I was DISTINCTLY TOLD, in the 1990s, that if we put computers into all the things it would make us all super-smart and super-sexy and super-kind and we would all live in houses made of translucent plastic and acid dance and rainforests and we would specifically NOT become a society of giant raging dumbass jerks selling fake nutritional supplements to Nazis.

There were RECEIPTS. Money changed HANDS.

I wish to complain to the MANAGEMENT.

@natecull My mentor in graduate school once wrote a book that expounded the former.

He now writes books mostly about how money and technology have formed an unholy marriage that is ruining the whole world. He's the most gentle and kind and wonderful human, and the most heartbroken person I know, because not only did he believe, he was one of the *prophets*.

@TheGibson @natecull Yeah, but not all of us published books and built our public reputation and our writing and teaching careers on it. I was a proselytizer, but he was John the bloody Baptist.

@natecull @TheGibson Maybe? Probably, if you remember the 90s the way I do. 💖

His name is Douglas Rushkoff.


@SuzanEraslan @thegibson

omg Yes I remember him. Not personally, but he was out there with William Gibson, Douglas Coupland, Ray Kurzweil, and the ghost of Timothy Leary


@SuzanEraslan @thegibson

Those were the BBS years for me. Just getting plugged into Usenet. the Web still only a faint a glimmer on my horizon.

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson

<<a very special moment in our recent history – a moment when anything seemed possible. When an entire subculture – like a kid at a rave trying virtual reality for the first time – saw the wild potentials of marrying the latest computer technologies with the most intimately held dreams and the most ancient spiritual truths. It is a moment that predates America Online, twenty million Internet subscribers, Wired magazine, Bill Clinton, and the information superhighway.>>

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson

<<Rushkoff's first book was originally penned in 1992 but was not published until 1994 due to publisher concerns that electronic mail and the Internet were still obscure topics unlikely to gain traction.>>


@natecull @TheGibson Oh, if only they hadn't, and it was still just a bunch of us dorks on BBS and chat rooms making friends all over the world.

@SuzanEraslan @natecull

Um... at the risk of taking the cyber-shaman thing too far...

Is that not what we are doing right now?

I believe the fediverse to be the cure to the missing future we once envisioned.

Given time, we could have the simple good we had hoped for.

@thegibson @SuzanEraslan

In 1993, I was at Bible college and wrote a paper on how I thought the future of the church was going to be on electronic discussion forums

(cos I was doing Fidonet at the time)

I don't know what my tutor made of it.

tbh that year was in the middle of my my 'finding myself 'period and I... am still somewhat lost, though maybe less so

but yeah.

@natecull @SuzanEraslan

I was already so far into "occult" beliefs... I had a strange early path though...

A form of privilege in it's own right.

I grew up poor, but had just the right combination of influences to believe I could do anything.

And thus far it's worked out pretty ok.

@TheGibson @natecull I think there's more similarity between the church (at a level where you're in basically divinity school) and the occult than people want to acknowledge. The ecstasy of the divine crosses the details of belief, you know?

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson

Very yes.

I think that most people who have practical meditative / contemplative / psychedelic experiences are glimpsing part of the same reality. At least, from the stories I've heard, I see repeated elements that match up.

The idea that we're all united under the hood, so to speak, and it's more about how long it takes us to *realise* that.

@natecull @SuzanEraslan

Damn, it feels good to know we are not alone out there.


@SuzanEraslan @TheGibson
I like to call it the transcendental nature of subjective human experience. Its fascinating.

@TheGibson @natecull Yeah, I mean, I've been on Mastodon for about a year and a half, and it often still feels like that first breath of potential and connection and the kind of globalism that's about knowing people all over the world instead of exploiting people all over the world. The global village, instead of the global factory, if you will.

As the fediverse expands, though, I've felt the tremors of the other internet, like thunder you can't hear yet but can feel, and it makes me nervous.

@natecull @TheGibson Can I be a total early internet dork though and say... THIS moment, this is the kind of thing that I had missed for so long, and I am so happy that the possibility of it exists again, and so appreciative of you, two, specifically, right this second.

