Voices from the Net (1993)

Collected here is the full run of Voices from the Net, an electronic zine that Ric Bohannon and I published, starting in 1993.

          [Keep in mind, Wired #1 is now going for $50.00 American ;)]

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   xx                          N  E  T  .  .  .                           xx
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                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:

introductions, musings, ...

brief bio, followed by Q&A

assorted trains of thought from IRC, a MOO, and e-mail

brief bio, followed by an essay 

conclusions? and other ramblings

preview issue #2

                                     * * *

                               __VOICES CARRY__

                            Can you hear our voice?
                          People...? Do you read us?

                        Are we coming in loud and clear?


"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

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

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

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

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

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. 


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

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

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

<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

<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

<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

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: 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

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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
Heinrich waves
Heinrich teleports out.
Bookish says, "Do you feel you have more or less 'voice' here than you do in 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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
<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
<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
<aron> scotto, I have seen long posts all over the net without one iota of
<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 
+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 
<voidmstr> its strange that my net.voice turned out to be not words but
<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 
<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!
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<Ginster> no less so than other mass media
<andy_> fuckkkkkkk
<CountZer0> patriot just went downnnn
<andy_> big split...=)
<Ginster> they will be back
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<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 
<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
<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
<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
<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
<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
<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
<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
<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
<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 
<richrd> newspapers were fun, i thought newswires would be even more 
<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 
<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
<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
<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 
<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
<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

Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1993 20:37:53 -0500 (EDT)
From: Scotto <scotto@*******.******.***>
To: voices-request@andy.bgsu.edu
Subject: Format Chauvinism


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


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,

                                    * * *

                     __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

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

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

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.


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

                                     * * *

                            __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,

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. 


All are different ways to be "heard" on the Net.

All these exist on the Net. The forms change:

capital letters = shouts

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:   

[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


We can also frequently be found bouncing around the net in various places, 
catch us if you can!

Look for--
                        Bookish          swilbur@andy.bgsu.edu
                        CountZer0        mgardbe@andy.bgsu.edu
                        NEURO            fbohann@andy.bgsu.edu

see ya' dare....


There is also a Macintosh Hypercard stack version of Issue 1.1 available.
look for:



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.


  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

                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...  


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 

<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 

<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 

<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 

<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 

<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 

<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 

<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

<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 

<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 swilbur@andy.bgsu.edu Mon Sep  6 01:10:01 1993
Date: Sun, 5 Sep 1993 20:12:37 -0400 (EDT)
From: bookish <swilbur@andy.bgsu.edu>
Reply to: Voices-request@andy.bgsu.edu
To: voices@andy.bgsu.edu
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.

                   (obligatory DIY tech note)


  --FEATURE: Margie Ingall
      Ivan the "Newbie"
      Net-Bio: Indigo
  --FEATURE: Adam Curry

(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.




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

did i forget anything?

ok? ok.


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

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

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

v: so you've been on almost four months, do you still consider yourself a

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

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.


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

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...


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

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

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

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
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 

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

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 

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...



           "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

"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]


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...


"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:


Just send email with the subject "Voices" and the message "subscribe."
It's easy.


"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.



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 swilbur@dad.bgsu.edu Thu Oct 28 08:46:32 1993
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1993 23:37:03 -0400 (EDT)
From: shawn wilbur <swilbur@dad.bgsu.edu>
Reply to: Voices-request@andy.bgsu.edu
To: voices@andy.bgsu.edu
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.



                           ISSN 1072-1908

             From: Malinda
             From: ChristJ
             From: Abaddon
             From: miekael
             Adam Curry Update
  --FEATURE: Harley Hahn

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...



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: Voices-request@andy.bgsu.edu
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. :)


* * *

>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
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: Voices-request@andy.bgsu.edu
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.


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.


* * *

>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

<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 

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 

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 

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.



          "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 

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.


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...


"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:


Just send email with the subject "Voices" and the message "subscribe."
It's easy.


"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.



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.



                           ISSN 1072-1908

  --FEATURE: William Gibson Q&A
      virtual personae by Carl Holmberg

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...


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.


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 

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!



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 

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 

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: 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. 
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
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 cholmbe@andy.bgsu.edu 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**
Carl B. Holmberg
Department of Popular Culture
Bowling Green, Ohio 



        "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 

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. 

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...


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:


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...


"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:


Just send email with the subject "Voices" and the message "subscribe."
It's easy.



"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.



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.


About Shawn P. Wilbur 2701 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.