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were any lainons around in the early 90s scene? i feel like i may be
a little older than some of us but it may also be that i'm just not
into the same areas of entertainment.

i came across an onion address a couple of days ago that had a lot of
ezines from the early-mid 90s and it brought back a wave of nostalgia
mixed with some embarrassment for how angsty a lot of it was. it was
fun to see the results of exploration and to also see what we got
wrong. it felt like an age of invincibility.

i grew up in a nearly-rural area in north america so i was slightly
behind the technology curve. my first computer was a tandy 1000HX
with a set of minix disks. i was able to learn minix and dos with
that machine until i picked up a 486 and an acoustic coupler second
hand as well. that led me to bbs'es around the height of fidonet,
which led me to the text based internet.

our phone systems were older so many of the hpvac files i found still
applied to my area and i spent a lot of time snooping around places i
didn't belong to meet other maladjusted kids, form groups, and produce
our own texts.

somehow over time, all of that faded away. while i carried jobs in
tech and studied tech in school (i currently do infosec related work),
i somehow became disconnected with modern tech. i almost feel like
there was a second wave of eternal september or perhaps i just ran out
of time and couldn't find the old haunts anymore.

i don't have nearly the time and energy i once had. i've started a
family and i carry a couple of jobs but i still prod around the edges
of the wired that i'm able to find, looking for pieces of those
cultures that once prevailed.

where did those communities go? what did they evolve into? what
is the current curiosity fueled technical front that's not been

i feel like some image boards, especially lainchan, have a little bit
of that vibe left in them and it's been a lot of fun consuming

i also feel like maybe the signal to noise ratio is higher these
days. people are more technically inclined and there are tiny
computers all around us. we definitely live in a cyberpunk
dystopia. back then the curious and creative were easy to find
because there was a larger divide between "us" and "them."

to wrap up my rambling, a quick summary of where i think the "scene"

0. tech became more pervasive, which made it more difficult to find
others when it should've been easier.

1. many of us simply grew up and fell into the daily grind that we
were expected to fall into.

2. trust was broken on too many occasions.

3. eternal september continued and "users" became more technically

4. platforms changed and shifted. out with the old, in with the new.
see: land lines vs. cell phones.

5. exploration wasn't shared as often for fear of repercussions.
it's difficult to maintain anonymity these days.

lastly, thanks for lainchan. i don't often fit in but the threads
have been a lot of fun and thought provoking.


I'll add to your list:

6. The barrier to entry for exploitation/abuse is higher. It's a kind of paradoxical thing that typifies all kinds of advanced computer usage where the easy stuff keeps getting easier but it gets harder to get started.

7. The need for exploitation/abuse is a lot lower. It used to be that you had a toy computer at home and maybe shell access on a real computer somewhere. Now you have three computers and you can rent a decent VPS for $2 a month, so what are you going to do with that box you just popped other than be a straight up criminal?

8. Shared computing is dead. I haven't given this a lot of thought but I don't think anyone else has either. If you read stories of hackers from the 60s and 70s, they often worked as a group with people they shared a computer with. Now every computer you use is like your own private castle and I think we lost something in that without noticing it.


It must be the signal-to-noise ratio, the worst that could happen to the "hacker" groups was the popularization in the media… Nowadays when one looks for a group of people like hacker (or nerds, geeks, etc.) one only finds the watered-down bile that all this has degraded into.

In some ways, I have been looking for lainchan (and this type of website) for a really long time, but I was born well into the period of the commercialization of tech so I had to look and keep looking.

Today, I am alone in the meatspace with my ideas and interests. I have one friend that is very intelligent and I can talk to him about whatever, politics or technology or just criticizing what we see for fun. He is American and more able to integrate himself into society there, but I'm a foreigner and it is much harder for me to find something in common with an American so we can start a conversation.

What's worse is that when I do I am consistently let down by the people in my university, but that's probably because it's a business school and no one there is there because they are passionate about something. Everyone lies about their earnings and investments and expertise, everyone abuses their parents money for unnecessarily and vulgar status objects.

I regret not going somewhere where I'm more surrounded by people with legitimate interests. All I can do is try and learn more from the people that hang about these places… Reading some zines, hanging about in chatrooms, talking about books and news with understanding that I have never seen equaled or even approached in meatspace gives me some consolation.

I am not depressed. I am immensely happy to live and to have curiosity and ability to keep learning. I am lonely, and while this has helped and spurred my own personal growth, I suffer greatly from it. Every time I talk back with old friends I notice my abilities to socialize are decreasing, my interests seen as too heavy, inappropriate, paranoid, or inconsequential to them. I do not know anymore who to fault for this.

