user. Sure, you master your mailer, and then go on to grapple with the newsreader of your choice until you're a regular Usenet god(dess). But there's always another environment waiting, with something that's a little beyond, or a lot beyond, your previous experience. Can your MUD, MOO, IRC? Have you compiled a client? Ftp-ed the manual? uudecoded? unzipped? gunzipped? telnetted? Used WAIS, WWW, Archie, Veronica, Jughead, Gopher? Do you program? In what languages? Cool, but have you heard about... Maybe there's just a moment where the newness wears off of our (almost perpetual) newness. Not that we lose interest, or even our sense of wonder, but we begin to feel more comfortable with the challenges and changes that are here if we bother to look at all. We don't master the net, but we learn that we don't have to to use it, enjoy it... Or maybe I just haven't been around long enough to fathom the mysteries of the net. But I feel at home. I really do. And it's a good feeling, knowing that there are friends no more than a telnet or an e-mail message away. Knowing that this is getting through... all over the world. Voices carry. listen... bookish ============== FEATURE: _Marjorie Ingall: Sassy Magazine_ In May of this year Sassy magazine printed an article called "Girlz in Cyberspace." The article sparked a (cyber?) storm of criticisms, flaming and all-around nastiness. It seemed to bring out the worst of all "voices." In fact, it seemed to be the subject du jour on the net for almost a month. Just about everyone jumped on the bandwagon--some pro, but many con. alt.cyberpunk had their usual bashfest concerning the article, but this time it seemed even more intense than usual. Why all the criticisms? A girl's magazine coming to a boy's playground? In any case, we got in touch with the author of the article, Marjorie Ingall, the senior writer for Sassy. We thought we would give her a chance to respond to the experience and give her take on being a new Voice From The Net... >first a short auto-bio: i've been at sassy almost three years. now i'm senior writer. the online community should not dismiss me or sassy as bimboid, merely because the mag is aimed at teenagegirls. why, that would be like saying all men online are pocket-protector wearing dorks! my goodness, quel stereotype. sassy's a smart and funny magazine. i too am smart and funny. i graduated from harvard in 89. i double majored in folklore and mythology and english. besides sassy i've written for mccalls fodors and lets go (travel guides) and a couple other places. and this year i won two journalism awards--one for a story on schizophrenia from the american psychiatric association and one for a series on prolife and prochoice teenage activists from the national women's political caucus. yeeha. >ready, steady, go... okay, lessee. i'll just free-associate here. i've found i use a very diff voice online than either conversationally or in my sassy writing. no caps for one thing, much more free-associative. it seems to allow certain people to feed into their stereotypes of sassy as a breathless teenybopper thing, without catching the intelligence or the irony. but hey, so what. certain people will be dismissive of sassy (and of teenage girls) no matter what, and i've learned you can't waste too much energy trying to win em over, 'cause you're doomed to fail. i've certainly continued to explore the net since the article. well, maybe explore isn't right, since i've confined myself mainly to mindvox forums and america online and a few forays into usenet news groups, and of course, major mongo email usage. i've been thrilled with the result of running our email address in the mag. i could give a fuck about the hostile compunerdboys who decide to send hate mail but aren't at all familiar with the mag. i do very much like hearing from our college age readers, who tend to write less than the high schoolers and of course have slightly diff concerns and interests. and since it's so much easier to email than get it up to use snailmail, we get a lot of conversational letters as opposed to strongly worded emotional ones (obviously you have to feel pretty strongly to send snailmail, otherwise why bother to write to a magazine?). i like making trouble on america online. the trivia games (i rule) and attempting to squash male ego in private rooms. i go on a friend's account and we have bonding fun. the feedback from the article has been interesting. generally people with a sense of humor got it and were entertained. some didn't understand how sassy works, that it's all about one writer's experience and the article didn't purport to be a comprehensive guide to the internet or something. it was ABOUT being a newbie, as well as about gender (does it exist in cyberspace, since you can fuck with people's perceptions so easily, is it a sexist environment, what's it like being a new girl in a very male space, is there a typical female BBSer). the piece made some very good points, i thought, in a very writ-small way, and i'm proud of it. it wasn't intended to be a big thing--either a sweeping indictment or a sweeping endorsement, and i was clear that it was just about one teeny corner of online culture. however, some people couldn't get past the sassy voice and thought (still think) i am one big tremendous girly girl moron. i got really lovely feedback for the most part--including letters from some well known old school hackers and a really funny few notes from bruce sterling, who got it completely and is now a subscriber. i've also deepened a few existing friendships thru email--since i am a lousy correspondent, it's such a blessing, particularly with a friend of mine in france and a former intern at sassy who was in england for a spell. a few of my online contacts (new relationships) ended up turning into sassy internships for the kids in question. yeeha. i also made friends with a novelist whose work i really like and started a jokey relationship with wired magazine, which i think is absolutely beyond groovy. thought so before we had this mutual admiration society. girls in general have strongly agreed with me about the pitfalls of BBSing, about being harrassed, in particular, but most feel it's completely worth it to explore the net. about forging a comfy space for oneself in the online world. it can be a harsh place (example of my own growth: in the article i was perplexed by the ease with which regular bbsers called cyberspace a place, now i myself do it seamlessly). i get flamed so often and get such hostility, but not from anyone who matters. i have to remember that. there's also me vs. sassy--people who randomly flame sassy don't tend to have read it or have no sense of humor to speak of. lately i've been trying to gently address sexism on line a bit more--speaking up when i see it on mindvox. but now i don't feel it's worth it. i've been called humorless bitch and feminazi too often (kind of funny, since that's quite in opppostion to fluffy dumb bunny teenybopper that i'm also called), but again, that's only a part of the experience. for a writer, email and forums are great free-ers. know what i mean? in my sassy stories, i sweat the phrasing so much and rewrite and cut and rewrite and cut. this way i just GO. it's liberating. and i've heard from so many wonderful, interesting people. everyone here at sassy mocks me bigtime for being online so much. it's deeply pathetic, i have become such the wee cyberdork. but i do love this as a communication tool. not much else. i've avoiding IRC and MUDs because then i will truly have no life (i have done both, but do not wish to overindulge thankee). we run our email address in every letters column now. people send poetry too, for our Stuff You Wrote column, and online zines, but i'm only taking letters to the editor off this. anonymity? why would i want it? people will bash and flame, and that's cool. we want a dialogue. that's what's wrong with journalism in general--there is a pretense of objectivity in mainstream journalism (no one is objective) and we can't pretend to be bestowing knowledge on the news-starved. it SHOULD be anarchic (sorta) and multi-voiced, multi-lingual. reminds me of mikhail bakhtin, literary theory--the notion of the novel as this multivoiced form, allowing more points of view than an essay, say, or a poem. he'd truly groove on the net, no? when i have my own acct at home, i want anonymity. as sassy, no. i do think it's bizarre that some people are upset that we're here--why are they, i wonder? other than hating teenage girls? i'm very interested in posting vs. lurking, how male female dynamics here do seem to parallel those in the real world. men do more than their share of the talking. ok, let's make this the harassment paragraph. when you get paged over and over or when men post extensively and thoughtlessly and lasciviously descriptively about women's body parts, that is annoying. and when men don't see, when they're discussing philosphy and gender issues, that the playing field is NOT level, that a woman objectifying a man is NOT yet the same as a man objectifying a woman (if women ever break thru the glass ceiling and earn $1 for every $1 men earn and are represented 50/50 in Congress, then hey, we'll talk). here on mindvox the women online forum is getting better, but it's still mostly males who post. and they're often FURIOUS at the thought of a women-only forum.it's sooooo threatening. it's sooooooo reverse sexist, they feel. NOT. gentlemen, i really wouldn't worry about women taking over the corridors of power. it'll be interesting to see what happens. i`ve heard from wonderful, interesting people and it's intriguing to see how simultaneously open and deceptive communication is here. it's often easier to pour out your heart when it's not f2f, or when it's not someone you know in the flesh. but people do get off on creating personae, exploiting others' trust. i haven't felt deceived, but i hear from girls who have. one funny thing--the first time i met someone in RL whose acquaintance i'd originally made online, i totally freaked. i felt sick and weird, like i was crossing a line that shouldn't be crossed. i wanted our relationship to stay in the virtual world. it's not like it was a date or anything (he was married and i was in a serious relationship) but it just felt wrong to try to switch formats. Fascinating. i wish mindvox were still a more welcoming place for women. my sassy story concluded that we can't wait for men to just invite us in and act all nice. we have to charge the barricades. this IS the future, and if we don't familiarize ourselves with it now, we'll just end up massaging the shoulders of the guy at the keyboard. (metaphor alert!) i hope sassy encourages more girls to take the technology plunge. we try to. we try to make them laugh and be unafraid of stuff in general. maybe in the future we won't have to nurture girls, 'cause they'll be bursting with self esteem and ruling bandwidth. i hope so. i never claimed to be a pro--the point of that feature was to show what it's like to be a newbie. and i don't claim to be any kind of emissary and am not trying to market anything (duh) and i don't have an album coming out called cyberpunk or anything. now i'm just a mailbox. a mailbox with opinions. did i forget anything? ok? ok. --margie ============== SIGNAL/NOISE Signal/noise: the ratio between the useful information in a given environment and the useless nonsense that inevitably accompanies it, even threatens to drown it out. It's a useful measure, as long as you don't need to reduce it to a number or something. But always remember: one net.entity's signal is another's noise. And an environment which one person finds objectionably noisy may seem serene to someone else. There are many voices out there - many kinds of voices - and many environments that affect how those voices appear to other folks across the wires. What follows is a dip into the ocean of such voices, presented in such a way as to preserve the feel of the particular environment. Much of it was generated on the spot in realtime interactive settings, and it has that mix of exciting spontenaity and confusion. It's up to you to decide what's signal and what's noise. __IVAN THE NEWBIE__ We couldn't have an issue about new voices without talking to someone who is actually a new voice (and hasn't been the center of attention since minute one). So we went out and found us a basic, real, anonymous newbie, and we sat down and asked him how his arrival on the net has affected his world. Here's what happened... voices: when did you actually get on the net? ivan k: actually i was on the net at the end of the school year, just for a little bit. v: so that would be May? i: yeah, 1993 v: May 1993. first impressions? i: well, first impression, first of all i didn't know what to do because i was going into it on my own accord and i didn't sign up for it, like, as a class, or anything. Nobody had told me... Well actually somebody had told me about it, somebody that i knew in New York city said that they had been on the internet for a while and they said it was really, a really nice system to be on and there were a lot of cool things about it, but i really didn't know that much about it. so i work at the radio station and i'd heard some things about music bulletin boards and things like that, so i asked the head guy if he would let me have a password because at this time they weren't giving passwords to the undergrads. So i went over to the offices and got a password, then i went in and basically all i did for the first three or four weeks was just read off the bulletin boards. i didn't feel very... v: when you say bulletin boards, you mean usenet? i: yes, i still today don't feel comfortable enough to post things on it because i don't feel like an expert on anything. v: so you feel a pressure being new, and not knowing what's going on exactly? i: right, right. and i'm afraid of getting flamed. v: which usenet news groups are you talking about? i: there is some, just like the heavy metal, the hard rock, the alternative music, actually i'm on, there's a devo which i read occasionally v: mostly rec.music or alt.music stuph? i: alt.music stuff. and then i was in that for a while and then somebody turned me on to MOO-ing, and that kept me addicted for a while. and i just started to learn how to ftp, download files from other sites and i'm still fooling around with the gopher, and trying to figure out what that's all about. v: most of the MOO-ing has been at Lambda[MOO]? i: most of it yeah, Lambda. i'm just getting into the FurryMUCK, even as we speak. v: so you really have a certain amount of standoffishness about posting because of the flames and stuph? i: right, right. v: it's affected your "voice"? i: yeah, yeah, the first thing i noticed about it didn't seem very professional but at the same time if somebody said something that somebody else thought was stupid, then everybody else would, you know... v: let loose? i: yeah. i suppose you're going to have that with the internet though. v: do you think that the strong voices, which may be the persuasive voices there, are really a function of expertise, or are they just the loudest? i: yeah, they're loudest. and i don't see a lot of expertise, because i work with talking to promoters, and the companies themselves and a lot of them don't even know about the internet. which is suprising. and it will be interesting to see how long it takes them to catch on to it, before they're posting things up, like... i don't know if they would go into advertising. v: so you've been on almost four months, do you still consider yourself a "newbie"? i: yeah, because i really don't know that much about programming and all, and anything i learn i ask from people i know, yeah, i still consider myself a newbie. v: does programming expertise have much of anything to do with being, say, a competent usenet poster? i: are you saying do i feel afraid of the internet because i don't know how? v: yeah, are you afraid of the internet because of the language basically? i: i feel like i'm only seeing about twenty-five percent of the internet and there's like seventy-five percent that i don't know about, but i would like to know more about. i kind of feel like i've been asleep for ten or fifteen years and i'm just trying to catch up with everything. v: and you get kind of thrown into a hole? i: right, exactly. v: i guess my question was, in part, do you still feel like a usenet newbie? i: yeah, yeah because i haven't used it for a lot of like class research kind of things yet because i didn't have any classes over the summer. v: you're not over the posting hump? i: right that's true v: you come out of your first flame war a different person. [laughing] v: