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Volker Grassmuck, RCAST Tokyo University


Strange enough, with such an apparent distance between the media worlds of the ancient Romans and ours, a central idea for artificial storage corresponds across the ages. Although in the meantime major paradigm shifts have taken place, and two new 'galaxies' have emerged - that of Gutenberg and that of Turing - not only some vague anthropological constant, but a worked-out concept of a memorizing technique survives, even though in quite a different format. The Greeks had made an art of it, and it is still known as 'mnemonics' today: the idea of using loci and imagines agentes (places and active vivid images) for dynamic, active storage of res and verba (things and words) (Yates 1966/1990). The idea of rooms is basic to most computer games consisting of connected rooms or screens, and each is associated with things to see and do there. The same kind of spatial interface metaphor appears again in the network in the form of MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons), and here we also find back 'vivid agents'. That this 'world simulation' could be at the base of a social, action-oriented, experiential interface to the Matrix is the main idea of this paper.

 All media today collapse into the universal medium. Which is not to say that older media disappear in the process. They are transformed, but they don't go away. To McLuhan's 'the content of a medium is its predecessor' I would add for the Turing Galaxy: all of its predecessors. The oldest of them all is positively alive and kickin', even and precisely inside the fastest and most comprehensive network man ever invented - the rumor. (Whole hype media PR campaigns rely on it.) As I write this, I can hear through the open window the loudspeakers and slogan chanting from the demo coming down Omotesandô. In the age of direct electronic access to the prime minister of Japan people are still marching in the streets onto the center of power, like they have done in all times.

 From spray-painting the cave walls of a club, to the electronic book (electronic, yes, but after all a book), or the mail, now not delivered by horse, ship or airplane any more but by electricity, even the bicycle courier "earning her living at the archaic intersection of information and geography" (Gibson 1993, p. 85) - all media are still there.



"The urge to record observed experiences, and the techniques and materials for such recording occurred much earlier than other marks of civilization." (Ohlman 1990, p.686) These artifacts constitute a realm of external symbolic storage. Information became independent of a living human memory, and transportable in space and time. Over a distance of 17,000 years, the images in the caves of Lascaux still speak to us today. Mathematical and lingual notation allowed humans to form, express, and communicate their ideas on the stars, the world and each other.


Gutenberg Galaxy

The 'media horizon' expanded radically with the invention of print. The Gutenberg Galaxy [1] introduced the whole range of typographic elements and operations that every literate person today takes for granted. Whereas the earliest printed books resembled medieval manuscripts, Aldus Manutius' invention of the pocket edition [2] for mass dissemination of Greek and Roman classics marked a breaking point. The printed book started to create its own media format, which eventually formatted society by making mass- literacy possible. Aesthetic elements like the two type faces Roman and Italic on which nearly all Western types have been based to this day were also introduced in Renaissance Italy. At the same time the title-page appeared as the place to inscribe an author-subject. [3] To allow a reader/writer to operate inside the media horizon of print, search tools like pagination, index, footnotes, were introduced, the latter hyperlinking the reader from the book at hand to the complete text corpus of the library. [4]

 The Gutenberg Galaxy is made up of words that have meaning, which in turn are made up of letters that do not. Arranging the symbolic world in a meaningless alphabetical order (in encyclopedias, catalogs, dictionaries, bibliographies, etc. [5]) allowed two important operations of the Gutenberg Galaxy - keyword searches and browsing. The idea behind digital searches in the Matrix (as, of course, behind every text database) is strictly Gutenbergian - not Turingian. For terminological, if not yet technical, operations on signifiers themselves rather than on texts, typographic operators like the quotation mark were introduced. This Gutenbergian invention allowed to keep apart the thing-reference of words and the word-reference of words, and thereby functionally differentiate sentences such as 'an angle has an essence' and 'angle has five letters'. These operations prepare the ground for the take-off of the signs that will lead us into the Turing Galaxy. [6]

 A final aspect of the Gutenberg Galaxy needs to be mentioned. The library is permanent, ie. permanently growing. It does not dispose of a system of elimination, no 'structural amnesia' (J.Goody, I.Watt). There is, of course, loss due to noise in every medial transfer. Manuscripts were lost forever in the fires in the libraries of the Ancients. Books with a large print run have a better chance of surviving, to be reprinted, quoted, to remain present in the ever growing storage of signs. Redundancy is the most obvious technique in transmission to safeguard that a message reaches the receiver. The catastrophic realization that acid in paper lets it crumble to dust within a few years reminded us that information is still bound to a physical carrier that goes the ways of all material, one of them being decay. ("Between 70% and 90% of the documents kept in libraries and archives, documentation of our knowledge, our literature and our history printed on the information carrier paper, originate in the era after the introduction of the jeopardized machine-made paper containing acid and wood pulp and are possibly threatened by decay." K. Nowak and H. Weber reporting on the situation in Germany to the EC "expert meeting on conservation of acid paper material 1991" (See also National Library of Medicine, Acid-Free Paper For Biomedical Literature, March 1992.) (It is by pure chance, but then again maybe not, that the first electronic reference in this article on media history appears at the point of devastation in the foundations of the Gutenberg Galaxy - "the endogenous acid attack in the paper.") This caused a frantic activity within the librarians' world to preserve books printed from the mid-19th century up to around 1990, and to transfer their content to microfilm and bit media. It also caused an impasse between environmental reasons to use recycled paper and archival reasons to use a more permanent carrier. Still and in spite of the talk about a general 'immaterialization', loss of information due to deterioration or 'ageing' of the material carrier can be found even in the newest media: also magnetic tape ages, data are buried in unreadable formats when the machines that wrote them are junked, etc.

 Nevertheless, the library can be viewed as permanent and ever growing. Where the knowledge horizon of the ars memoria and of the manuscript could be reshuffled by each speaker and writer, an author today is drifting on a sea of print and - if she adheres to the rules of (most severe: academic) literacy - has to sink anchors into it without hoping to ever reach ground.

A very final aspect: Whereas it might be true that the most important operation on text is reading and understanding it (creating some mental connex to the author regardless of the physical carrier), it is likewise true that the most frequent operation is not reading a text. Another Gutenbergian operation that will not go away in the Turing Galaxy.


Technical Media/Networks

Technical media (photography, telegraph, radio and so on) break the monopoly of the book, and again radically re-format world and man. While all previous media relied on the human mind to pre-process what was mediatized, technical (input) media record sound and light directly without human intervention beyond the operation of selection (eg. pointing a camera at something).

The price for this is that the format in which data are produced, stored, transmitted, and received is not directly readable by human senses anymore. Technical media use a decoding machine to read, for example, the holes in Jaquard's punched card or the bumps on Edison's tinfoil. "In principle, any physical phenomenon can be used for recording information, but until the scientific revolution information always remained readable by the naked eye. Only after optical (photographic), electromechanical (telegraphic and phonographic) and magnetic recording methods were developed did we extend our storage capacities to the submicroscopic level." (Ohlman, 1990, p.748 f.)

The advantage on the other hand, is that these submicroscopic data can be transmitted without material movement in space and therefore without human accompaniment. Non-technical media (including book and newspaper) are bound to a physical carrier, they require the same network infrastructure as traffic of people and goods (roads, inns, harbors, maps, tariffs, laws, etc.). The earliest wire networks (telegraph, telephone) had a point-to- point structure, requiring access points for in- and output, relay or refresher stations at regular intervals, and central nodes where messages are switched to their destination. [7]

 In 1896, Marconi's wireless telegraphy extended the traffic of signals into the ethereal radio spectrum. [8] The point- to-point cable was supplemented by omnipresent waves that can be intercepted by anyone owning a receiver. Radio extended the distance the voice carries virtually around the globe. [9] With the broadcast networks of radio and TV, the center-to-all structure was invented. One speaks and all listen (without being able to answer). [10] Broadcast media create the masses they address, synchronizing millions of non-present, anonymous media recipients.

 "There is then this great paradox of the Gutenberg era, that its seeming activism is cinematic in the strict movie sense. It is a consistent series of static shots of 'fixed points of view' in homogeneous relationship. Homogenization of men and materials will become the great program of the Gutenberg era, the source of wealth and power unknown to any other time or technology." (McLuhan, 1962, p.127) McLuhan points to the origin of technical media in the medium print. In contrast to his own interpretation of the electronic media as fundamentally different from print, in their homogenizing function they are not. Reading this quote against its author, I see the program of 'homogenization of men and materials' rising to its ultimate violent power only in its military form under conditions of mass-mobilization during the Second World War (radio), and in its postwar civilian form under conditions of mass-markets, - media, -automobilization, -tourism etc. (TV). [11]

 One further important aspect of technical media is that perception of the world shifted from the real thing to its stored mediatizations. Typists took dictation not from their superior's voice but from a gramophone or telegraphone recording. The question if Leland Stanford's horse had all four feet off the ground when in gallop could not be answered by observation through the naked eye, but Muybridge's serial photographs showed that it was in fact the case (Ohlman, 1990, p.739 f.). The amount of live music we listen to is neglectable in comparison to pre-recorded music. Whereas live broadcast implies a co-existence in time, a simultaneity that seems to warrant authenticity, much of what we see on TV is pre-recorded, edited, re-run - if we are not watching out of local storage of video anyway. Personal communication shifted from synchronous to asynchronous with the storage of answering machines, faxes, and email. The Matrix itself is a vast and rapidly growing library.

In short, large and exponentially growing parts of our media horizon are 'canned', and the two essential new operations besides transmission that technical media add to those of the Gutenberg Galaxy - copying (xerox machine, cassette recorder, VCR) and editing (multi-track tape recorder, VCR) - are based on storage media.


Turing Galaxy

The history of the ars memoria ends with Leibniz, writes Yates (Yates 1990, p.351). May we add that with him also begins the history of autonomization of external memory, its mathematization and mechanization - the pre-history of the computer that continues via Babbage and Lovelace to Turing and von Neuman. Leibniz' ars combinatoria takes the place of the ars memoria. Or in the phrasing of Lyotard: with the virtually complete knowledge in store, the problem becomes one of creating new, surprising recombinations (Lyotard 1979/1982). Maybe we can see a common theme in the quest for the Universal Key (ars memoria), that turns into one for the Universal Script (Leibniz), and finally into the Universal Machine (Turing), and the Universal Communication System (Shannon).

 In the restricted space available, I can only hint at the most important stepping stones. A technological innovation fundamental to the Turing Galaxy preceded Leibniz by nearly a thousand years, the mechanical clock. All symbol systems from the earliest cuneiform on are digital (i.e. they consist of a discrete set of elements.). All observable phenomena in the world exist in time and are therefore analog: the flow of water, movement of stars, aging of man, human speech (which is why automatic voice recognition is so difficult), etc. [12] The first analog- to-digital conversion (the continuous pulling force of the weight drive cut up into evenly paced, discrete intervals by the escapement) occurred with the mechanic clock. It inscribed, if not yet with a high precision, a digital structure into time, [13] creating an 'artificial time' that does not exist outside the operation of the autonomous machine generating it. This artificial digital time is a means for synchronization of technical media, whether it is the clock rate of a computer or the time code of a video editing machine.

 The computer has its roots in mathematics which is indistinguishably linked to astronomy. Computing machines were built before Leibniz, like Schickhard's calculating clock (!) (1624) or Pascal's adding machine (1642). Still the primacy goes to Leibniz who produced a great confluence of streams of ideas, and contributed profoundly to symbolic logic [14], combinatorics [15], and therefore the history of the computer.

