@bink 13d
Shout out to Jason Scott and textfiles.com


@mytailorisrich 13d
I got onto the internet in the second half of the 90s and as a rebellious teenager I, of course, started by downloading the various 'cookbooks' (anarchist, phreaking, etc) that were very easy to find through Alta Vista just to play cool and boast to my friends.

I would not ask Google about those stuff today and I would certainly not dare downloading them for fear of triggering so many alerts and red flags. Today it would probably be possible to be jailed (in the UK) just for having this material on your computer.

@samstave 13d
>>"Also, since BBSes required a lot of technical knowhow to get into"

HA!!! I ran a BBS Warez Site out of my North Tahoe High School CAD lab on an everex step cube on a 9600 baud modem in 1991

I was 14.

I was grounded for a MONTH for calling long distance into a BBS in San Jose CA in order to play "The Pit" and "Trade wars" and the phone bill was $926 and I failed to buy all the wheat in the galaxy and accidentally SOLD all my wheat failing to corner the market, but flooding it...

Yeah, that was on a 286 with an amber monitor that I convinced my dad he needed a computer for his business... and then a 2400 baud modem was important... so I could play Populous with a friend over modem.

@thrwawy74 13d
1) I'm against restricting things behind technical know-how to select for "the right group of people" on principle. I'm not talking about then, but now.

2) I wonder if this magical period was only possible because it was reachable by a few, and this knowledge was not largely abused because of the entry fee.

3) AI is lowering the barrier to entry. The great equalizer, to see what we do with valuable insight ~ Politicians should fear computers more than disgruntled citizens.

4) I hope we don't see export laws changed to cover AI models like encryption was.

@bane 12d
I remember those days fondly as well. Compounded with growing up in a fairly rural area, the BBS world was an escape and exposure to people and ideas that would have never been considered where I grew up.

There was also this feeling at the time that I'm finding hard to express or even really understand. There was of course the corporate tech world, exemplified very nicely by various magazines and shows like Computer Chronicles. But there was this other world of real techno-culture that seemed to be growing and compounding on itself. There was literature like the Cyberpunk genre, music like early techno and what we now call IDM, BBSs, periodicals like 2600 and Mondo and countless zines. Wired launched sometime in that era. Linux was the work of a single disaffected hacker. The early piracy and demoscenes seemed to give other artistic voices to this counterculture. Technomages were concepts on popular tv. Early ftp and gopher sites (pre-WWW) felt like the work of super l33t nerds. The USSR had just fallen, information wanted to be free, and communicating with people across the planet became something we could do daily, helping us find more of us. It felt like we were building towards something -- billions of minds were about to be unlocked by the commoditized availability of information, computation, and communication and making money was a secondary thought.

And then there was a shift. I don't know when it was, but it felt like the shift onto the WWW allowed the Computer Chronicle watching corporate world to buy up, buy out, co-opt, and extinguish all of it. That nascent tech-culture of the BBS era wholly was unable to truly pivot to Web. Instead of connecting and growing us, it stole, fractured, and repositioned us away from those passions. The corporatists realized that we would never pay for things at the revenue they wanted, and slowly raised the temperature like frogs being boiled, with free services for advertising and entire generations of possible techno-culturalists were diverted from counter culture into optimizing ad placement. Instead of challenging people with new information and ideas, the populace was encouraged to build information echo chambers through which propaganda could be injected and money extracted. What we're becoming was not Hiro Protagonist, Y.T., or Case, but the cautionary "Fitless Humans" from Wall-E.

I'm writing this on a site called "Hacker News" which uses the word "hacker" in a way that I would not recognize back in the 80s and 90s, to drive discussion about hyper growth startups.

I think I'm going to go outside now.

@samstave 13d
MONDO 2000 was Amazing!

Its wear i learned the first of Jaron Lanier and UI/AI/etc whatever he was talking about at the time.

Was later a long time subscriber to WIRED before they got too smug.

@dstroot 13d
I was only “hacker curious” back then. I always wondered - was it pronounced “loft” or “low fat”? I know dumb question but I always wondered…
@TacticalCoder 12d
> ... various "text files" that would give instructions for doing various illegal or morally dubious things.

I was there in the BBS era too. I remember one such text file explaining a simple mechanism to light up a bomb without leaving much trace of the mechanism used to delay the bomb blowing up: it consisted of lighting a cigarette in which a small hole was drilled. Then the text file was going into details, explaining which type of cigarettes to buy so that it wouldn't consume too fast / not get blown by the wind / etc. It was totally hilarious too.

@spiritplumber 12d
I miss that spirit, how do we get it back?
@jamesfmilne 13d
Yup, I remember the Anarchists Cookbook, telling you how to make mortars, and napalm out of polystyrene & petrol.