you get a thick skin real quick on the internet. tell us about some of your experiences in MOO-space/MUD-space. i: well, i learned that privacy was a thing to be respected. i was just porting around, teleporting from room to room and i ported in one room and i said "hi" and i was basically blown out of the room, and i learned about the etiquette which is really important. i think that's common sense, but i think you have to have it or people are going to run amok. v: what's the appeal of MOO-space or MUD-space? you spend a lot of time there. i: i like the interaction aspect where it's like having a phone conversation with five or six different people at once. my typing speed has increased, so that's a plus. v: side effect? i: side effect/plus. i was really into role playing games when i was in high school, and i dropped out of that when i got to college, and this has got me hooked back into that again. it kind of reminds me of Zork in that way but it's a lot more interactive in the fact that you can build things on the game. I'm just learning how to do that as well, which i think is really neat. v: do you see it in any way as a MUD being a sort of forced participation kind of usenet? in usenet it's asynchronous, you can not post and just read. in a MUD you almost have to speak. i: yeah, i can see it that way. it's a lot more relaxed to some extent. v: not as much flaming? i: right. v: or would people just ignore you? did you ever get flamed? i: it seemed that ninety-nine percent of the people that i hung around with, they were really nice and courteous and you could ask the dumbest questions and they would help you out a lot which i find to be really, um, nice. it's just a friendly kind of atmosphere and i'm surprised that it took me this long to find out about it. v: so just inferring from what you told us about being leery about posting to usenet, i would think that you would be in the camp that would say "a voice on the net can be powerful"? i: yes, it can v: and you have to be careful how you use it? i: right, exactly. the thing with usenet is the same thing with printed media but not as much, i mean it's... v: the closest to print? i: right. the stuff doesn't hold up in court right? v: we'll see. i: hellllloooo tippper... [laughing] i: but comparing it to a MUD, if you say something you can kind of retract it and say "look i'm sorry, i didn't mean to say that," whereas if you post it on usenet, it's there and people are going to read it and pass it on to other people v: have you joined any listservs or anything like that? i: well, i'm on *yours*... that's really it though i haven't gotten into mailing lists that much. still a newbie. v: we've been doing a lot of thinking about that especially for this issue, what constitutes a newbie? because you've been on since May and we haven't been on much longer, but a lot of people around the net wouldn't consider us to be newbies. i: right, i think it has to do with what you use the internet for, whether it's for recreation or for something serious v: can you tell the difference, i'm not always sure i can anymore? it's a big question, have you been to MediaMOO? i: yeah v: well that's supposed to be a serious MOO. But what about Lambda, what is Lambda for? What do you see it used for, why? i: why does it exist? Oh man! that's a really heavy question! v: do you see it as a social thing, as entertainment? i: yeah, i see it as a social thing, but i also notice that in certain conversations people will specifically talk about things like programming or if you go to any of the news rooms or the mail room there will be things dedicated to specific topics. v: do you see any possibility of that sort of thing being used for... i: real things? v: yeah, like having a class there or say, business meetings? i: yeah i think it's possible, i can't make any predictions or anything. i think that in the couple articles i've read about it they always say at the last part of the article "wouldn't it be neat for congressmen and congresspeople to have these sorts of meetings" v: the term virtual community is being kicked around a lot particularly in relation to MOO-space and that's Lambda, Media, the prime examples of social spaces that might in some sense be communities, what do you make of that? do you feel a part of a Lambda community or even an overall net.community? i: it does have this sense of belonging or being in a special kind of club or anything and that's a good feeling to have. v: have you met people that you talk to over the net now on a regular basis that you consider yourself friends with? i: yeah, it's kind of strange, it's like having a pen pal that you can talk to every day without knowing what they look like or what they do. You know i kind of feel like i'm missing out on a lot of stuff. v: and how do you feel you're going to find that? i: i'm going to have to come to a point where i'm going to need to accumulate vast amounts of information v: what do you think you need? do you need location information or a knowledge of UNIX? i: UNIX and location. v: so you think it's a dual language thing? i: yeah, yeah. v: do you have sense of what it is you're not getting to yet? what are the next couple of things you want to tackle? i: i'd like to work out the gopher system a little bit more, and i don't know, i just feel like there's a lot of information that i'm not accessing, which i could be but i'd have to have a purpose to it, i can't just run around and access information randomly, i think that's important too. and that's probably the main reason that i've been MOO-ing and MUD-ing is because that's the only real purpose i've had for it besides e-mail. v: how powerful do you think your voice is, and maybe, how powerful do you think it could be? what's your sense of how far you're heard and with the resources at your disposal? i: i think i could be really loud if i wanted to, but at this point i don't feel comfortable enough with the internet to start shooting my mouth off, i don't think i would want to do that. v: do you really feel that the people who shoot their mouths off necessarily have all that much importance to say? i: i think in everything they say, there's probably a couple of nuggets of things that are good v: pretty low signal/noise ratio. i: right, right, right, you can tell that usually by the responses that they get, which sometimes they can be ridiculous just, it seems they are wasting a lot of space just to tell one person that they are stupid for thinking this. which i think is unfair, but.. v: do you have a sense of the international scope of the net? are you a citizen of the electronic world? yet, are you dealing with people from other countries? i: kind of, in that in the MOOs and MUDs there have been people from other countries log in there and we'll "where are you from? blah, blah, blah," "oh i'm from England", "oh wow" to that extent i do but i don't think i would if i wasn't accessing information from another country. v: you said before you felt like a newbie. how long do you think it will take you not to? what do you think you will have to know? what position will you have to be in not to be a newbie? do people call you a newbie, and does it bug you? i: only when i do something that is obviously newbie, like i'll just type in a command wrong or something, and then, [kathunk] "Newbie!" but usually people don't know unless you do something different than that. i found it reassuring that a lot of people that i talk to, i asked "are you really into this programming thing?" and they're like "no, i don't know the first thing" v: so that's a pretty friendly place? i: yeah, that makes me feel relaxed. v: the original question was when do you think you won't consider yourself new? i: i think, oh boy, i would like to know more about gophering, i would like to ftp to sites without looking down at the directions every time i do it, v: what can you do so that other people can see that you're not a newbie? i: i think maybe having a more active voice on the net. in a way i feel like a faceless person among a million other faceless persons. ========= __NET BIO: INDIGO__ Sometimes we don't have to go out and find voices. Sometimes they come to us. (That's the way we met one of next issue's featured folks.) The following bit appeared on the FutureCulture e-list (and is reprinted with the full permission of the poster). The then-current thread concerned how people came to the net originally. And we present Indigo's history as only one of many wonderful net.life stories presented there... Subject: Re: net.auto.biography =) 5th Grade Pong! by Atari 6th Grade Atari 2600 (Pacman, Space Defenders, Defenders) 7th Grade Sinclair (broke that in 2 weeks) 7th Grade Apple II, IIe (Mom brought home from school on the weekends and I took programming classes on it During the summer but most of all it sat in the basement gathering dust next to me Atari 2600) =) 9th Grade C64 (Bought this to write papers and play games... no more programming) College Macintosh! ! ! ( Lewis and Clark College is moving to an all mac campus ) Junior Year Internet Email Account. *cheer* The Graduate Account on Netcom $19.50 month for everything I could want. The employee Am Getting more and more of my aqquaintances on the net. I think my family is joining cause it's the only way to reach me most of the time =))) :-( The first thing I disoverd was USENET, then Email (not mail lists yet), then FTP. FTP was the godsend. Thru ftp I found maillists (fc [FutureCulture] included), muds, gopher and IRC (which I never got to work until three months ago) One thing you might notice that is conspicuously absent from my chronology is the world of BBSing. I didn't know what those were till I ftp'd Zamfields BBS list. I was like "WOW. if I'd know these existed when I was in High school, I might have kept up with my programming classes. Not knowing programming is something I regret more and more everyday. If someone knows of a good way to learn C or C++, that doesn't cost much, I'd appreciate it. As it stands I know just a little bit of LPC from LPmuds that I've wizzed on =) ... Want I want to have is a stronger feeling of how scripts work (an accounting package my company is looking at is based on C++ and scripting) and how to code simple programs to streamline some of the stuph I repeat everyday here on Netcom. Now... I've surfed a lot of the net, but each day I find 3 or 4 new places I want to check out.. that might have something totally new to me, or have something I want to share with FC folx (my primary home on the net) or the folx I am introducing to the net. The future ??? -- Indigo ============ FEATURE: _Adam Curry_ On with our "newbie" issue--although, as you'll see, Adam Curry is not exactly new to computers. Last spring, at about the same time that _Sassy_ and Billy Idol were making their respective splashes hereabout, Adam also appeared, with much of the usual MTV fanfare. Adam quickly made his presence felt on the rec.music hierarchy, and ran a video rating party on IRC. That the response was mixed is something that should come as no surprise to anyone. So, rather than rattle on anymore, perhaps we'll just let Adam take it from here... A "Brief" (sure, Adam ;) Bio: Born and raised in the US., Adam Curry made his first broadcasting mark on radio and television in Europe, where he lived from 1972 to 1987. Living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, he was the host of the hit television show "CountDown", a daily music television show with guests and live performances. CountDown is broadcast in 22 different countries in Europe, and Adam was named "Most popular European TV and radio personality" for three consecutive years. Curry was also the host of several other radio and television programs for the biggest Dutch broadcasting company "Veronica" Adam Curry's background includes production and directing credits on numerous radio and television projects, in Europe and the United States. In 1987 Adam Curry began working for MTV, hosting "The Top 20 Countdown." Curry co-writes the show and is involved in production and hosting of several other MTV programs. Adam was also involved in the production and hosted MTV's "Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award" and "The Moscow Music Peace Festival." Since the beginning of 1989 Adam has also been a host on New York's number 1 Top 40 radio station WHTZ (Z-100) doing both morning and alternately afternoon drive timionally syndicated call-in radio talk/music show produced by Endless Summer Entertainment. He is also host, writer and producer of "The Buzz" a twice-daily radio feature, syndicated by Endless Summer. Other radio ventures include "Pepsi's Top 30 HitList with Adam Curry", where he is host and co-executive producer. As of this writing Adam Curry has just re-negotiated his agreement with MTV to continue his hosting, writing and production duties for 2 weekly shows on Saturdays and Sundays. Adam is also active in the field of acting> He studied for 2 years Jackie Segal in New York, and has appeared on NBC's "Another World" and just recently appeared as a special guest star in a lead role in an episode of "Swamp Thing," entitled "Smoke and Mirrors." >"Brief" enough for ya? >But, wait! There's more! Take it away, Mr. Curry... <Voices> What areas have you explored on the net? How much have you >done? To what uses have you put the online environment, either >personally or professionally? Since I've been on the Net for a relatively short time, I first got acquainted with the options that are mot common; FTP, telnet, IRC, Finger etc. All very new and mysterious, especially for someone coming from 5 years of Compu$erve and "cushy" GUI's! It took me a while to figure out that Gopher could get me a desired file faster than FTP in most cases. I have done some "ratings" tests on music videos and through that created the "Curry-Curve". Check out the rec.music.video newsgroup for more on the tests and how to participate. <Voices> What areas of the net have you enjoyed most, and least? What >has been the appeal, or lack thereof, of these particular >environments? I enjoy the newsgroups the most the most, specifically all the Mac related topics, and enjoy telnetting through the cyber-universe. <Voices> Generally, are you having a good time? Have you been made >welcome, or at least found some comfortable spaces? Aside from the fact that EMail now takes up more time than it should, which I'm sure will subside over time, I'm loving every instant of the InterNet. I'm also subscribe to several very cool lists, like the one from The Netherlands. I grew up Amsterdam you see, so I still get to keep current on news there. <Voices> The question that we keep asking, of interviewees and of >ourselves, is what it might mean to be a "voice from the net." >Cyberpace is a big place. How easy have you found it to be >"heard"? how hard or easy do you imagine it to be for the >"average user"? It appears to me to be extremely easy for one single "voice on the Net" to be heard loud and clear globally. The "beauty part" of the Net if you will, is the anonymity of it. Even I could have chosen to be any alias I wanted. More than once have I had conversation with Netters, when later their picture showed up in some trade mag and I thought to myself, "Wow, I might never have spoken to that person" or "Never thought someone who looked like that could be that insightful." Now I'm not a prejudiced person by nature, but it just shows how we deprive ourselves of many interesting contacts and relationships outside of cyberspace. On the Net, all are equal, and I can't wait for the day that users around the globe can converse simultaneously using their own language, yet receiving messages translated to their native tongue instantaneously. <Voices> Having followed the discussions in various Usenet groups, we >know that your appearance on the net was not universally >applauded. There's been a certain amount of Adam Curry and MTV >bashing. How has that affected you and your experiences? Were >you expecting the flames? Ha, Flamers, one of the Net's truly overrated "features." Here's what happens most of the time: someone flames me severely in a NewsGroup. I respond to that person, usually by Mail, as not to clutter up the group, and they will most likely respond with a much kinder attitude. Wise man once say: The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword. That makes my PowerBook an AK-47 ;-) <Voices> The "buzz" on the net has you pegged as a "newbie." Had you >had any online experience before the MTV assignment? First let me be very clear about my computer background: I have been fooling around with them ever since my dad brought me home a Sinclair ZX, with a whopping 3K memory upgrade