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The Nomads of the Net

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A point in no-space, expanding outward rapidly, however one measures that in a dimensionless expanse. Space forms, and connections arise, reminding me that we are nomads of the net, transcendent of the media modality we use to plant our presence.

When Selene mentioned a new social media forum arose, one hopefully devoid of the stifling data mining of Facebook and also respectful of people's IP, I decided to give it a try. I deleted my Facebook account entirely almost a year ago, and drifted to Twitter, which I like but its limited communications modality ends up being a place for Haiku or, if not in a poetic mood, grunts of external acknowledgements, useful nonetheless. This drifting to a new forum reminded me I had done this before many times going back to over 20 years ago.

I rummaged through some very old files thankfully archived in our digital vault at house Skyote. This document contains the history of The Nomads of the Net, a fanciful story created by Merrigold and John Ockerbloom, then patrons, like myself, of the alt.callahans usenet news group. They wrote about a band of people who traveled across the net setting up virtual encampments. This was back in 1993, and by 1994 I set about to find a usenet group for the nomads. It ended up as alt.kalbo.

The document is from 1993 done as top postings typical of the practices of those times long ago, so it should be read bottom to top. Even the headers carry with them a lot of history, so I left them intact. Here is the original story of and the creation of The Nomads of the Net. I find it relevant wisdom from the deep net-past.



Nomads of the Net

---------
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 1993 02:54:42 -0700
From: "Rene' A. Vega" <draco@amdahl.com>
To: spok+@cs.cmu.edu (John Ockerbloom),
The Didi-Sprite <braley@binkley.cs.mcgill.ca>
Subject: alt.nomads seed
Status: RO

Would either of you add to this intro missive then send it back to me. I
borrowed some of it from John and Merigold's wonderful alt.nomads story. I've
found the perfect place to try to actually create a temporary encampment, and
I'd like to seed the newsgroup with the dry stuff first. John, would you pass
this note to Merigold. I don't have her email address. Thanks!

Draco.



SOCIAL CUSTOM IN NOMADIC COMMUNITIES

Webster's Dictionary defines nomads as: n[L. nomad-, nomas member of
a wandering pastoral people, fr. Gk, fr. nemein to pasture - more
at nimble] 1: a member of a people that has no fixed residence but
wanders from place to place usu. seasonally and within a
well-defined territory in order to secure its food supply 2: an
individual who roams about aimlessly - nomad adj - no.mad.ism.

The related word, no-man's-land is relevent to territory: n 1: an
area of unowned, unclaimed ,or uninhabited land 2: an area of
anomolous, ambiguous, or indefinite character.

Both the people and the territory are often defined as
structureless, except in a larger context the structure is
considered at best a primitive food gathering process.

Nomadic communities, which have often been erroneously considered to
be without civilization, in fact tend to have a rich and stable
social structure. Small, closely-knit, and generally peaceable,
the nomadic band is, in the words of Stephens[1], "a strangely
resilient culture, adapting fluidly to new environments without
losing its distinctive character." For Adams and Jenner[2],


Date: Mon, 18 Oct 1993 21:52:00 -0700
From: "Rene' A. Vega" <draco@amdahl.com>
To: The Didi-Sprite <braley@binkley.cs.mcgill.ca>, selene@well.sf.ca.us,
Rowan Fairgrove <rowanf@cache.crc.ricoh.com>,
u906438@postoffice.utas.edu.au (bunyip)
Subject: A Magely Entrance, Sea to see
Status: RO

Path: draco.ivorytower.amdahl.com
From: draco@amdahl.com (Rene' A. Vega)
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 1993 20:50:21 -0800
Message-Id: <9310182050.AA21758@draco.ivorytower.amdahl.com>
Reply-To: draco@amdahl.com (Rene' A. Vega)
X-Newsreader: InterCon TCP/Connect II 1.1
Newsgroups: alt.kalbo
Subject:
References:
Reply-To: draco@amdahl.com (Rene' A. Vega)
Followup-To:
Distribution:
Organization: Amdahl Corporation - Sunnyvale CA, USA
Keywords:


In another metric, a retreat by the Sea, I give my leavetaking to a joyous
gathering and subsequent departure, my friends having left but myself. Once
more I concentrate, and my tent folds into itself forming a neat two
centimeter cube on the sand that I then pop into my belt pouch. Finally, I
walk over to the shimmering portal and take a quick look inside to The Place.
* * *

A few patrons take notice of a shimmering X-window by the bulletin board that
begins to fade to grey. It then disappears entirely reverting to a blank
section of the wall, leaving briefly a faint scent of pine. The event passes
without comment, except for a large friendly ruddy fellow behind the bar who
waves goodbye. The fog finally rolls in and envelopes the beach, the cliffs,
and myself. Another universe of possibilities, a new direction, and I'm gone.

