Monday, June 06, 2005

Blips on the Horizon

I know what you are thinking... What the heck is a BlipVert? The trainspotters amongst us will automatically recognise it as episode 1 (if you don't count the pilot) of the very cool and cult classic television show "Max Headroom". This was an 80's show set in a run down future (20 minutes into the future even) that featured one of the first CGI characters ever to make it onto our TV screens.

Max was born during the wonderful period of computing history when home computers where just starting to become common place, public access BBS systems were popping up everywhere and a new brand of fiction called "cyberpunk" was born with the publication of William Gibson's Neuromancer. The Internet existed, but only really as an academic network connecting universities and research institutions public access was limited. For the ordinary geek in the street BBS's were king. Authors like Gibson started to explore the idea of an online universe capturing the minds of sci-fi nuts and computer geeks alike.

During the years when home computers and modems where taking off, the world started to get a whole lot smaller, people from other countries could reach out and speak to folk on the other side of the planet with ease. Living in a country (New Zealand) that is a long way from anywhere, this opened up a whole new world for the likes of me. Public messaging networks like FidoNet linked up countries and people providing a way of communicating with folk you would never have been able to talk to before. Because these networks were run by amateurs and not for profit organisations using expensive public phone lines, bandwidth was precious, therefore the communication was always of a high standard.

Today some of the stuff Gibson and others wrote about in their fictional online universes has almost come true. Almost all of us link in to the internet in some way on a regular basis. Online gaming and chat communities have created whole universes and counter cultures on the internet. Now with the cost of communications dropping by the day so much so that the signal to noise ratio is sometimes leaning favour of the noise.

So when I decided to start writing stuff for publication on the web, I wanted to use a relevant but not to geeky title that reminded me of the days before the internet was ubiquitous and electronic communications were just starting to become viable for everyone. Something made Max Headroom pop into my head and I remembered the first episode about BlipVerts which (according to the plot synopsis) are:

"high-speed commercials condensed into a few seconds, that prevent channel-changing and embed themselves in viewers' minds"

Unfortunately, in the TV program, they started to make peoples heads explode, so Max and the crew went about stopping them.

In the tradition of all popular culture, I have usurped the meaning to mean something good... i.e. This little web log:

"high-speed Information condensed into a few bytes, that prevent surfing past and embed themselves in readers minds"
That's what I hope these pieces are, somewhat interesting, maybe useful chunks of information that capture the readers attention for a while... And without the exploding heads bit!

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