Babbage should at least be mentioned in passing. His projected Analytical Engine was to have included most of the characteristics of modern computers realized only a hundred years later: a store, a mill (CPU), a transfer system, in- and output, and he also anticipated automatic operation, external data memories, conditional operations and programming (see eg. Goldstine 1972/1993)

 In 1847, Boole used a binary notation to represent truth-values in formal logic, 0 and 1 representing 'false' and 'true'. Shannon and Weaver's information theory translated the Boolean false and true into off and on states in electronic components. Signals, since this ultimate analytic cut with Ockham's razor, fall apart into basic indivisible yes/no units called bit ('basic indissoluble information unit', in computer science: 'binary digit'). Like 'atom' for the material world and 'individuum' for society (both meaning 'indivisible'), 'bit' marks the smallest possible unit, the simplest building block of any possible symbolic system. [16]

 Having mentioned some of the shoulders he was standing on, I can now turn to Alan Turing(See Turing 1984, also V.G. 1988, p.109 ff.). I suggest to name the emerging horizon of binary digital media "Turing Galaxy", because its two central concepts were first formulated by him. One is the Universal Machine, the extremely primitive machine that can emulate any machine, the typewriter that reads and writes an operative text out of no more than two characters which freely models the appearance of the typewriter itself, the Universal Medium that precedes and empowers any possible multimedia to come. From then on every phenomenon and every process that can be described completely and unequivocally (the definition of both algorithm/automaton and the inter-subjectively scrutinizable knowledge of science) can be implemented in the one single machine to end all machines. The problem of building new machines has been replaced by the problem of writing an operational description of this new machine for the universal machine. [17]

 The other is the thought experiment known as Turing Test which provided a comprehensive re-definition of man as a symbol processing system on a par with machines, and technically resolved the subjectivity problem. [18] Since then, 'intelligent' modelling, signal processing, and pattern recognition - so called thinking - has turned into a continuum across a range of possible technical or biological implementations. 'Mind' and machine have become interconnectable (if not interchangeable). [19]

 Turing or bit media inherit properties from earlier media. They still operate largely in the mind-frame of the mathematical [20] and the Gutenberg [21] Galaxy. The most essential new operation introduced in the Turing Galaxy seems to me simulation. While models in the Gutenberg Galaxy become operational only after being read into and processed by the cortical CPU, models in the Turing Galaxy run inside a dynamic self-active technical medium. Bit words have the double function of addressing human readers as well as machines, i.e. themselves. [22] Action unfolds and changes according to a script or in response to the action of the user and to its own results. Simulation allows to test hypotheses, to automatically control real life processes, and to construct alternate worlds.

 Today we observe the collapsing of all media (print, telecommunications, broadcast, money, etc.) into the universal medium computer. Turing media connect people, libraries, machines, and artificial communicational entities. We are still exploring what the usage of computers in 'Turing mode' could mean. My suggestion: acting inside of media, and interacting with artificial agents.


Man-Machine Interaction

In order to comprehend, we have to act upon objects and others, not only passively perceive them. According to Goethe, man comes to know himself only in the world, and we may add: as actor. [23] Whether in a material or in a symbolic realm, praxis involves an exchange with others, and with the objects in question and their specific resistance. [24] Selection is a consumerist way of relating to an offered range of choices. Action is a productive/creative way of relating to a given environment. It involves producing changes and being changed, not only making choices.

The mass-distribution media function to achieve the re-construction of world and man in a kind of 'original accumulation of symbolic capital', transposing parts of the world into media and linking the individual to them, creating access points to each and everyone. [25] The Universal Simulator goes beyond pre-bit technical media in that it can simulate spaces - idea spaces and perspective, Cartesian spaces. If signs and 2D images map onto the eye, and sound onto the ear, space maps onto the (kinesthetic) body. Technical media dissolve the dimensions of space and time, which are the coordinate systems in which the physical body exists, and they do so experientially, not only philosophically (everybody who makes phone calls across time-zones knows the experience). The Universal Simulator reintroduces these space-time coordinates inside the media horizon. Media- logically and historically, the first phase of connection and selection is followed by the introduction of action inside the media. The early batch processing of punched cards can be seen as interactive only in a very indirect sense. Action not as inputting data and reading the output hours or days later, but as a dynamic realtime feedback process began with simulators and games. It was not by chance that when in 1962, hackers at MIT had for the first time a minicomputer connected to a CRT display at their disposal, they decided that "naturally the obvious thing to do; was Spacewar. Laurel's explanation for this 'naturalness' was that they understood the computer's essential new "capacity to represent action in which humans could participate... As Alan Kay noted, 'the game of Spacewar blossoms spontaneously wherever there is a graphics display connected to a computer.'" (Laural's emphasis, Laurel, 1991, p.1)

 Exactly two decades later, when computers first reached popular culture, they did so in the form of computer games. [26] Games are simulations. In the earliest form they simulate rules and strategies of board games (the mathematical field of game theory and AI were from the early computer days on occupied with playing Tic-Tac-Toe, Tower of Hanoi, chess etc.). Later they simulate technical systems (notably with the military flight simulator reappearing as entertainment product), and social systems (eg. in role playing games, SimCity etc.). In games (as in simulation) the computer takes on the function of agency, of a counter- player, an interlocutor, simulating dragons, enemy aliens, humans, governments, or simply fate. The computer also provides the playing-space into which the human player projects herself as a sprite, avatar, or persona (a big-mouthed yellow blob, a plumber, a hedgehog, etc.). A marionette of yourself that you fly by the wire of the joystick. This is the first time not only the eye and ear, but the hand reaches through to the other side of the proverbial looking glass.

 With the emergence of data networks, games shifted from single-player stand-alone games to multi-player networked games or MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons/Dimensions. Here human others are re- introduced into the position of counter-player, next to and on a par with pieces of software simulating game characters. Originally games in the narrow sense of the word built around the sword-wielding-and-monster- slaying world of Dungeons & Dragons, MUDs are developing into common meeting grounds around diverse topics including professional conferencing facilities - beehives of varied playful and serendipitous social activity, anthropomorphic habitats for global citizens. Here an excursus about the catch word 'interactive TV' might be in place. Looking at network structures might resolve some of the confusion around this term. Point-to- point switched networks (telecommunications) that allow sender and receiver to interchange their positions are therefore 'inter-active'. Center-to-all distribution networks (broadcast) that allow a response, an action, of the receiver only through a separate channel are therefore in essence not interactive. What is today called 'interactive TV' (choosing one of several camera angles in a live sports broadcast, influencing decisions about the further unfolding of a TV drama, TV shopping, etc.) is about widening the range of selection, not interaction. Because of the one-way mass reception format, an individual can only 'participate' one-for-all (a selected representative of the mass steps out of anonymity onto the stage of media - see Ponton's 'Piazza Virtuale', where the supplementation of the one-way medium TV by all available two-way media is pushed to its limits.), or the mass itself can appear in the form of statistics (voting, but then through the separate network of mail, telephone or the electricity grid (During the 1970s, viewers of popular game shows where asked to turn on as many electric appliances if they favored one candidate. The utilities then measured the peak and feedbacked the result to the TV station.)).

 If the current term in its search for something new to signify is indeed to demarcate a distinction, I would suggest two criteria for 'interactivity' in media. The first, necessary but not sufficient is that of telecommunications: sender and receiver can exchange their position within the same point-to-point network. This includes the possibility of point-to-many structures (fax distribution, party lines, mailing lists etc.). Interactivity is then the joint action of two or more people in the inter-space of media. If both sender and receiver are human actors, this definition does not go beyond that of classic telecommunications media. Therefore, the new lies in the fact that one side can be a non-human communicational entity (tone-controlled telephone services, email servers, bots, agents etc.). Interactivity is then, when the autonomous machine itself, made to respond in an anthropomorphic way, joins into the action.



To sum up: The Computer has four roots. One is mathematical. [27] One is lingual. [28] One is technical. [29] Since I see the network not as something exterior to what the computer is (just as the library is not exterior to the medium book), a fourth root is in networks. [30]

The computer is social. This is not a distinct 'root'. Math, language, technology, and networks are, of course, all in themselves social, like every artefact. Nevertheless I find it useful to apply a separate viewpoint of the Matrix as a whole as a technically mediated form of the social. As technology it sets specific conditions. But as communication it is not absorbed into the realm of techno-logic. The networked computer retains the quality of a communicational milieu which is the basis for social acts, eg. that of constructing communities - the same act that takes place face-to-face in a bar, a conference, or a club meeting. Also the language games within the natural horizon and those in the media horizon - games of power, commerce, recognition, seduction, play - are not that much different. How could they be?

 A last aspect of the computer that I would like to emphasize is simulation. Again, mathematics, language, technology also 'simulate' something other than themselves. Maybe one could even say that all other forms of network simulate the earliest, the original one - walking on the dream-paths of the Ancestors with song as a map (See Chatwin 1987). But the Universal Medium is one meta-level up (See the work of Stanislaw Lem and Christian Unverzagt). Additionally to something putatively real it simulates all the other medial simulators.

 These four roots and two aspects will not simply evaporate with the arrival of a new hype(r) medium. None of them will disappear, but all will get a new face.

The interface is the visible 'tangible' surface of media, the nexus point or gateway between man and media, i.e. the world. Therefore it is its single most important aspect deserving the most attention. Because the interface links two systems with quite different specifications, operations and dimensions, it has a characteristic Janus face in both directions, standing with one foot on each side of the boundary, so to speak.

In the early days, men interacting with computers had to adhere to its specifications (eg. program in machine code). Since then, layer upon layer was constructed around the computer to translate its inner workings into more human-dimensioned forms, eg. compiler/interpreter, that allowed to use programming languages made up of words of the English language, operating systems, Xerox PARC's GUI (graphical user interface) with desktop metaphor in various windowing systems. When NEC recently announced a photo- realistic desktop metaphor constructed around digitized real images of office equipment it did so with the aim to make computers more user- friendly. Books, shelves, table, and other objects are in compressed 10 frames/sec. full video. This probably most dinosauric GUI to date is supposed to "give the user a much greater sense of working at a table in an office, surrounded by reference materials. [...t]o enhance the user's sense of immersion in this virtual library [...] so that even users who are not familiar with personal computers can easily operate business and entertainment software." (Nikkei Weekly, April 4, 1994) This is based on a fundamental misunderstanding that a metaphor becomes 'more real' by making it more explicit. Literally gr. 'metaphor' has the same meaning as lat. 'medium'.

The bit media turn into interaction partners on human's terms. As usual, this is only to be had at a price. Just as the world disappears behind media, media disappear behind their own interface. The more complex the functionality a medium offers, the user- friendlier and metaphoricalier it gets, the more the machine turns into a black box that shuts humans out of its inner workings. ('I don't have to know how a car works in order to drive it.' 'I don't have to know how my computer works, I have Windows.') The machine that lets us tele-visualize anything across time and space, that even visualizes the invisible, is itself a blind spot.


 A typical hardware media interface today has as its control medium a settop, game machine, personal computer, some automobile media, PDA (personal digital assistant) or, for that matter, the microprocessor in any kind of electric appliance. The controller to this control center depends on application (remote control, game controller, keyboard, stylus, data- glove, etc.) The sound output is stereo and, misleadingly so called, hi- fidelity (speakers, headphones). Visual output is to screen (preferably something digital HDTV, maybe stereotized by polarized or shutter-glasses etc.) or a head-mounted display [31]. And in the long- run, I am convinced, just as Gibson has seen it, there will be neural implants - the ultimate live wire interface from human CPU to machine CPU. [32]

 The new quality that the computer introduces into this multimedia- layered system is simulation. When I said above that space maps onto the body, reversely the computer can map the real body into the media horizon. To do so it has to sense the body. VR systems use position trackers on the head for viewing angle (virtual camera position) and on the hand that is mapped onto a CG hand, the only part of one's body that is represented in most current VR systems. [33] One's hand is effectively turned into a 3D joystick. Spatialized audio and video will still not give us the territory, but it will make the map 3D. [34]


 Everywhere you see numbers and numeric or logic operators you are close to the heart of the mathematical machine (in a spread-sheet, a programming editor, the 'pocket calculator' simulated in every windowing environment, a remote login to use a super computer for number crunching, etc.). The 'math interface' is usually not a separately perceivable surface, but it is integrated into other (windowing, etc.) interfaces. Still the distinction seems to make sense because, following the Wittgensteinian rule that the meaning of a medium is its usage, we can distinguish game players, word processors, etc. from the math types (who were few and far between already in school, and are not likely to increase because the computer happens to be a mathematical machine.) [35]


A typical host on the Matrix has a tree structure (subdirectories within subdirectories). It might be presented as a directory listing, menu, or in an index file (table of contents) pointing to the individual texts (anthology). One might browse or search by keywords (index or full-text), with the search space inside one database, one host, or network-wide (a book, a series of magazines, a library). At the final nodes of the tree one might find a text, in itself complete with author, pagination, footnotes etc.

