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Who are we?

By Signal 11 in Culture
Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 05:11:53 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

There are 35,783,780 registered domains on the internet. Ten years ago, there were almost none. Ten years ago, the internet really wasn't around, except as a novelty, and most of you, if you were into computers at the time, spent your days on BBS systems connecting with antiquidated 2400 baud modems and cursing the busy signals as you made your daily rounds. Today, what we call a geek is no longer a social outcast, jacked into a loosely connected community of BBS systems, chatting over old networks like FIDOnet. Instead, that person is a member of the ever-expanding world of Information Technology. They work 9-5 on super-massive systems to enable the 'ecommerce revolution'. It is a world of buzzwords, information, and loneliness. And it is a world I do not wish to be a part of.


Nobody appreciates a good hack anymore. I remember my first BBS adventures... Windows 3.0, with terminal. I would use XModem to download the latest software and play video games. It was black and white. I didn't know about ANSI color yet. And it was on a 2400 bps modem. And I hacked the crap out of it. There was a time where I could whistle the connect so precisely into the phone that the other end would finish the handshake and change to the white noise indicative of the beginning of your session. I thought it was cool. I used to play DOOM with my friends online, who were in different states. Sometimes for free.

Later on, computers got some mainstream attention when the government first started to notice kids like me. There were a few high profile computer crimes, as the world began what to me feels like a long-ago transition into the start of the digital era. Tape decks were still in wide use, and not many people knew what a CDROM was. At that time in my life, I was in the midst of a drawn-out divorce with my parents, and suffered from social isolation from my classmates... it didn't help that I was more intelligent than them. I never got a chance to make friends because I was moved around so much, from house to house. Computers were the constant in my life - its unerring logic and absolute simplicity I found intoxicating when painted against the background of my life of chaos and frustration at a world that, even as a child, seemed to be out of control.

My friends never had names. They were part of a culture with a shared heritage, a background similar to my own. We were the tinkers, the coders, the misfits, the young scientists. We were the ones who sat at the lighting booth for the Drama club and showed the other kids how the fantastically complex equipment could be tuned and programmed. Most of us doodled in class, not caring about our grades, ignoring our classmates who, on the best of days were just a friendly haze, but usually tried to avoid us.

Most of us still remember the thrill of our discovery of the internet. For me, it was when our local BBS in Wisconsin started experimenting with it when they got a T1. Eventually, they shut down the BBS and became an ISP. For me, it was like an inexhaustible BBS - there was so much to do, explore, and play with... it was immediately my new playground. Our local town's ISP had dialup accounts, and a 'guest' account, good for a 20 minute session per day. It was keyed to Caller ID. While I was busy exploring the internet, my life had continued to deteriorate - the school administrators, having fingered me as a hacker, and apparently with the power to cause systems to melt and printers to burst into flame from a payphone, had suspended me from the computer lab. Not to be deterred, I was at the local university shortly after that with a packet sniffer getting new accounts so that I could maintain my connection. About the time I had managed to get my own account, paid for by my parents, the internet had started to show the first signs of commercialization.

It wasn't advertised as such. There were only a handful of ISPs even in metropolitan areas, but a few people had gotten the bright idea that you could make money off of this global network. Maybe even sell things on it. Just five years later, the internet was chock full of advertisements, pop-up ads, and etailors. And a sea of 'normal' people... with their apparently insatiable desire for the most stupid, dumbed down.... "content"... possible. It was disgusting. But I ignored it for the time being, all those idiots just funded more ISPs and modems, and drove the price of computer hardware down.

Somewhere along the line, I believe it was on a thursday, the mainstream public decided to adopt a new approach to these computer "geeks" of which I was a part of. We were contracted in, at princely sums, to drive the new ecommerce engine of our economy. Baby boomers, eager to get rich, poured their life savings into the technology sector... and prices hit outrageous levels. The geek had moved from the garage to the office. With it came a sea of cultural changes.

The first major change I noticed was the complete destruction of the original BBS culture. It was replaced by nothing, briefly. Then came along weblogs like Slashdot and later Kuro5hin. Taking cues from e-mail and usenet, these discussion forums came out of the woodwork in bulk to service specialized groups of people. Computer geeks naturally flocked to them to re-establish part of that community feeling. But within a short time they were overwhelmed with 'IT professionals'... leeches who saw the high rates being paid to regular geeks and attacked the industry en masse. The result was broken software, flaky hardware, sub-standard tech support, and Microsoft. Microsoft exemplified everything that was going wrong in the industry... it was making a huge profit despite of itself. The government seemed to look the other way... as one famous parody said it "the business of america is business", and Microsoft was King Kong in the most popular industry at the time. It could do no wrong. And as more people moved online, and the crunch for qualified workers became more severe, more people who should never have been allowed near a keyboard jacked in and became part of the ecommerce revolution.

The ecommerce revolution crashed as spectacularily as it had started, when the NASDAQ tanked at the tail end of the year 2000. It was fueled by hype and misunderstanding. We all knew it would happen, and weren't suprised. Some of us even looked at it as vindication after years of being ignored. And so we were blamed. A plethora of reasons emerged - it was intellectual property theft, or that we needed new laws. Maybe it was the 'hackers'. It was some kind of global conspiracy, they claimed. Viruses, electronic terrorism.. and so the government stepped in... afterall, it should do something, right? Businesses were bleeding cash left and right, dot coms were falling like dominos, and the tech labor shortage, which never really existed, were all fingered as culprits.

But somewhere from the time I first logged into a BBS to the time I wrote this letter, we as a culture lost something. The internet is now fully commercialized. I feel that the community I was once a part of has gone largely extinct. Amongst the sea of information and advertisements, I feel alone. There's nobody left to share my projects with. The community has fractured into computer programmers and web designers and IT managers and system administrators. But nowhere is the proud title 'Hacker'. Nowhere can I go and just talk BS without needing to feel I have to have the credentials to be there, or wave a business card in the air to get attention.

The computer geeks of today wear khakis and drive RX7s. And they don't give a shit about the technology. They want a big screen TV and a home, just like every other 'normal' person out there. The passion of that community is gone. There is no capacity left to explore... to have fun... it's all about making faster chips, better webpages, and more integrated e-commerce solutions to move clicks-and-mortar businesses towards the paradigm shift present in the new digital economy.

I burned out on computers. It's lonely when there is nobody to just hack with. Just stay up all night playing games, or designing a new circuit, or just getting in a car, cruising out to some little-known corner of the cities, prying open a manhole cover, and armed with a flashlight go searching for interesting things. Nobody has that curiosity anymore. Maybe they're worried they might get their khakis dirty.

In the book The Fountainhead, there wasn an architect who built a building he considered perfect. When he was finished, the people he built it for decided to make a change to it which made it look absolutely ugly. They ignored the artists pleas and marred the beauty of the building. The artist, filled with grief and anger, burned the building down rather than let its beauty be marred.

I empathize with that artist now... I helped build the technology that I now am watching destroy the community that built it. I watch laws like the DMCA be passed and I weep. This isn't the beginning of a revolution, this is the end of it. So, like the architect, I may very well soon burn my computer, and logout for good. It is too painful to watch... and to sit silently while the world ignores the plainly obvious gift my community gave to them. We gave them the ability to free themselves from a commercialized world and to connect with others like them on a personal level. We gave them what we thought at the time was an unstoppable weapon against censorship and corporate control of our lives. That tool was never used... the wimpering of Napster advocates as their toy died was the closest we ever got to that freedom... and look how intoxicating it was to them. But they never opened themselves to the possibility, and now that door is closing, very probably for good.

It fills me with a sorrow I cannot put into words. What happened? The revolution was televised... it was an infomercial.

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Who are we? | 92 comments (74 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
And my friends... (2.36 / 11) (#1)
by Xeriar on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 12:24:28 PM EST

Think I'm joking when I say it's tempting to destroy it all and become a hermit.

----
When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
bleh (4.20 / 29) (#2)
by delmoi on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 01:26:04 PM EST

....BBS systems connecting with antiquidated 2400 baud modems.....