@SuzanEraslan @natecull

I know how you feel.

It is a spirit of joy.

It indeed brings tears, ever so sublime

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson

Thank you!

The same to you.

Recognising that that spark is still alive, it makes my day / week / month.

@natecull @SuzanEraslan

I know Susan's thunder is ever present... but we are building something good out here, in the void.

And as our generation ages, it may indeed end up being our legacy that we reclaimed the internet.

Regardless of their rules, regardless of expectation.

Simply because it was good, and right.

@TheGibson @natecull Oh, wow, even if I, personally, am never associated with such a thing, I will die really happy knowing we did that.

Let's DO that.

@SuzanEraslan @natecull

I think it's a great goal.

Achievable too.

Look, we know the silos are vulnerable... we see it daily now.

People are ready to walkaway from the spying and harassment.

And when the people like us begin to leave, their gears begin to rust.

I want to leave the rust upon their gear.

I want to be the rust upon their fears.

@SuzanEraslan @natecull @thegibson

1) I love this thread

2) I love the Federation for bringing back some of the early Internet feels back to us. I have missed them so much.

@SuzanEraslan @natecull


But I think that we may have to keep moving to the edge to keep our fediverse what it is... in fact it's no different than what we've always done... we just got lost in the homogenization for a while there.

@TheGibson @natecull Yeah, that's definitely one of the things that I really missed about the old days, is that we weren't all on the same networks, even if we were on the same platforms (BBS, IRC, the Geocities javascript chat rooms where I *really* discovered my people)-- there were divisions and neighborhoods and cultures that sprung up, and it wasn't that you were keeping other people out, it's that you were keeping your people in.

Imagine if everyone had been on the same IRC channel?!

@SuzanEraslan @natecull I've run into a few people out here that I knew back then...#irc folk.

Small world when you run in these circles.

@TheGibson @natecull I haven't, yet, except for my best meat space friend who was on those old channels. Which surprises me, in some ways, but doesn't in others, because, for the most part, even though we sent each other snail mail and physical photos and exchanged comic books and the like... I didn't actually *know most of their names.* But I can reel off their handles to this day, and it's been 20+ years.

@SuzanEraslan @natecull

I have already decreed to my circle here that I do not want to know their given names.

My name, my server... they pose the age old question... is Batman Bruce Wayne, or is Bruce Wayne Batman?

Which one is the mask.

I believe that The_Gibson is the best me.

I believe the same about many others out here.

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson

It was around 1999 that I logged into the Interactive Fiction MUD and met the circle of wonderful folks there (Emily Short and others) and for nearly a decade that was my spiritual home.

It was a haven on the Internet and one of the reasons was that it used old technology so there was a sort of a built-in wall against spammers and abuse.

The door was always open, but to want to get in you had to *care*. And then you picked up the culture, which was kind.

@natecull @TheGibson Yeah, that's the thing I LOVE about and am fiercely defensive of on Mastodon. The culture is defended by practicing it daily, and encouraging those who are new to practice it, too.

That *does* happen on those other sites, but the culture is toxic and destructive, but wow, are you "rewarded" for falling in line with it.

@natecull @TheGibson He kept a pair of Timothy Leary's sneakers in his office that Leary had given to him when he knew he was dying with the note saying, "I trust you to walk in my shoes when I'm gone." 😭

I also own the toy glockenspiel that he played on "Godstar" when he was briefly in Psychic TV. Douglas is one of the greatest humans, and the reason I went to that school in the first place. They say don't meet your heroes, but in some cases, it's GREAT.

@SuzanEraslan @natecull @thegibson check out his podcast Team Human on teamhuman.fm where Rushkoff has thoughtful and deep conversations on the relationship between humanity and code. He still writes excellent books like "Throwing rocks at the Google Bus" and "Present Shock"

@frankmeeuwsen @natecull @TheGibson Yeah, and Team Human is gonna be a book— basically a manifesto on this very topic.

Y’all... I gotta get him over here on Mastodon. He would love it here.

@SuzanEraslan @frankmeeuwsen @natecull

We'd love to have him.

I don't have to tell you how much of an icon he is.