The Gutenbergian resources on the Matrix are vast. Librarians were among the first to inhabit and develop it. Just a few examples are the US Library of Congress, including their Soviet and Vatican online archives (The LoC has various servers: LoC Information System / LoC home page / MARVEL (Machine-Assisted Realization of the Virtual Electronic Library) Log in: marvel / a list of nearly 1000 mostly university and reasearch libraries), the Project Gutenberg, [36] books.com, the first bookstore on the Net, magazines like Wired, and a sprouting new category of multimedia Metazines like the Global Network Navigator or Web's Edge

 Do people actually read books on the screen? Do they print them out? How are etexts used? The advantage of having reference books ready for automatic searches is obvious. Same for checking quotes in any sort of text. Maybe people will start to actually read electronic books when screens are light enough to hold (like a book in your comfy chair or in bed), as pleasant to the eye and as 'interactive' (can be easily marked, commented, annotated etc.) as print on paper. Maybe people will have them read to them by a voice synthesizer. Already now, the ASCII text is driving a Braille interface to allow blind people to read them.

But rather than looking at the 'usage' of an individual text it is apparent that 'reading' will take on a different meaning when you imagine a library of 10,000 etexts [37] in the form of a single text corpus (on the Net or on a local storage medium) available to you at any time. Even though somebody like Borges might be able to store a huge library in his memory and quote from it literally even after going blind, this is not given to most of us mortals. But thanks to the automatized external memory, we have random access to all the stored ideas. We can keyword search, browse with guaranteed serendipity effects, follow through on various threads, all the while creating hyperlinks on the go, leaving tracks inside the Gutenberg horizon that we can follow again next time we touch any of the texts. Every work (say Dante's Divine Comedy embedded in 600 years of commentary - Dartmouth University, 'Connect Dante') appears in its own context, and in any other that we might create.

 All these operations could be done inside a library, but involving a lot more foot-work. The increased accessibility is already more than a quantitative difference. One effect I foresee, at least for a transitional period, are dinosauric term papers bloated with cut-and-paste quotes, and quick and dirty re-writes from other secondary literature. But what other automatic operations on texts may emerge, most of all what the new faculty of simulation will mean for writing/reading, ie. 'thinking' under conditions of the availability of the virtually complete library (Lyotard) in a dynamic format at the tick of a few keys, will have to be seen. [38]

 If all these operations have to be done using raw Unix commands or exotic database query languages, the bookish Gutenbergian will likely not feel very at home. Luckily, there have emerged hypertext interfaces that make life a lot easier. The reader/writer sees a text page complete with graphic design, that can be read like the page of a book. The reader can mouse-click his way around in the labyrinth of the global online library, make annotations, leave 'bookmarks' etc. A special feature is that the 'footnotes' to materials (text, image, sound, and video) outside the present text are active. By clicking on them, the corresponding file is retrieved across the Matrix, and presented immediately. All these are Gutenbergian operations, accelerated to the speed of electricity. Their model is the library.

 Ted Nelson pioneered hypertext in the 1960s, and continues his work on the Xanadu Docuverse. Attempts to implement retrieval tools that operate on subsets of the complete Internet are Archie (for files), Gopher (for documents), and WAIS (a keyword-oriented hyperlink system, the free version FreeWAIS is available at CNIDR (Clearinghouse for Networked Information Discovery and Retrieval). The currently highest level in hypertexting is World Wide Web (WWW), a distributed hypermedia system developed at CERN (the European Laboratory for Particle Physics). Originally aimed at the high energy physics community it is now spreading quickly throughout the whole Internet. WWW consists of documents prepared in HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and linked to the global Web via URLs (Uniform Resource Locator) and the HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol). The meta-interface WWW incorporates all the other dataspaces, and presents them in a single easy, clickable format. (Currently accessible: anything served through gopher, WAIS, FTP sites, Usenet, telnet, hytelnet, hyper-g, techinfo, texinfo, man pages, sundry hypertext documents, and of course in its native HTML format.) Clients for local full screen browsing come for various platforms and in beautiful names (Lynx, Cello, Samba, Midas, Viola, Chimera, or the most popular one, Mosaic from NCSA)


The individual network media move into the Universal Medium (like the animals into Noah's ark?) in their historic order.

- THE MATRIX LETTER Postal mail is basically a point-to-point network, switched (sorted) at post offices, transported by Wells Fargo riders, ship, train, and any other means of transportation that came up. 'Snail Mail', as it is called in net.land, is usually private, to someone you know, or to institutions, companies etc., it has a private character, but it can be extended to point-to-many. Mailing lists exist also in RL for commercial, administrative or grass roots usage, but switching from traffic to transmission is more than a linear change. The Universal Network Medium adds the function of a reflector. A list server (like Majordomus) is an automatic forwarding program that sends every incoming message on to every subscriber, and drops it into his mailbox. Mailing lists can be unmoderated, ie. the information is provided as is, or moderated, ie. pre- processed by a wetware editor agent, which for certain purposes helps to raise the information-to-noise ratio significantly. Whether it holds together a professional special interest group, a hobby club or a speaker's corner - the mailing list constitutes a form of public.

 Electronic fora or bulletin boards - the metaphors reveal the heritage of earlier equivalents in public face-to-face real space. The most impressive are, without doubt, the Usenet newsgroups. They are another network within the networks. Its newsgroups permeate across Usenet, UUCP, Internet and selections also into the commercial networks. One does not subscribe to newsgroups, and the messages are not delivered to one's mailbox. They rather sit (for a restricted time) on one's local host to be read, browsed, participated in whenever one likes. [39]

 Mailing lists and newsgroups constitute the basis for a written sense of community. [40] In order to do so, they have to provide some form of space-time coordinates to anchor the social. The placement of a message in one electronic forum creates an unambiguous attribution in index space (an address). Their sequence creates a temporal order, a history of speech acts in which regulars build a sense of group identity. Fora are usually archived, so even though a message was deleted locally you can still look it up. FAQ documents are the collected common sense that is not the lowest common denominator, but common expertise. [41] Like in every form of communal exchange, rules for accepted use and conduct (nettiquette), for the prevention of redundancy, various ideas on how to enforce these rules, etc. are negotiated on the go. Communicational conflicts are solved, of course, also within the interaction, but as a novelty there are technical solutions as well, e.g. the kill-file, also sometimes referred to as 'the bozo filter', that locally tunes down or makes invisible unwanted traffic without having to have any censorship at source.

 Moderated newsgroups (used eg. for releasing the EFF News) and mail- servers, like postal-based news-letters (or the xerox machine-borne mini-komi, as the Japanese call the genre) are already crossing over into publishing. These publications are in the Public Domain, and the moderators are most of the time volunteer editors.

 Unmoderated newsgroups are a running comment by Everybody attached to Everything. Large events like Tiananmen or the Gulf War, just as small events like a change in the design of Starship Enterprise bring forth their own forums. Strategies have evolved to prevent the slightest idea of censuring an unmoderated newsgroup. Any attempt at dominating or turning it into a PR device will cause a flood of flame - the power of the many. [42] They are specific, global, personal, and very powerful. [43]

 And again, the total is more than the sum of its parts. MindVox offers many services, among them "a constantly growing library that chronicles the very inceptions of Cyberspace, with timeslices of systems dating all the way back to 1979 - the first bulletin boards ever to exist." [44] An orgiastic idea for any sociologist, media and market researcher, historian and archivarian, trend searcher, linguist, etc. The whole problem of sampling that is fundamental to every empirical social science (it determines your categories, because you can only talk about distinctions you can measure) evaporates when you can operate on the complete set. [45] And it comes with a tool box that allows you to do searches, sorts, pattern recognition and other analysis automagically. Fractal algorithms are used to analyze huge amounts of earthquake data out of which it is otherwise very hard to make sense. [46] What collective image might arise if you ran a similar chaotic pattern synthesizer on the subset of, say all utterances on the topic 'Internet' in unmoderated newsgroups, and how it changed over the years?

The casual enquiry What's everybody talking about? will receive an unpredictable but mathematically precise answer. The idea of Man (Heidegger), Mina, [47] Everybody, this collective chimera that broadcasting and marketing directors have in mind when they talk about 'the audience' and 'the consumer' - this non-entity will get a voice.

- MATRIX TELEGRAPH/TELEPHONE An equivalent to a telephone conversation in a Unix environment are the programs 'talk' and 'write'. The shared address space of the newsgroup message is supplemented by a shared point in time. The structure of these synchronous interactions, even though typed, is closer to spoken communication (to a phone call rather than a letter or article). [48] While the two Unix programs are restricted to two-party communications, this structure is again extended into a one-to-many network. The equivalent to several people talking on a telephone party line or to the tech-chatter on CB radio channels is IRC (Internet Relay Chat. See Elizabeth M. Reid, Electropolis: Communication and Community on Internet Relay Chat, Honours Thesis, University of Melbourne, Dpt. of History. 1991) Its recent multimedia extension CU-SeeMe grafts a realtime voice and video channel upon an IRC- like structure, just as does the video-phone onto the telephone net. [49]

- MATRIX RADIO There were downloadable sound files on the Internet before, but the first regular radio station in cyberspace was pioneered by Carl Malamud in March 1993. You can receive Internet Talk Radio on your desktop or laptop radio either 'live' (if you have a 64 Kbps link you can get IP multicasting) or 'on tape' (ftp it from your closest mirror site). ITR publishes from 30 to 90 minutes of professionally produced radio programming per day. It reaches 100,000 people in 30 countries. [50]

- MATRIX TV Malamud did not choose a TV metaphor, simply because it requires more bandwidth than the majority of the Matrix population has available right now. Also, production of video information still requires an order-of-magnitude larger investment in facilities. As a first step towards general use MIME allows to include little video and sound blips in email. (see Borenstein, N., and N. Freed, "MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions): Mechanisms for Specifying and Describing the Format of Internet Message Bodies", RFC 1343, Bellcore, June, 1992.)

Not yet live broadcast of concerts, but downloadable video clips one finds at the former mtv.com. Adam Curry, former star host of MTV Networks and net.veteran, created a multimedia site in 1993 that now attracts an average of 35,000 people daily, including music industry professionals. [51]

 The cable TV on the Internet is the Multicasting Backbone or in short M-Bone. Multicast is a continuous stream of video and audio data packets running over a virtual network layered on top of portions of the physical Internet. It combines a global point-to-point structure with local 'narrowcasting' to everyone who is tuned in. [52] What's on the digital tube? If you belong to the lucky group of power networkers you can watch keynote speeches by John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the EFF, or Vinton G. Cerf, president of the Internet Society, live multicasts from the deep-sea or outer space, footage from NASA satellites and telescopes, eg. Keck, the world's largest pair of binoculars in the solar system. The M-Bone has even emerged a solution to the hotly debated '500 TV channel' problem: 'sd' or session directory is a TV guide where all ongoing events are announced and can be joined on mouse-click. CU-SeeMe, an offshoot of the M-Bone for personal computers, was first developed as a TV metaphor for live video, only later voice was added.

Latest news while I am writing this: "Coming Soon - Newscasts on Your PC. Intel and CNN have teamed up to test 'LAN TV,' a system that turns a regular broadcast TV signal into a compressed digital data stream, capable of being received on regular 486-type desktop PCs. While Intel tests the technology, CNN will concentrate on determining what it is people want to watch on their computers, in order to develop a special corporate news service." (Investor's Business Daily 6/20/94 A4 quoted from E-d-u-p-a-g-e 06/21/94)

 As with desktop print and radio, desktop TV is not restricted to corporate providers. A CCD camera, a VCR, a video-capture board, and some editing software allow, in principle, TV production and multicasting on every PC. After the telephone answering machine made everyone a radio announcer, the desktop multimedia answering machine will turn everyone or his agent into a celebrity TV announcer. [53]

- THE HUNT It is here that we see the Dungeon Masters and the Net-Gods at play. The Internet Hunt is a kind of paper-chase, only without the paper. A game to encourage the players to "explore the Net, and traverse little known routes." Huntmaster Rick Gates, Student & Lecturer of the University of Arizona, got the idea "sometime in 1991 when I began to realize the enormous variety and volume of information available via what I will call the Net (Bitnet, Usenet, The Internet, etc.). I suppose my initial ideas were based on the type of search exam that most library-school students have to go through during a class in Basic Reference, namely, 'Here's a set of questions, here's the Library's reference collection. Answer these questions. You have one hour.' Some of us enjoyed this type of challenge in library school. We called it 'The Thrill of the Hunt'". [54]

 The Hunt is edutainment at its best, "casual instruction in training for information resources. [...] It provides for training in context, which for most people works better than books or chalk on a board." For beginning net.citizens it provides a chance to look over the shoulders of media-literate experts. "It helps more novice users, or Net 'settlers', understand how to move around using the 'trails' that the more experienced Hunt players have 'blazed'. [...] Learning how to learn is critical, and this only comes from experience."

