The Akashic Records of Cyberspace
The ARCHIVES Project at MindVox
by Patrick K. Kroupa
The first generation to grow up in Cyberspace has lived through endless changes and transmutations, the firmament that shaped the boundaries of the universe we were playing in being subject to constant revision and enhancement in the name of progress. What you took for granted at any given moment would almost certainly be modified beyond recognition by next month.
The hardware and software was as ever-changing as the names that flashed past while the years went by. Hardware would fry, arrests would happen, people would get lives and become engulfed by the real world. …And there was always the understanding that none of it was “real,” and the day would come when we’d have to leave our playground and move on. At the time none of us really imagined that it would be the rest of the world that would be “leaving” and joining us in here.
Names, places and events all flow together in an infinite virtual landscape where a handle was as real or imaginary as a character you chose to play in that particular timeslice and thoughtscape. Even the players who were consistent with their presence in this non-space, choosing to manifest themselves with one central persona — frequently vented their schizophrenia and imagined into existence scores of characters they’d role-play for a time, and then blip off the face of the matrix as a new mask emerged. “People” who never existed did things that never took place, upon a stage of fragmented software that currently sits on a hundred thousand disks in dusty boxes, chroniding events that happened only by mutual wish-fulfillment.
Throughout this endless chiaroscuro of truth and bullshit, the only constant in a sea of change were the boards. The early bulletin board systems were tangible islands within this net, the only place outside of government dossiers where anything “stuck” for longer than the time it took to say it.
When we were in the planning stages of putting MindVox together we realized that between ourselves we had close to a thousand megabytes of buffers. Files, articles, feuds, coups, arrests, messages from a lotta people who you’d expect to say things like, “it was a remarkable learning experience that allowed me untold freedom of expression and filled my very being with the desire to learn about…” posting more along the lines of, “DudEZ, Look: CODES! Have Sum! Duz anybody Got any new VMBs?” Or the ever-popular; “You’re so fucking lame, your re-crack of Karateka crashes on the second screen! Loser!”
As MindVox has gone “live” the wonderful thing that’s happened is that we’ve received an outpouring of files and buffers from all over the world. As expected, many of our friends have contributed vast chunks of libraries that pay homage to local systems, and timeslices of the underground boards. But what’s caught us by surprise is the number of people from Australia, Germany, Mexico, England, Ireland, the Netherlands and Canada that have shown up on Vox, with their collections of text in tow.
What started as an idea for collecting a library that archives the incunabula of Cyberspace has expanded… To the point where in 1993 you’re going to be able to log into MindVox and jack into the Legion of Doom (or any one of a hundred+ other systems) and live through a timeslice that last saw the light of day over a decade ago.
The cOdeZ are vapor, the WaReZ are gone, and would have run on machines gathering dust in closets, basements and junkpiles… but the song remains the same. Complete with features that bigger operating systems have always lacked, such as the critically important 16-phase spinning cursor padded with enough nulls to bring it down to 300 baud.