Well, they weren't antiquated at the tem, you know. I don't know why but this stuck out and bugged me. Probably an artifact of your overly wordy/flowery prose. Trying to hard to resonate, you produce a disharmony for me. I know I don't follow this advice myself, but you shouldn't use words you're not really sure of if you don't want people who actually know what the words mean to think you're a dumbass.

The other thing that bugged me about this story is that it's soyou centric. I mean, you say "Ten years ago, the internet really wasn't around, except as a novelty," when the internet most certainly was around and being put to serious use. Maybe not for the average 8-13 year old, but it was certainly there in our universities and government, as well as some companies. The world wide web was born in '91, I believe.

I could whistle the connect so precisely into the phone that the other end would finish the handshake and change to the white noise indicative of the beginning of your session

Do you really need to use 'indicative' here? Again, linguistic overkill. And it feels like you're using the word is a subtly wrong manner. To me 'indicative' is an indirect indication, a modem his is rather direct, don't you think. And btw, whistling a modem tone isn't difficult at all, I can do it, yet I can't sing on key to save my life. It doesn't make you some l33t phr3x0r.

While I was busy exploring the internet, my life had continued to deteriorate - the school administrators, having fingered me as a hacker, %lt;Hyperbole snipped%gt;, had suspended me from the computer lab.

but then earlier you say "DOOM with my friends online, who were in different states. Sometimes for free." and later "Not to be deterred, I was at the local university shortly after that with a packet sniffer getting new accounts so that I could maintain my connection", um, ok so you were a hacker. Stealing passwords? While I wouldn't a knowledgeable 14 year old not to try it, mentioning it doesn't really evoke you much sympathy

Well, that's the quotable stuff... but there's something more deeply wrong with this article. It really takes you forever to get to the fucking point. I read this thing, picking out my nits (to be subsequently picked), I wanted to get to the end before I commented, and I just had no idea when you were going to get to the point. It was -1 fodder until I actually found it -- that 'normal people' are inundating the 'IT' industry. Well, big whoop, who the hell cares about the 'IT' industry anyway, Real geeks are real computer scientists, or computer engineers. IT's being inundated with 'normal' people because it's easy.

And that you say the Internet has lost its original essence? Well, what did you expect, millions of Americans, millions more from other countries to suddenly adopt the mannerisms of the North American Geek? All of us are still here, you know, it's just that were in smaller portion. The 'net lets people find each other find each other and form communities by common interest. We have kuro5hin, and slashdot, and other sites for us to hang out and revel in geekyness. And others have sites tailored to their interests.

In the end, your story seems to be nothing more then a lamentation on the fact that you are no longer 'special' that you and those like you are no longer members of a secret society that kept the larger one around running and at the same time at bay. That you're no longer the only ones who possess the net, that to talk now you just got to a normal, run of the mill, site just like everyone else.

Bleh, who really cares?
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Ugh -- minor correction: 'tem' -> 'time' (1.83 / 6) (#3)
by delmoi on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 01:34:58 PM EST

I suppose it's better to simply never read your post again if you didn't preview. I can't belive how many mistakes I made...

Any way 'tem' in the first paragraph should be 'time' and 'his' later on should be 'hiss'

Oh well.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Thorn up your ass? (2.68 / 19) (#5)
by Signal 11 on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 01:49:58 PM EST

I don't know why but this stuck out and bugged me. Probably an artifact of your overly wordy/flowery prose.

Spell-flame.

when the internet most certainly was around and being put to serious use.

Maybe it was a novelty to me, and since you said it was so "you centric"...

To me 'indicative' is an indirect indication, a modem his is rather direct, don't you think.

I have no way of converting the white noise of a modem handshake into an intelligible form on my own... hence I use the word 'indicative' because I can't be sure.

While I wouldn't a knowledgeable 14 year old not to try it, mentioning it doesn't really evoke you much sympathy

I don't need yours, or anyone else's, sympathy. And it's not like you haven't made any mistakes or done bad things in your life. We're human beings, and we fuck up. Not mentioning it only perpetuates the social fiction that people are all law-abiding citizens.

It really takes you forever to get to the fucking point.

Maybe the 'fucking point' is that there isn't a point. Maybe it's how I feel, and there isn't a clear conclusion, something that probably really bugs someone as anal retentive as yourself. The idea that there are loose threads, or that there's no ending to a story must be a constant source of literary annoyance for you.

Real geeks are real computer scientists, or computer engineers.

You fight so hard to find a point, and then you find the wrong one...

Since you want a point, I'll offer you one... the article above is how I feel. It's my perception of the community I was a part of, and how it has fallen apart. There aren't any local meetings I can go to every week and find people who just enjoy tinkering. And no, I don't consider 'real computer scientists' or 'computer engineers' to be any more in abundance of 'real geeks' than anywhere else. I've seen too many people walk out of college with a degree in computer science and not know something as fundamental as what a RTC is, or how a system 'bootstraps' itself up to loading an Operating System. And computer 'engineer' is a very vague term, which includes, amongst other things, people who build circuits using SPICE models. Not exactly what you had in mind as a 'computer engineer' I bet. I know of someone who used to enter data into the computer systems for a sewage processing plant. He was called a 'computer engineer'. What he actually did was walk around the plant making sure the switches were set to the right position, and that the sensors for water levels were working properly.

You did get one thing right though - it is 'you centric'. It's my feelings on the matter. It's my opinion, and I don't expect anyone to simply accept it as fact. I submitted it because I have seen similar sentiments echoed on other forums. And also, at this point in my life, I'm really feeling like the internet is losing its peer-to-peer ideals and becoming 'read-only' by commercial interests. Most people do not post to forums - they read CNN. Most people do not read hardware reviews, they buy hardware online from retail outlets they know about - like Best Buy or CompUSA.

The point of the article isn't to convince anyone of anything. It's an opinion. It's a statement of how I feel. And if you agree with it, great - if not, fine. But leave the condescending attitude at the door. Not everyone writes about the world using bar graphs and nicely typed project reports. Some of us actually have feelings.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

Okay, easy question for you then: (3.33 / 6) (#11)
by Anonymous 7324 on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 03:47:10 PM EST

if this is all so you-centric, what's it doing here instead of sitting in your diary?

[ Parent ]
One easy answer, in 3 easy installments (2.60 / 10) (#14)
by Signal 11 on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 03:56:33 PM EST

if this is all so you-centric, what's it doing here instead of sitting in your diary?

I don't maintain my diary online anymore. And judging by the score of the article so far, it seems worthy of living outside my diary.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

the fact that... (4.00 / 9) (#19)
by poltroon on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 05:47:26 PM EST

you don't maintain a diary seems entirely irrelevant to the question of why you submitted your story in the queue instead of as a diary. The article reads much like a diary, bemoaning the passing of the good old days. There's nothing wrong with that, but most people around here could dash out some very similar nostalgic musings. Infusing a column with a bit of personal experience can be appropriate, but generally I think it's vaguely off-putting to readers if it's too centered around you (when they weren't expecting an autobiography, or the experience isn't particularly unique). Actually, I think what's more off-putting about the story is all this we versus them talk, as if you wish you were still part of a secret club. I think your theme would be more interesting if presented with more history about early hacker culture and its evolution, and not so much longing for the yesteryear. There is some good that has come with the web.

[ Parent ]
Question back at you. (3.20 / 5) (#24)
by static on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 07:13:15 PM EST

Do you read the diaries?

Yes? Okay. Valid question. But I don't. So I, and other people who don't would have missed out on Signal11's musings.

Wade.

[ Parent ]

And that's a bad thing? (3.12 / 8) (#26)
by enterfornone on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 08:09:15 PM EST

If you really want to hear Sig11 tell you how important he is, why don't you make the effort to go to him.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Cuz he felt like posting it (none / 0) (#86)
by error 404 on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 04:58:01 PM EST

and other people voted it up.

No rules broken.

It's that simple.

Life is like that sometimes.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Re: how I feel (3.33 / 6) (#38)
by cicero on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 11:24:08 PM EST

the article above is how I feel
try a diary.

you're arrogant and you make me sick.