- ORACLE Another very old medial institution that comes back in the Matrix is the Oracle. It introduces itself with a quote by Paul Valery: "The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us." The history of oracles ranges from that of Delphy to that of Peter Langston. In the mid-1970s, Langston started a line of oracle software that emerged the net.institution Usenet Oracle. [55] To query it, you simply mail the Oracle with "tell me" in the 'Subject:' line and your question in the body of your message. You should receive a reply within a few days. In the meantime, the Oracle may require that you answer a question for it, as payment for its services. Example:

The Usenet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:
> Oh, great Oracle,
> what is the meaning of life?
And in response, thus spake the Oracle:
} The cereal, the magazine, or the board game?

Given the electronic Gutenberg library and the collected utterances in newsgroups and mailing lists - the virtually complete set of symbolic expressions of mankind - the answer to any question (within the boundaries of what mankind has expressed, which is not to say 'consciously' knows) lies here. It opens possibilities for Oracularities of unimaginable dimensions. The tricky part, as always with Oracles, is to formulated the right search command. [56]

 At the risk of boring you by repeating myself: letter, newspaper, radio, TV - old media don't go away, they are the content of the new ones, transformed into metaphors. If the 'content' of the Net is magazines, radio, TV etc., then the 'content' of those is the Net. (Malamud's ITR brings us interviews with the technical Internet community, Wired is focused on the vision of the merger of telecommunications, broadcasting and computing, the libraries are talking about their natural extension into the Net). The whole Net is abuzz with questions of where it is heading. Self- reflectiveness is part of the constitution of a new medium. But this is a transient stage. As with Usenet newsgroups we will see that the early bias towards computing and networking itself will shift. Today the comp. groups are far outnumbered by the alt. and rec. groups.

 There are, of course, differences between the Meta-Medium and the other media it embraces. With text, sound and video editing capabilities on personal computers getting cheaper, one-person desktop publishing and multicasting houses become possible. This was also said when xerox machines spread, and again with laser printers (printing on demand). It did indeed happen to some degree, but it also showed that not everybody has the urge to publish. Most of all, cheap high-quality printing on a laser engine did not solve the problem of distributing and making your product known.

This changes with the Universal Medium that is production, transmission and reception medium in one. To multicast does not require the concentration of capital and power necessary to produce a full daily broadcast schedule in one of The Networks. Anybody who finds a friendly host or scrapes up a few thousand dollars to set up her own can be media provider. Combining broadcast tools and communications networks, and private and various forms of public (anonymous or not) communications, makes all the difference. The implications for the changing nature of work become visible already. Everybody who offers informational products or services can do so - globally, from anywhere, at a price that a private person can afford. [57]

 This is not to say that capitalism will crumble (maybe through endogenous media technology attack from inside its own foundations, like the Gutenberg Galaxy), and give way to an Anarchist's dream of self- expression for everyone. But it does mean the end of capitalism as we know it. People who are part of what is often called a revolution are very excited about the empowering qualities of the Net.

The conflict between MTV, the music channel, and MTV, the Net.site is instructive, as it occurs at the point of an important transition. Mtv.com also re-invented the old-media institution of reader's-listener's-viewer's mail. [58] "i-am-not-alone.txt" contains a large number of emails that Curry received after his resignation from MTV. Scanning this fan mail gives you two strong impressions. One is a deep dissatisfaction with 'the media' in general, with commercials and anything corporate, and especially with MTV. [59] The medium that has shaped and given name to the MTV generation "... is not the coolest thing on the planet anymore, and instead of a fun, cutting-edge place to be, it turned into a greedy, back-stabbing, money mongering, corporate machine that chews people up and spits them back out like so much rubbish." (Ken Clar, Curry's factotum) The second thread refers to the Internet, about which is spoken with a strong sense of liberation, opportunity, wonders never before imagined. (The reactions were by email, so from people who are already on the Net.) A sense of "Wow, the times are a-changin'!" [60]

 "MTV and the internet have little to do with each other. One is very close to a democracy (depending upon your sysadmin's policies), while the other has gained the reputation as the largest commercializing demon in America: the corporate giant behind 'alternative'. Out here, there is no single ruling body." Two things are interesting about this quote from "i-am-not-alone.txt". Again the polarization between demon and democracy, but more so the two words "out here" that reveal the standpoint of the speaker. In no audience mail for print, TV, or radio would anybody write to the medium about a shared "out here" that would mean anything else but "you there inside the medium, and we out here at the receiver". [61] The remainder of this article will deal with this shared 'out there' of the Net.


The oldest medium holds its entre as the latest, the get-together. The basic social function of going somewhere and hanging out with friends and like-minded people requires a common place and time. While tree-shaped lists, keywords and hyperlinks are appropriate for retrieving data, 'human information' needs conversational tools, an anthropomorphic space not to consult repositories of passive information, but to meet people.

 Today the theater metaphor (Laurel) re-emerges and with it the idea of actors and agents (Brooks, Maes). It is here that we re-encounter the ars memoria. Cicero suggested to use personae for the memory image that anchors the 'things'(Yates, 1990, p.25). Yates' characterization of a classic memory image: consists of human figures, is active, dramatic, striking, under circumstances that recall the 'whole' thing, (Yates, 1990, p.19) can be read directly parallel to Laurel's explications of a desirable human-computer interface.

What is not lost in the transition from the art of memory to the art of interface design is most of all the dimension of mental space. The stage where the play is enacted is idea space, regardless whether the mental image is evoked by printed, pictorial or sound signs, or a Wagnerian multimedia Gesamtkunstwerk.

 An important difference between the two arts is that the mental space of the ars memoria was not shared. An orator would, of course, share his idea space with his audience, but as he walked around the chambers of his memory, picking the points he wanted to touch upon from the statues where he had deposited them, he was alone. He would never encounter an other there. (The Ad Herennium clearly states that lonely, deserted places are best suited to be used as memory places. (Yates 1990, p.16))

 Net.operations in Gutenberg mode are mostly silent, ASCII, solitary, and asynchronous. Even looking at the sometimes very personal things that people put on their home page does not give you the feeling of 'being there' with them. Most of the time the netsurfer is not aware of others who 'are inside' the same host (except when the competition for access and CPU time gets too rough). While we have seen that newsgroups can turn into a home on the Net, the potential of the Universal Machine is by no means exhausted there. The silent and iconoclast (except for the occasional ASCII graphics) world is enlivened by the beginning multimediatization. But hypertext, radio and TV metaphor are precisely that, like horse-less carriage and wire-less radio we now have paper-less libraries and station- less mass-media. They are metaphors for different media, not for the market square in the Global Village (McLuhan).

 A different approach that does not come from Gutenberg (although it is not illiterate), nor from mathematics, and not from the technical network media, but from game are MUDs. According to one definition they are "detailed and realistic multi-player simulations that present ongoing campaigns and universes with evolving storylines, political systems, and landscapes being imagined into existence as play progresses." (MindVox) MUDs are shared places. You 'telnet' yourself there. Others 'are' 'there' as well, synchronously, even though from different 'real' time zones.

From the theater metaphor we pick up the performing arts and the stage effects. From game/play we get the participatory elements and the challenge for the price at stake: recognition for wit, excellence, style, integrative qualities, for the craziness of thinking up something that nobody has ever done before.


In the Matrix the geographical location of self and others has no significance. In spite, or rather because of this it seems psychologically appealing to make oneself a homely place inside the medium. (In a multiuser Unix system everybody has his $HOME directory, but the orthography makes it clear already that it's nothing like home in RL. It is not even an attempt at a metaphor, only a piece of programmers mnemonics attached to a system variable.) The natural habitat and the stage for social intercourse in RL for most people is the city. An obvious thing to do is to divide the social functions of an online community into those of the civitas. [62]

 Another experiential space for many people is the office workplace(There is a wide variety of approaches in corporate CMC (computer mediated communications). See the classic, but not very up- to-date Hiltz/Turoff, 1993 (1978)). Developed from the desktop metaphor for stand- alone computers derives the cubicle model of teleconferencing, the global virtual hatch: sitting across the same desk from each other being able to pass something without having to take your legs off the table. Only that the two ends of the table might be in different towns or continents.

The closest to a complex stage design with all the bells and whistles are MUDs. They offer not a 'home page' (like in WWW), nor a 'post box' for a home, but a 'home room' inside the Matrix. In the age of technical media the place where all the media come together is the living room (TV, HiFi, telephone etc.). In the Turing Galaxy - the age of simulation - the 'living room' itself is metaphorically recreated inside the Matrix. One's 'own' space is part of a larger structure that might be a house, space station, city, even a country or a whole galaxy. Players can choose their virtual environment from hundreds of MUDs with different themes and atmospheres, Cyberpunk, medieval, fantasy, folklore, mystical, occult, horror, inspired by Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Dante's Inferno, or Michael Ende's Never Ending Story (For the most comprehensive list of MUDs see Scott Goehring, The Totally Unofficial List of Internet Muds).

 Also here we find lists (of players, objects, exits), but they are embedded in more worked-out allusion to physical spaces, and the choices are active, they do not produce another menu list, but trigger events. Especially moving around between the rooms gives one a sense of the extension of a territory. One can ride trains, dragons, or space ships; talk to others, trade, give presents, or make love; create rooms, pets, and fireworks; watch a movie or listen to the radio - all of this in ASCII text scrolling over the screen. [63]


In the Matrix also the physical body has no significance (except for the wetware break). But the mental body can travel along the wires and be re- incarnated in a remote Doppelgänger. [64]

The same body can be played by a human, just as well as by the machine. On the behavior of human players there is much to be said and studied. Here I would rather take a closer look at the non-human players. Automatons and the game between man and machine carried tremendous fascination ever-since the days of the Ancients, with new boosts during the Renaissance (Maillardet's Magician, Vaucanson's Writer, etc.) and the industrial age. "Das Spiel zeigt etwas Mechanisches, das mit dem menschlichen Selbstverständnis räsonieren mag: Also sucht man das Spielerische in der Mechanik und im Automaten." (Coy 1993 p.203) They were only sophisticated toys, but they triggered a philosopher like Descartes to think up a Turing Test avant la lettre. [65] The philosophical and literary (eg. E.T.A. Hoffman) theme continues to fascinate mankind's phantasy. But it was only with Alan Turing and his influence on von Neumann, the cybernetics group, [66] and others that a whole wave of mind-mirroring in AI, neuro nets, piano- playing robots and 'thinking machines' was triggered. This conceptual shift dismissed philosophy and literature (See Kittler and Bolz), and made the Turing Testable machine the goal of a concrete effort of exact sciences.

 The first program that passed the Turing Test in a life-like situation was Weizenbaum's Eliza simulating the first conversation in a non- directive therapy. Weizenbaum recounts how his secretary asked him to leave the room when she was 'talking to' Eliza. (Weizenbaum 1977). Since then the Turing horizon has become populated by hosts of talkative and zealous homunculi, women, and daemons. [67]

 One forum where the best of them come together is the Loebner Turing- Test competition, conducted annually since 1991. The New York business man has donated $100,000 prize money for a program that can pass as human in an unrestricted typed tele-conversation. Entries so far are required to be conversant - in "natural American English" - on one topic only. Entrants may select their own topic areas, but the domains of knowledge must be "within the experience of ordinary people." [68]

 One of the participants is Julia, a Maas-Neotek bot [69] with an AI engine written by Michael "Fuzzy" Mauldin at Carnegie Mellon behind it. Between Loebner Turing Tests she logs onto a MUD and behaves like a regular player. She can be summoned, gives useful information, delivers mud.mail messages to other players who are not currently logged in, dispenses witty quotes, can be nice to you, and kills you when teased too much - and next time you talk to her she will still be angry with you, because she even remembers.