module. I soon "graduated" to the Commodore "Vic-20", on to the 64, and via a Mac+, II, N140, PB170, and finally now to my Duo 230 with Docking station. I've been on BBS's and American Online, CI$, Genie, MCI-Mail, AppleLink, esistreet, and now the Internet. I had read so much about it that I really wanted to check it out. So I got an account at a NY commercial pdial, "panix" and set off to Netting. MTV had nothing to do with it at all. In fact, they are still trying to boot up the WANG ;-) Not Kidding either! <Voices> We're talking about new voices, but in some sense you never had >a chance to be "new"--at least as far as most of the net was >concerned. Similar things have happened to the folks from _Sassy_ >on MindVox , and to Billy Idol with his Well account. How might >your situation be different from that of a new voice that has none >of the instant affiliations (MTV, etc...) that your voice does? Have >netfolx been responding to Adam Curry or to MTV? First things first, I think Billy Idol may be a bit of a poser when it comes to the "cyberpunk" bit. I interviewed him last month on the Top 20 Countdown for MTV, and I threw some real easy stuff at him, like, "I'm on the InterNet too" he went "Huh?, oh you mean you got EMail too?" Yeah, thanks Bill..... I believe that the Net functions like a global "neighborhood cafe" where we can always find someone to help us out with a question or problem we have, be it computers, travel, sex... It's endless. So let me be the MTV "connection", not that I can assure you that Rush will be played Thursday night at 9:07pm, cause I don't program the place, but I'm happy to investigate stuff, and try to make some issues more understandable, but most of all, I like to bs with everybody about anything, and always turn to my "cyberfriends" for an answer first. <Voices> There is a great deal of posturing, imposture and role-playing >online. Some of us use screen-names. Some create personas that are >very different from there personalities in "real-life." To what >extent has the Adam Curry that we've seen on rec.music.video and >IRC been a net-persona or an MTV-persona? Do you feel more, or >less, free either to "be yourself" or to play around when you're >online? Good point, and I believe you are who you think you are, and since we are only dealing with direct mind-terminal-terminal-mind structure, you can't almost help but be yourself. No, the guy you see on MTV is definitely a bit different from the one you see on the Net. I always tell my wife, if I can find out to make as much money with computers as with MTV and radio, I'd chuck it all immediately. Sounds kinda funky, huh? True though. And perhaps the only way is to "Just Do It." (Sorry Nike) Perhaps one day I will. <Voices> Will you stick around? Have your experiences online made you >want to continue as part of the Internet community? Are there >things you haven't done "out here" that you still want to do? I'm always building on my connection software, I need to get a SLIP connection in order to use most Mac InterNet tools, and have decided to give UNIX a whirl as well. panix has a tutorial program that I intend to master one of these days. I also hope to continue using the Net and it's users for my "Curry-Curve" ratings tests. <Voices> Finally, what are you up to these days, personally or >professionally, that you would like to share? I have just signed a three year agreement to produce two television shows for syndication in the US. The first is "On the Road with Adam Curry," where I visit the homes of musical superstars around the world. Elton John, Jon Bon Jovi, Eddie Money and Lionel Ritchie will be featured in the first 4 shows, set to air in February. The other program will start airing fall 1993, and is entitled "RAVE." I go to underground "Rave-Parties" in 12 separate major European cities. RAVE is music-intensive, highlighting house and techno music. >LATE-BREAKING NEWSFLASH! Since we talked to Adam, he has made good on his intention to stick around these virtual parts, and has begun work on an electronic news-service called..."CyberSleaze." The first installments were released to the net a few weeks ago, and then publication ceased, but Adam promises that the service will return very soon--at a site of its own, MTV.com. Stay tuned... ============= A SHOuT IN THE DARK "In a way I feel like a faceless person among a million other faceless persons." --Ivan K. Faceless, nameless, helpless. A new place is always a bit scary. How will you make your mark? Get people to notice you? Win friends and influence people? Survive? Social survival on the net is even more difficult, i think, than in rl. In previous issues we've talked about the shear size of the net being overwhelming. This is brought into pinpoint focus by listening to someone who has just arrived and opened the door to a room whose walls they can't see, whose ceiling they can't touch. Like the new student in school, bumbling around, trying to find his next class, the newbie on the net has no real sense of direction. And also like that new student, he must push on through the taunts of those who are already established, finding some who will help and become friends, and some who will try to steal your lunch money. The net seems, to me, like a new fraternity (phi kappa data?) in which the new members must go through initiation in order to become a part of the community. We all get spanked when we do something that puts off the "brothers." "What's a cyberpunk?" "What's William Gibson's email address? Try these on alt.cyberpunk. or how about.... Can somebody send me an ftp site for this stuff? Try that one out on alt.binaries.pictures.erotica. You'll get your initiation all right. It's called flaming, look it up. And then you get to be a member, a net.brother (yes i know this sounds sexist, but i think it IS more of a fraternity than a sorority). You get to laugh at the questions and defend with indignity your "right" to be here while others are simply here to jump the train called the internet (right Billy? Adam? Marjorie?). Well folks, it's time to get used to it. The net is going to grow, it's growing right now, exponentially. More and more people are going to enter this e-ticket ride, and I'm not saying we should be the smiling guy at the gate welcoming them and taking their tickets, but let's try to remember what it was like for us when we first arrived. Everyone has their own comfort zone. Some people like roller-coasters. Some like long, lingering walks on the beach. And some like it hot And some like it cool but like it or not, this is what we got a space age party that's never gonna stop.* Have you hugged your newbie today? see ya. [*special thanks to Sigue Sigue Sputnik for that last piece of wisdom] --NEURO ========== PREVIEWS: _Voices from the Net 1.3_ Next issue, we turn from the folks who make the voices to the circumstances under which they speak. We're talking to a couple of experts in the field of translating the world of computers into a language us regular folks can understand. Harley Hahn, author of "A Student's Guide to UNIX" and a forthcoming guide to the Internet, will lead off, and, if all goes well (we've heard promises before), he'll be joined by David Pogue, author of "Macs for Dummies," MacWorld's "Desktop Critic" column, and the novel "Hard Drive." And, of course, all of the usual signal/noise... See ya then... ========== INFO "Voices from the Net" is an electronic magazine filled with interviews, and essays presenting the "voices" of folks from a wide variety of online environments. Its purpose is to be both entertaining and useful - net-literature and net-ethnography combined. The editors are committed to an exploration of as many of the odd corners of "cyberspace" as they can access, and they welcome readers to join them for the ride. "Voices from the Net" will appear on a more-or-less monthly schedule, and costs nothing. Subscriptions are available from the editors at: email@example.com Just send email with the subject "Voices" and the message "subscribe." It's easy. ARCHIVES "Voices from the Net", issues 1.1, 1.1.5 (supplement), and 1.2 are available in text-only and hypercard-compatible versions. The archive sites for the text-only version are: aql.gatech.edu /pub/Zines/Voices_from_the_Net uglymouse.css.itd.umich.edu /pub/Zines/Voices wiretap.spies.com /Library/Zines Hypercard versions are available at: aql.gatech.edu /pub/Zines/Voices_from_the_Net sumex-aim.stanford.edu /info-mac/recent And both versions are available to Mindvox subscribers in the uploads section of the archives. ============== ACCEPTABLE USE In a perfect world, we could just post this, send it out through the wires and forget about it. In a perfect world... In this world, we have things like copyright laws, legal permissions, the need to "own" one's words. This document is free, but it is not public domain. The individual authors retain the rights to their work. You may reproduce and distribute it. In fact, we encourage it. Spreading free information is part of what "Voices from the Net" is all about. Just keep it FREE. We hope that the zine will be useful as well as entertaining. If it seems useful to you, then use it. But be collegial. Cite your sources(*), and don't take liberties with the text. Respect the voices contained here. [* Thanks to Bruce Sterling for inspiration, and for support.] Voices from the Net 1.1, copyright 1993. ======================================================================
From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Oct 28 08:46:32 1993 Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1993 23:37:03 -0400 (EDT) From: shawn wilbur <email@example.com> Reply to: Voicesfirstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Subject: VoicesFromTheNet1.3 ************************** Can * VOICES FROM THE NET * you * VOICES FROM THE NET * --- hear * * our * 1.3 * Do voices * VOICES LANGUAGE * you ? * "Let's talk about Net" * read * * us --- * VOICES FROM THE NET * ? * VOICES FROM THE NET * ************************** There are a lot of folks with at least one foot in this complex region we call (much too simply) "the net." There are a lot of voices on these wires. - all kinds of voices - loud and quiet, anonymous and well-known. And yet, it's far from clear what it might mean to be a "voice" from, or on, the net. Enter "Voices from the Net": one attempt to sample, explore, the possibilities (or perils) of net.voices. Worrying away at the question. Running down the meme. Looking/listening, and reporting back to you. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- WARNING: USE ONLY AS DIRECTED. INTENTIONAL MISUSE BY DELIBERATELY CONCENTRATING AND INHALING THE CONTENTS CAN BE HARMFUL OR FATAL -------------------------------------------------------------------------- _1.3_ ISSN 1072-1908 ==== THIS ISSUE: --VOICES CARRY --SIGNAL/NOISE From: Malinda From: ChristJ From: Abaddon From: miekael Adam Curry Update --FEATURE: Harley Hahn --A SHOuT IN THE DARK --PREVIEWS --INFO/ARCHIVES/ACCEPTABLE USE ==== VOICES CARRY: prepositional quibbling On second thought... OK. Perhaps we've been talking about those "voices from the net" as if they were voices "on" or "in" the net, with these occasional echoes in our "real" lives. But is that it? From andy.bgsu.edu to aol.com, and then..? From: the Net To: ????? >From my brain to my fingers to the screen to your screen to your eyes to your brain... with a few dozen other stops along the way... Or farther, onto the printed page, into the flow of commerce and information in the "real" world. Perhaps it doesn't really matter where the voices go, if they "leave" the net at all. Certainly, when we started this project we intended little more than to mix things up, carry some voices, facilitate introductions all 'round. An occasional reminder of the diversity of net.folks is bound to have its positive effects, for all of us "out here." But preaching to the choir has its limitations. Have you ever tried to talk to someone about what you do "out here"? a: well, i was talking to my friend Yeroc the other day on the MOO... b: MOO..? talking..? OH! you mean on the computer, NOT *REALLY* TALKING!... Sound familiar? We face translation problems. It's not that we speak a totally alien tongue. In fact, its deceptively familiar ring may be disturbing to the uninitiated, just as the seriousness, the "reality," of net.life may be disorienting for newbies. So what does it take to bridge the gap between worlds, to make the net intelligible? In this issue, we're starting an exploration of that question, and, more broadly, of the ways in which our net.lives translate into "real" life. We've been lucky enough to find some folks with strong, sometimes comtroversial or even outrageous, opinions about the net, and about the world. You won't agree with everything they say. That's ok. Niether do we. But if you let that blind you to the strength and sincerity of the voices involved, then you'll lose out. Listen carefully, critically, but listen... --bookish ============== SIGNAL/NOISE Signal/noise: the ratio between the useful information in a given environment and the useless nonsense that inevitably accompanies it, even threatens to drown it out. It's a useful measure, as long as you don't need to reduce it to a number or something. But always remember: one net.entity's signal is another's noise. And an environment which one person finds objectionably noisy may seem serene to someone else. There are many voices out there - many kinds of voices - and many environments that affect how those voices appear to other folks across the wires. What follows is a dip into the ocean of such voices, presented in such a way as to preserve the feel of the particular environment. Much of it was generated on the spot in realtime interactive settings, and it has that mix of exciting spontenaity and confusion. It's up to you to decide what's signal and what's noise. >Letters, we get letters... Actually, we don't get a lot of mail from you >folks, but we certainly appreciate hearing from people who have read the >magazine. And sometimes the comments are more on the mark than you could >know. This note, for instance, in response to issue 1.1, addressed >several of the same issues as the interviews in 1.2: Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1993 13:21:23 -0400 (EDT) From: Malinda To: Voicesfirstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Voices From The Net I have 1.1, would like to subscribe & to receive back issues I have missed. Very good articles/personalities/content. FYI, I MUD as Ghislaine and often find myself thinking in the third person.... and I type smilies on mail now....most folks miss it, wonder what the colon close parenthesis means (I omit the n dash). I am a newbie, I just learned about the Net in January and was able to access it in March or April. I discovered the joy of newsgroups and participated on some of the chattier ones (like alt.romance...somehow I became the grande aunt/doyenne, since I am older than most netdenizens--27, I think...would have to count back to be sure--and since I have a "happy, normal, satisfying" relationship with a MOTAS--Member of the Appropriate Sex--in my case a male named Steven. :] ) It got tiring being a doyenne/maven/what-have-you. I'd get congratulated on my common sense. One thing that was not touched on is the common problem ladies gripe about: net.harrassment. Here are some of the things I have experienced or heard about: 1) Strangers getting your e-mail address and logging on to "talk" and pretending they know you. They ask progressively more personal questions, etc., and since you can't see or hear the person, you are left wondering if you do know them. 2) I was quoted in a reply to a thread that was posted to alt.sex.** and I got a mailbox full of propositions as a result. I couldn't figure it out until I realized I was crossposted. The only appropriate response seemed to be "go away, I was crossposted, not interested", but some of the strangers were more gross and more persistent. 3) In a MUD, was harrassed by a wizard who broke the MUD's rules about bothering players. I was encouraged to report details by the player I was with at the time, the wizard was demoted. Some witnesses noted that the reactions of the ex-wiz and of my player character were similar to those studied in their rape awareness classes at their universities. 