--
I am sorry Cisco, for Microsoft has found a new RPC flaw - tonight your e0 shall be stretched wide like goatse.
[ Parent ]
The community isn't gone. (none / 0) (#85)
by provolt on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 10:40:57 AM EST

It's my perception of the community I was a part of, and how it has fallen apart. There aren't any local meetings I can go to every week and find people who just enjoy tinkering.
I find it hard to believe that there is no one left who wants to tinker with stuff. I admit that some stuff has been "all tinkered out". Like back in the day I loved messing with the old AT modem commands. But I don't really want to go back to that. I like my cable modem and not having to deal with AT commands when I do use a dial up connection. If you want to go back I'm sure you can find an old modem and appropriate and ticker with it, but I'm guessing that it's not going to be fun anymore because you've learned everything from it. Once there is nothing left to learn, tickering loses it's fun and those tinkering groups go away. If you really want to tinker on a BBS, start one up. Then pass out the phone number to your friends or anyone who'll take it.
And also, at this point in my life, I'm really feeling like the internet is losing its peer-to-peer ideals and becoming 'read-only' by commercial interests. Most people do not post to forums - they read CNN. Most people do not read hardware reviews, they buy hardware online from retail outlets they know about - like Best Buy or CompUSA.
If you look at percentages of people engaged in the "read-only" activities I would say that the numbers are probably going. But I don't think the actual numbers are getting smaller. There will always be people who like to tinker, I think that you just aren't connected to those communities now.

I've had feelings similar to yours when I think back to "the good ol' days". But then I think about what I was trying to do back then. I wanted to look at NASA images easily, I wanted faster speeds, I wanted to not have to dial up, and I wanted a program that would let me send message instantly to my friends computers, among other things. That was pushing the evelope then, but it's common place now and I love it. It was natural progession, and the communities you talk about where we tinkered with this stuff, have progressed to.

I think you're a little older that me (I'm 21 right now), but I think my priorities are changing in addition to the community changing. When I was young, I loved hanging out with my friends online. Now, I'd rather hang out in person. And what I want from life is changing. Getting into a new system or using a new protocol or trying to access gopher servers on each continent was great as a kid. Now I want to have a stable job. I want to start a family sometime in the next 5 or 6 years. I want to go golf with my friends instaed of trying to kill them in a video game. Don't get me wrong, I still love to tinker (and it really pisses off my girlfriend somtimes). But I want to do other things besides tinker and I think that's what happened to alot of the people who were part of those communities. New ones have grown, but they are different from the ones I knew when I was younger, just like the ones we developed were different from the ones before that.

[ Parent ]
Minor Point of Disagreement (2.00 / 2) (#6)
by sventhatcher on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 02:32:09 PM EST

I wouldn't categorize 90% of the people I see posting on Slashdot as anything like the people I knew via BBS's and in my early netting days (which was BTW, back on MOO's in the 93-96 area). Kuro5hin is closer perhaps, but still off.

I don't necessarily define the kind of people I knew as "geeks", because a fair share of them weren't. It may have not even been the people, but rather the excitement of exploring something new and watching it evolve. That's something that we can never get back and that would've gone away without the AOL invasion.

The only thing I would really like back from those days is a tedency in people to be nice/politeish and to actually speak in complete sentences with relatively good capitalization/punctuation. A lot of perhaps otherwise nice people annoy the hell out of be with "how r u?".

[ Parent ]
The language was the same then, too. (none / 0) (#82)
by Requiem on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 05:18:40 PM EST

Seriously. Back in my BBS days, there wasn't really any one accepted way of speaking. Some people talked in complete sentences, some did the "kewl substitution" stuff ("u" for "you", "rite" for "right", etc), and there was definitely d00d-speak in the local scene, too. I think you're getting a little nostalgic, unless my area was totally different from the norm.

[ Parent ]
It Was Different (none / 0) (#84)
by sventhatcher on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 03:08:41 AM EST

The difference is probably that my scene basically consisted of maybe two or three dozen people.

[ Parent ]
shameless plugging :) (3.44 / 9) (#4)
by rebelcool on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 01:41:34 PM EST

I too, got my start on BBSes and it left a huge impression on me. There are still a number of bbs-ish internet sites though. Mainly home built by folks like you and me.

Yep. I built my own web-community stuff. And released it too. Which the link on my sig will show you :) It's pretty true to the community style of bbsing, while taking advantage of the technology of the internet and web.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

They want you to give up, so don't (4.50 / 10) (#7)
by chromag on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 02:32:44 PM EST

I understand that it's your considered opinion, but to me it sounds like "I'm taking my toys and going home." All this talk about revolutions ending and the online world being inundated with norms - well, christ, what did you expect? The Internet explosion was mainly driven by Americans and Americans are mainly capitalists deep in their dirty little hearts.

The revolution is in our minds and has always been there. Don't go home yet - there's a huge number of people who grew up and thrived in the same environment as you, who experienced that wonderment at discovering things and inventing them and making things happen in the shadowed early world of online communication. Most of them see the same deterioration of the sig/noise ratio and lament it. But many of them are spending their days thinking about new ways to prop it up, new modes of thinking, new uses for old bits of wire and snippets of code. Kuro5hin is a good example. The Indymedia sites are a good example. We're all still here, still doing mainly what we want, making enough money to live and feed our hardware habits and not caring about it beyond that, and putting a large part of our energies into making a new online world, a subset or alternate to the current one, that reflects our 20 year old dreams of what 2001 would be like.

The fun's just beginning.


--

-c
dump the zeros


The world is what we make it (4.22 / 9) (#8)
by mattw on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 03:12:55 PM EST

The world, and the Internet, are what we make it. If you allow the politicians you elect to pass a law like the DMCA, then you live with the consequences. Moreover, if you want to bring the tablets down from the mountain, you have to be ready to find the masses making a golden calf (probably a P2P-enabled golden calf). Did all those who worked to enable the Internet on the level it is now do so only for their owns sakes? Was the Net only for those who could whistle modem tones? Of course not.

My wife is on a number of mailing lists. She talks with people who share her various interests. None of these mailing lists are even slightly technical, nor are they even slightly corporate. That is the true wonder of the 'Net -- that it brought this technology to the people who were most unable to appreciate the talent and even the genius that went into it.

It is amusing that geeks managed to popularize geekdom, and in doing so, converted their group dynamic to the khaki yuppies that dominate the demographic now. Personally, I blame the women. Back to my wife -- if I weren't married, I would care less than I do about how much I make, I'd live in a little apartment and spend much more time worrying about how to get my fridge on my LAN than about whether the homeowners' association was going to complain about my unmowed grass. But the original geeky generation has grown up. They were the first to grow up with computers, and now we have the Internet. This generation of kids is the first to grow up with the Internet -- we'll see what they make.

You're not the first techie I've known to absolutely despair over the downfall of the sector, and the wide incompetence that passes for 'professional' so often. Yet that khaki-clad army can only work what you give them. They don't create; they operate. And they are waiting on you, or whoever can provide the next advancement, to contribute it.

The best advice: do what you love, and keep your eyes open, and your community will form, inevitably.


[Scrapbooking Supplies]
good old times.. (2.80 / 5) (#9)
by Platy on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 03:25:06 PM EST

When you logged in BBS or whateva i probably never have heard of a computer.
Thats what i think is a pity for me - i never had this experience. Only read about it. Read about a net which wasnt full of ads and spam.
As far as i know it the HAMs still have something like that, dont they? (Any HAMs out there to tell more about this?) Isnt it forbidden per law to advertise on these frequencies and so?
Please please exuse me bad English (this time it is really horrible.) I hope it is still understandable.
J.
--
Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, I.
RE: good old times.. (3.75 / 4) (#52)
by NoseyNick on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 08:47:30 AM EST

As far as i know it the HAMs still have something like that, dont they? (Any HAMs out there to tell more about this?)

Shhhhhhhhhh, it's a well-kept secret :-)

... and yes, it's 1200 baud, AND you share that 1200 baud with anyone else wanting to access your local BBS, AND with the BBS itself, so you don't even get anywhere near 1200 actual bits per second. There are people playing with 9600 baud, but most of it is still 1200.