 Pattie Maes, modeling intelligent autonomous agents at MIT Media Lab, uses the metaphor of a personal apprentice. "These agents learn how to assist the user by (i) observing the user's actions and imitating them, (ii) receiving user feedback when they take wrong actions, (iii) being trained by the user on the basis of hypothetical examples and (iV) asking other agents (working for other users) which have more experience for assistance." Maes is currently working on three prototype agents: scheduler, mailer, and newsreader.

 Gene Ball from Microsoft Research points to the technical and artistic challenges of the field. "I'm convinced that a major transformation of human-computer interaction is now in its earliest stages. I refer to the creation of "lifelike computer characters" (a.k.a conversational assistants, believable agents, etc.) for user interfaces or interactive entertainment." [70] Agents, like many of the institutions and serviced on the Matrix that were described here are little more than a year old. [71]

 Electronic alter-egos are playing games, retrieving information, monitoring newsgroups for us, while we're not looking, while we're not even online, and reporting back to us later. Multiple alters for different tasks, they are our co-inhabitants in the Matrix. For the Game of Life on the stage of Cyberspace both us and the machine put on our masks.

 What happens if there finally is a program that can pass an unrestricted Turing Test? Nothing much actually. Somebody will be $100,000 richer, and we have the proof of what we already know since Turing's original article. In one sense - a deep one that we do not fully comprehend yet - the difference between humans and machines has disappeared in 1937. In another sense it will not go away. But maybe a passed Test will produce a 'Turing Shock' that leads to a clearer awareness of the distinctness of the spheres of man and machine, to a little less respect for the machine (in us), and rather more respect for ourselves.




Now, if you'll attend, Kitty, and not talk so much, I'll tell you all my ideas about Looking-glass House. - Lewis Carroll
I'm lying in a 3D hi-res texture-mapped graphics representation of a comfortable chair that happens to overlap with a really comfortable chair in the real world. The virtual chair I see on my ST-HMD, the real one I feel with my real body. Around me there are fractal flowers growing away a little every day. [72] They live off electrons, so I don't have to worry about forgetting to water them. Different the El-Fish floating around freely in the room, blowing bubbles and flocking around me when I feed them. The room I got off the shelf, and customized to my liking. Of course, I could have designed something from scratch, but why the hassle when there is so much neat stuff around.

 One wall is filled by a regular 2d screen for video wall-paper, video-phone, text-screen for typing etc. A live-video CU-SeeMe-type interface is hanging in a picture frame at another wall, on it the face of my old buddy Chu. He's in Taipei now, so at least the time difference isn't a problem. It's not often that we are in the same space-time continuum, but as long as we're both online we're nevertheless sitting across the desk from each other.

 My living room is a soap-bubble floating in cyberspace. Technically speaking, my monad exists only on my own harddisk and on the machines of a couple of friends, to whom I sent a dump of the whole database on CD-ROM. When they 'visit' me they just throw in my CD-ROM and telnet to my PC. They come over to gossip, work, and jam. There are various interfaces lying around, an air-guitar, air-drums, musical keyboard and alphanumeric keyboard, which might or might not overlap with RL objects, eg. the drums might overlap with a real set at my friend's place, but when I hit them in the shared virtual space, they will still make a sound.

 Of course, the room is fully connected to the Net. I can venture out anywhere, go shopping, visit friends, or some tugged away little watering hole in a Manila host where the regulars log in via local dial-up lines. [73] I can, but for routine stuff I just send out Charles. My chef agent who knows me best, has the best 'natural' language interface and the highest AIQ that money can buy, [74] and who directs all my task-specific agents, is old-fashioned discreet British butler Charles. Sometimes he reminds me of something, get's rid of unwanted callers, pre-sorts my mail, but mostly he just stands there and awaits my orders. Towards the network Charles has a set of resources like WWW, incl. Gopher, Archie, Whois etc. that can be extended by any new service that comes up. Charly can 'learn'.

RL objects tend to get lost. When all of your field of vision is VR they are especially hard to get at. Therefore they have radio position beacons that match them with their VR representation. Of course, these computer graphics can again be freely edited, but for smooth interaction it makes sense that the functional parts like buttons, levers, pedals etc. be where they are on the RL object. If I can't find something in my usual RL mess, I ask Charlie, and he will make it light up in bright neon.

While I'm working on text I usually prefer to take off the glasses and use the good old QWERTZ keyboard and an A4 flat screen, both on one of these rubber poles that stay whichever way you bend them. I just sit down comfortably on a zabuton or on a bar stool, then I pull screen and keyboard into a comfortable position. Hopefully by now, one media technology has evaporated after all - the Laokoonian malediction of the wire cable.

 While I work I usually listen to some fresh tunes on my desktop radio, or have my Music Insects [75] produce ever- changing melodies, while my MIDI-controlled speech synthy is rapping random selections from the Gutenberg etext archive over them. (My all-time favorite to date is when Alice asks Humpty Dumpty whether you can make words mean so many different things, and then his answer over a Maceo Parker-style sax, a bass lifted off some Monk CD, and a sample of the incredible wood-blocks that I found at this Buddhist temple shop.)

 After I'm through with my day's work I feel like kickin' back and taking in a movie. Let's see, maybe something Japanese? Is the new one by Itami Jûzo out on the Net already? Charly: 'I'm afraid not.' Oh right, there was this Ozu flick that I haven't seen yet. What was that again? Charly: 'Out of all movies that Ozu produced you have not yet seen three: Tokyo Monogatari, ...' Hey right, his most famous one, and I still haven't seen it. Get me that. And Charly shops around for the cheapest video rental on the global Net that offers it. As most of the time for stuff that is not in the Public Domain [76] it is VideoSurf in Kiribati, somewhere between Australia and Mexico, a country that still refuses to sign the Global Copyright Treaty. In this case it's even cheaper than the Ozu Archives in Tokyo that unfortunately don't receive public funding. (Of course, I'm willing to pay the artists their fair share, but hey, what can I do? My bot knows only one rule: if you can't get it for free, get it as cheap as possible. [77]) Charles then pays and downloads the movie. He has an allowance of 5,000, anything above he presents for me to decide. Like every good housebot, Charly keeps track of average and cheapest prices, so if something I ask for costs significantly above average he also alerts me.

 After the film I take a quick hop over to Gibson's in Rio, a wild party host with all that Salsa feeling. But I'm not up to partying tonight, just a look to see who of the regular crowd is there, before I hit the sack to count electric sheep. But as things go, there is this cute almond-eyed blond (that is, according to 'her' avatar that's what she is), and we get to chat, and find out that we like each other's style. As the Salsa is doing its magic she invites me over to her place. While I download her room we take a spin on the dance floor. Charly, quick, where the hell did I put my teledildo? And as the dildo lights up in bright neon, the curtain drops on another day in Cyberspace...

My guess for a central question in media today: interface design will become interior design. After the meager command-line, and the playful desktop interface, our place inside the media horizon will turn ornamental. 'Experiences' - multi-sensory communicational, educational, entertainment, etc. experiences, to be read back from storage anywhere at any time will be central to the conceptual design of these 'idea spaces'. The designers of commercial spaces, [78] musea, [79] and amusement, edutainment, and reality parks, and other popular experience spaces are already doing their share of ground breaking. Of course, 'high' culture will keep designing their experience spaces, eg. theater as Laurel showed. Just as will the hackers, cypherpunks, Nintendo kids, otaku (V.G. 1991/1993), and all the other cultures that have started to inhabit net.land. The 1980s brought forth the designer live-styles of the Yuppies and Crystal Kids, and the anti-designer live-style, but media-tech hackers and otaku. The 1990s might see Data Dandies (BILWET) dressing in information to the latest hip. Most of all it is up to our kids to see what happens. What we make today will determine how they will see the world, and how they will act inside of it.



1.) Gutenberg's innovation, movable type, was actually invented more than 200 years earlier in Korea. The oldest remaining text printed with moveable copper type is a collection of stories and poems from 1230. The technology appeared again in Turkey some time later, and Gutenberg re-invented it in 1450. The name of the first Korean printer was lost, but in a non-Eurocentristic media history McLuhan's 'Gutenberg Galaxy' would have to bear a Korean name. (See McLuhan, 1962).

 2.) An early case of downsizing in media, so to speak. Manutius set up his Aldine Press in Venice around 1490.

 3.) and below it that of the printer-publisher. Media business was born.

 4.) ... turning books into hypertexts avant la lettre (Bolz, Ende Gutenberg 1993, 202 ff.) and allowing writers to dodge space limits imposed by their publishers.

 5.) "Color in painting and story-telling in film, both of them have become so arbitrary that I utilize other means to organize my material, systems that are self-contained, in which one can believe. Numbers, letters, abstractions. Take my favorite example of the lexicon: under 'H' you find happiness, Hitler, his Holiness, heaven und hell... The lexicon is the only place in the world where these completely disparate things meet. How absurd - and how necessary! Because in this way we organize the mass of information that assails us from all sides." (Peter Greenaway, Die Zeit 11,25,1988)

 6.) Friedrich Kittler unearths the archeology of these "Prozesse des Abhebens, des Take off [... all dessen,] was an der Schrift über den Rand von Alltagssprachen hinaussteht." in: Draculas Vermächtnis. 1993, p.150

 7.) a gigantic infrastructural endeavor: the telephone network constitutes the largest technical system ever devised by human effort. It corresponds to the largest corporations both world-wide (AT&T, Alcatel) and nationally (NTT).

 8.) Today the electromagnetic spectrum from waves thousands of kilometers (or hundreds of Hertz) long to those of micron length (thousands of tera-Hertz), like a new continent of media, has been conquered and developed for traffic.

9.) The first global live radio broadcast took place in 1932 on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

 10.) Broadcast media are an extension of the public sphere that before existed in the form of presence and print. Also legally the radio spectrum is usually considered a public resource and regulated accordingly. As such it is a contested terrain, used by state and military for propaganda and mobilization in times of war, just as well as by anti- government or grass-roots interests (radio amateur movements in the 1920s, mini-FM movement in Japan in the 1980s, radio pirates). Two of the biggest problems confronting the Matrix, that combines point-to-point and point-to- many structures, are how to safeguard the privacy of the private segments (email, money transactions, etc.) and anonymity in the public sphere ('anonymous remailers' operate on the believe in a 'right to anonymity'. (See Wired 2.06))

 11.) The 1950s and 60s brought forth the seemingly self- contradictory term 'Massen-Individualverkehr' (translating roughly into 'en mass personal transportation'). Massification and 'individualization' are just the two sides of the same coin. To terms of that time like 'the levelled all-middle class society', 'individualization', 'atomization' etc., I prefer Sennet's terms 'interiorization' and 'fear of exposure' (The Conscience of the Eye, New York 1990). See also Kogawa: "Electronic media essentially possess the functions of 'interiorization'. This is a formulation of innumerable 'interiors' driven by its 'interiority' to an alliance of cross-sections." (Kogawa, 1993)

 12.) "Chinese philosophers thought that because water flows with perfect evenness, it is the best basis for timekeeping. However, in this belief they were wrong [sic!]; the secret of accurate timekeeping is to generate and count regular beats, which is a digital rather than an analogue process. This may be surprising, and not just to the ancients in China, because except for intra-atomic events time can be regarded as a continuous phenomenon." Nevertheless the earliest mechanical clock on record was said to have been built in China in 725. (Ohlman, 1990, p.694 f.)

 13.) The digital and the analog are more closely interlinked than one might think. The problem of building precise digital machines out of imprecise analog components will be a preoccupation of communications engineering to our days. On top of the digital level of description of the computer, again analog levels can be build. (eg. neural networks). The 'fuzzy', 'fractal' etc. nature of nature can be simulated to any desired degree of (artificial im-) precision by the zero-and-one-and- nothing-in-between machine. We get an analog hardware base, on top of which a digital logic simulates an analog machine.

