*** syncr0w has changed the topic on channel mist to welcome to a realm of
sight and sound of such fury that is beyond experience.. ***
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This frightens me. I was on the phone a few weeks ago, at a friends
house and talking to some associate of her kid sisters for the sole reason thathe was a computer person too.
So, youre a computer person?
Sure. Well, moreso than most of us could be called.
If youre a computer person, then tell me this: name three variants ofUNIX.
Well, lessee. Theres Linux, theres BSDs flavour, and, oh, doesnt
Sun have a variant too?
Yeah, Solaris. Okay. Howabout this: What does Linux run on?
Is this some sort of trick question? If Im to believe the latest
round of Linus Torvald propaganda, it can run on everything from a mainframe
down to a rewired Texas Instruments Speak-And-Say calculator.
All right, then, what language do you program in?
Im not really a coder.
No, come on, youre a computer person youve got to know some
programming languages.
Well, Im familiar with a bunch of them, but Id hardly say that
program in any of them, or am even fluent enough to do so.
Name a few.
Well, I mean, sure I programmed in BASIC when I was 5 on the TRS-80
my dad bought at the Radio Shack, but that hardly means anything. It doesnt
take much to grapple with that. I could list a few scripting languages, but
those dont really count either. I suppose the closest thing to a real
programming language Ive been trained in would be Pascal, and thats kind of
scraping the bottom of the bucket.
Whats the best programming language?
Well, I suppose that depends what you want to do with it. Lets say...assembler.
Look, mom! I know thirty-seven different ways to put a pixel on the
So then what would you say the advantages of programming in assembler
Like I said before a few times, Im not really a coder.
So what do you do on a computer then?
I suppose you could say I dont deal so much with the intricacies of
what the hardware and software is capable of, nothing on a sort of number
crunching level, but more with how people use their computers, the kind of
trends that they follow.
What, so youre a shrink?
No, more like... well for quite a while Ive been part of a computer
What, are you a phreak then?
Not really, though I suppose I started out dabbling in it, like most ofus did, but that was only a transitory period, and besides, none of those old
tricks work anymore.
What, are you a wareZ d00d then?
Again, I went through that phase, but I mean its meaningless nowadays,the software isnt worth stealing nowadays, and the fact that its all like 200+disks makes it effectively unpirateable anyway.
Not if you invest in a CD-burner. So what are you, then?
Well, lets see. Do you know what a BBS is?
Yeah. You run one? What, are you part of FidoNet or something?
No, well, hrrrm. I use them as kind of a forum for people who use
the computer to do creative things with, like... oh, you wouldnt know about
ANSI art and ripscrip... have you heard of the art scene?
This kid was 12 years old and I was struggling to keep up with most of
his questions - if Id been asked most of those programming or OS questions a
year ago I probably wouldnt have had any answers at all. Ive always felt
kind of special, being what I felt to be the first generation to grow up with
computer familiarity, but talking to this pre-teen I realized how naive I was.
Sure, I can speak the language, but these kids eat and breathed the stuff.
There were binary-encoded messages in the breast milk they were raised on.
Probably the only thing I had up on this arrogant adolescent at all weremy experiences from the couple of 2600 meets Id been to. In possibly every
other regard he had me outclassed. It made me boggle to wonder what,
considering that he knew more about computers than I did, he would know when he
became my age, in six years. Ive hardly been using them regularly for that
amount of time. Granted, the learning came quickly in the first year or two
then I plateaued around three years ago when I started running this group.
But the knowledge has been passed on. The torch is secure - we have no
need to worry about the fate of the computer-using public as a whole knowing
that these critical thinkers are going to inherit the earth. My only concern
was that though he was well-versed in the traditional computer areas of
knowledge, from programming through all of the many letters of the h/p/a scene
and through to a warez scene more vivant then when Id been active in it, but
in all that time he had never heard of the art scene.
Back when Id started, the two were inseparably intermingled. My first
impetus to join an art group wasnt because I showed promise in any of the
fields, but rather as an attempt to gain eliteness and accumulate file points
or even better leech accounts! in exchange for relatively easy artwork.
That realization was the easy part. Actually producing exchangable art
would prove to be a somewhat more difficult task, though I am sad to say that
I was eventually allowed several hundreds of megs worth of downloads in trade
for a handful of writing which wouldnt pass even mistigris lenient standards
of quality control.
The warez scene introduced me to the art scene - it was sticking a foot
in the door and becoming aware to this entire other aspect which had been
unknown to me. True, the art scene four years ago was more vibrant or should
that be virulent? than its ever been since, but the infinite refinements weveendured over that time have more than compensated for the slow losing of lustre.The new interest of Europe, in particular, has ensured another few good years oflife in it but then what?
As the InterNet subverses bulletin board culture it also tramples all ofits trappings - all computer countercultures included. The rule of the day has
become adapt or die. The warez scene has known and will always know a fair
degree of success in this new medium but the more impractical and ethereal
countercultures have been sterilized by this transition. With the exception
of web design for graphic artists, the internet has removed the possibilities
of attracting more people to the underground art scene. Who will care for
ANSI and RIPscrip when the software to display them has been long forgotten?
Why settle for anything less than full high-resolution full-colour full-motion
video clips of animated .GIF files? Why bother investing effort in a picture
if youre only guaranteed that the web browser will spend 3.5 seconds glancing
over it before deciding that internet pornography is far more interesting?
Our work has become devalued either obsolete in the cases of the BBS-
based art formats or appealing to the lowest common denominator in the cases of
those forms which made the transition in keeping their utility.
But is that a reason to give up?
While the InterNet represents a bigger change to our establishment and
traditions than weve ever known, theres no reason that it has to tear down
in order to replace. While it poses a larger audience than ever thought
possible, the art scene has traditionally catered to itself, competing and
collaborating within itself. The members of this scene are more highly trained
than ever before and it shows in the end product.
Keep the focus on art for the artists - dont appeal to the lowest
common denominator but to the people who can appreciate the art behind your
pictures, the method behind your madness. Dont dazzle us with lens flare and
standard photoshop filters - amaze us by the gentle subtlties of a finely
crafted work.
The evidence from these 12-year-old future Sun executives is that
the fate of knowledge in the future of computing is secure. Its up to us to
ensure that the fate of art in the future of computing is as promising.
- Cthulu
Mistigris founder
Oct. 24th, 1997