No adverts, no politics, theoretically no religious nuts (all banned by law). Best of all, you have to pass one technical and one sort of an "acceptable use" exam to get on it! Imagine what the internet would be like if...

Nick... G7RZQ



[ Parent ]

the commercial forces that rule the web (4.36 / 11) (#13)
by leon jacobs on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 03:47:46 PM EST

What I find most appealing about your post, is that you make a link between how you feel - which is by the way your business and not anyone else's - and the fact that it has essentially been brought on by the commercial forces that shape the internet.

Yes, it's crap. Yes, I too hate the pop-up ads, the banners, the bullshit happyspeak copy and the plastic coating, but it only mirrors what is happening in the real world. Our civilisations are all controlled by commercialism - we are no longer citizens or inhabitants of the planet - even members of the human race, but rather consumers. When we gather, we become markets.

So look at it this way. You feel like you've lost something because the internet you knew way back when has been replaced by something plastic, see-through and throw away - but I think scores of others in other industries feel the same when they think back to a time when their way of working was not controlled by market forces, commercialism etc. Think how the dying breed of watchmakers must feel about the way their business is going.

I empathise with your sentiments 100%. But you have to agree that the market forces that did all this, also paid for a lot of advances in the network. Which is not all bad.

This phenomenon, on the internet and elsewhere, will not disappear until we design a new social model that will replace the need for big business.


--
10 REM sig
20 PRINT "LEONJACOBS.COM";
30 GOTO 20

Welcome to How Money Corrupts 101 (3.00 / 6) (#18)
by syrrath on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 05:46:58 PM EST

The revolution could start if, and only if, enough people see a vision they commonly want and they give up the greed to which most of humanity follows endlessly. Great big fat chance, I know...



It's all still there (4.08 / 12) (#20)
by Tatarigami on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 06:32:47 PM EST

The community you came from is still out there. It's just no long the only one out there -- we're the rats in the walls.

:o)

Pop-up windows and strobing banner adverts aren't there for you, they're there for the people who'll sit through them because they haven't clicked to the difference between the internet and the TV. Being confronted by them is a sure sign that you've accidentally wandered across the fuzzy border into the commercial internet.

No-one I'm connected to via the internet was hurt by the dot-com crash, because they're not trying to make money out of it. There are plenty of people out there who have the know-how to create weblogs, BBSes, etc on the internet, and the will to do it because the sense of community they get from it is the payoff.

One of the first BBSes I ever logged into made the jump to the internet without even a pause in operation. The only reason it did that was for the sysop's convenience, he wanted to free up the phone line and server it used -- even as other BBSes were crashing down as their user bases migrated to the internet, his had a strong community of people who were there because they enjoyed each other's company more than filez.

We used to write text files, now we have online journals. There used to be BBS forums, now there are message boards and mailing lists. Door games have grown up, but they're still there. Chatting hasn't changed much, except for the number of people involved. Even the 1337 wAr3z do0Dz are still there, though I'm not going to try and claim that as some kind of victory.

I think the reason it's easy to believe the community has vanished is that it's no longer small. It's grown and diversified, and because everyone's interconnected through overlapping communities, it's gotten harder to point to the place where one ends and the next begins.


So you were more intelligent than them? (2.20 / 15) (#21)
by untrusted user on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 06:45:34 PM EST

Too bad you're also "more intelligent" than the rest of us. I guess that's why nobody likes you.

This is not the first time this has happened... (4.50 / 12) (#25)
by dram on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 07:55:19 PM EST

Signal 11-

And it will not be the last. In the late fortys and early fiftys this same thing happened to the hot rodders. In the past, after WW2, many of the GIs came back from the war and bought cars and the built them up, designing the parts they needed as they went. They knew how the cars worked and how to build them better. Just like you do with computers.

Then the car companys started taking over. Look at the hot rod industry now. It is still alive and kicking, but it's not the same. People no longer build their own parts. They find somebody that manufacuters them and so they can just bolt the piece onto their car.

I am an old school hot rodder, I still design and build my own parts when I need to. I do not just look through a catalog to find what I need. But it is a lonly process. I do not have people to share this with. My other teenage friends do not understand my need to build my car up from scratch. They would prefer to just buy what they need. So this is something that is sad and lonely. The hackers are not the first people that this has happened to, and will not be the last. The best we can do is try to change with the times and accept it.

-dram
[grant.henninger.name]

A bastion of the "old days" (3.45 / 11) (#30)
by Erbo on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 09:29:19 PM EST

Signal 11, you wrote:

Nowhere can I go and just talk BS without needing to feel I have to have the credentials to be there, or wave a business card in the air to get attention.
At the risk of shameless self-promotion, may I take the opportunity to invite you to Electric Minds, a virtual community full of people, of varied backgrounds, occupations, and worldwide locations, who "just talk BS" all the time and don't demand credentials of anybody...simply that you have something to say.

I've written about Electric Minds elsewhere, but let me expand a little bit here...Electric Minds kind of represents a bucking of the trends you refer to in your essay. Once it was conceived as a virtual community where people could get together and talk. Then somebody tried to make money off it. They failed. Now we, the users of Electric Minds, have reclaimed it and are bringing it back to something like its original purpose. We do not run advertisements; we have nothing to do with e-commerce; none of us are under the impression that we're going to get rich, or even make a living, off this. What we have is our shared conversational space, to which we welcome any and all newcomers.

I voted "+1 Section" for your article; it's decently written. Yes, in some respects, as Steely Dan would have it, "Those days are gone forever, over a long time ago." But some of us are still keeping enclaves of the "old ways" alive...we may not be easy to find, but we're out there.

Eric
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org

Shitty article (3.46 / 13) (#33)
by Gutza on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 09:56:07 PM EST

Ok, I'll start the civilized way -- by telling you the article is good. You probably saw The Matrix. When I saw The Matrix I felt sad. And that's because that was MY movie. I've been thinking about those things for ages - and about way more than what they showed in the movie. So that's what I was sad about: they used MY ideas to create THEIR movie! But I was also happy about it -- I was happy because my ideas didn't end up in a B-rated movie with Hulk Hogan featuring the rebel.

I felt the same about your article: I'm sorry you posted this because this was MY article. But I'm not happy at all because Hulk Hogan IS featuring the rebel this time. Your article simply sucks.

Ok, now I'll explain myself: I was using DOS when FIDO was the "Weapon Of Choice". So I know what you're talking about -- I'm not one of those "'IT professionals'... leeches". And I miss the old FIDO days -- I really do! But your article is just whining over a dead era which was nothing better than today's era is. I could give you thousands of reasons, but I'll just resume to a single reason: I wouldn't have been able to send feelback on your article ten years ago. And if you feel that's a bad thing... no comment!

The whole of your article simply extrapolates one silly statement: "it's all about making faster chips, better webpages". What did you expect? Wake up! People are using money on a daily basis -- why wouldn't computer literates do the same? It's true, the BBS/FIDO days are over, but so are the days of the hippie, the days of the Beatles and the days of the Rennaisance. And they're all over exactly because some people decided to make money out ot them. That's the great thing about the human race: we evolve! Don't you?!

Who's your vendor, who's your vendor? — Scott Adams
time is K5
I miss the playground, too. (4.16 / 12) (#35)
by JazzManJim on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 10:39:06 PM EST

I do remember those days. I was in a slightly different playground than you, and got to it a different way, but I miss it. I'm sorry to see the place I used to spend night after night almost by myself, enoying the sheer exploration and finding all the little nooks and crannies that I thought only I knew about. I miss the days of my old playground.

I know it's a somewhat silly analogy, but that's what it feels like. It feels like a whole bunch of people came into the playground I used to love and built an amusement park. Sure, it's fun, but it's not the same. It's not just mine anymore, and I don't like what they've done with the place. Luckily, I've found a couple entertaining little corners in which to play that remind me a lot of the old lot full of undiscovered mysteries and eccentric folks I've always loved.

Kudos on the article.