4) I am not interested in MUD/MUSH/MOO marriage, but surely some people out there could provide useful info for you. 5) Spamming/clotting mailboxes-mailbombing: Spamming can be used as offense or defense. (Spamming = flooding the screen with "soul commands", similar commands, chatter, etc.) Mailbombing: never ask anyone on a less-cerebral newsgroup to send you anything. A request on alt.humor for an ASCII picture resulted in one person sending me three long art files that took up 40% of my filespace. ... Lastly, Ed Krol writes a lot of books that helped me, as a newbie, surf the Net with some ease. I have his e-mail address and was desperate one day with a net question and he kindly took the time to respond to me. He might be an interesting personality to look up.... And lest I forget, Kibo. :) RIP Robert McElwaine: Un-altered REPRODUCTION and DISSEMINATION of this IMPORTANT Information is ENCOURAGED. For a newer but equally irritating net.nerd, try Riley G. [Matthews] on sci.skeptic. Joel Furr[fu] is a net.personality enamoured of lemurs. I am sure you have met all three in your net travels. Alt.callahans is a "space" where folx meet to chat and play and pretend. It is *very* loosely based on Spider Callahan's books. It is like a MUD in that people adopt personalities and chat thru them. As I said, sometimes I MUD (mostly for chat) and some of the better chatting is on marble.bu.edu 5000 (a diku)....I pick nicknames only for the anonymity/safety aspect. Most folks know all about me as I don't hide my RL name or whatever once I know the people better. I am often Ghislaine. No particular reason for the name. :) Hope this is useful info. :) Malinda * * * >Some messages come to us by more roundabout routes. This one came through >the Future Culture list, when we can often be found, from our old pal, >ChristJ (no relation...) Date: Sun, 1 Aug 1993 01:33:15 -0400 From: ChristJ Reply to: Future Culture <FUTUREC%UAFSYSB.BITNET@PSUVM.PSU.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list FUTUREC <FUTUREC%UAFSYSB.BITNET@PSUVM.PSU.EDU> Subject: in praise of "Voices" Good job bookish and CZ and everyone who made the first issue of voices a freakin godsend for me. On the verge of net boredom/burnout I got the chance to remember why i love this place so much in the first place. Jesus (not me actually) I can't even remember how I got here, let alone how I'm gonna get back. Good thing I dont wanna go back. Man, I'm kinda tired... Butthead: "huh huh. Voices is cool. huh huh" Beavis: "Yeah. voices kicks ass" [stupid rock video] Kinda makes me wonder how it all began. How does the net become so much a part of someones life that you start thinking "Oh, I need to @create a note to write this down on" only to remember that you don't have a RL programmers bit. Who is the damned RL sysadmin anywayz!? Yikes... I am getting worked up here. Better not feel emotions or anything. Can't have that. Nah. The net is just a bunch of computers, right? ones and zeros, ons and offs. What kinda weirdo takes it and integrates it into a very real part of real life? You know how it is... You go to the mailbox and read your mail. Oh. Yeah, there is a mailbox outside too, not just the one that you get e-mail in. No good UPS system here for shipping bikes and t-shirts over the net yet though. Gotta post that to the MOO projects list. Or something. The net as religion is something we brought up here before isn't it. I really don't know how much experience anyone here has with RL religions, but I can draw some major parallels myself. Prayer/spew/rant/post. Its all the same. There is a reason that they call this a virtual community. ... (quick question, and I feel like this is getting really long and probably boring... "I feel these wires" - andy ... do we all feel the same wires, or do we make our own? whose RL is this anywayz?) ___________________________________________________________________________ <> ChristJ <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> Citizen of Earth <> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ * * * >The importance of the ethical dimensions of cyberspace, and its place in >the midst of more general strivings for a better world also occupy Abaddon: Date: Mon, 2 Aug 93 15:32:56 PDT From: Abaddon To: Voicesemail@example.com Subject: Comments on Issue #1 Several times, both in the interviews and in the on-line session logs, comments were made to the tune of "you are only just one voice, and in the larger scheme of things, relatively insignificant." While for many people that may well be true, it seems that for someone who is hip-deep in c-space one voice can be much more than one voice. Take a peek back through history -- Hitler, Lincoln, Washington, Khan, Lysander, Socrates. These to were only single voices, many with much less of a medium of transmission than the Net. (FYI, do to circumstances beyond my control, my current job only has VM interface to the Net. Gads. Thus explains the poor formatting. :-) [Never fear, Shawn, we cleaned it up before we published it.] As I was saying, the "power" of your voice is not in direct numbers, but in the number of people that it influences. Whether in c-space or in RL, people crave the same things, have the same base desires. One of the reasons that the Net is so popular is it means never having to be alone. Take a look at "Being and Nothingness" by Sartre. The Net is the newest, biggest, bestest (tm) way for some people to secure their own reality. Weird concept, huh? Founding yourself in a virtual world? But it is the interaction with others, so Sartre would have us believe, that you attempt to ground yourself. The trick, then, if you are searching for power out in Net.World, is to do the same things you would in RL. That is, understand the needs of others and exploit them shamelessly. Everyone wants something, has a missing part of themselves, and the Net is one of the easier ways to try and fill that. Notice, I said easier, not necessarily better. The Net is just another entertainment, just another tool. The important difference, as was noted before, is that you have some measure of control, albeit a small one. I've been riding the waves, so to speak, for over five years now, and the Net still manages to surprise me almost daily. The variety of humanity is a well that will not be fathomed (although you can come close with some good ol fashion generalities. :-) I suppose after all this, the main point would be something along these lines: Decide your goals. The Net is no more nor less than one more way of achieving what you want, whether it be your own satisfaction, that of others, or something completely beyond the realm of current society. Once you know what you want, the Net is a very powerful tool to achieve your ends. I would just hope that in doing so, making your own dreams into your own realities, that you would take the time to look around you, and give aid to those perhaps not so focused or fortunate as yourself. Single voices do have the power, hopefully the denizens of the Net will use it more wisely than the rest of Humanity has in the past. Shawn AKA Abaddon I wont mention this VM-address-poor-substitue-for-a-connection-thing. Much too horrible a thing to contemplate. * * * >Finally, we received this note from miekael (of Spunk Press), answering >our favorite question: Date: Tue, 22 Jun 93 09:47:22 +0200 From: miekael To: bookish Subject: Voices from the Net: Request for.... To hear a voice from the net is the same thing as getting a phone call in the middle of the night from Sweden with someone shouting "WAKE UP!" Simultaneously about 25,000 other people recieves an identical phone call and all you know is that you're shouting back in the phone, crossing the atlantic in milliseconds. This is true interactivity, this is what the net is all about. Miekael * * * >And, finally... >Did I already say that? Well, more than finally then... An update: Adam Curry invites everyone to check out his new site: mtv.com and look for his new e-tabloid: _Cyber-Sleaze_ Really! go check it out! anonymous ftp to mtv.com is a good way to start... ============== FEATURE: _Harley Hahn: Author_ Harley Hahn found us, very soon after we started Voices. One day we received a surprisingly enthusiastic note in our mailbox, suggesting that we might want to be listed in a soon-to-be-published Internet guide, and that, while we were at it, we might also want to interview the author. Harley assured us that he had many interesting and controversial things to say. He hasn't let us down. It might have been a simple "you scratch my back and i'll scratch yours" sort of exchange, a publicity swap (and a little publicity never hurt a new publication), but we hope you'll agree that what we got was a lot more than just self-promotion. What follows is the result of a telephone interview that lasted well over an hour, and it covers a lot of ground. But so, apparently, does Harley Hahn. He's a "internationally recognized author, analyst and consultant, specializing in Unix and other operating systems." He's written a number of books, including _Peter Norton's Guide to Unix_ (with Peter Norton), _A Student's Guide to Unix_, and the newly published _The Internet Complete Reference_ (with Rick Stout). He has a degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Waterloo in Canada, and a graduate degree in computer science from the University of California at San Diego. And Scott Yanoff said nice things about his Internet guide... So now let's hear what Harley has to say: <Voices> We were looking over the introductions to your two books [Student's Guide to Unix, Internet Complete Reference] and it seems to us that maybe you have something like a cosmology of the Internet-Unix linkup here, a sort of big picture which is driving a lot of what you are doing. Some of the other people we've talked to have quibbled over the question about "What is the Net?" Do you want to start by tackling that question? <Harley Hahn> Well you know, there are lots of questions in life that sound simple but they don't really have satisfying answers and I think that that's one of them because there's no real good definition of it. If you maybe take a simpler question and ask "What is Unix?" v: yes h: People can say it's an operating system, but it's a lot more than that. People can say it's a family of operating systems, but other people say it's a collection of tools for solving problems for smart people or other people say it's really an approach to solving problems, and other business oriented people say it's a computer system which runs a certain type of software with certain interfaces. And you come down to the fact that there's lots of questions in life and in the world of computers that sound like a question because they're a sentence and they have a question mark at the end and if it sounds like a question then it should have an answer, but it really doesn't have a good answer. So the real answer is that, depending on who you are, the question has different answers, and even then the answer may change over time. I guess I can give you three answers to the question "What is the Net?" The first one is: You can say that the Net is just the short form for Internet, and the Internet is this large collection of other networks and it's a physical thing that actually exists with phone lines and computers and data being stored all over the place and so on. That's what the Internet is and "the Net" just stands for the Internet. The second answer is: A lot of people when they say "the Net" mean Usenet. They mean where the discussions go on. So you could say that Usenet is a system of discussion groups all over the world and then "Net" is just an abbreviation for Usenet. I find that in practice people kind of switch back an forth between the two definitions, sometimes when they say "the Net" like someone says "I need a recipe" and someone says "Why don't you ask on the Net" then they're clearly talking about Usenet. Sometimes when somebody says "I'd like to send you email are you on the Net?" they're talking about the Internet because Usenet doesn't have electronic mail. So "the Net" can mean Internet, "the Net" can mean Usenet, but that's not what the most interesting meaning to me. The most interesting meaning is that it's sort of a global gathering place. It certainly doesn't involve everyone in the world, not even most people in the world, not even most people in the United States and Europe and Japan and the developed countries, but it's the largest gathering of human beings that has ever existed in the history of mankind and it's getting larger and larger and it looks like it's going to be the ancestor of something that eventually everybody will be able to gather whenever they want. So that's what i think of "the Net". I don't think of it as meaning only the Internet or meaning only Usenet. I think of it as meaning a network of people that right now depends on the Internet and right now the discussion groups depend on Usenet, but you could take away the Internet and put in a different infrastructure, and you could take away Usenet and put in a different way to have discussion groups, but we would still have "the Net." We would still have that gathering. v: For an unanswerable question you handled that quite nicely. h: Can I point out why i think that is significant? v: sure h: I'll try to say it in a few sentences. If somebody says "hey try this new word processing program", there are word processing programs that already exist so it's not really new it's just a new variation. And if you've only typed on a typewriter and someone says "try this new word processing program" it's a lot more new to you because you've never seen anything like it, but still you've typed on a typewriter, and even before then you've written stuff down on paper. The thing about "the Net" is that it is something that has never existed ever before in the history of human beings. It's not like in the way that a word processing program is just more automatic or computerized than typing which might be more mechanical than writing on paper. "The Net" is not just something that we already have to a larger scope because if you connect everybody with email it's not the same as a large email network. The character and the quality of it change. There's a size, i don't think it's an exact size, but once you get over a certain size it becomes more than just a large version of something you already have. So the significance of "the Net" is not that it's just a large gathering, because certainly there have been gatherings of human beings since there have been human beings. I call it a large gathering but that's because I don't have a better word. It's something that never existed before in the history and culture of human beings and that's why it's significant. Its sheer size ties the world together, or it's beginning to, in a way that nobody even imagined was possible. v: Something like an actual collective consciousness? h: Well, I think that's the first thing that you might start thinking about because you talk about something that's greater than the sum of its parts, but I think that say in fifty years when you look back and when it's pretty well understood what this "Net" thing is, it may be called something different by then. People will say the idea that it is a collective consciousness was maybe a good way to start thinking about it but it was kind of a rudimentary, naive way. It's really a lot more than that. It's a lot more than a collective consciousness, and I don't even know that it's a collective consiousness really. I know that ever since the beginning of time it seems whenever human beings have had a chance to communicate, they do. They get together. Whenever there's a chance to send messages they do, and the "Net" that we're building, it seems like we don't know why we're building it, and we're almost unconscious that we're building it, but collectively we are trying to connect up to one another as much as possible. But I think that's it's more than a group consciousness, it's very much individual consciousness that's doing things. For example, yesterday I connected to IRC (ed. Internet Relay Chat) and I could talk with anyone who happened to be on there, and that's not a collective consciousness at all because it's just me talking to individuals, and yet qualitatively I think that's different than say talking to you on the phone right now. v: You have mentioned (in previous conversations) some of the new social organizations that are happening on the Net... h: There's new social organizations, yes, and that's probably a better word, although it's longer, than gathering. I think when you say social organizations, you're saying people are organizing themselves in new ways, and we don't have a word to describe it yet so we'll call it social organization and then later we'll get some more familiar terms. What I'm saying is we need a vocabulary. In order to discuss things you have to have words to represent the ideas, and we don't have enough words yet to represent all the new ideas of the things we're creating or