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What are Hermes Sysops?
November 1, 2001

Several years ago, Oliver Katigbak posted a message on HERMES_SYSOPS
in which he asked "What are Hermes sysops?" Although I've updated my
response just a tad for this reposting, it went something like this:

It's interesting that you should ask this in the HERMES_SYSOPS echo,
Oliver, but not surprising since the "Hermes sysop" is rarely sighted
these days. Such a creature is a member of a vanishing, but tenacious
breed known more generically as a "Mac sysop," itself an obscure
offshoot the larger, but also diminishing family that is most commonly
labeled "sysop."

Probably one of the most distinguishing qualities of any of these
creatures is their elusiveness. Rarely sighted, they exist mainly as
phantoms, lurking and perhaps even smirking, somewhere in the
pre-virtual community of the command line interface and occasionally
in a domain known as FidoNet. Even as their numbers have dwindled, a
feisty few still persist, but their existance becomes increasingly
barren with each passing day.

So few outworlders today even possess the knowledge of how to pass
through the terminal gateway into their pre-virtual universe that
their eventual obscurity is more than virtually assured, it is a
certainty. These shapeless, genderless and most often faceless
creatures will soon vanish altogether, but perhaps fate has smiled on
them nonetheless. Their passing will be a silent and painless one, for
even as they wander, their terminals are shrouded in darkness and they
still seem unable to read the handwriting on the walls that surround

So they continue lurking, smirking and occasionally emerging, still
mercifully oblivious that reality is encroaching, that it has already
enveloped them, and will ultimately swallow completely their shrinking
pre-virtual, terminal universe with the elusive command line

One day soon as the last one succumbs to time and slips peacefully
into the void of the nothing, only their legacy will remain. Believe
me, that day is nearer than ever, but the story is not yet over. If
you look hard enough you may still detect a few flickering candles in
the night. If you're really, really lucky, one of our smiley faces
might even yet peer back at you.

But hurry. Time is short.

Walter Bowen 

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