-Jimmie
"Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God...I am confident that Muslims will be able to end the legend of the so-called superpower that is America."
(Osama bin Laden - 10 Jan 1999)
THANK you! (4.40 / 5) (#47)
by locke baron on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 06:42:57 AM EST

Thank you with a near-infinite kindness! Someone finally saw the point! Someone saw past the fact that the guy used to be a cracker (hell, who hasn't at least known of a few backdoors in their time?), and into the fact that the once-familiar Net has become this jungle of rules and licenses and patents and protocols deliberately broken (say what you winn about Microsoft, they have bent their SMB implementation sixteen ways to naught, and I find it hard to believe that it was for technical reasons).

Someone finally sees the point. Now, if only there were some way that we could fix it.


Micro$oft uses Quake clannies to wage war on Iraq! - explodingheadboy
[ Parent ]
I had this place in mind when I read the post. (5.00 / 1) (#61)
by JazzManJim on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 05:22:39 PM EST

When I was in Middle School (GRade 7 and 8, to be exact), there was this little grove of trees that was next to the school - technically off of school grounds, but close enough that I could get back in time for my next class and hear the external speakers if there was an announcement. I used to wander through that little wood just about every day and, about a month into the school year, I found this perfect spot. ACross a small creek, and up into the woods, there was a little hill, completely surrounded by trees, and right on top of the hill was a treestump of the perfect height for me to sit and not be uncomfortable. I used to spend my free time during school (mostly study hall, lunch, and "free time") up there reading and enjoying the outside, and just poking around. No one ever came up there, and I was always surprised at that, considering that there was a townhouse development and my school not 100 yards from the grove on either side. I spent the better part of two years spending time up there, and it was my little hideout, my playground, my study and thinking spot, and the base for countless adventures in my own mind.

A couple years later - perhaps three or four - I had the occasion to go back to the school to pick up my younger brother. I had some time before school ended, so I decided to wander over and see if I could find that place again. I found that development had struck - the place was completely denuded and graded right down to ground level. Even the creek was choked with dirt and debris and there was a big fence between it and the school. That made me sad, that my place had been ground over for a new row of townhouses. I doubt that anyone ever knew how special that place had been to me, and I'm not sure they would have cared if they had known.

In any event, that's what the article reminded me of. I found other places, even in the growing sprawl that is my hometown. I suppose that you can't get back what you've lost, but you can always find new places, even in the mostly-homogenous world of the Web.
-Jimmie
"Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God...I am confident that Muslims will be able to end the legend of the so-called superpower that is America."
(Osama bin Laden - 10 Jan 1999)
[ Parent ]
A very valid point. (3.33 / 3) (#67)
by locke baron on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 06:49:04 AM EST

There is always another duck, if you will. OTOH, sometimes it just takes so long to find the new one that the damage to the places you once knew just gets to you.


Micro$oft uses Quake clannies to wage war on Iraq! - explodingheadboy
[ Parent ]
it's always the townhouses, isn't it? (3.00 / 2) (#70)
by chopper on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 12:08:22 PM EST

there used to be a huge field right by my house. wild grass and wheat, and other whatnot grew about four feet tall. of course, it was a lot taller then, when you're nine.

anyway, this field had some cleared spots, and two small ponds. they were the places we would go to on those hot illinois summer days to hang out. you could hide for days in that grass.

the razing and development, luckily for me, only started after i was a bit older. anyway, while they were digging, the construction crews piled all of the earth into huge mounds, like two stories tall. so, while the fields were gone, we at least had a really rad place to ride a bike.

i guess you just have to figure out the best way to enjoy things, even when they change.

give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish
[ Parent ]

Executive summary (3.87 / 16) (#37)
by baberg on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 11:01:59 PM EST

For those of you who missed it, this is the executive summary of the article:

  • Computers were cool back when I was a kid because they weren't widespread.
  • BBSs were good, in that when they began to be stagnant and boring, they allowed access to the Internet.
  • I had a troubled childhood, and computers kept me stable.
  • The school had me figured for a hacker, when all I ever did was sniff passwords and steal accounts. The nerve of them, claiming that I couldn't use the computers for fear of doing something "illegal"...
  • The Internet becomes popular.
  • Microsoft sucks. (it's there!)
  • Computer "geeks" have lost their roots.
  • I am sad to see the Internet go down into the commercial sector
Granted, the section is "Columns" with a topic of "Culture", but in the same vein, can I write a 15-paragraph long article about my last quarter at Ohio State and the subsequent job search, throwing something in about geeks who are trying hard to find jobs in a slowing economy?

I'd like to discuss the idea that geeks have lost their roots. But I'm just not interested in the trials and tribulations of Signal 11. Sorry, man, I feel for you, and you're right; many of us share the same background and experiences. But man... Send 13 paragraphs to a diary and leave the discussion of geeks losing their roots in the queue.

I am now rolling my eyes. (3.76 / 13) (#42)
by RareHeintz on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 01:33:09 AM EST

Bitch, moan, whine. You haven't said a damn thing that isn't said by everyone who whines that the cool thing they were into back in the day has now become the hip thing that everyone is into.

Y'know, a lot of other people (myself included) were geeks before we found the Internet, but some of us have taken advantage of the economic opportunity that has developed since, and enjoy being top dogs in an increasingly technology-driven economy. And I, for one, am not going to apologize for it. Being a geek helped me escape a small town full of ignorant assholes and move to a big city full of ignorant assholes, where I can rake in money like a fucking dope lord.

Does it suck that Microsoft, AOL/Time-Warner, the RIAA, the MPAA, and everyone else with a billion dollars wants to censor, control, or otherwise fuck with what could be a great medium if it were left to the geeks and the users? Sure it does. But if you don't like it, quit your pathetic bitching about the good old days that were never as good as you remember them, and do something about it - go make a billion dollars doing something that's good for the geeks and the users.

OK,
- B
--
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily

Have you ever stopped to consider (2.50 / 2) (#46)
by locke baron on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 06:37:37 AM EST

just how damnably difficult it is to make a billion anymore? I'm not even sure it's possible these days. So, Mr. I'm-not-a-whiner-cause-I-just-bitch-about-whiners, exactly what the electric hell should we do to take back the internet from the censoring powergrubbers?
I apologize, but I'm just a bit pissed off by people pissing and moaning about pissers-and-moaners.


Micro$oft uses Quake clannies to wage war on Iraq! - explodingheadboy
[ Parent ]
Cerf, Berners-Lee, and Signal 11? (3.94 / 18) (#43)
by streetlawyer on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 02:01:30 AM EST

and to sit silently while the world ignores the plainly obvious gift my community gave to them

"My community gave them"? The community of self-important whingers have given us precisely fuck-all, and that's the only community I see you as a member of; a history of BBS use and a few non-starter proposals on Sourceforge (am I the only one who remembers your "Infosphere" attempt to put broadband Web content over the radio ham network?) do not give you the right to claim to be part of the "community" who invented the Internet. You might as well say that I, streetlawyer, am part of the community who invented the internal combustion engine because I believe the actual inventor, like me, was a touch overweight and enjoyed a pint and an argument. You haven't thanked me for that, have you?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

2400 baud (2.09 / 11) (#44)
by fluffy grue on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 03:00:42 AM EST

Dear Siggy,

I don't know anyone who can't whistle 2400 baud on their first try, even on 56K modems.

It doesn't make you leet. Sorry to break it to you.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

Chill out. (2.00 / 4) (#45)
by locke baron on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 06:33:50 AM EST

<flame> You needn't be so damn derogatory. It's not as if he were trumpeting his ability to whistle 2400 baud as the be-all and end-all of his abilities. </flame>


Micro$oft uses Quake clannies to wage war on Iraq! - explodingheadboy
[ Parent ]
You call that a flame? (4.00 / 2) (#57)
by fluffy grue on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 01:21:00 PM EST

That was well-reasoned and pretty much cool-headed, and didn't come across as a personal attack. I don't think that counts as a flame.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Ok, agreed. (none / 0) (#66)
by locke baron on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 06:46:13 AM EST

But I felt angrier than I sounded... Oh, well, it wasn't intended as a personal attack, I was just a little annoyed by people harrassing Signal 11 for being irked by the current state of affairs.
Eep. I hope that reads as coherently to others as it does to me.