the things that are happening out of our creations. So we call it "the Net", but that's not a good word. What we need are new words that don't have any connotations and the only meanings they have are representations of all these new things that are happening, but those new words have not yet arisen so we can talk about social organization but then we have to be vague. v: There is of course that whole net.language, to use the form in which it rears its ugly head all the time, that's developed that seems to work on the model of attaching prefixes and suffixes and all of that... h: We have to make a distinction between two types of things. There are words that are used on the Net but then there are words that are used to talk about the Net. Some words are in both. There are abbreviations and slang that people on the Net use, but that's the same everywhere. You go to a part of a city that has it's own culture or a part of the country or a different country, they all have their own slang and their own words that nobody else understands. At a level beyond that, what we need are words to talk ABOUT the Net and how it's important, and what it's like to use it, and what it means to us as human beings. Maybe a good example is the word newsgroup. You use the word newsgroup on the net, and it's slang, and it means something, but newsgroup we can call a meta-word, a word to talk about ideas and other words. Newsgroup is a concept now that we're beginning to understand, and now we can sort of understand what that means so we can talk about newsgroups. We need a whole lot of new words like newsgroup to talk about the ideas. We can talk about a gopher and we can talk about newsgroups and there's probably some other things. What we're missing are all the words to talk about what the whole thing means on a larger scale. v: Yes, you've done some work which is very much related to this business of establishing ways of talking about the net both in the work you've done in trying to make UNIX accesible and now the new book on making the Internet accesible. Do you see part of your role there as at least working towards that meta-language? h: Yes, but i don't think about that primarily. In one sense I do. I'm very careful how I use words, and of course most of my books, almost every word, is written in regular English, but when you come to the terms that aren't regular English I think carefully about how I want to use them. For an example, when I write UNIX I'll write it with a "U" but then a "nix" because to me Unix is not just a brand name and people are starting to realize that now. That's a simple one. I see my books, because so many people read them and because they are about what I call important subjects, that I'm very careful how I use the new words because one of the criteria we use for how we should use and spell a word is what we see in print. So I know if I put it in a book and tens or hundreds of thousands of people read it, that in a sense becomes a tiny bit of authority. I try to use the words in a way that I want people to use them. I spell Unix the way I think people ought to spell Unix, and I talk about it that way. The same way as I talk about a newsgroup. I use the word newsgroup in the new modern meaning of a Usenet discussion group. I don't call it net.news for instance. Some people do. I call it Usenet because I want people to call it Usenet. I want to codify that word. I think one of the most interesting words that you can see that is becoming part of the vocabulary is RTFM. To me RTFM is a great word because it's becoming a word in its own, and I want to help it become a word in its own, and it doesn't have any vowels so I think that's pretty neat. To me the idea of RTFM grew out of the original meaning which was an acronym which meant Read The Fucking Manual, and it meant nothing more than that. It just meant read the manual before you ask somebody a question, but now RTFM means a much broader idea. It means that you should try to help yourself before you ask for help. It means the other side of that coin that if somebody who has tried to help themselves and they ask you for help than you have an obligation to help them. RTFM is very important because the Net is so large that it is literally impossible for everybody to be taught what they need to know to use it, so it needs a culture of teaching yourself. RTFM is a new net.word and I try to codify in my books by explaining it and using it as a word in this new language. We do have a few new words to talk about this new Net idea that exists, so in some small sense to answer your question, yes, I see one of my jobs as defining and codifying and exemplifying this new vocabulary so people around the world can use it. v: That's an interesting way of transforming that acronym from a snide retort to something between an ethics and an etiquette... h: Well, if you take any word in the dictionary and look it up in one of these large dictionaries that shows the history of the word you always see it started out somewhere, in English it's usually Greek or Latin, but it could have started of with an English word that meant something and then got turned into this and that, all our words came from somewhere. I noticed that RTFM was originally an acronym, and then people started using it like a verb, like "I RTFM'ed but I couldn't find the answer". And they started using it like a noun sometimes and so on, and people just do this because new words are formed all the time. When new ideas exist there's a vacuum until a new word comes along to express that idea. So the vacuums usually get filled fairly quickly, and one of my jobs is to notice these new words and to point them out to people and teach them the vocabulary. Not all the technical terms necessarily, but the vocabulary of ideas because they can't understand or think or talk about the Net until they have the words that express the ideas that are part of the Net. So it's much more important to learn these things than it is, say, some technical option for anonymous FTP or something like that. v: So you see part of your role as helping to establish a basic literacy? h: I think that's a good way of putting it, but I want to be very clear that I'm not making new stuff up and saying that anyone should be literate by repeating how I think it should be done. I'm more of an observer. I observe what the literate people on the Net do, how they talk, how they think, how they express themselves, what words they use, and then I write in that same language so when you read what I write you are really reading the language of the literate people on the Net. I guess if you read some books in English that are written to express the vocabulary and ideas of, say, the most educated people in our society, then by reading those books you can learn new words and you can learn ideas and you can learn how educated people think. In this sense, if you can read an Internet book that discusses things in the way that the most literate net.people do then you can start to become part of that culture, part of that society, and you want to aspire to learn how to think like the best people in your culture not like the mainstream more popular people in the culture. v: You talk quite a bit in your books about the global nature of the Net, and the fact that it is the largest gathering, and you say that people won't be excluded on the Net due to race or wealth or religion and all of those sorts of things. Are there ultimately going to be techinical hierarchies that are set up in terms of how well you can use the tools at hand? h: Can I turn that question around and change it a little bit? v: Certainly, feel free. h: Are there or will there be exclusions on the Net based on other criteria? The answer is definitely yes. You see, every group in society, even a large social organization... let me backtrack and say I don't think this is a huge global organization, I think it's a collection of small, ever-changing, coming in to being and then disappearing, smaller social organizations. anyways... Any social organization does exclude people, but on the Net they don't exclude people on the basis of what you look like. The exclusions are based on intelligence and ability so on the Net we don't discriminate against people of the wrong color. We discriminate against stupid people, And we don't discriminate against people who don't have enough money; we discriminate against people who are lazy. We don't discriminate against people who are the wrong religion; we discriminate against people who aren't willing to learn something so they can use a new tool. We don't discriminate against people who wear the wrong clothes; we discriminate against people who in a discussion don't have anything important to say or act like idiots. In a very crude way the Net discriminates/excludes stupid people. It's not supposed to be fair, but there's too much in life where you can be accepted even if you're sub-standard, and on the Net that doesn't work because you don't see anybody and you can have completely free choice in who you want to talk to. When you read Usenet articles which ones you want to respond to or pay attention to. If you want to say something bad about what someone said you can just go ahead and do it, and you also have enormous freedom to say and do whatever you want because you know you can't really hurt someone. If you send them a mean spirited reply to something they've posted in a newsgroup you know it doesn't hurt them really, not like if you discriminate against them and don't hire them for a job because you don't like their color or you hit them and take away their money or something. We have enormous freedom, and it's really a meeting of the minds. It's certainly not a meeting of the bodies or of the mouths or the ears or anything like that. I wouldn't say so much of a hierarchy, but as we organize ourselves into transient social units that there definitely is a premium put on people whose minds work better than other people's. For example, if you're talking on IRC, if there's five people in a conversation and one person has intelligent, interesting things to say, and the other person is kind of a dullard, doesn't have much to say, then the attention gravitates towards the person who has something more interesting to say, and so there's a discrimination there, a discrimination of ideas, and a discrimination of what really is worthwhile about human beings. Some people might feel it's worthwhile to be big and large and be a football player, but when you come right down to it what serves us most as human beings are people who are smart and have ideas and can be convincing and compelling. People who can teach other people, contributing ways where a mind can meet another mind. I think there's one thing that's very appealing to smart people about the Net is that you can go ahead and no matter what you're like in the other part of your life you can just go and let whatever brilliance you have shine forth and people will appreciate it. I think this is one of the things that's scary to other people. I don't mean people get scared at the beginning because it's a new society and they're not used to the nuances. Everybody feels that, but people who aren't very smart, people who are lazy, people who don't want to work hard, people who don't want to teach themselves something, they don't like it so much because for the first time they're actually being judged on what they're worth, and they can't get an incomplete and they can't do extra work to turn a C into a B and they can't show they're good because they earn more money or something like that. The only thing that makes them worthwhile is what they say and what they think and what comes out in words, it's not what they look like and I think that's scary to a lot of people, other people just lap it up and they love it. v: I guess we hesitate to use IRC as the only example because there are people who are more shy who do very well on the asyncronous environments like Usenet. h: That's a very good point. Everybody has different ways of expressing themselves and communicating. What's great about the Net is we've used this physical Internet and created all these types of communication that, if you like talking in real time you can talk in real time and if you like being thoughtful and thinking about what you're doing and writing it down and changing it you can talk in Usenet discussion groups where you have all the time you want, and different people who shine in different ways can find somewhere to shine on the Net. I guess the way I would put it is that the great thing about the Net is no matter what you're good at there's a place for you, there's nobody who doesn't have a place on the Net because the Net is made up of millions of people and although you may not get along with your neighbor, in a set of millions of people, there are going to be people there for you. v: That's a good way to talk about that. h: But there is an obligation, you see, we don't pay for the Net. You might pay twenty, thirty, fifty bucks a month to get access, you might have it for free because of where you work or where you go to school, but we don't really pay for it because there's this hugely enormous infrastructure and nobody pays for that. It's paid for by organizations and governments and so on out of taxes or tuition or whatever. We do have an obligation, but our obligation is not a monetary one. Our obligation is to educate ourselves and train ourselves to use the tools, to learn some etiquitte, to learn how to get along with other people, and to not back away from learning things that you can't just learn in ten seconds. We have an obligation to start using our brains here, and stop being lazy, and maybe stop watching so much television. I say that in a sense that whatever part of your brain is engaged when you watch television is the exact opposite of what's engaged when you're using the Net. The more you watch television, the harder it is to use the Net. The more you use the Net, the less satisfying television will be. v: Let's go back to the access question. It's a wealth issue, you have to have the money to afford a computer or afford an account, and then there's a lot of talk about commercialization/privatization issues, where do you think this is all going to work in as far as public access goes? h: One of the things we have to do on the Net is to stop being parochial. We have to learn that we're talking about more than just the United States here. Every country is organized differently, and there's vast changes, and vast differences in size. In the United States the Net I believe is going to become more and more commercial because the government is going to want to stop paying for it. In other countries, they're much smaller and I don't know if it could be supported by direct market competition, so the government will probably still support the Net. But within the United States, if I can answer your question, the Net will become more commercial, and I think what we will start to see is that access to the Net will be a lot more like access to the telephone system and access to the postal system in that there will be providers, at least in the short term. It won't be exactly like this, but it will be like cable tv, telephone, buying electricity, buying gas, putting stamps to send something. I don't know what exact form it will take, but I think that the government is going to get more and more out of the Net business and let private enterprise get more and more into the Net business. We may see the days when many people have free access to the Net start to disappear. We may have to start paying for it, but I think that the prices will be reasonable and it will be worth it. I think that it is going to become such an important part of many people's lives that we can't do without it. After all, no matter what it costs within reason, you have to have a telephone and you have to have access to the postal system and you pretty much have to be able to buy electricity and maybe gas if you need gas where you live, and the Net is going to be like that. There's a company in the northeast United States that is going to start selling net.access through cable. You can buy access to the Net by plugging your computer into a coax(ial) cable. You won't have to get a regular modem and dial up a host computer. The advantage of this is that the direct hook-up will be closer to the speeds of an ethernet network as opposed to the speeds of a regular modem. All these experiments that will start to happen in the United States over the next few years and we'll see what happens, which ones work out and which ones don't. There's going to be enormous change in the Net. There's something that