If only we could tempt him on.. :)

Even just announcements of teamhuman.fm episodes would be good.

@SuzanEraslan @Rushkoff @thegibson @natecull

@natecull @SuzanEraslan @TheGibson When we didn't have the words and didn't have the marketing, but had the intangible certainty that the future of this was a multi-user computer-mediated dreamscape. Unbound expression of imagination and hallucination. A consensual, lucid, and waking dream.

@Sci @SuzanEraslan @thegibson

I find it interesting that this early 'cyberdelic' moment was circa 1992... at the latest.

I have my own extremely weird theory on why that might be.

But basically the years from, say, 1989-1993 were like this massive planet-wide psychedelic event. The fall of the Berlin Wall opened up something in our collective soul for a brief moment.

Which rapidly closed again. But that's the time period when the Web was born and cyber-gurus shared weird trippy dreams.

@Sci @SuzanEraslan @thegibson

I mean whatever energy it was that saved us from WWIII went 'dark' almost as soon as it began. The fall of the USSR collapsed into gangster capitalism and the Yugoslavia civil war. The new 'occult revival' spiralled into really nasty black helicopter UFO conspiracy theories, and those are still with us. Capital accumulation and climate change and species extinction went into overdrive.

But... there was a still a moment. A year or so when we all held our breath.

@Sci @SuzanEraslan @thegibson

Anyway, I dunno. I just feel like in 1989 'something' intervened, briefly, to override our self-destruction instinct. Like there was a brief 'pulse' of something bright that lifted us up for a moment.

And, um, a year or so before, 1987, the Harmonic Convergence, a whole bunch of people on the planet got together to seriously focus their minds on asking whatever might be out there (or inside ourselves), to do just that.

Maybe that wasn't a coincidence.

@natecull @SuzanEraslan @TheGibson As a sociological reaction it makes sense; finding spiritualism in pushing back against the fog of technicality and business.

My own theory though is this and the urge toward VR is simply a modern expression of an ancient human drive.

We have always framed our imagined spaces as though they were physical. Heavens and hells, fantastic landscapes of platonic ideals. The lands of adventures and myths that exist in no material place..

@natecull @SuzanEraslan @TheGibson ..but all our greatest myths, stories and dreams are of visiting these places. Of storming the walls of heaven and clawing our ways into and out of hell.

Dimly I think we know what is coming. That writing, the networked world, VR, and what it will eventually become all lead to the same place. We all know in the primitive back of our minds that for the first time in 200,000 years, the human race may be able to finally fulfil that desire to walk in anothers dreams.

@natecull @SuzanEraslan @TheGibson A desire hundreds of thousands of years in the making. A desire so deep it's almost a forgotten instinct. A desire we've had longer than we've been the modern human species. To walk in anothers dreams. To touch god. To become a dream.

@Sci @SuzanEraslan @thegibson

I think there is a very strong connection between people who have the mystical impulse to explore their own inner psychogeography, and people who are interested in machines of logic and writing, and how to make explicit the implicit.

Like Leibniz, for instance. Or Wittgenstein. Or centuries of monks and scribes, who combine those same two disciplines: one about intuition/imagination, one about logic/communication.

@natecull @SuzanEraslan @TheGibson Terence McKenna has been a good source too, bridging shamanism and technical imaginings. That cusp between the fields. It's been interesting reading what he imagined VR would be used for, in particular visual representation of the spoken word, which these days just means a spectrum analyser, but infers a contextual or emotive side-channel in the form of a sort of regulated synaesthesia. A hypersensorium.

@natecull @SuzanEraslan @TheGibson oh damn, haven't thought about Douglas Coupland in a long long time. I remember really loving 'Microserfs', his 90s novel about socially inept but lovable Silicon Valley programmers, in the early 00s when the internet just started taking off.
I wonder how/if that books holds up from a 2018 perspective... well, I know what I'll be reading this weekend!

@NoGodsNoSenpais @SuzanEraslan @thegibson

Same here! I read that book around 1996/97, it was my first introduction to the concept of 'geek'.

And I suddenly went 'ohhhh... THAT's the word for what I am. This is my tribe.'

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