Micro$oft uses Quake clannies to wage war on Iraq! - explodingheadboy
[ Parent ]
Advice (3.87 / 8) (#48)
by slaytanic killer on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 07:08:50 AM EST

Close your eyes. For a while. When you open your eyes, look at things anew, as if you were a child and starting out again, seeing what strikes your eyes.

You can not put work into a system and not have it change. The world is big, and what you want could be in a different form.

Some of the things that I miss: (4.68 / 16) (#49)
by spacejack on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 08:03:49 AM EST

  • when articles were in print and had to go through a professional editor before I read them
  • when people knew the difference between politics and software; when platform wars were nothing more than good natured fun
  • when guys who wasted countless hours of their youth with Locksmith trying to find the "parameters" to crack the latest game instead of learning to code weren't diefied
  • when computers almost shed the command-line (we were so close)
  • when the best videogame player in your 'hood didn't use a bot
  • when trolls ate goats instead of doing them
  • when hackers and artists weren't at cross-purposes; they were just different
  • when code wasn't art
  • when art wasn't "information"
  • when making stuff was cooler than breaking stuff
But I adapted. I hope you can too.

Yeah, right... (3.25 / 4) (#51)
by RareHeintz on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 08:42:00 AM EST

OK, point by point:
  • Sure. I remember when the editors of 2600 treated Strunk & White's style guide like a religion.
  • Uh... The platform wars always had a religious tone - ask any Amiga user from back in the day.
  • Well, you got me on that one. Except that they deified each other.
  • Who wants them to shed the command line? I wouldn't use an OS without one then, and won't now.
  • Never happened.
  • Spent much time on large BBS's? Or just the small ones where the sysop had time to find out who was trolling and revoke their accounts?
  • What does that mean? Insert "accountants" for "hackers" and "frogs" for "artists" and that makes just as much sense.
  • Good coding has always had an inductive, intuitive aspect that makes for a high element of craftsmanship, whether or not you wish to call it art.
  • Art has always been information. Music, too. Ditto literature. Oh yeah - so's code.
  • Making stuff was then and is now cooler than breaking stuff. People who break stuff go to jail. People who make stuff often get paid for it. People who make great stuff retire early.
I mean, if you really miss the "good" old days so badly, see if your ISP will let you use your old 2400 baud modem. I could even loan you my old VIC-20...

OK,

--
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily
[ Parent ]

I was kidding (sort of) (3.40 / 5) (#53)
by spacejack on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 09:00:31 AM EST

If Signal 11 can put up a list of things he misses, than so can I. You don't have to agree with them ;) Second, I was talking about culture in general. Back in those days, not much of this stuff had much societal impact; in that sense I miss them the same way Signal 11 does.

Still, a few things...

Uh... The platform wars always had a religious tone - ask any Amiga user from back in the day.

Religious yes, political no. I still hold a bigger grudge against IBM than MS.. but that's a religious thing.

Who wants them to shed the command line? I wouldn't use an OS without one then, and won't now.

Well, just IMHO. Ideally you'd just say "do this" or click a button like in the movies, rather than look up the command and a list of parameters. But I got spoiled on a Mac early.

No one used bots to compete in videogames because they were all in the arcades, ranked by score, with 3 letter nicks (I guess the 10 years earlier thing kinda slipped by you, my bad for not making it clearer).

Good coding has always had an inductive, intuitive aspect that makes for a high element of craftsmanship, whether or not you wish to call it art.

I just miss not arguing about it.

What does that mean? Insert "accountants" for "hackers" and "frogs" for "artists" and that makes just as much sense.

Napster, Gnutella, Freenet, etc.

Art has always been information. Music, too. Ditto literature. Oh yeah - so's code.

We didn't used to call it that in my day. It was a more romantic era (remember, I'm playing the disgruntled old fart character).

Making stuff was then and is now cooler than breaking stuff. People who break stuff go to jail. People who make stuff often get paid for it. People who make great stuff retire early.

Hmm, MPAA, or DeCSS crack kid... who's got the better media spin? (not a value judgement)

[ Parent ]
There are still (2.80 / 5) (#50)
by spacejack on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 08:10:56 AM EST

those who enjoy "prying open a manhole cover, and armed with a flashlight go searching for interesting things".

professionals (2.00 / 8) (#54)
by lb on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 09:57:40 AM EST

But within a short time they were overwhelmed with 'IT professionals'... leeches who saw the high rates being paid to regular geeks and attacked the industry en masse. The result was broken software, flaky hardware, sub-standard tech support, and Microsoft.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

God, you're so unintentionally funny. Keep it coming.

-lb

Times Change (5.00 / 8) (#55)
by clarioke on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 10:44:38 AM EST

You can either change with them, or talk about how much better things were "in your day."

Children of the Eighties was an article that surfaced in my high school when I was a junior or senior. We reminisced about how cartoons, food, commercials, toys and life was better Then.

And we were only 17 when we were saying that.

You may say "in MY day . . . " and annoy the hell out of other people. Or you can say "This is STILL my day" and keep living. After all, life doesn't have to end when you turn 20 or 25 or 30 or 80.

A Giant generation gap... (2.50 / 2) (#56)
by hillct on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 01:15:44 PM EST

I remember the days when hacking meant actually doing things which you could be arrested for. Now it's used to describe gamers who want to cheat at doom. I remember the old days of in-band signaling when you could get free phone calls with a few well placed analog tones; when you could use a pay phone when you'd spent your last quarter on a soda, by connecting tip to ground to get a dial tone. No longer...

Now, hacking has been dumbed down, and the only way the new generation even begins to understand what the old days were like is through movies such as Three days of the condor, (the only place you'll see an electro-mechanical telephone switch-room unless you emigrate to a third-world country), or War Games which embodies all the fears of the public, with regard to the computer age.

The doom-sayers who feared the power of the computer have been replaced with the doom-sayers who fear the power of the corporations, and fret over the privacy of information.

Times; they have changed, and we must change with them.

--CTH


--Got Lists? | Top 31 Signs Your Spouse Is A Spy
Hacking (3.00 / 1) (#75)
by cainam on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 03:57:03 PM EST

Hacking has never meant, by definition, something you can get arrested for doing. Sure, some hacking (redboxing, which you mentioned, would be an example) could get you arrested, but I hack on code. And that's hacking. And it's not illegal. I believe it's in the same spirit.

[ Parent ]
Phreaking (none / 0) (#80)
by wiredog on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 10:34:08 AM EST

What you're describing in the first paragraph is phone phreaking. It's a subset of hacking.

"Anything that's invented after you're 35 is against the natural order of things", Douglas Adams
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry... (4.83 / 6) (#58)
by izubachi on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 01:39:42 PM EST

I don't remember the world you lived in. I never got to romp through the BBS systems, or experience a time when "geek" was a horrible insult. It is all foreign to me. As a teenager, I can't truely understand your experience, or what you have lost. I probably wasn't even born while you were playing with your first computer. But the end of your world is the beginning of mine. I love the internet. I don't just use it, I truely love it. I love late night navigations between the many thousands of sites, one link after another. I love beholding the beauty of a really well-designed site, or a perfectly timed flash movie. I love modern multiplayer games and the sheer number of people I can experience them with. I love roaming through a community message board with profile pictures, sigs, ranks, all of those things that have been added to the concept over the years. I love finding a decent blog hidden among the garbage and listening in on someone's anonymous secrets. Hell, I even love seeing clever advertisements, for all the annoyance they bring.

I love all of it. I can't get enough of it. The things which repulse and depress you excite and entice me. And I don't know why. I don't like money-grubbing commercializm and technophobic government anymore than you do. But it doesn't burn me out. I'll continue wearing my DeCSS t-shirt and explaining the issue to those who ask. I'll continue to laugh at silly attempts to get me to buy some random piece of shit I don't need. And I'll continue to love the internet.

I'm sorry this world no longer holds your interest as it once did. The same thing will probably happen to me in a few years when the computer world lurches off in another direction. At least you had fun while you could. I'll do the same.



Heh (3.75 / 4) (#68)
by forgey on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 07:47:38 AM EST

You are Siggy's dream!

The truth is you probably aren't much younger than he is and as much as he wants to make you believe he was 'there' in the beginning, it just isn't true.