I don't know if this is appropriate for this thread, but I had to let this out for once. The things you said did strike into the crux of the problem - this inability to find the signal amidst the deafening and overwhelming noise that has consumed the net. It is harder every day to use it as a means to an end, as a tool.

If you are aware of any sort of havens that still exist, please help me find them. I am not a programmer, even though I code it is not my main interest. Neither is technology in itself. I am an ideologue, and I want to see and read and hear from people with deep knowledge about something that isn't made up, if only so I can better understand myself and my task in this brave new world.


I've also noticed a similar scenario where I currently live. Try to attend meetings of interest groups if there are any around? That's about the best I can recommend for socialization.

Signal-to-noise got lower and the expectations we have for the future have been beaten down. Too often is there hype for crap that never happens such that it just becomes this bland grind of disinterested optimism and apathy.

Not sure if the average "user" sees it or if they're too integrated into the machine.


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Point 6 makes a lot of sense. Things are a lot more complicated now and I'm not sure I've got the time to put in catching up any more than I already have. I've kept up with enough to keep myself useful but that's about it.

There's a nuance to point 7, though. I think the criminality angle is much higher. Back when I was some punk kid in the telco's switches, if/when they caught me, I just received a stern talking to. Nowadays, you'll get jail time.

I do agree about computing power, though. I have more than I could have ever dreamed of having and it's cheap. There's no real need for me to steal computing power or network resources any longer.

Point 8 is also quite relevant. The closest thing I know of to shared computing these days is an IRC channel or maybe shell accounts (and even those are rare). Way back when, my friends would come over and we'd share my kit or I'd go visit them and share theirs. Now everyone's got a laptop and a personal tracking device in their pocket.


The media certainly caused a lot of trouble for hackers but not even hackers could agree that they were hackers. You had the OGs from MIT calling themselves hackers, the 2600 types calling themselves hackers, the Open Source folks calling themselves hackers, skiddiots doing the same. Then there was the war of cracker vs. hacker and so forth. Various colours of hats.

I enjoy lainchan quite a lot but it only goes so far. I'm not willing to participate in some of the social spinoffs from it where I might be required to use a name. Maybe there's more depth there. lainchan does scratch a certain itch for me, though.

Finding local people is very difficult and that's why I resort to the wired. I work in technology and not even my peers are thinking about things the same way I am. If they're not doing it for a paycheck (the consumer becomes the producer), they're doing it to slip into some mainstream idea of what they should be.

I don't mean to knock "normal" or "mainstream" because who's to say what that really is? It's just that they tend to not think beyond their next iPhone purchase or the next great webthing that they will build and sell to people for their data.

Keep poking around the wired and you'll find friends. You may have to settle for less exciting interactions in meatspace. Maybe try the local libraries or check with technology groups to see if something is happening in your area. 2600 meetups, ACM SIGs, the local university, or hell, even a Maker Faire. Maybe in a surface level event, you'll find people to connect with on other levels.

You could also try building local compute resources to share and posting cryptic stickers/flyers around the area you live in. I have had limited success with this. I've also installed a pirate box and made a few anonymous contacts this way with interesting people.


Can you go more into detail on the cryptic stickers/flyers you've made, or into the pirate box? I've been thinking of setting up a pirate box myself, actually: Just to see what might happen with it.



GREEtZ, OP. Used to run a ProBoard-based BBS around '91.

I long for the old days. I think there was a lot more fun back then. Creative. Also think the communities were stronger because they were smaller & more local, due to cost of long distance calls.

Kind of feel like the whole tech population has been pacified a bit by the corporations. I don't see a lot of personality anymore. All the self-proclaimed geeks I've met in the last 8 years seem 2 dimensional & cookie cutter. Almost a mass shift towards controlled zaniness & cold corporate professionalism. Probably coincides with cyberpunk losing popularity. Being angry/angsty just isn't seen as cool anymore. Everyone needs to "grow up" in this decadent world we live in now.

I dunno. Probably talking out my ass. Haven't slept much lately. This coffee doesn't seem to be working.



OP here.

I've not put out any flyers other than a couple of crypto party flyers. We had a good turnout (about 15 people) but I knew most of them.

The pirate box hosts things like technical guides/books, weird pictures, some music, and whatever else people decided to upload. It's on a busy intersection near a bar district so we get a lot of drunk selfies and things, which I tend to delete. I don't like censorship but I don't want people's bad decisions to haunt them.

There is a little bit of chat that goes on but it seems that most people just connect, browse, maybe leech, and leave.

It moves quite slowly but I enjoy it.



> I've met in the last 8 years seem 2 dimensional & cookie cutter.

I feel this a lot. People pushing their businesses or "personal brands." Everything is a money grab. The only grab I recall from back in the day is perhaps micro-fame. Maybe that's my rose coloured glasses, though.

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