* * *

I fly through waves upon waves of possibilities. Once again, a myriad paths,
the motes of change, but I make no decisions hence no distinction happens.
Days of flying through time which isn't. Moments of eternity on the cusp of a
fractal. I am a nomad in kalpa - the cycle of creation and destruction. PI
has no meaning, no value here. This time a distant pattern forms a way:
drumbeats? A gentle nomadic call from another place... I stretch my wings and
glide into a vortex of now, rush into that blue maelstrom, and emerge three
thousand one hundred forty one point five feet above gently rolling plains.

Warm wind caresses my face and strokes my body. This is a quiet place, blue
skies, a few clouds, good thermals. Looking down from this lofty vantage I
spot a small gathering of folx below. Sitting next to a blue and white
striped tent, I see a woman playing a drum, subtly shifting this metric,
calling, calling. I circle in, warping my trailing wing edges to bleed off
some altitude, to take a closer look.

>From below a large silver sheened creature, perhaps a dragon, is seen
circling the encampment, it's wings held wide in a glide position. It's
circling closer...

\ /
== * ==========================================================
/ \ Draco.



/* The opinions expressed herein are mine, and not necessarily my employer's
*/

Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1993 19:43:49 -0700
From: "Rene' A. Vega" <draco@amdahl.com>
To: Rowan Fairgrove <rowanf@cache.crc.ricoh.com>, selene@well.sf.ca.us,
The Didi-Sprite <braley@binkley.cs.mcgill.ca>
Subject: Landing into a new metric
Status: RO

Path: draco.ivorytower.amdahl.com
From: draco@amdahl.com (Rene' A. Vega)
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1993 18:37:16 -0800
Message-Id: <9310191837.AA16495@draco.ivorytower.amdahl.com>
Reply-To: draco@amdahl.com (Rene' A. Vega)
X-Newsreader: InterCon TCP/Connect II 1.1
Newsgroups: alt.kalbo
Followup-To:
Subject: The landing

Sitting next to a blue and white striped tent, I see a woman playing a drum,
subtly shifting this metric, calling, calling. I circle in, warping my
trailing wing edges to bleed off some altitude, to take a closer look.

>From below a large silver sheened creature, perhaps a dragon, is seen
circling the encampment, it's wings held wide in a glide position. It's
circling closer...

It suddenly folds it wings and plummets dizzyingly fast to the ground towards
the onlookers. About a hundred feet above the ground it unfurls its wings,
strongly warping the trailing edges to enter into a steep final approach. It
flares over by the tent, and then stalls inches above the ground - a perfect
two point short field landing.

The 24 foot wide wings immediately fold into themselves in intricate patterns
and soon flatten into a compact mass that runs from shoulders to ankles. The
nomads see a 6 foot tall man of medium build, who's wearing a formfitting
muted silverskin body suit. Now running toward the folx here, he breaks out
into a wide grin, dark smiling brown eyes, and dark brown curly hair
cascading down to his shoulders.

"Hi all! Jezebel, it's so nice to see you again. You spotted me right off!" I
give Jezebel a big warm hug. Stepping back hugging each in turn I say: "It's
so nice to see you all - John, Merrigold, Frood, Liralen. And I bring news -
Bunyip may soon join us as soon as his RL duties are done. There are a few
folx I haven't met before, errr... lessee... James, Rosty, Michael, and John?
Did I get your names right? I can be awful remembering names. Hi, my name is
Draco, and I'm pleased to meet you."

I soon join in the dancing and merriment. I pull out my Hohner recorder and
play a lilting melody to augment Merrigold's drumming and metric shaping. A
short while later I spot a range of low mountains in the distance. One little
mountain has a flattened top, just the right size for a Dragon's keep. "Oooo,
I've got to go there to set up a campsite. Later. Right now, it's welcoming
time."
|\
|\ |
| O
\ / O
== * ==========================================================
/ \ Draco.


Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1993 22:41:45 -0700
From: "Rene' A. Vega" <draco@amdahl.com>
To: selene@well.sf.ca.us
Subject: FYI: Nomads of the Net (possible future 3.14159)
Status: RO

------ Forwarded Message
It was a dark and silent newsgroup.

Alt.desert.topping had in fact been deserted since 1994, though a few
hungry people had dropped in from time to time asking what the newsgroup
was about, and then disappeared again when no answer was forthcoming.
A number of them still were subscribed to the group, but didn't know it.

A strange message suddenly brought the group back to their attention.
The message started like this:

SOCIAL CUSTOM IN NOMADIC COMMUNITIES

Nomadic communities, which have often been erroneously considered
to be without civilization, in fact tend to have a rich and
stable social structure. Small, closely-knit, and generally
peaceable, the nomadic band is, in the words of Stephens[1],
"a strangely resilient culture, adapting fluidly to new environments
without losing its distinctive character." For Adams and Jenner[2],

It went on like this for about 250 lines. Most readers unsubscribed
after the first screenful.

Those that continued reading the newsgroup started to notice followups
to the article, elaborating on various aspects of nomadic culture. As
time went on, and most of the former subscribers left in bewilderment,
the tone of the discussion shifted from scholarly to informal.
Academic examples gave way to more personal narratives, discussion
broadened and became less formal, and it became apparent that the
Alt.Nomads had once again set up a new encampment.