Sure he was probably BBS'ing, but really, he isn't very special. He just likes to hear himself talk and try to prove he's more intelligent than the rest of humanity. Don't be sorry, don't feel sorry for him. Just ignore him.

forgey

[ Parent ]
Yup (4.66 / 3) (#72)
by ubu on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 03:33:14 PM EST

I'm just thankful for the fact that as generational die-off occurs the cranky wankers who wax nostalgic about Good Old Days -- that weren't any better, and were mostly much worse -- will disappear. I have my complaints about the younger generation (who doesn't?) but in the end we'd drown in our own BS without a fresh crew to come along and feel inspired by the present -- rather than weighed down by the baggage of remembrances past.

Ubu


--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
something that bugs me (2.50 / 2) (#59)
by cory on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 03:55:33 PM EST

Early in the article, you state that your first forrays online were with a Windows 3.0 box. Later, you lambast "IT Professionals" who are responsible for "broken software, flaky hardware, sub-standard tech support, and Microsoft." Since you were using one of their products, you know full well that Microsoft existed "back in the day".

Now, if you had started by saying your first computer was a Commodore 128 with a 300 baud modem and two external 5.25 inch floppy drives (like mine was), it would've made more sense. As it is, it's just confusing.

Cory


[OT] Attn: Cory (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by ti dave on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 04:26:47 PM EST

Please check the Trusted User guidelines, in reference to your "0" rating of comment #2, in the submission at;

http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=displaystory;sid=2001/6/18/62242/3451

I've already e-mailed help@kuro5hin.org advising of the duplicate post.

Cheers,

ti_dave
"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
(would've replied by email) (none / 0) (#63)
by cory on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 07:29:34 PM EST

Sorry 'bout that. I rated the parent a 5 to balance it out in your favor.

Cory


[ Parent ]
Not in my favor Bro... (none / 0) (#65)
by ti dave on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 03:25:57 AM EST

I didn't write the parent post. I just went to your most recent comment, in the hopes that you'd see the reply.
You didn't have to rate it a "5" BTW, (but thanks!) that overcompensates. A "1" on the duplicate post, and an e-mail to Help (rusty) will get an editor's attention, so they can fix it.

Cheers,

ti_dave
"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
My first computer (3.33 / 3) (#87)
by cable on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 05:39:37 PM EST

was a Timex/Sinclair 1000 with a tape drive, no modem. It had 4K of RAM, my BASIC programs filled that up quickly. Later on for Christmas my father got us a Commodore 64 by itself. Then next year a tape drive so I could save my BASIC programs to it. The C64 needed a special tape drive, couldn't use a standard one. Later I saved up my money and got a 300 baud VicModem! I discovered CompuServe and BBSes. Then we got a 1541 drive. We couldn't afford much back then.

But now, for less than $800USD you can have a system that blows away a C64 1000 times over! C64 stuff can be run via an emulator now. Back then an IBM PC with dual floppies and a 10 megabyte hard drive cost over $5000USD. These days the PC is junk worth less than $100 at a swap-meet.

Back then, only the "Elite" got on the BBSes, they had to know what they were doing to get the modem and computer working. These days everyone and their dumb cousin Bubba can get on the Internet with a few mouse clicks. Using the word "Elite" these days could mean something else. Back then being a "Hacker" meant you could learn how to use a computer without needing to read manuals and you learned how to program by poking around the insides of the ROM and RAM areas of the computer and wrote your own programs. Being a "Hacker" these days means something else.

So the big question is "Where do we go from here?"

------------------
Only you, can help prevent Neb Rage!
[ Parent ]

Everyone else? (3.83 / 6) (#64)
by Lai Lai Boy on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 11:47:37 PM EST

...suffered from social isolation from my classmates... it didn't help that I was more intelligent than them.

Who are you to say you were smarter than everyone else? It seems to me the people who say that are the ones that have humility problems and aren't smart enough to deal with social situations. I think the author's greater intelligence comes from he didn't know anyone from the groups he was cast out from.

I'm in high school right now. I'm a computer nerd, a drama geek, a lit geek; I've got a lot of different friends. In addition, I've moved (two years in one state that i spent my life in, and now the one I'm in now), so I have experienced a wide variety of peopel. What I've found out is everyone is smart at something. Some people know literature better than me, some people know music, or chemistry, or algebra. Just because your peers couldn't post to a BBS doesn't mean you were more intelligent than them. I have sympathy for social outcasts, but not when they try and justify it to themselves by elevating their intelligence onto a pedestal.

[Posted from Mozilla Firebird]

(Veering OT) (4.50 / 2) (#71)
by Macrobat on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 02:26:15 PM EST

Amen to that. Social skills require intelligence, too, but Signal 11 doesn't seem to realize that. Instead, he relies here on impressing us with a less-than-astounding geek resume. I hope he'll forgive me for not being impressed.

On a tangent, though, why do so many people with limited social skills assume it's because of their intelligence? I was socially awkward for a while, too. Then I applied my wits to understanding basic social interaction, and--voila--the problem was solved.

On yet another tangent, why do people with scant evidence of higher intelligence and ample evidence of social inadequacy identify so heavily with Ayn Rand? That's only partly a rhetorical question. I really don't understand her appeal among supposedly intelligent people.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

Sorry for my ignorance... (1.00 / 1) (#74)
by cainam on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 03:51:53 PM EST

Forgive the stupid question, but who's Ayn Rand?

[ Parent ]
Who is Ayn Rand? (none / 0) (#77)
by yosemite on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 04:07:27 PM EST

http://www.google.com/search?q=Ayn+Rand

--
[Signature redacted]

[ Parent ]
Ayn Rand is a moron. (none / 0) (#83)
by provolt on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 12:00:55 AM EST

Ayn Rand is an author. She wrote books and started a cult. Her books are about Objectivism. The basic tenent of objectivism is that

"I'm the only person in the world that is worth the space I occupy. Therefore I should be an asshole to everyone and because I am superior you should revel in my asshole ways."

Rand's books are filled with many, many pages which basically say "Think for yourself, just like this." Many people in the tech world (and elsewhere) have embrace Ayn Rand's philosophy because it allows them to be egotistical, elitist and greedy without remorse. Heck, objectivism encourages these and just about every other type of anti-social behavior.

[ Parent ]
Why Ayn Rand Is The Right Choice (4.50 / 4) (#78)
by hansel on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 11:26:44 PM EST

Ayn Rand wrote about strong and intelligent characters who were obviously too strong and intelligent to live easily or comfortably with all the cretins surrounding them. Thus, if you're maladjusted, and think you're more clever or sophisticated or talented than everyone else, Howard Roark seems like a kindred spirit.

In short, like Signal 11, fans of Ayn Rand are often pompous dinks who whine about being misunderstood, if they bother to swivel their heads at all.

[ Parent ]
social skills and intelligence (none / 0) (#79)
by mattw on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 02:37:03 AM EST

No amount of social skills can make up for a situation where people are hostile to you because they feel inadequate and/or jealous. The academic setting which forms the foundation of most kids' social lives automatically identifies intelligent children. Those who are extremely smart are systematically discriminated against, generally because other children feel they have something to prove. In my own case, this happened, and it triggered a very non-helpful response to have something to prove back. Because my intelligence was cause for jealousy, some people would try to tear it down, and I responded with arrogant superiority, and backed it up by embarrassing others as incompetent.

It was a sad and vicious cycle, and it only ended when I mentally completely dropped out of school. By the same token, that hostility totally crippled my social development, and it took a while before I was able to interact normally. Also, hyperintelligence tends to go with odd preferences. Wanting to go dumpster diving on friday night isn't the way to the "in crowd". Or, as a friend of mine said, "When all you want to do is play with equations and read books on the weekend, you are guaranteed to be the odd nerd out." Probably the only thing that salvaged part of my time in high school was getting on the basketball team.

This problem is amplified if you're in a small school. My graduating class had 33 people in it. The school size was 150ish. If you're in a graduating class of 500, you're liable to have people on your level, or at least people who share your interests. When you're in a class of 33 people, and you have a 1-in-10,000 brain, you're not likely to find people who can hang with you.