just happened in the last year and it's hard to characterize, except we'll look back and we'll figure out what it was, that some great fundamental change happened in the Net and people are starting to perceive that it's a necessity of life, and now all of our culture, advertising, business, laws, government agencies, newspapers, public opinion is all going to start to be part of the Net like it is part of our newspapers, telephone, postal system and so on. We're going to embrace this part of our culture and things are going to change a lot. Could I talk about why I think the Net is important? v: Yes! Great! h: Of course we have email which we can't do without now, and we have gopher and Usenet and all these other things, but I think the Net is more important in another way. When you write books, it's a lot of work, and you have to sit home and you're all alone and you do all this work and you never get to meet the people who read the book and if they like them you never really get much praise from them because a book writer never really meets his audience. So you have to have an inner drive that keeps you going. One of them is certainly money because that's how I earn my living, and people who write books, if they don't write, they don't make money. But I have a much larger drive here, at least in writing about the Internet and UNIX, in that I think it has an importance that transcends the obvious things like email and gopher and so on. I think that it's the most important vehicle for world peace that we've ever had the chance to use yet. I trace back the events of the last twenty-five years that we really notice in the last five years the change in the Soviet Union, the changes in China which are happening, the Berlin Wall falling, the Arabs and Israelis talking together, many many changes I believe, why is this happening now, why not before? Because information flows freely now from place to place. I have a belief that inherently people are good, not everybody all the time, but as a race we are good people, whatever good means. If we are allowed free and unfettered communication, free and adequate communication between ourselves, we will want to be peaceful, we will want to help each other, we will want to get along. Over the last two generations as information began to be global with CNN news and satellites and all these things all over the place, that's when the world started to wake up and start working together and get along better. I think that the potential for the Net for people to communicate is much larger than the newspapers and radio and television. I see the Net as being our best hope, in fact, our inevitable hope and it definitely will happen, for the world finally starting to become a global community and everybody just getting along with everyone else. Now I don't mean this on a personal level, you'll still be fighting with the person next door, I mean that countries will start to get along. I mean that the economies of all the different countries and all the divisions within a country because of the Net and global trade and less tariffs and television, will become so dependent on one another that no one will be able to afford to make war anymore or to fight on a large scale and it will become unthinkable. For example, it's absolutely unthinkable for the United States to go to war with Japan now, even thought there is a history of animosity there in the past, the two economies are so tied together it would be like you going to war with your foot, you couldn't shoot yourself in the foot because it would end up killing you. The Net is tying together the world in such a way that the best of human nature comes out, and it's what is making the world more and more peaceful and more and more wonderful. It's the most important gift we have to leave the generations that come after us, and that's why it's so important for me to make the Net, and to make UNIX accesible to people. Until people learn what they need to use these social organizations, none of this can happen. The more people that learn how to use the Net, the more people participate in these transient social organizations, and the faster we evolve into a wonderful human culture that is really our birthright. I think we're just starting to see the potential of human beings, and the Net is starting to do that for us. In a very narrow sense, and I'm being ignorant here, but that all of human culture and history and effort so far has been sort of concentrating just so we can all get connected up together, and finally we are all getting connected up together and now we're going to see what happens. This is really the beginning of human culture right now starting in the early 1990's, and what we're seeing is far more wonderful and exciting and interesting than anything that anybody ever dreamed of before. I really think that there is a watershed here, starting with computers in the 50's and the Net in the 80's and 90's, that you'll look back and everything before that will be called primitive times. v: So how do you start when you're trying to write the COMPLETE reference to the Internet? I know you say early on in the book that knowing even any big part of the Net is probably beyond any of us. How do you take on a project like that? h: Well, the way I did this is I said to myself "I imagine a person who is extremely literate in the sense that he knows how to use just about every important thing that's out there on the Net to at least a basic level." That's saying a lot. So I answered the question "What does a literate person need to know right now about how to use the Net?" So for example, if you read the chapter about gopher, veronica, and jughead, you will learn what a literate person needs to know about gopher, veronica, and jughead. That's how I went about doing it. The Internet Complete Reference is almost a misnomer, maybe a better title would be What a Literate, Informed, Intelligent Person Should Know About Every Aspect of the Internet. v: Be tough to put all of that on the cover though! We have previously talked about interfaces and how the Net is going to be made accessible to new users. You'd expressed something close to disdain in the book about the wide use of graphic interfaces as a solution to UNIX as what is perceived to be an unfriendly system. Do you want to talk a little about where you think the interface trail is leading? h: OK. You used the word solution and I really don't think that there is a problem here, or if there is a problem it's not what some people think the problem is. The problem is not that the Net is hard to use, the problem with UNIX is not that UNIX is hard to use. Let's take a look at something simple like a newspaper. Almost everbody in the country over the age of whatever who learns to read can read a newspaper. Look how much work is involved in learning how to read a newspaper. I mean, you have to learn how to read, and that's difficult, it takes years. You have to learn the layout of the newspaper, you have to learn the conventions. Reading the newspaper is actually a very difficult thing to learn how to do. If you took somebody who was raised away from culture, somebody raised by wolves on a desert island, and they might be the same age as you now and they might be able to speak english, but if you tried to teach them how to read a newspaper it might take years. If you say a newspaper is difficult to learn how to read, the solution is not to make the newspaper easier, it's not to publish newspapers where everything is made in simple pictures because you lose too much. You gain so much by being able to express yourself in the newspaper in words and complex ideas and sentence structure, using grammar and layout and columns and continuations and pictures and so on, that you would lose too much if you said all newspapers have to be made up of simple pictures that people who don't know how to read can understand because that way they'll be accesible to everybody. No, we don't do that. What we say is "If you want to be part of our culture, you have to learn how to read." If you want to use the Net and you want to use UNIX and you want to use a program it's a mistake to say "let's make it so easy that somebody on their first day or their first week will feel familiar with it and will feel at home and will find it easy." That would be just as much a mistake as saying "we can't have any written newspapers we can only have simple pictures that are delivered to your door every day." The problem with people accessing is the same problem that somebody has in accessing the newspaper who can't read. So, the solution is not to say the newspaper has to be all simple pictures, but that the person has got to learn how to read. There's not a problem that the Net is too hard, there's only people who haven't learned how to use it yet. You lose too much of the complexity by trying to make it too simple. You can't make it simple to learn because it's not a simple thing. You can't make a newspaper simple to read because it's not a simple thing. What you can do is build a tool that once a person learns it, it will be easy to use. When we talk about making these easy to use we have to distinguish between somebody that has experience, and somebody that doesn't. What we have to do is make things easier to use by people with experience. If we try to make everything easy to use for the people that don't have experience, then we end up watering everything down, and we end up losing the ability to express complex ideas and do complex things. Imposing a easy to use graphical user interface on many of the things on the Net isn't going to work. What's necessary is to say not that the system is hard to use, in fact I'll explain in a minute the Internet is extremely easy to use for what it does, the problem is that it takes a while to learn it. So what we have to do is we have to help people learn how to access it, and we have to encourage them to keep trying because at the beginning it's not going to seem easy. We have to help people so that they will keep trying until it becomes second nature. Some people perceive that it's difficult, we have to change that perception. One of the things is that a lot of people come to Net when they are already adults. I think what you will find is that the kids who are using the Net will learn how to use the stuff without any problem at all and they'll feel right at home and when they're 25 they won't understand why a 25 year old would think that anonymous FTP is a difficult thing to learn how to use anymore than at your age you think how anybody could think that driving is difficult to use. We really need to look at things in a different way. We have to let people know that what they are embarking on is worthwhile and is lot of fun and profitable and interesting, but it's going to be frustrating at the beginning. We have to resist the temptation to make it easy for newcomers. We want to make it easy for the population that's already in there not the new people coming in, and we want to make it easy for the new people coming in, in the sense that we encourage them and give them good instruction. The Net works very well right now, it works very well with email and Usenet and gopher and all these things that you can't pick up the first day, but once you learn how to use them the system works great. The idea behind RTFM is to recognize that there are always people who are learning, and that everybody is always learning something. So we have to have a tradition and a mechanism where you try to learn and teach yourself, and then once you try anyone is obligated to help you. We could turn it around and make it more personal. Once you learn how to use a tool then you are obligated to teach anybody else as long as they've tried first. That's the tradition we're building up, and we need a tradition of better books for people to buy and better online documentation and so on. That's the solution, and that's what the real problem is. The Net isn't hard, it's just strange at the beginning. Resist the temptation to try to make it look like what you already know. It's something different and you don't understand it. Try to just think of it as a culture and appreciate it over a period of months rather than thinking that you have to change it right away to make it easy. You have to change yourself, the Net isn't going to change. You have to mold into the society. Nobody asks you to give up your individuality, but you have to learn the rules and how they work and that's what has to happen on the Net. v: If there's a problem it's that the Net is scary to begin with, and certainly we have to get folks from the point where they don't know how to do enough to the point where they are literate and can start helping other people. The GUI solution could very easily trim down the power of the system itself. I guess the other solution is to provide a friendly, frequently funny, easy to use book like the things you are writing. h: The problem is not a computer problem it's a person problem, so the solution won't be a computer solution like an interface. The solution is going to be the solution to what do you do with people who want to learn how to do something but they are scared of it. If you can remember back to your first day of school, kindergarten or something, it was very scary and yet you did it anyway. A lot of things in our life we take on participation in new parts of our society. It's fearful in the sense that we don't know what to expect and we're not accepted yet and everybody know more than we do, but we have to do it anyway because it's part of the rites of passage of being a human being in our culture. The big difference between that and the Net is that if you feel this anxiety when you start to use it then nobody will drag you into it. I guess it's important for some books, I try to do it in my books, is to realize that unlike going to school, people don't have to use the Net, and if they get scared at the beginning they might stop using it or they might stay away from the parts of it that they're anxious about and just stay in nice safe places. I want them to explore and use everything. I make an effort to show people that it's really a social thing, and what you are really doing is communicating with other people and using the tools that other people have built. We have to be very careful to walk the line between encouraging people to use this new global set of transient social organization and making them feel comfortable, and pandering to them. When people enter this new social organization there's a lot of new rules and new culture and nuances and their own language. They're confronting not the difficulty of initiation, they're confronting the demons that lie inside themselves. The real problems are what lies inside everybody when they try something new, and the solution is not always to pander to that, but to tell people "I will help you, but you have to help yourself. I will help teach you things, but you have to want to bring out the best in yourself. You can feel a little fearful some of the time if it's new as a human being. But it's not scary. It's a wonderful, nurturing, comfortable place to be." If you look at any social organization we've ever had, from living with one person to countries to communities to businesses to non-profit organizations, this large global network that we call the Net works better than any organization we've ever had. There's less fighting there's less bickering. It's a democratic anarchy. There's nobody in charge. There's no police, there's no rules, there's only etiquitte and guidelines. Wouldn't you love to live in a world where everything is run by etiquitte rather than rules and law and people enforce things because they want to be nice people and they voluntarily act nice rather than having police or parents or teachers telling you what to do, that's what the Net is like. Most people are much nicer on the Net than they are in real life. The Net brings out the best in people. Any effort you put in to learn how to access and talk to the other people on the Net is going to pay you back much more than the effort that you put in. I just want everybody to start using the Net and fulfilling themselves as a human being. ============= A SHOuT IN THE DARK "ever since the beginning of time it seems whenever human beings have had a chance to communicate, they do" --Harley Hahn Something brings us together. In the end it is not profit margin or corporate strategy or pentium chips or the PowerPC. It is a more simple answer. All of these other ideas are the peripherals to our basic need for interaction. The Net is more than a computer network comprised of many smaller networks. It is a place to hear the voices of