I am, myself,
not socially mainstream. My mind still harks back to my hippie days on
New York City's Lower East Side before it became the East Village. I developed,
early on, a fascination with computers and that fascination soon translated
into useful job skills. My hobbies, alas, often become jobs. Computers
arrived before the computer-skilled staff at my workplace. As the only
computer hobbyist on board I became, for a brief time, the computer Guru
in residence. I wore my crown lightly being more interested in the technology
than my temporary fame.
a User-group, a place where people could share knowledge. We met in the
main boardroom. Reluctant secretaries were pressured into going to these
meetings by their bosses. We talked about the new technology and computer
programs. It soon became clear who were the front runners, and who were
the reluctant tail draggers. My moment of glory would be brief. Those
secretaries, once they learned a few necessary pieces of software, became
the guardians of knowledge.
IT staff were on their way. All at sea, management got it half right.
They hired a very capable woman to teach all of us, secretaries and officers,
word processing. We were unaware of the underlying scheme to have the
guys do their own typing, and the great downsizing of secretaries that
was to follow.
choice, for the LAN and IT Manager, was not so lucky. They listened to
the candidates and chose the most verbally accessible. He was what we
used to call in CB lingo, a "bucket mouth". Good technical staff
are often taciturn to the point of near muteness. Management chose a man
with a great line of bull about how great he was , zero social skills
and a little programming knowledge. This was a recipe for disaster. Techs
tend to be either hardware or software guys. Some can handily combine
both but, often, this is not the case. Edward was a hardware guy in a
hired outsiders to come in and wire up the LAN. Edward's job was to make
the software run and work with us, the oddly named, 'end users'.
I was doing
most of the software support in my division and, tired of being lied to,
I said to him once, "Edward <pause> Go piss up a rope!"
The phrase was new to me. I thought it was very funny. Edward didn't.
His large and fragile ego was punctured and I became his enemy for life.
Fine with me. I worked better without him.
computers were rolled out it was management that got them first. My boss,
then, was of the 'father knows best' school of management. He favoured
liquid lunches once a week on Thursdays. After such a lunch he would come
r-o-ll-i-n-g back to the office, tanked to the gills and would sit behind
his desk, planning great plans. He had his new computer placed behind
him, where he could not see it. It was always turned off, except when
I logged into his account and printed his email for him, all of it, whether
of interest or not, both English and French, ALL of his the email. Many
a tree was sacrificed to this man's refusal to view his monitor. "Sonia,
I feel like it's watching me," he told me once in confidence.
As an aside,
managers, to a lesser extent and, more importantly, top brass had visions.
An unrelated Anarchist vision I recall said "Put the tools of production in the hands of the workers". Looking back to my old office I can see that the introduction of desktop computers fitted quite handily into this vision. Top down management was about to take a lesson from the bottom-up democracy, fostered by computers but that, as Kipling would say, is another story.
thought that computers were for word processing and accounting and all
manner of serious stuff. I knew they were for web surfing, gaming, email
and organizing people in niche groups.
Some early adopters of the Internet and computers were journalists. These newspaper people had to slap the rubber cups from their luggable computers on to a pay phone and send the 'story' back to the mother ship.
were the pagans...... Why pagans? Well, Paganism appeals to computer guys
and gals. Given the power of communication they did not seek to proselytize.
the Jewish vampire said to the blond lady waving a cross at him, "Sorry,
lady, I'm not that kind of vampire <Smile>)Instead
they saw it as a means to share texts of importance to the initiated and,
more importantly, as a great way to socialize. Although many pagans are
solitaries they like to club together for social events. One great social
event of the year, for us, was the annual WicNic.
was a reason so many techno-pagans were solitaries. "There's many
a slip twixt cup and lip." Little covens and special groups of brethren
breed rivalries that can become deadly when mixed with off-brand religious
belief. Such groups are also havens for little Jim Jones emulators and
other tin pot messiahs. If you want to believe the great god Pan has returned,
then you might also believe that Brother Joe is incarnating him which
is a sobering thought. Cyber pagans are remarkably free of such delusions.
There is something about the terseness of text messaging that takes the
punch out of declarations of godhood. Also, the logical training of the
computer literate causes them to question such assertions, or ignore them.
to the WicNic:
to be in a Park with a fire pit, for which we would obtain official permission.
Knowing the drill, we would drift into the area in twos and threes, until
a critical mass was reached. Then we would form a circle and participate
in whatever home-brew circle ceremony the nominal priest and priestess
had prepared for our edification.
The ceremony I best remember was created by the System Operator (Sysop) of Homestead BBS and involved a technical metaphor comparing life and its troubles to a computer system, most especially the hard drive
this song back in 1972 before I knew much at all about Paganism. I must
have channeled it.
Podcast © Sonia Fricker Brock March 8, 2008