 14.) Leibniz introduced more operator signs than anybody (starting with ':' for division), and was the first to operate on operators, and thereby pushed ahead the take-off of the signs. "Never before had somebody started the systematic attempt to manipulate neither things nor words nor people, but naked and silent signs." (Kittler 1993, pp. 156, 158)

 15.) He conceived of a machine that would create all texts that can possibly be expressed in alphabetic script by sheer iterative combinations of the 26 characters plus space, "a general method in which all truths of the reason would be reduced to a kind of calculation." (De Arte Combinatoria)

 16.) It is not by chance that these bits are driven by a time that since 1972 has an official nuclear international standard. The second is since then defined as a multiple of the natural resonance of caesium-133 atoms.

 17.) "Turing proved a most remarkable and unexpected result. There is a universal automaton in the sense that it can calculate any sequence that any special automaton can [...] This seems paradoxical, since in principle one can imagine automata of varying sizes and complexities. However, he showed it is true. [...] any particular automaton can be described by a finite set of instructions, and [...] when this is fed to his universal automaton it in turn imitates the special one." (Goldstine 1972/1993, p. 274 f. For a more detailed description of the Turing Machine, see also there, Turing 1987, V.G. 1988) Even more remarkable and surprising it must have been, when a look, informed by the Turing Machine, at the physiological and functional parts of the human brain found it to be a large, but nevertheless finite automaton. Ergo emulatable by the Universal Turing Machine. Compared to this 50 year old conceptual breakthrough, neither developments in AI nor next generation hype(r) media of today come really as a surprise. They are but filling in the implications of the Turing Machine.

 18.) By dropping the question 'Can a machine think?', black-boxing all metaphysical entities like soul, spirit, mind, etc., reformulating the question as 'Can a machine produce utterances/speech acts that, had they originated from a human, would be considered as acts of intelligence?', and finally answering this question positively. "Das Turing Game ist ein Gesellschaftsspiel, das den Computer radikal neu plaziert: als mit dem Menschen konkurrierende Intelligenz." (Coy 1993, p.211)

 19.) A key thinker for linking brain and machine functions on a high level of description was the psychiatrist, physiologist and electronics researcher Warren McCulloch. (See Heims 1991)

 20.) In fulfillment of Leibniz' dream of freeing humans by relegating the 'slave labor of calculation' to machines. Computers were first introduced as improved desk calculators, eg. for fast number crunching in the Manhattan Project.

 21.) to enhance the speed, breadth and accuracy of retrieving textual information in order to upload it into our human working memory. One of the earliest applications was the processing of the 1890 US census data by Hollerith. These were, of course, statistical operations, but running on words rather than numbers it can be seen as the start of a textual usage as writing machine in an administrative and business setting. Goldstine sees the census application as an 'anomalous' deviation from previous scientific and engineering usages. (Goldstine 1972/1993, p.65 ff.)

 22.) As a fruit of Leibniz' innovation of operating on operators, von Neumann machines store operands (data) and operators (program commands) in the same format in the same undistinguished memory, ie. they can modify themselves, ie. given suitable training they can learn. (see Kittler 1993, pp.156, 159) Ideally, both the human as well as the machine addressee get smarter in the process.

 23.) "From early on I have suspected that the so important-sounding task 'Know Thyself' is a ruse of a cabal of priests. They are trying to seduce man from activity in the outside world, to distract him with impossible demands; they seek to draw him into a false inner contemplation. Man only knows himself insofar as he knows the world - the world which he only comes to know in himself and himself only in it." For a formulation that would be up to the conditions of the Turing Galaxy try reading 'media' instead of 'world'.

 24.) The resistance of objects is an interesting problem encountered in VR. It is a constant irritation that in the case of the classic eyephone-headphone-data-glove set-up the CG representation of one's hand will go right through CG representations of walls. Experiments with small electric discharges on the skin and inflatable airbags inside the glove to create the sensation of touching the virtual object have not been very successful. Even if you feel that your fingertips have hit on something, they will still go through the wall. Exoskeletons (see e.g. Hirose 1994 and Tachi 1994) can, of course, provide force-feedback in real space, but they are bulky and not close to becoming mass-consumer products anywhere soon. Immaterial things, ideas, conversational topics, etc. have, of course, their own kinds of resistance.

 25.) "Modern mass media do not exist to deliver information to people; they exist to deliver demographic audiences to advertisers. From this perspective, the old saw that 'This program is brought to you by . . .' is a lie. It would be more accurate to say that 'We are brought to the sponsor by the program.'" (Wally Bowen, Summary of Harvard Institute on Media Education (Aug. 1-7, 1993) 26.) The first dedicated video game machine was Atari's Pong released in 1972. Magnavox marketed the first home game system in the same year.

 27.) from astronomy (one of the very earliest inventions of man, the quadrant, is an analog calculator for shooting stars and planets and determining ones latitude, essential for navigation), via Schickard, Pascal, Leibniz, Babbage, to Turing, von Neuman, etc. The arts that provide the logic of the computer.

 28.) from spoken, via written, printed, and technically recorded to calculated language. The 'black art'.

 29.) from the stick used as a hammer via the mechanical clock and moveable type to the computer: projection of human faculties into artifacts. The arts that deal with the 'materiality' of the Turing Galaxy (silicon, copper wire, magnetic particles on a disk, coaxial cable, radio channels to a satellite, etc.)

 30.) from traffic on foot, horseback, and ship via telegraph, telephone, radio, TV, to bit data. The art of the Dungeon Masters and Rhizome Wizards.

 31.) See also Virtual Light (Stephen Beck, Virtual Light. Visual Sensology for the 1990's and Beyond, in: Mondo 2000 # 2, 1990 and Gibson reference to Beck's VL: Virtual Light, 1993)

 32.) for a photosensor-array chip implanted into the eyeball, that makes blind people see and turns the human eye effectively into camera and TV screen, see New Scientist, Oct. 24, 1992

 33.) The 'immersiveness' frequently mentioned in the context of VR is not a suitable criterion for differentiating it from other media (reading a Gibson novel, listening to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon over headphones, watching a movie can all be very immersive). What is immersed in the end is the brain, no matter through how many of the senses the signals are coming that trigger the virtual world emerging before our inner eye. / In the sense of allowing the user to inscribe herself into media, to merge and literally take the position of her star, the most immersive, interactive, multi-media, participatory, etc. VR system (besides games) that has reached any significant audiences is btw, karaoke.

 34.) 'Stereo' is, of course, spatialized sound, but a space that is not linked to the spatial position of the real body. Listening to music on headphones, say, the bass guitar is on your right. But when you turn your head it will still be to the right of you. In Matsushita's virtual kitchen showroom you can turn on the faucet. If the sound of the water is in front of you and you turn your head to the left it will be on your right, i.e. it appears to remain stationary in relation not to your ears but to your body space. Same for video images.

 Other forms of competition between map and territory include the early interactive videodisc city-walkthrough of Aspen, and more recently systems built around the GPS (global positioning system), like interactive road-maps, or the Mt.Fuji Project by Fujihata of Keio University (See Fujihata 1994)

 35.) The point here is not that there is 'math' behind eg. a graphics program. It is not there on the interface level. While pulling out an anchor point of a bezier curve I'm not aware I'm doing math.

 36.) The Project Gutenberg was founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart, Professor of Electronic Text at Illinois Benedictine College. Its credo is "the ideal of making all information available without delay to all people." By June 1994, there were 143 etexts online. A diverse selection starting with the Declaration of Independence (Etext # 1, dated Dec 1971, mostly because it was only 5K large, about the size the harddisks and networks of the times could handle.). The Bible and the Complete Works of William Shakespeare occupied them for nearly 20 years. Then an obvious one: Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (Etext # 11, Jan 1991), followed by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein and Mark Twain's What Is Man?, Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and The CIA World Factbook, Roget's Thesaurus and the Square Root of Two [to 5 million digits], Decartes' Reason Discourse and Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the 1990 US Census, Hacker Crackdown by Bruce Sterling and The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The Communist Manifesto and the Big Dummy's Guide To The Internet by EFF.

All this and more is available in full text and 'plain vanilla ASCII' for free download. How can it be free? Three reasons: "Project Gutenberg began in 1971 when Michael Hart was given an operator's account with $100,000,000 of computer time in it." After a little deliberation on what to do with the wealth he decided that "the greatest value created by computers would not be computing, but would be the storage, retrieval, and searching of what was stored in our libraries." Second reason: All the Gutenberg books are in the Public Domain, ie. their copyrights have expired (the Bible, Alice in Wonderland) or been waived by their authors (Sterling's Hacker Crackdown). Third reason: all the bone-work of scanning, spell checking, proofreading, etc. is done by hundreds of volunteers. Hart: "just a non-organization of people who each put together an electronic book once in a while."

 In March 1994, Gutenberg went multimedia. The first three files are Tenniel's Illustrations for Alice in Wonderland/GIF, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony [opus 67 in c-minor], and Motion Pictures of the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing (in .zip files). For 2001, Hart has big plans for a first 3D application of his Replicator Technology, "by doing CAT, MRI and XRAY Fluoroscopy scans of something, perhaps a painting, and printing 3D copies. If anyone can get us access to a hundred year old masterpiece..." (For a complete list of the books available to date see INDEX100.GUT and INDEX200.GUT. For a complete list of the files get 0INDEX.GUT. Texts quoted here include gut94.txt, history.txt, and newuser.txt. Download books from your closest mirror site! / Subscribe to the GUTNBERG listserver by sending the following message to LISTSERV@UIUCVMD.BITNET: "SUB GUTNBERG YOUR NAME" (without quotes. Your name must have at least two words.) / The mailing list is also carried on Usenet as bit.listserv.gutnberg. / Donations and requests for subscriptions to a paper edition of the Project Gutenberg Newsletter, and/or other requests for information on paper go to: Project Gutenberg, P. O. Box 2782, Champaign, IL 61825.)

 37.) a library "of the most used [mostly U.S.] books" as the Project Gutenberg is planning to produce until 2001. More than 4 Gigabyte at an estimated price of one cent per book, 'usable' on any of the 100 million computers Hart is targeting. op.cit. / Project Gutenberg is not the only effort toward building a comprehensive bit library. And when the consumer electronics conglomerates finally come up with a usable combination of laser printer, copier, scanner, and fax machine cheap enough for a household item, and OCR software intelligent enough for easy automatic use, then everybody will input his own library.

38.) Although the economics of media are not our subject here, it should at least be mentioned that also 'publishing' will take on new meaning. By far the largest global publishing house is called Public Domain. In honor of the Project we could call it the 'Gutenberg Model'. Any text, music, image, movie that has existed long enough automatically becomes 'public property'. (When 100 years ago, copyright was introduced in the US, the period was 14 years, it was extended to 28 years with a 28 year extension available, and recently to 50 years after the author's death.) Until now it was bound to a physical carrier. It is the added value of storing it there, that you pay for if you want your own copy of, say Aesop's Fables. Also original material is published in Public Domain. Notably around the sharing spirit of the Net, software, articles, images, sounds etc. are made to be given away. Eventually, the full 'old stock', our symbolic heritage will be available to any net.citizen, anywhere, any time.

The 'Wired Model' is also based on old stock, but on a different time scale. In a fast changing world, old news is free news. You pay for the paper magazine only if you can't wait to get the news. A short while later, you can download it for free. The 'Guinea Pig Model' in contrast takes a commercial interest. It is used to test a software until it is stable enough to be released as commercial product. Then the latest copy of the free-ware version will still be available, at the same time people who want added value (bells and whistles, a printed manual, professional support etc.) will pay to get the product. Another mixed free/commercial application is the 'Drug Dealer's Model'. The first level of the game Doom is given away for free counting on its enslaving qualities. Once players are hooked and want more, they are only too willing to pay for the next levels.

For new products, a feasible intermediary between the two fundamentalist positions of information-should-be-sold-at-the-highest- price-the-market-yields and all-information-should-be-free will have to be found. Maybe there will be a period in which a new media product is hyped up for market introduction and harvested in the most expensive outlets, eg. the movie theaters, followed by secondary exploitation, eg. in the rental circuit, both of which could already be online. After 'expiry', all the materials that can be lent for free at a local library (books, records, CDs, videos, etc.), effectively enter Public Domain.