humanity, and a place to have your voice heard. This is the need we feed on. This is what drives us to sit unblinking in front of our terminals looking into the phospheresence, searching. Searching. Searching for companionship, for community, for a voice out in the dark to make us forget about exactly how alone we really are, and how big this world of ours is, and how endless time is, and how finite we are. We can find that on the Net. And any marketing department, academy theorist or politician can't change that urge within us. And no amount of commercialization or privitization or any other kind of -zation you can name will ever be able to stand in the way of people simply getting together with other people to be with one another. We all may speak different languages English, Spanish, Dutch, French, German, IBM, Macintosh, Amiga, DOS, UNIX, Linux, but these categories are simply obstacles, and we are left finally with that need. The need to talk to someone. To hear the voices, to feel the voices wash over us in a wave of white noise. It's there, and you can feel it, but you can't quite grasp it, so you continue on and search for more because it feels good and it feels right. The Net is a conduit for this need. It flows into the gaping mouth and fills the empty belly. And if you are lucky, it doesn't give you indigestion. The content will change, the languages will morph, the Net itself will some day turn into something I suspect will be quite unrecognizable to current users. But in the end it is clear enough. We will find a way. A way to latch on to that shout echoing through the blackness. A way to connect with the fellow members of this small community we call planet earth. Since the dawn of time man has sought ways in which to make the bonds of isolation disappear. This search has brought with it corollary moments of good and bad to the history of mankind. The Net now brings with it the ultimate chance to break these chains. It is only up to us whether the moment will be one to which we can look as an example of humanity and brotherhood, or one which will tear us even further apart. "The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur." -- A.N. Whitehead Good night. Sleep tight. Don't let the net.bugs byte. --CountZero ========== PREVIEWS: _Voices from the Net 1.4_ The _Voices_ crews journeys deeper into the realm of term papers and student assignments that need grading... Actually, the next issue should be a continuation of the discussion we started with Harley Hahn. Look for more thoughts on "translating" the net, spiffy GUIs. etc... Also, more letters of comment and the usual ramblings from bookish and CZ. See ya then... ========== INFO "Voices from the Net" is an electronic magazine filled with interviews, and essays presenting the "voices" of folks from a wide variety of online environments. Its purpose is to be both entertaining and useful - net-literature and net-ethnography combined. The editors are committed to an exploration of as many of the odd corners of "cyberspace" as they can access, and they welcome readers to join them for the ride. "Voices from the Net" will appear on a more-or-less monthly schedule, and costs nothing. Subscriptions are available from the editors at: firstname.lastname@example.org Just send email with the subject "Voices" and the message "subscribe." It's easy. ARCHIVES "Voices from the Net", issues 1.1, 1.1.5 (supplement), and 1.2 are available in text-only and hypercard-compatible versions. The archive sites for the text-only version are: aql.gatech.edu /pub/Zines/Voices_from_the_Net etext.archive.umich.edu /pub/Zines/Voices wiretap.spies.com /Library/Zines Hypercard versions are available at: aql.gatech.edu /pub/Zines/Voices_from_the_Net sumex-aim.stanford.edu /info-mac/recent The current issue (text version) should be available under "Miscellaneous" on the gopher at Bowling Green State University (Ohio). And both versions are available to Mindvox subscribers in the uploads section of the archives. ============== ACCEPTABLE USE In a perfect world, we could just post this, send it out through the wires and forget about it. In a perfect world... In this world, we have things like copyright laws, legal permissions, the need to "own" one's words. This document is free, but it is not public domain. The individual authors retain the rights to their work. You may reproduce and distribute it. In fact, we encourage it. Spreading free information is part of what "Voices from the Net" is all about. Just keep it FREE. We hope that the zine will be useful as well as entertaining. If it seems useful to you, then use it. But be collegial. Cite your sources(*), and don't take liberties with the text. Respect the voices contained here. [* Thanks to Bruce Sterling for inspiration, and for support.] Voices from the Net 1.3, copyright 1993. ======================================================================
************************** * VOICES FROM THE NET * Can * VOICES FROM THE NET * --- you * * hear * 2.1 * Do our * VOICES CONTINUE * you voices * "Where no voice has * read ? * gone before" * us * * ? --- * VOICES FROM THE NET * * VOICES FROM THE NET * ************************** There are a lot of folks with at least one foot in this complex region we call (much too simply) "the net." There are a lot of voices on these wires. - all kinds of voices - loud and quiet, anonymous and well-known. And yet, it's far from clear what it might mean to be a "voice" from, or on, the net. Enter "Voices from the Net": one attempt to sample, explore, the possibilities (or perils) of net.voices. Worrying away at the question. Running down the meme. Looking/listening, and reporting back to you. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- FULL LIFETIME WARRANTY: FREE REPLACEMENT IF THIS PRODUCT SHOULD EVER PROVE DEFECTIVE. SEE DETAILS INSIDE. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- _2.1_ ISSN 1072-1908 ==== THIS ISSUE: --VOICES CARRY --FEATURE: William Gibson Q&A --SIGNAL/NOISE virtual personae by Carl Holmberg --A SHOuT IN THE DARK --PREVIEWS --INFO/ARCHIVES/ACCEPTABLE USE ==== VOICES CARRY: If you build it... Welcome to a new year, and a new volume of Voices. It's been a while, but you know how holidays are - and some of us had better net access than others over the break. Coming back to the job of writing one of these intros after a longer-than-usual break, it's particularly clear to me how fast, and how far, our voices have carried. The Voices project is not quite six months old, and this issue will go directly to over 1000 folks(!). And how many of you will stumble over this on an ftp site somewhere - either one of our 'official' archives or one of those increasingly numerous sites where we stumble over our own zine? I imagine for a moment that my classroom held a few thousand folks, and wonder if I could chat with them as casually as I do with all of you... .oO(eek!) The Net - whatever that might be - continues to 'explode' into mainstream culture here in America. Every term, I have more net.savvy students in my classes. (and I get more emailed excuses...) A month or so, my parents got an account on a commercial site. As I have been updating the subscription list - a task we have not yet turned over to automation - I have been struck by the increasing number of new addresses: an influx from America Online, more and more subscribers from outside the US, and lots more folks sending messages saying 'I saw mention of your zine in...' Voices has been mentioned in Fringeware Review, Online Access, and a couple of the new Internet guidebooks. And we have a backlog of folks - really interesting people - ready, even eager, to talk to us. And even though I've been here right along - watching the interest manifest itself as a constantly too-full mailbox - I still find it pretty strange to walk into a bookstore and find my email address in print, or find Voices listed on someone's 'pick hit' list of resources. Don't worry, though, I'm sure I'll adjust. But... Once again, it brings home how 'audible' we can be 'out here.' Ladies and gents, be careful what you start. This old net is still very fertile ground... I'm looking forward to '94 and to bringing you all a lot more voices from the net. I suspect that this year will bring a lot of changes and challenges 'out here'. But, before we plunge ahead, let's look back about 10 years to a moment when 'cyberspace' was a new word, and there was this new computer called a Macintosh, and that commercial... and was I the only one who thought of Neuromancer when those MCI ads ran on TV this year..? <'everything will just be ... here,' says the girl> That's it for me. Happy New Year! --bookish ============== FEATURE: _William Gibson Q&A_ A few months ago a couple of the folx who work on Voices were lucky enough to go to Cincinnati, Ohio and meet William Gibson, grand-daddy of cyberpunk and the man who coined the term cyberspace (and no, Bill, we won't let you forget it!). Gibson did a reading out of his, at that time just released, book Virtual Light, then he took questions from the audience for a while. Our folx who went down got his permission to tape the question and answer session and to publish it here in Voices (and of course we got him to sign all of our copies of his work including that sweet first print of Neuromancer that bookish has). We figured "What better way to start out the new year than to begin with a little William Gibson to wet the appetite of our reader's info hungry lips?" And since we couldn't think of a good answer to that question, well, here you go. What follows is a transcript of the question and answer session with the one and only man with the most sought after email address on the Net (he doesn't have one by the way, he uses a fax for most of his correspondence. We asked!) Some of it may be a bit dated since net.time moves a bit quicker than real time, but we found much of it interesting, and hope you will as well ....... Ladies and Gentlemen...... Mr. William Gibson: Q: You make reference to "Gunhead" [in Virtual Light]. Do you follow the Japanese manga because obviously you got that from a source that was familiar with the same type of thing? gibson: oh before it was manga, it was a movie I think, actually I'm not sure, but there is at least one "Gunhead" movie that someone made. Actually Deborah Harry gave me a "Gunhead" tape so I just got all of that from them. Q: You seem to really have struck a chord with people who use computers and stuff, that your vision is an interesting one. Do you use computers yourself to write? gibson: well, I use them as a word processor, yeah, but not really as anything else. But I really like the Mac. It's like a power tool, you know, it's like who would want to go back to a hand saw? Q: I was wondering if you'd just tell me sort of what led you up to writing your book Agrippa, and any problems or any experiences you might have had in getting it published and things like that. gibson: I mean, it was going to be a very demented, a very expensive and actually kind of sadistic project in terms of what it was going to do to art dealers and collectors. Actually more sadistic than they realized. The thing that sort of saved it, I mean, it was sort of like a joke that had gotten way out of hand, and I thought it would really be a very obscure deal, but it got a lot of publicity and the thing that sort of saved it for me is a few days after the first couple of these things were sold in New York, somebody cracked the encryption codes and posted the text on the Internet. Where it remains till this day, sort of like Chinese wall newspaper in cyberspace. And if you go on the Internet and ask around someone will direct you to it and you can make your very own copy for free, which seems to me like a really great outcome. Well the other thing that added to the confusion, and I kind of regret having a subtitle, but it was a piece of writing called Agrippa: The Book of the Dead. I was thinking of the Book of the Dead in terms of the Tibetan Book of the Dead or the Egyptian Book of the Dead because there's a lot of this text that is about my father who died when I was quite a young child. But because the word "book" was in it a lot of people assumed it was like a booklength work of some kind, but actually it's about a two thousand word poem of sorts. The original intention was to publish it on disk only with an encryption virus also included on the disk so that when you load the disk into your computer it sort of takes control over the computer and you can't get any cursor action or any keystrokes or anything, you just have to sit there and watch this text scroll by at a predertimined speed, and when it's finished it encrypted itself, but permanently so it could only be read once, and it could only be read at the speed we had selected. And it was to be packaged in a very cubicle intricate sort of hand made box so that you'd have something to keep it in after you'd ruined it. And I think the relatively inexpensive ones were about $350.00 and the really expensive ones were about $1500.00, but there are only three of those and there might have been 80 of the others. It was gonna sell in art galleries in New York and Tokyo, it wasn't like a Stephen King bound in asbestos. But then it was given to the world by anonymous teenage hackers in New York, so that's kind of a cool story, but I have influenced a lot of the Internet people to read poetry. Q: A lot of the structure in your novels seems to derive from some tension between people at the periphery of established society and people in the center who control a lot of the power, but there seems to be very little middle and we never see that power center very clearly. It's always seen sort of from the edges. gibson: That's certainly true. One of the rather dystopian aspects of this future, if you can call it that and of course it's not really the future, but there is no middle class left or at least not very many of them. I don't necessarily think that that's going to happen, but I do think it's a tough go of living in an industrialized democracy without a middle class. Q: Do you think that there's some similarity between the structure of the novels and some of the work of people like Thomas Pynchon? gibson: Yeah I suppose there is, but i don't know, I mean I have a B.A. in English and I sort of know about figuring out the structure of stuff but I don't try to figure out the structure of my own stuff. Pynchon, on the other hand, is such a singular fellow that I'd imagine from his books that he may be totally conscious of the structure throughout his work. I really try not to think about that stuff too much and I try to avoid reading academic criticisms of my work. Q: A few years ago there was a script floating around for the Aliens 3 movie, what's the truth? gibson: Yeah. That was the first of twentysome screenplays for that and my version, well you know when the movie came out it wasn't that long ago, but I did that screenplay so long ago that the Soviet Union played a major part in it. It was like pre-Gorbachev. So now it's like totally unmakable. The implied socio-economic world of the first two Alien movies was this kind of gangbusters big corporate capitalism, and I thought it would be a really fun thing to have those guys flying around in their space machines cruising around and kind of slamming up against a bunch of demented space colonists. And the best set would have been this sort of neo-Soviet spacestation where all the interior walls are decorated in a sort of Diego Rivera murals of the triumph of the proletariat in space. The three guys who control the Aliens franchise just looked at this thing and went "Oooooooo," they just didn't get it. They weren't angry, but they just sort of scratched their heads and laughed and that was the end of that. Q: Since we're on the subject of movies, the idea of a Neuromancer movie has been around basically since the book came out. Do you know anything about that? gibson: There's nothing going on with Neuromancer right now. There are a bunch of just about everything I've ever written is under some to someone or other, but none of those are really things that I'm personally involved with. You have to remember that if they make these so called "William Gibson movies" they're liable to have about as much to do with my work as so called "Stephen King movies" usually have to do with his. Q: Are you comfortable with that? gibson: Well, I mean, it sort of indicates to me that it's not the best of all possible worlds, but there's not too much to be done about it. As far as I know from my own experiences in Hollywood, in order to change that, I would have to become either a producer or a director. That's how you do that. I've written a