I wouldn't dare make assumptions about Signal 11's background, but I'm very comfortable asserting that high intelligence is almost certain to handicap your social acclimation, especially when you can't find a peer group of equals. As adults, we tend to gravitate together -- because rather than being grouped by age, we group by profession, and professions have certain minimum requirements -- and, unlike in school, co-workers tend to value people who can solve problems better/faster, innovate easier, etc.


[Scrapbooking Supplies]
[ Parent ]
A point to consider (none / 0) (#88)
by spiralx on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 06:48:00 AM EST

No amount of social skills can make up for a situation where people are hostile to you because they feel inadequate and/or jealous. The academic setting which forms the foundation of most kids' social lives automatically identifies intelligent children.

Have you ever wondered why these people feel inadequate in terms of intelligence? Is it because plenty of people who display some kind of above average intelligence assume a kind of arrogance about that, because it's the one thing they feel that does make them better than anyone else?

Sure, it's more difficult to avoid being labelled "smart" at school, but still I think that there is a lot of elitism amongst people like Siggy which accounts for much of their social blight. And I can admit to being like that at school for several years, but issues of relative intelligence haven't even come up in my social life for over a decade. I don't act like a smartarse, and I don't look down on people who might not be as smart as I am. I mean, there are enough people out there who are far smarter than me, and I don't resent them!

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

school vs. the rest of the world (none / 0) (#90)
by mattw on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 01:28:40 PM EST

I'm specifically talking about school. sig11 is young enough that it's practically all he's known. As I mentioned, I think there's a downward spiral that's possible, where some hostility opens up because of jealousy, but the response is arrogance as a defense mechanism. I'm sure it can be the other way around. But intelligence is like having a big nose -- the more different you are, the more it stands out, and the more you become a target. It's not only true for smarter kids, its true for the dumber ones, too (once it becomes noticable).

As for the not-in-a-decade thing -- I've been out of high school for 8 years now. That's how long its been. The moment I was at college, smart was good, and when I started working, smart was even better. Even socially, it has become a non-issue. Anyhow, I felt the need to speak in Sig11's defense. In fact, I think most people who would attack him for his attitude are still feeling inferior, because if they weren't, they'd couch advice with concern rather than condescension. Not that his post wasn't a bit of a self-concerned rant, but that doesn't make it open season.


[Scrapbooking Supplies]
[ Parent ]
Remember, this is High School (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by Macrobat on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 10:35:45 AM EST

Having different interests from other people makes it hard to do things with them, and hard to break out of isolation; but it rarely incites hostility. Your own insecurity, and your inexperience with dealing with it, might have had something to do with it.

Let's face one thing, here: we're talking about school. Now, for me, high school was a blast, but junior high was the lowest pit in hell. Some people have it the other way around, and some unfortunate souls have a hard time all around. Very, very few don't have a rough time of it at some point. Not even the prom queens among us. Witness the success of the book Reviving Ophelia and a bunch of titles in its wake, which said how hard adolescent girls have it, followed by a bunch that said boys have it even harder.

News flash: adolescence is painful. Why this is so is worthy of a writeup and debate, but intelligence is not the root of this particular evil. It can improve or it can worsen the situation, but it is not the cause.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

Bullshit. (3.50 / 4) (#76)
by coffee17 on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 03:59:04 PM EST

I've found out is everyone is smart at something.

Then I would like to introduce you to my immediate family some time. My father is the most intelligent of all, getting a 2.2 from UWStout, and only having to migrate to a new job every few years because of general inadequecy. When I was in 8th grade, my mom brought home some work which she claimed was horribly hard, and I did what would have taken her most of the weekend in an hour. My sister is also mostly braindead, and guzzling beer to try and kill what might be left. Heck, none of them even have some special trivia/sport/skill they are good at, and as a nonbeliever I know the bible near infinately better than all of them despite mother's bible study, and everyone's every week pilgrimage to church.

And it's not just my family. If you hadn't said you were in highschool I would have said that you had to be in highschool or functionally retarded to actually say that everyone is smart in something. A lot of people are smart in nothing, they aren't book smart, don't have common sense, aren't artistic and don't even have people skills. Heck even most highschoolers won't posit that everyone is smart in something.

-coffee


[ Parent ]

Only 10 years? (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by LQ on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 10:09:06 AM EST

I don't want to play the I remember punchcards card but, really. Ten years ago the internet was well established with loads of protocols generating tons of traffic: Usenet, gopher, archie, ftp etc. See here and look at what was happening in 1991. Admittedly, I was sharing a 64k line with 1000 colleagues at the time!

All that's happened is that PCs got cheaper, pipes got bigger and net usage went mainstream. But I do feel nostalgic for those heady, elitist, early days

you're a wisconsinite? (2.50 / 2) (#73)
by coffee17 on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 03:49:56 PM EST

Scary, but from your description, if you'd mentioned also getting busted by feds while you were at UW (I'm assuming the local uni was one of them, but then you mentioned moving alot so perhaps not) I'd think that I might actually have known you. Well, not face to face known you... I met very few people face to face, and thought that most of the get togethers were lame, and possibly against the community style (well, get togethers with a purpose, like dumpster diving was OK, but barbecues or RT pizza (round table, not real time) just didn't appeal to me). I don't suppose that you played tradewars on End of the Galaxy BBS? They never became an ISP, but that's where I got my first access to lynx and an email account.

Most I say that yes, BBS'es are dead, and that big sites like kuro5hin, and especially /. are not a decent substitute to the BBS community, but part of the burn out you feel, might be the burn out that most people will feel with time. Maybe try looking at some aspect of CS that you've never looked at before, maybe stop doing computer related work for your job (that why I quit being a programmer to be a sysadmin (ok, it's computer related, but I'm not crunching C)) if you haven't already. And if doing these don't help, perhaps it is time to shut off the computer, but before you do you might want to look around and see what else there is. If you find something truly great, I'm sure some of us other disillusioned people might want to hear of it... just don't let wall street hear.

-coffee


Internet, Web not synonymous (4.66 / 3) (#81)
by wiredog on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 10:41:24 AM EST

Ten years ago, there were almost [no domains] Ten years ago, the internet really wasn't around, except as a novelty. The internet was around 10 years ago, and there were quite a few domains. In college, in the late 80's, I was on usenet and downloading from ftp sites. The Internet is a hell of a lot more than just html pages.

"Anything that's invented after you're 35 is against the natural order of things", Douglas Adams
You helped build it? (4.00 / 2) (#91)
by exa on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 08:01:43 PM EST

Great, so you implemented some of the protocols and Internet applications that we use now.

Or not?

Anyway, starting out with windows 3.0 is way lame. I used to have an atari 800 XL. Amiga meant real hacking, those were the days m68k ruled :)

Let me tell you how I feel. On the net I see zillions of lamers: sys admins, email/web users, clueless novice programmers. Where are the great programmers now? Blah.

People now write shit in PHP and think they are programmers. We used to control every bit on the hardware. Now I do C++, but then again only a couple of people can write good C++ code and the remaining millions of idiots think they are programmers because they can add stupid gadgets in Microslut Visual C++.

Good for us old hacks there is still plenty of hard coding to do ;)
__
exa a.k.a Eray Ozkural
There is no perfect circle.

We've seen this before (none / 0) (#92)
by sto0 on Sat Jun 30, 2001 at 09:45:04 AM EST

It's easy to have this attitude, but i'd say that you should read more computer history so that you start to understand that this kind of thing has always, and will always happen.

For instance, local user groups for the first home-build PCs which were pioneering, community-encouraging clubs were later taken over by the commercial development of PCs. The now famous "Homebrew Computer Club" started out as a collection of enthusiasts building computers for the fun and interest of it. Even people like Steve Jobs were part of this club. However, the more the industry developed, the less people needed real devotion and talent in order to operate their computers, so the club disappeared.

This is a fact of life; sad but true. I'd like to see real communities on the internet as much as yourself, but i realise that we live in a world where everything gets commercialised. I don't like it one bit, so my aim is to find those new areas in which communities can be built and keep them from commercialisation for as long as posible.

Stuart

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