 This would, of course, necessitate a system of crediting to authors, like the one that is already in place for other media, eg. a fee on empty recordable media (audio cassette tapes, video tapes) and photo-copying machines. These funds are then distributed according to a statistic key among the authors (in Germany see the Verwertungsgesellschaften (VG) Wort, Bild etc.) Also public funding like in the case of libraries, universities and other educational institutions would be an obvious solution.

 39.) Usenet is a distributed bulletin board system with several million readers worldwide. It came into being in late 1979, was introduced in 1980, and has been expanding explosively every since - in numbers of sites carrying them, in numbers of readers, and in numbers of topics: There are already more than 7,000 newsgroups on just about any subject you can imagine. This puts the '500 TV channels' prize question into a different light. Which is not to say that there are no open questions. The global speaker's corner where anybody can go and say his two-cents-worth (the new 'idea currency' adding up to major capital, see note 80 on FAQs) and other free areas of the Matrix are seen as threatened by commercialization, ie. closure. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asks such questions about "increasingly thorny social, political and economic issues" involved, eg. "what happens to such systems as Usenet, possibly the world's first successful anarchistic system, where everybody can say whatever they want?" (EFFector Online Volume 5 No. 4, 3/19/1993, editors@eff.org, A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, ISSN 1062-9424) The USENET software developers, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis, received the 1993 EFF Pioneer Award. For all the award-worthy stuff EFF is doing look here

 40.) Along the line between VR and RL, fact and CNN factoid, or human and humanoid, one could distinguish communities from communoids. They resemble communities. But while these emerge through interaction in situations of presence and through orality, communoids are based on tele-presence and secondary orality. Their condition is also continuity and locality, but they can include anonymous members and cyborgs. The forms of the social within communoids are not yet thoroughly understood. See also below under MUDs.

 41.) FAQ documents (Frequently Asked Questions), this new class of texts that were also perused in the production of this article are compiled from the complete history of the communications in a Usenet newsgroup or a mailing list. They carry the name of a maintainer, but also the long list of people from whose posts information of general value to the given topic were included. This is as close to 'authorless' writing, maybe even 'distributed thinking', as I can see right now.

 42.) "flame: 1. vi. To post an email message intended to insult and provoke. 2. vi. To speak incessantly and/or rabidly on some relatively uninteresting subject or with a patently ridiculous attitude. 3. vt. Either of senses 1 or 2, directed with hostility at a particular person or people. 4. n. An instance of flaming. When a discussion degenerates into useless controversy, one might tell the participants 'Now you're just flaming' or 'Stop all that flamage!' to try to get them to cool down (so to speak). [...] The term may have been independently invented at several different places [during the early 1970s]; it is also reported that `flaming' was in use to mean something like `interminably drawn-out semi-serious discussions'" (The Jargon File, also known as The Hacker's Dictionary) A variation are mail-bombs, huge files of random bits that paralyze the receiver's mailbox. You enrage enough people, and your mailbox will overflow with protest mail to the point of crippling your communications abilities. Of course, you can stop reading your mail, but then you loose a communications line. You could switch to another account, but if you post messages from there, the flame will burn it too. There is a certain equality of voices built into the Net. There are also mechanisms to warrant the anonymity of a voice, but for most part if you speak in your name (and disclaiming that you might speak in that of your company), everybody can talk back to you.

 43.) This also might have implications for marketing. Direct consumer feedback on a company or any subset of its products could take the form of an unmoderated newsgroup. The quantitative measures, sought after in the mindframe of nationalist policy in quite a different context, here they are up for grabs. Imagine a handy little tool by the name of The Averager: Next time a commercial says '80% of all Japanese are satisfied with our product' you can ask back, 'are these confirmed Averager data in your company's unmoderated newsgroup?'

 44.) my italics. One of the most interesting places 'to be' on the Net introduces itself thus: "Welcome to the ThoughtScape of MindVox [...] The closest tangible structure that MindVox could be likened to, is a sprawling Tavern at the crossroads of the entire world. Whether you have jacked into Vox by dialing a local number with your modem, or stacked together a web of net connections that spans the world, you have arrived... [...] Chances are that for most of you, what you desire lies somewhere between the two absolutes delineated by NeW WaReZ and online therapy. Although MindVox is suitably equipped to supply just about anything you may desire, it's primary focal point is [...] a storehouse of knowledge pertaining to [...] information on everything from software updates, viruses, security news, drug information, legal issues effecting Cyberspace, and electronic digests and anthologies . . . all the way to a constantly growing library that chronicles the very inceptions of Cyberspace, with timeslices of systems dating all the way back to 1979 - the first bulletin boards ever to exist. [...] Technology has created one of the most unique possibilities in the history of human interaction; Anytown USA can jack into Haight-Ashbury in the 60's, Soho in the 70's, any place or time that has ever been and places that never were and exist only by mutual wish-fulfillment... MindVox is a celebration of possibilities. Jack In, Rock Out and Feed your Head!"

45.) This calls into question the protection of personal rights (especially after having called newsgroups a community). But the danger does not lie with the social sciences. They do not talk about individuals but about a phenomenon called the Mass. This postwar phenomenon has a strange ontological quality. Nobody in particular is 'the mass'. "The mass are always the others" (Christian Unverzagt). But for other interested parties the potential is significant. How much information about an individual active in newsgroups and mailing lists can be found by an expert information hunter could be seen by the famous Internet Hunt for Ross Stapleton. From nothing more but an email address, hunters dug up 148 separate pieces of information on him, including the fact that he is working for the US Central Intelligence Agency, his address and phone number, his education including his dissertation available online, the fact that he does not own a fax machine, that he is engaged including the name of his fiancee, and that he published an article in the Internet Society News by the title "Opening Doors in the Global Village" that through this experiment probably gained quite a new meaning. Comments Hunt Master Rick Gates: "I hope that people keep that in mind when they are posting to an email listserv, or newsgroup. They are really adding to the sum total of the Nets, and what they have to say in some limited discussion of an obtuse topic may be around for a long time." How to guarantee anonymity, next to privacy, will be one of the central questions to be solved.

 46.) An ongoing project of Christian Goltz at the Disaster Prevention Research Institute of Kyoto University. These are of course numeric data. I'm not implying that something similar would be possible on textual or even contextual data like a newsgroup anywhere soon.

 47.) See Koichi Yamazaki: "The standard is always outside, always relative. The most important key-word is mina. Mina is god in Japan. There is no substance in mina, it is very vague. It doesn't really mean 'everybody', not a concrete existence. It means approximately 'the whole world', everybody except me, in the sense of "mina ite iru (Everybody says so). When I stand alone I lose the only standard - mina. It is very frightening to be alone, so we have to protect ourselves. [...] Some people in the West say Japan is postmodern, but I don't think so, because mina in this sense is a pre-modern concept. It belongs to traditional communities. European people have to revolutionize egotism. Japanese people must revolutionize mina. The Tenno is the symbol of mina, he realizes, materializes mina." (from an interview by the author.)

 48.) For talk and write see your online Unix man files. Likely everybody who had someone else typing on her screen for the first time, even if experienced in email or newsgroups, will have felt this peculiar strangeness, that people must have felt when for the first time they heard a remote voice on the phone.

 49.) CU-SeeMe is video (4-bit grayscale at 160x120 pixels or at double that) and audio (needs 32Kb/sec connection) conferencing software developed in 1993 at Cornell University for Macintosh and Microsoft Windows. It's still a BETA versions, "which means for (self-selected) Testers ONLY" (see README)

 50.) Currently there are two channels. "Internet Talk Radio is a science and technology channel, "Internet Town Hall" is devoted to public affairs. Other programs include live talkshows, two radio shows syndicated from the public radio world, and occasional specials: "In October and November of 1993, for example, we're really pleased to carry 'Hell's Bells: A Radio History of the Telephone.' This series consists of 8 half-hour programs and is one of the best radio programs we've ever heard." Malamud's company is a non-profit corporation, covering production costs through commercials and support by Cornell University, the National Press Club, the National Science Foundation, O'Reilly & Associates, Sun Microsystems, WAIS, Inc., Xerox PARC, and others.

Malamud's goal is not only "to provide a self-sufficient, financially viable public news service for the Internet community. [...] As a multicasting infrastructure gets deployed throughout the Internet, we see the opportunity to expand the radio metaphor and begin the creation of a truly new news medium." For a start, Malamud is planning to "start a new kind of telephone company," where the general-purpose Internet e-mail infrastructure takes care of all the routing. They developed a method "that allows us to map from the Internet naming scheme onto the entire international telephone network." The first application is to deliver faxes via e-mail. The remote fax printer becomes just another (funny looking) email address. (For more information, send mail to: tpc-faq@town.hall.org)

 ITR also teaches us a lesson about the main bottleneck for multimedia. The method used for sound digitization is standard PCM encoded in mu-law, ie. 64 Kbps, which makes an hour of programming 30 Megabytes large. Using a 300 baud modem it will take approximately 222 hours to download it. The lucky ones with access to a neighborhood or corporate Ethernet at 10 Mbps can download an hour's worth in 24 seconds. "We realize this makes it tough on the home user, but eventually we'll all have ISDN, cable TV, or some other miracle giving us decent bandwidth into the home."

 Software for converting the ITR source files from the native Sun .au format, and for playing it on various platforms is freely available on the Net. (The nice thing about a digital format: you don't need a standard, but can have loss-less converters from as many into the one you like best or happen to be stuck with.) (FAQ-Internet-talk-radio (29 Jan 94), from: info@radio.com (Automatic Response). See also the seminal RFC 1313, Craig Partridge, Today's Programming for KRFC AM 1313, Internet Talk Radio, from 1 April 1992.)

 51.) Curry who has hosted major music programs on radio and TV in the US and in Europe started mtv.com on his own account when he was still working for MTV Networks. (He left MTV in April 1994, which filed a law suit in an effort to shut down his site. MTV Networks itself is not yet up to networking, but has a deal with America OnLine to provide similar services as were pioneered by Curry.) Mtv.com offers charts, concert tour information, reviews, interviews, entertainment news, job openings, audio and video clips, and Adam's daily column "CyberSleaze". There are also links to other 'cool' (McLuhan) services on the Net. Music is provided by Atlantic, Island, PolyGram and other record companies. And all this for free. There are also commercial services, including one that lets unsigned bands post a song and a bio, and thereby get some worldwide exposure ($100/3 months), The Internet Letter On Corporate Users, Internetworking & Information Services, online issues of MULTIMEDIA world, and On Ramp, an Internet provider set up by MediaAmerica and Adam Curry. For the future, stuff is promised "that will blow you away", including a MUD.

52.) M-Bone grew from 'audiocast' experiments among the Internet engineering community in 1991. It is composed of 'islands' that can directly support IP multicast, such as multicast LANs like Ethernet, linked by virtual point-to-point links called 'tunnels', the endpoints of which run the 'mrouted' multicast routing daemon. Receiving M-Bone multicasts needs a lot of bandwidth (T1 or 1.544 Mb/s line speed) and a serious machine (Sun SPARC, VAX, DEC, or SGI). 'nv' (network video) uses a default of 128 kbit/sec, audio is the usual 64 kbit/sec. Before the technology reaches a robust level "will take a few years." (Steve Casner, MBONE FAQ. For technical discussions, release notes for new applications, and announcements of events on the M- Bone send a subscription request to rem-conf-request@es.net)

 53.) see Gibson about the employment agency agent Sonya on the VR phone, sitting at her desk with the "agency's logo behind her on the wall. The logo made her look like the anchorwoman on a channel that only reported very good news." (Gibson 1993, p. 48 f.)

 54.) The idea lay dormant for a while and was resurrected late in the summer of '92. Gates picked a set of extremely diverse questions and posted them to a handful of listservs and newsgroups. "The Hunt was an immediate small success." Gates selects eleven questions to which he knows there is at least one answer on the Net, accessible to all and for free. The twelfth "is the mystery question. I don't know if there's an answer to this on the Net. [...] These questions usually come to me from people asking for information. This is a real question." Once a month he posts them at a certain time. Winner is whoever answers them first, or makes the most points, the explanation how the information was retrieved being part of the evaluation. Last two rules: "9. I consider this and all Hunt files to be in the public domain. 10. Have fun! What's it all for, after all?"