lot of screenplays based on my fiction, like four or five of them, and the idea of writers having creative control is a strange idea. Writers in Hollywood are like very very expensive plumbers. It's like, it's a union job. It's got a very heavy union which I belong to so I can work there, but that won't keep you from being fired at any minute and replaced with somebody else or with six other writers as is more often the case. When I was doing that Aliens script I was working with Walter Hill who is one of the three producers who has the franchise, but he's also a director and he was in Chicago directing a Schwarzenagger-Jim Belushi vehicle called Red Heat and they were shooting that movie in Chicago, and back in Hollywood where I was, there were 19 writers working under two sort of senior writers to try to finish the film like just rewriting. They were already half way through it. I said "Walter, is it always like this?" and he said "Well, it's a little worse than usual, but it's frequently like this." Q: I'm interested in how you came up with the future. You have a lot of interesting gerry-rigged contraptions and products. How do you envision what's happening with the emergence of a lot of the new technologies and such? gibson: Well, I'm sort of fascinated by, I mean you should always keep in mind that what I'm giving you in the book isn't necessarily the way I really envision the future, and paradoxically in my real daily life I don't think about it very much. Not much beyond the next couple of years or months. One of the things that has fascinated me looking at how we've used technology since the industrial revolution, the thing that I find fun to try to predict, and this is something that science fiction hasn't really done before too much, is how people will REALLY use technology once they get ahold of it. So whenever anybody suggests any technology to me the first thing I think of is how can this be abused? What will criminals do with this? It's kind of an interesting thing, the guys who envisioned the video camera never envisioned the homemade pornography market. The guys who invented the beeper and the cellular phone never thought that a big sector of their clientele would be urban drug dealers, or even sub-urban drug dealers. The guys who invent that stuff never think of that. Q: Did you happen to see Billy Idol on the tonight show talking about his new album is going called Cyberpunk? gibson: Well to me, I'd also consider that Pat Benatar's new album is called Gravity's Rainbow. It's true. Q: If you had the means to modify any part of your mind or body using chemicals, electronics and/or surgery, what would you do? gibson: Whoa! I don't know, that would take some thought. That's a really heavy question. Just always keep in mind that old thing about be careful what you wish for... [the editorial staff here at Voices would like to thank Mr. Gibson for allowing to use his words in this forum.] ============== SIGNAL/NOISE Signal/noise: the ratio between the useful information in a given environment and the useless nonsense that inevitably accompanies it, even threatens to drown it out. It's a useful measure, as long as you don't need to reduce it to a number or something. But always remember: one net.entity's signal is another's noise. And an environment which one person finds objectionably noisy may seem serene to someone else. There are many voices out there - many kinds of voices - and many environments that affect how those voices appear to other folks across the wires. What follows is a dip into the ocean of such voices, presented in such a way as to preserve the feel of the particular environment. Much of it was generated on the spot in realtime interactive settings, and it has that mix of exciting spontenaity and confusion. It's up to you to decide what's signal and what's noise. **The following bit of word play was submitted to us from Carl Holmberg, A professor from the Popular Culture Department at Bowling Green State University. Yeah, we know, a long stretch for us but hey, we thought it was quite a good piece that says a lot about some of the reasons we put together this taco stand in the first place. Well, that's about enough said for this, it's something you'll have to figure out and decide upon for yourself.......... so, read on and hopefully enjoy: virtual personae "Yes, a meteorite landed in my back yard!" ***VP screams over the phone*** "What do you mean you can't do something about it?" **rto--fading out** "Oh, I get it. Everyone's got one in their yard too--how long's the list?" *rto--simultaneous fade in to next seen* "O.K., 1999's fine." [but it was finer than anyone thought] **close up** Inside each meteorite is a chamber housing something which looks suspiciously like a floppy disk, albeit a shiney chrome diskette. ***moving on VP***VP did the only thing a self-respecting hacker could do--putting it in a disk drive to see what happens. **cto simultaneous fade in/out to next seen, close on ghostly words** The following data dump occurred real time [rt], 18 August 1993. *message fades--we now see a green, blank computer screen* **start scrolling** subject: human photonic life concern: real unreality/unreal reality, aka, lost in space file route: invasion, CE 1999 Some of these humans claim they are the same on Net as they are in their normal, everyday life. Debateable. Our human specialists have observed that some humans indeed behave remarkably similar in all contexts. Dull few. Even the ones who appear to behave the same appear to be unaware that their communication behavior is sometimes different. History: Our encrypters running word-field analyses of certain human traditions have reported that the ancient Greek word "persona" is currently applicable to the situation. Hackers themselves email each other about their Net persona. Yet they use the word "persona" and appear to know less about the word than our Encrypters. Encrypters' advice: personare referred to a device used on the ancient Greek theatrical stage. It was a mask specifically designed with a megaphone at the mouth to project the human voice effectively. Literally, the term meant "for the sounding"--per [for} sonare [sounding]. This tells us something important about current human usage of morphophonemes related to the original term "personare." In growing common practice, the term "person" refers to someone without regard to gender, race, ethnicity or class, ktl. "Person" is considered by many humans to be a neutral term and without bias***hah, they don't even read McCluhan!***However, just like the ancient Greek mask, the term masks the real person behind the generality of the mask of cleaned-up, politically correct personhood. So, at the same time, "person" means the real person and the fake person. We believe this signifies some sort of Kung Fu encryption. The ancient megaphonic voice was an artificial construct, denuded of the many of the factors which normatively award individuality to a being. Similarly, when a human communicates on the Net, s/he masks or is masked in the process. They have access to other minds [the Net projects their Voice, covering their gender, race, ethnicity and class]. They also must receive data which has been generalized from other projected Voices. There is a long series of human traditions of deliberate masking of individuals and groups, all couched--incredibly--as a kind of liberation. This longstanding cultural habit will serve us well, despite the dullity that humans have proven to be clever in bypassing this mask function. There are ways to mitigate the masked quality of Netting--ways just as useful to ourselves as to the humans. Included ways to mitigate Net masking: 1 cultivate language usages which are unique to Netting 2 cultivate preferences for conversing over Net which exclude or tend to exclude new users or insincere ones. 3 apply the two norms whenever applicable Encrypter 7's report: I have subscribed to any number of bbs's. I used perfect English and made perfectly reasonable requests. I was shut out of any number of conversations because I was perceived as a new user (Net users tend to key in many typographical mistakes and do not correct them). At first I thought this might be some form of primitive human encrypting but then abadoned the hypothesis when no analytic we applied produced anything of value, even the Florian Modex. I later returned to the hypothesis though since indeed, poor keying is a sign of an advanced Netter. Go figure. I also noticed that advanced users employ all sorts of abbreviations--another sign of their advanced indoctrination into Netmask. When I too employed abbreviations and typos, I was most often accepted as a human ***wick id grinnnn*** Finally, one of the most important behaviors to use as a mask on Net is posing rude comments to some users. Being snide often gains you acceptance as a regular user ***lip likking*** These two general principles of Netmask, judiciously applied, render our alien identities into human Net persona. Final note to the commander: There also appears to be an ongoing debate over Net about what a "virtual" persona is. Virtual first. Clearly, the word "virtual" applies to photonically generated communication and data storage. Apparently though, a growing number of humans seem to think that "virtual" conveys the meaning of a photonic space that human consciousness can inhabit, as in their phrase "virtual reality." Again, humans seem to be unaware of other, more historically laden meanings to the term "virtual." Which is a ***snort*** because with the use of the term "person" especially to mask or neutralize gender, the additional use of "virtual" is **snortable**snort*snort*snort**"Virtual" is of course derived from "virtue" which many would take to mean upright in the sense of virtuous. The norm actually is a male gender norm because "virtue" derives from classical Latin "vir," a morphophoneme which means "man" and "manliness." "Virtue" issues from a man or woman who is good at performing manly qualities. Something "virtual" therefore is something manly. Thus, virtual reality is a male kind of place--and yet it is constantly depicted as liberated in gender and gender preference. So, based on human historic usage, the phrase "virtual persona" is self-contradictory, meaning a [genderless] mask and meaning a male place to wear it. Humans are weird. All inconsistencies aside, one final note: virtual personae are real in the sense that they affect humans when they are not on Net. Some have been observed to be perked up after bbsing, as if the activity were not merely communication but some sort of drug regimen for pumping energy. Others appear to be drained during and after Netting. Some appear to enjoy inventing and maintaining a fictive biography, some of them having dozens on various Net addresses. Some insist on conveying their real name. Even then, many of these realists break link peremptorily, without proper leavetaking which we observe them enact in their daily life. So much for sameness as a virtual persona with their real persona. ***green screen morphs to bright red*** Recommendation: Create Net opportunities which increase the likelihood of producing schizophrenia between Net persona and reallife persona. **infrastructural chaos** *shock cut, close up of androgynous person reading latest issue of VOICES* Reading: "Carl B. Holmberg at email@example.com found this report at hz email address and onedered if any1 else had seen it? Won of U sendit? return address was bl" **VOICES rolls further as andy person places meteorite in backpack** ***sigh*** Carl B. Holmberg Department of Popular Culture B.G.S.U. Bowling Green, Ohio ============= A SHOuT IN THE DARK "The Net - whatever that might be - continues to 'explode' into mainstream culture here in America." -- bookish He's right you know. It's everywhere now. It's in every magazine. It's on every newscast. Oh my GOD! Is it still kewl? Yes, I think. Because there are things we still don't understand. Because the mainstream media are still just scraping the tip of the iceberg. Because the stereotypes aren't going away -- hacker, cyberpunk, compunerd. Because with all the hype and hoopla and speeches and positions there is still something that is happening that has so far managed to befuddle, avoid and quietly tip-toe around the mega-media-multinational-governmental spin doctors while sneaking into the fabric of society as, according to William Gibson, "A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts. . . (Neuromancer, p. 103) Call it Cyberspace, call it The Matrix, call it Virtual Reality, call it whatever you want, what we're talking about is what fills that space. Those voices that we all hear but can't see. Interactive TV. 500 Channels. Information Superhighway. Hackers & Crackers. Cyber-this & Cyber-that. The labels are surrounding us. MCI says pretty soon there will no THERE, and we'll all be HERE. Where is HERE? Why should we care? I've never attended a business meeting on a beach, but AT&T says I will. And of course they will let it happen (and THEY will send ME the bill). Seems to me all the talk, all the attention is focused on the hardware. Memory Speed Capacity High-Tech Tech Tech Tech..... We're here to explore the software that comes with the big info-machine. The part that really makes the whole thing run. You can have as much instantaneous and unlimited communication possibilities as you want, but without the voices there is nothing. YOU are the one who is going to be billed by AT&T YOU are the one who is going to inhabit MCI's HERE What're you gonna do with it? the journey continues... --countzero ========== PREVIEWS _VoicesFromTheNet2.2_ Wow! We're in the unusual position of having too many possibilities for future issues. But we won't complain, since all of them are pretty cool. (Trust us ;) So all we're going to promise is that the next issue will be full of the same kind of wonderful stuff you've come to expect from Voices - whether it's hackers or novelists, artists or anarchists, or something else entirely. Just stay tuned... ---- On another note we'd like to tell you that we have a promotional movie for Voices that we recently created (very cheaply, we might add), but we think the end product is pretty neat. If you're interested in seeing it, it's archived on sumex-aim.stanford.edu in: info-mac/grf/qt/VFTNmovie.sea.hqx It is a quicktime movie and it's about 2 megs, but it's pretty cool so download it and share it with your friends and neighbors... ========== INFO "Voices from the Net" is an electronic magazine filled with interviews, and essays presenting the "voices" of folks from a wide variety of online environments. Its purpose is to be both entertaining and useful - net-literature and net-ethnography combined. The editors are committed to an exploration of as many of the odd corners of "cyberspace" as they can access, and they welcome readers to join them for the ride. "Voices from the Net" will appear on a more-or-less monthly schedule, and costs nothing. Subscriptions are available from the editors at: firstname.lastname@example.org Just send email with the subject "Voices" and the message "subscribe." It's easy. ============== ARCHIVES "Voices from the Net", issues are available in text-only and hypercard-compatible versions. The archive sites for the text-only version are: aql.gatech.edu /pub/Zines/Voices_from_the_Net etext.archive.umich.edu /pub/Zines/Voices wiretap.spies.com /Library/Zines Hypercard versions are available at: aql.gatech.edu /pub/Zines/Voices_from_the_Net sumex-aim.stanford.edu /info-mac/recent The current issue (text version) should be available under "Miscellaneous" on the gopher at Bowling Green State University (Ohio). We are also available to Mindvox subscribers in the Archives under the directory CyberPunk/Journals/Voices. ============== ACCEPTABLE USE In a perfect world, we could just post this, send it out through the wires and forget about it. In a perfect world... In this world, we have things like copyright laws, legal permissions, the need to "own" one's words. This document is free, but it is not public domain. The individual authors retain the rights to their work. You may reproduce and distribute it. In fact, we encourage it. Spreading free information is part of what "Voices from the Net" is all about. Just keep it FREE. We hope that the zine will be useful as well as entertaining. If it seems useful to you, then use it. But be collegial. Cite your sources(*), and don't take liberties with the text. Respect the voices contained here. [* Thanks to Bruce Sterling for inspiration, and for support.] Voices from the Net 2.1 (January, 1994) copyright 1994. ======================================================================