Category Archives: internet culture

William Gibson

In the early 1990s, I read the Sprawl Trilogy by William Gibson and a bunch of stuff about hackers. When my wife applied to grad school for Library Science, I read through the materials she got, and saw stuff about the internet. Having no career, and finding this quite interesting, I applied to grad school too. So when people ask me how I got interested in my career, I can honestly tell them it was cyberpunk science fiction that pulled me in. At the time I read that stuff I had barely even touched a computer.

The Internet was different back then. The World Wide Web, as the highly graphical representation of the internet we know today, was just taking off. This was about 1994. Mosaic was the web browser of choice, then came NetScape. There wasn’t that much on the web, and I actually preferred using Gopher, which was a non-graphical predecessor to the Web. There was no such thing as home broadband. You used a fairly slow modem. Downloading an image took some time.

I feel like there was, back then, a more geographic notion of the internet. A lot of activity was still based around universities. When you went to a Gopher site, or a Web site, you had more an idea that you were “going somewhere” — the idea that you were actually traversing cyberspace was more immediate. My first job as a reference librarian was at NASA Johnson Space Center. When doing research for the engineers, scientists, and astronauts there, I’d often imagine myself physically exploring the data — immersing myself in it.

Not everyone was “on the internet” back then, so if you were, you felt like you knew something. It was cool. To this day I like to Telnet to a server to do some work — makes me feel like a wizard.

Anyway, I watched this documentary about William Gibson tonight. I really enjoyed it. I am grateful to William Gibson for igniting my imagination and leading me to a very rewarding career.

An Admission

Tonight, while sitting here reading random stuff on the internet and playing on Twitter, some guy from Miami took offense at my tweet about how Walmart is now giving benefits to same-sex couples, so fundamentalists and people who just hate gays all suffered simultaneous head explosions.

I investigated the guy who responded with some stupid but non-profane comeback about “liberals” and “socialists”. ¬†OK – he’s from Miami. On his Twitter page he has a “no Che” symbol. You know – a picture of Che Guevara with a red circle around it with a red line through Che’s face. So at the risk of being hasty and succumbing to horrible stereotyping, I’m gonna say it was a Cuban-American from Miami who just hates Castro and is still just really hating Che, and of course he has therefore adopted a super conservative ultra-patriot persona.

I find this amusing because a friend of mine, also of Cuban heritage but raised in New York City, used to find great humor in this kind of thing. I think of my buddy and laugh. I wish I could hear his evaluation. Maybe I’ll send him the link.

Anyway, I blocked this dickhead so he can’t see my account or respond to me. I love having that power. I imagine his frustration that I not only didn’t start an argument with him, but now I have vanished from his confused universe.

Keep with me. I know this is quite childish.

three-stooges-wallpapers-three-stooges-23436836-1024-768So all of this, as well as other readings from the evening have made me realize this fact about myself. Not only does it give me pleasure when people I disagree with are unhappy because the thing we disagree on has not gone their way (this is sick enough, I admit), but I also enjoy it — I mean REALLY enjoy it — when people who agree with the people who disagree with me are disappointed and/or (preferably) angry about the same thing.

This is very similar to the German concept of schadenfreude, but rather than being happy about someone’s misfortune, it involves being happy about their unhappiness. And of course, what I’m admitting to here is the delight I take in the cascade of displeasure that happens all through the network of stupidity.

Clearly I didn’t have much activity planned tonight…