These are all very true.
My interview is now online. In it, I talk about my first online encounters before the Internet proper – over Wireplay, BT’s dial-up gaming service that simulated IPX networking for DOS games of the mid-nineties. And, more specifically, my time in MUD2, their recreation of the Essex MUD.
It’s a story I’ve told before, but I don’t think in public, so I don’t feel bad about repeating myself. You might enjoy it.
I have fond memories of the time I spent in the MUD. Reading old transcripts, I see player names I haven’t seen for years but have vivid memories of – as vivid as you can get, when you only have text to go on. The graphics were years ahead of their time, so to speak. It was a small community, but a tight one, and very friendly. It didn’t have the feature of MOOs, but still rewarded creativity in your interactions and encounters. And there was something about it – in the Land, in the writing, in the world, in the interactions – that felt very… British. Our own little corner of the net.
A small community still exists, playing in a Land I can map almost from memory (though I’ve forgotten the route through the mines to the Dwarven realm now).
Happy memories. Nice to share them over a beer.
Adam Gopnik’s “How The Internet Gets Inside Us“, in last year’s New Yorker, is a remarkable read. This leapt out:
…at any given moment, our most complicated machine will be taken as a model of human intelligence, and whatever media kids favor will be identified as the cause of our stupidity. When there were automatic looms, the mind was like an automatic loom; and, since young people in the loom period liked novels, it was the cheap novel that was degrading our minds. When there were telephone exchanges, the mind was like a telephone exchange, and, in the same period, since the nickelodeon reigned, moving pictures were making us dumb. When mainframe computers arrived and television was what kids liked, the mind was like a mainframe and television was the engine of our idiocy. Some machine is always showing us Mind; some entertainment derived from the machine is always showing us Non-Mind.
…but really, the whole thing is half an hour well spent.
Marvellous, dense post from Robert on designing Planetary: lots of show-everything, material exploration, and plussing. What detail looks like.
But what if, instead of a swiss army knife, we used a box of crayons? Or charcoal and newsprint? Or play-doh? What would those maps look like? What could they tell us about the world?"
This is what McNamara considers responding to controversy. I'm furious that men like this are allowed to manage other human beings.
Tonight, while playing that game, I ran into my 15-year-old self."
What magic smells like.