Something of a legend in the history of the Net, the Alt.Nomads were
known to have established encampments in at least half a dozen
formerly deserted newsgroups, and were rumored to have resettled many
more. The exact numbers were hard to determine, since once a
newsgroup reached a certain size, the Nomads tended to move on. They
would usually leave behind a flourishing culture, which had
incorporated many of their customs and mores.

Sharply contrasting with many of the other Net groups, this culture
strongly emphasized courtesy and respect for both inhabitants and
visitors. It was notable for a love of music and laughter, and an
enjoyment of storytelling and wordplay of all sorts. The stories they
left behind featured many legendary figures known for their wit and
strength, their warmth and wisdom, their flamboyance and creativity.
The lamp-lighter, sailing his boat on stardust. The gypsy, with her
colorful vardo. The clever fox and the fierce wolf. The mad drummer
with her bells and cymbals.

Some observers speculated that the Nomads had their own secret signs
and ways of passing messages. Occasionally strange crossposts would
appear in active newsgroups. Messages would contain obscure keywords
or inexplicable signatures. Somehow, people who needed to know the
whereabouts of the Alt.Nomads would find out.

A weary traveler of the Net would sometimes catch sight of the Nomads'
encampments, wander in, and find welcome. Looking into the fire at
night, under the stars, inhabitants and visitors would find themselves
speaking of their lives, their darkest dreams, their heart's desires.
Some would stay only for an evening, trading stories and jokes, and
then move on. Others would return occasionally during their travels
to visit. And some would choose to stay and become part of the
nomadic culture. They would often be among the first to set up tents
in a new encampment when the nomads moved on.

Merrigold
John Ockerbloom

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mary Mark work phone: (412) 268-3409
Department of Psychology work fax: (412) 268-2844
Carnegie Mellon University "JOY (le`): [Chinese Character]
Pittsburgh,PA Also means music. The ancient symbol
email: mmbt+@andrew.cmu.edu pictured drums and a bell on a stand."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
--
==========================================================================
ockerbloom@cs.cmu.edu 4209 Murray Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15217

------ End of Forwarded Message



"THOSE WHO FORGET THE PAST ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT. BUT THOSE
WHO ENDLESSLY DWELL UPON IT WILL NEVER SEE THE FUTURE." |Nathan Newman!


My temperment:
thoughtful thoughtful
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[User Picture]
On September 22nd, 2014 01:20 am (UTC), mdlbear commented:
Brings back memories, it does. Just before the takeover of alt.kalbo.

Thanks for reposting this.
[User Picture]
On September 22nd, 2014 09:31 am (UTC), elimloth replied:
What did happen to alt.kalbo?
[User Picture]
On September 22nd, 2014 02:07 pm (UTC), mdlbear replied:
No idea -- I dropped off usenet several years ago. It tapered off over the course of a few years.
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[User Picture]
On September 22nd, 2014 07:38 pm (UTC), prophet_marcus commented:
Funny, I was just thinking about the Net Nomads last week or so and thought about digging around, see if they still existed in any form.
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[User Picture]
On September 23rd, 2014 02:54 am (UTC), pernishus commented:
By sheer coincidence (yeah, right) I made a comment on amaebi's LJ this morning, mentioning that the rock under which she was then concealing herself had brought to mind alt.kalbo. Bill Gawne was my entree, several years after it was established, but many years ago, now... I recollect, in particular, this sequence: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!search/alt.kalbo$20userrusj|sort:date/alt.kalbo/_bwVoCYULrw/evAqxHFeKWwJ
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[User Picture]
On September 23rd, 2014 06:03 am (UTC), grey_lady commented:
Good to see you - and others emerging in the comments - again. Thank you for posting it.
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[User Picture]
On September 23rd, 2014 10:09 pm (UTC), tagryn commented:
Draco - thanks for this, and for answering my PM earlier. Good to hear from you again!

I think what happened to the nomads/alt.kalbo is that USENET continued losing its foothold to the WWW - the somewhat inconsistent distribution of a.k. across servers didn't help either - and we all gradually migrated to the blog format, like here at LJ. I'd probably peg that to around 2003, with the spammers fully reclaiming kalbo again by around 2004-2005.

I do miss all of you. It was a good group.

P.S. alt.callahans' 25th anniversary is on November 5th of this year.
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[User Picture]
On October 7th, 2014 11:04 am (UTC), wcg commented:
Wow. I came looking to wish you a happy birthday, and found this. Nice to see stirrings around the old oasis.

Anyway, Happy Birthday!
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[User Picture]
On December 31st, 2014 02:11 am (UTC), johnpalmer commented:
I've often pondered whether one can or should try to create a something.

Another alt.callahans? A new encampment? Another place to "be" - I can't remember *who* mentioned that need, only that it was a dear friend, and that I think it's eternally true.

The question is how?

I remember when I first saw that name popping up in a list of Usenet newsgroups... "alt.callahans" - and all I thought was "There's no way that could be...."

But of course it was. I'd love to see if there was a way to make it happen again, though I might hardly recognize it (nor perhaps find it as meaningful as I did, once).
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