"Dead Alive" - by The Extremist I started calling bulletin board systems around 1992, I believe. Bulletin boards were an obscure thing, and although millions of people were on them, BBSers were a small, invisible minority of the population, no matter where they lived. I think that that fact alone tainted most of the writing that was done at that time. The audience for our writing was this underground society in which we had some high amount of respect. Even some newbie calling a Public Domain board was already somewhere beyond mere mortals, although not terribly so. The BBS scenes, both public and underground, thrived on the constant influx of new people coming in, trying to integrate themselves to these communities. In the underground scenes, people were looking up at the legacy that the high figures from the past had left behind them and trying to follow their steps into the elite, whether this was serious or not. The old timers would bash on the new people, and those hardcore enough would rise and take their place among the great. The particular thing about bulletin boards is that, due to long distance charges, there would only be a handful of people in any given area. A local community would form out of the available people. That community would be tightly knit together, since there weren't that many other freaks like us that would call bulletin boards. Tons of little villages were created. Some boards gained notoriety over larger areas, and the most elite people would call Long Distance to get on them. Some of these boards, their users and the groups they were in had so much status in their scenes that BBSers knew them all across the continent. At some point, the internet came. Following its arrival, there was a huge effervescence in all of the scenes that were transposed on there. It was like a giant virtual convention that would never end. The ANSI art scene, for example, greatly profited from this and severed its ties with the warez scene, on which it was dependent for the diffusion of art releases across the continent. All of the villages could gather together, all the time, exchanging local productions all over the place. Mega groups came out of the best elements of the smaller villages. In fact, the BBS scenes where the precursors of the wave of giant mergers that's going through the business world today. Technology brought us together, and bigger entities came out of it. We just were there earlier. Conventions are usually yearly events that last for a few days. After every has done their share of drinking and PPV porn watching in their hotel rooms on the company's bill, everybody goes back to their "village" and keeps working on whatever they are doing, be it writing software or reading comic books. For the BBS scenes, the internet was a convention. The big problem is that BBS users never went back home. We kept on getting the free porn in our hotel rooms and getting drunk on company pay. We didn't bother going back to the village, where we had to keep on evangilizing the incoming masses about the glorious past of the scene. After a short while, there were no newcomers to the village. People went straight for the convention and got all the free porn, without having toiled away on obscure local bulletin boards. The media thought that our virtual convention was cool, convinced half the planet that they had to be there, AND IT CAME. There is no way in which we could handle that influx of newcomers. To top it off, they had the gall of forming their own lame and boring scenes, on which they could revert back if we were too harsh on them. So in short, they came to our convention, and they took it over. To keep our integrity, we had to wall our scenes up in a corner of the convention floor. But since BBSes died, there were no more villages from which new members could come from. So eventually the convention theorically became the village. But the thing is, there is no such thing as a Global Village. It's just a mess of smaller villages badly together. And instead of having a hierarchy of villages like we used to have, we have a general anarchy. It's not as glorious as it used to be. There is no more top to be at. The people yearning for the past are often looking up to the big groups of yesterday, complaining about how there is no such thing today. The truth is, the elite groups of the past were small communities like the rest, except that they were idolized. So what we must now concentrate on is not on having a large community which can be hierarchized give elite status to a few, but survive, live as a small community in a sea of other communities. There is no group towards which we stand in awe anymore. Is that bad? I don't think so. If we look at the zines scene, I think we have brilliantly passed the obstacle. We have a nice community of people bitching at each other, and I love it. I was always on the very outskirts of it, but now I have decided to come in and live in there. This is the new age of the zine community. Looking back at the past, today's scene seems just as big to me.
AAAAH! MY EYES! Click here if you prefer a black and white color scheme.