55.) Langston's oracle was written at the Harvard Science Center in 1975-76 as part of his 'psl games' distribution. It inspired Lars Huttar to write his oracle program, which was posted to alt.sources in August 1989, which in turn inspired the current Usenet Oracle created by Steve Kinzler and Ray Moody. "The Usenet Oracle is intended primarily as a cooperative effort for creative humor." It is also discreet and anonymous. "Many people find the anonymity of the Oracle a license to express themselves creatively and uniquely, often to surprising success." Again the whole traffic of messages is mirrored strictly technically, there are no editors involved in the original exchange. "Since its users actually give the answers to all questions, neither the Oracle nor its priesthood take any responsibility for the content of the questions or answers." An editorial selection takes place when later the Oracle's priesthood - "a hardy and loyal band of volunteers" - selects the best ones for publication in the newsgroup rec.humor.oracle: "The Usenet Oracularities - the chronicle of the mythos of the Usenet Oracle." (Mailing the Oracle at oracle@cs.indiana.edu with the word "help" in the "Subject:" line will get you precisely that. Questions, comments and complaints to people rather than to a mail dispenser should be directed to oracle-people@cs.indiana.edu. There are two related newsgroups: rec.humor.oracle (moderated, hilarious read!) and rec.humor.oracle.d (unmoderated))

 56.) Ban Nobutomo explains the old Shinto Evening Divination als follows, "This is called Evening Divination because one goes to town in the evening to listen to the conversations of pedestrians and to divine his fortune by means of their conversations which are regarded as a divine oracle." (Seiboku-kou, vol.3, Ban Nabutomo Zenshuu vol.2, pp. 539- 540) A variation of reading the random buzz of the masses passing by is Bridge Divination. Ban Nabutomo explains, "The bridge is the place where many pedestrians are going back and forth. Just as in the case of Evening Divination on the street, one judges either good or bad fortune according to words spoken by pedestrians." (ibid, p. 546). The same divinable pink noise one can find in the "tavern at the digital crossroads" (MindVox).

 57.) We have seen that mtv.com offers job openings, and unsigned bands' information. The Global Talent Guild Casting Directory on which actors can publish their resumes including photo and video, now comes on a free CD-i, but could just as easily be on the Net. (See Wired 2.07) Other jobs will not only be brokered on the Net, but conducted there. Any kind of consulting, data processing, translations, information research on the Net, etc. can be done from the proverbial country-side cottage, and it can be effectively global. MindVox, besides offering information on apartments, events, for-sale, and services, also hints at online therapy. A significant part of RL work is already done in a time-based job agency format, anything from nurse to manager can be hired. The trend towards freelancing and agency-brokerage will increase on the Matrix. Added-value information dug up from the Net and resold at a price; people who fix up people with other people; consultants and agents for anything one can imagine; clearing-houses for copyrights, licenses, patents, credit, insurance claims, etc.

 58.) In an obvious way, by simply directing their mailer to pick every third out of hundreds of mails on, lets say, the death of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, remove the headers, put them into a file and post them. You don't even have to be there. Replaying the unaltered voice of the masses back to the masses has the advantage of making online audience research easy, thanks Adam!

 59.) "...that pitiful network of corporate pigs! ... MTV is no longer a network of change, but a network of public appeasement. No controversy, nothing.... Lame... Certainly not the way to lead a generation into the 21st century. You got the right idea man! Keep up the good work! ... It makes me feel a little better about the world when I see people such as yourself taking a bit of a stand against the garbage that media has become, especially MTV. ... i have long been thinking that mtv was going the way of the dodo, and am glad that i'm not the only one. good luck to you in gopher space." (selected reactions from mtv.com/i-am-not-alone.txt)

 60.) "The net will give you an opportunity to do what you want to do, not what a bunch of sneaker and soft-drink manufacturers want you to do. ... You're absolutely right about the net being much better than traditional media. As the net grows and more people are linked to it, we will see wonders never before imagined. Your devotion to the net will make you a key player in this new social arena. The evolution of cyber-space will be as liberating to society in the near future as the printing press was during the middle ages. Keep up the good work, and NEVER look back! ... Unlike your average MTV viewer, the mtv.com explorer can design an experience for him/her self, reading the sleaze, checking out new tunes that seem interesting, doing whatever else is offered in the near future. ... If I ever have the chance, I want to do the same thing you are doing: set up my own site for others to use and enjoy. ... Let's make this the much heralded information highway. The vehicle should be able to pass information in both ways, upstream and downstream. The television is too limited for democratic use, much to the dismay of cable companies that wish to feed us 500 channels. ... I'm shocked. Not only is it well put together and interesting, but it's free. And decidedly so. That's amazingly hip. Keep it up Adam. CYBER POWER !! ALL INFORMATION SHOULD BE FREE" (ibid.)

 61.) Also on the phone one does not share a third room in the network besides the two actual locations of the speakers. Maybe radio amateurs get a similar sense of 'being' in a common meta-space. In mass-media, audiences might have shared their dreams with their stars, in the matrix they share the same personal and public media on which they treat. On 'being' inside media, see below: MUDs.

 62.) One attempt to expand the metaphor of the bulletin board to that of the city are Freenets. By now there are dozens of them all over the world, but the model was started in 1984 in Cleveland by Tom Grundner as a bulletin board system with a single phone line to dispense free health information to the local public. In 1986 with corporate sponsorship, it turned into the Cleveland Free-Net. Most of all it provides free access to the Internet for the local Cleveland community. It is important to note that within the boundary-less global meta-space there still is a sense of locality. It does make a difference when you know that you are talking to fellow Tokyoites, and you could meet if you wanted. Functional areas resemble those of a civitas (townhouse, library, court, pub, etc.) The metaphor is only skin-deep, you can not 'walk' from A to B, but 'move' by selecting numbers from menus. It remains a database and besides the suggestive names also retains the feeling of a database. The most socially interactive areas are speak-easies on IRC channels. (See also the Amsterdam Free-Net De Digitale Stad). At the other end of the line you have an elaborate VR project by Loeffler of Carnegy Mellon University also built around the city metaphor and on the foundations of MUDs and VR. (Loeffler 1994)

 63.) There exist to my knowledge only two graphical MUDs. One is Habitat developed for Lucasfilm and running on the commercial NiftyServe network in Japan. It requires to run a CD-ROM with the local graphic information, and does not allow players to build. The other is BSX- MUD that transfers polygon information, and comes with a program for customizing one's own graphics. (download client software from here, install, and telnet to regenesis.lysator.liu.se 7475)

 64.) If you can not imagine what such a CG body will look and feel like, go to the next arcade and play Sega's Virtua Fighter. Then imagine the 32-, let alone 64-bit graphics engines coming to our children's desks soon. Or imagine Gibson's employment agency answering- agent on a VR helmet - "just a white plastic rig like kids used for games": "Sonya looked like a cartoon of a pretty girl. No pores. No texture anywhere. Her teeth were very white and looked like a single unit, something that could be snapped out intact for closer inspection. But not for cleaning, because there was no need; cartoons didn't eat. She had wonderful tits, though; she had the tits Rydell would have drawn for her if he'd been a talented cartoonist." (Gibson 1993, p.48)

 65.) which he answered negatively: he grants machines that are indistinguishable from animals, but man is for him still clearly demarcated from the machine by two criteria: They can not use words in as complex a way as we do, and, while reason is a universal instrument, the machines Descartes had in mind were not. (compare V.G. 1988, p.74 ff.)

 66.) An interdisciplinary offspring from the encounter of mathematicians, neurophysiologists, engineers, psychologist, psychiatrists, and anthropologists in the 'cybernetics group'. "Characteristically, the new concepts spanned the human and the inanimate, leading to mechanical metaphors for human characteristics and anthropomorphic descriptions of machines." (Heim 1991, p.22)

 67.) One super-human entity that 'lives' in a Unix environment, likely the first that a network-novice will encounter, is the Mailer Daemon, an otherwise harmless Unix program that normally works out of sight of the user, but reports back when it could not deliver a mail. "Demons are different from gods, because gods have fixed attributes, properties and functions, territories and codes: they have to do with rails, boundaries and surveys. What demons do is jump across intervals, and from one interval to another." - Gilles Deleuze

 68.) Participation of programs and human competitors is by modem. During the first annual competition in 1991, there were eight respondents around the world, including six computers and two humans. The conversations of about 15 minutes each were limited to particular subjects, such as Shakespeare, fishing, wine and women's clothing. Winner was "PC Therapist" that fooled five of ten judges into thinking it was a person. It, like the winners of the successive year, "PC Professor" and "PC Politician" asking "Are you a liberal or conservative?", were written by Joseph Weintraub, President of Thinking Software.

69.) From 'robot'. Automaton that logs into synchronous online communications and takes over some of the semantic interaction of a human. Some do simple things like greeting people or passing out cookies, others track users or watch channels, some act as social talkers fooling people into believing that they are human. The most common species of bots you might meet in MUDs are of the Maas-Neotek family, a reference to Gibson's Neuromancer. The prototype is Colin, like all his ancestors written by Michael "Fuzzy" Mauldin. While neither Julia's nor Gloria's source code is publicly available, Colin can be downloaded.

 Julia used to telnet into Time Traveller and DruidMUCK, might show up in other Tiny-type MUDs, and lives on Mauldin's workstation in Pittsburgh. For a description and discussion of Julia see Leonard N. Foner, What's An Agent, Anyway? A Sociological Case Study, April 1993.

 70.) From the call for abstracts for "Lifelike Computer Characters '94", October 4-7 at Snowbird, Utah, for which Maes is also on the organizing committee. (From Terry Winograd's pcd mailing list at Stanford. To receive a printed copy of this announcement, mail your name and address to LCC94@microsoft.com)

 71.) About the state of the art in agents it says in a conference announcement: "In Spring 1993, a NATO Advanced Study Institute under the title "The Biology and Technology of Intelligent Autonomous Agents" was organized in Trento, Italy. At the time know-how in building autonomous agents and pertinent hardware were not widely available. This situation has changed significantly since. There are currently many groups involved in active research in the field working on autonomous agents theoretically and with actual robot hardware." Theory is derived from, "among others, the theory of dynamical systems, evolutionary approaches, and functional analysis." (First announcement: Practice and Future of Autonomous Agents, 23 September - 1st October 1995, Centro Stefano Franscini, Monte Verita, Ticino, Switzerland72.) See Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau's Interactive Plant Growing project, in Wired 2.07

 73.) You didn't really think I would write the IP address here, did you?

 74.) For quite a while this will be a very basic human/computer interlanguage interface. Nothing that could seriously pass a Turing test, but it's customizable, and can maybe even learn a little something. Eventually it will turn full voice, but that will still take a while. Human/machine communications is bound to be noisy and error-prone, but for now we will just have to learn to talk to each other. / Personal agents, like anything personal on the Matrix, involve security questions. Since Charles knows so much about me it would be tempting for advertisers, secret service agents and jealous girl friends to hack him.

 75.) Agents driving a synthesizer. Developed by computer artist Toshio Iwai (iwai@apcw.asahi-np.co.jp).

 76.) another chance to see it for free would have been one of the 'commercials' video rentals were you have to stand the regular breaks when your player jumps over the CMs. But they've become rare after the sponsors found out that except for CM otaku everybody has them automatically 'kill'ed.

 77.) And besides, Ozu has been dead long ago. Why should the family of the author (or more likely some foundation or publishing company) inherit his intellectual property, rather than the Family of Man from whose vast stock it emerged in the first place?

 78.) Matsushita's virtual kitchen showroom is at the forefront of media utilization. See (Wired 2.06) Inevitably there will also be shopping malls on the Net. Loeffler's virtual stores are "a three dimensional virtual catalog of merchandise", of "extremely varied" goods and services. (Loeffler 1994)

79.) Scott Fisher's 'Telepresence Research' develops 'virtual real estate' for interactive museum's installations and intelligent worlds that can adapt and learn. The latest recently opened in Tokyo: a virtual beer brewery. Loeffler's Virtual Polis has an art museum and a history museum/theme park of ancient Egypt. (op.cit.)



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