TRIBES OF THE NET
By Mark Frauenfelder
For the last couple of years, I've been studying the designer
subcultures and pocket universes on the Web and interviewing the leaders
of these Net Tribes. I wrote these article for Wired
News, where I worked as an editor.
The Near-Space Race
model rocketry, once popular among suburban teens, is not just for youngsters
anymore. The kids have grown up -- and so have the rockets.
Slaves to the View-Master
once futuristic plaything has become a retro pastime for many modern adults.
world of norns gets creepier with the appearance of a torturer in the
Meet HAL's Ancestors
computers think? Frauenfelder probes deep into the culture of artificial-intelligence
programming -- from chatterbots to the Turing Test.
Light Fuse and Get Away
shines a light on the fiery passions of pyrotechnics.
throws himself into a study of the trebuchet - love child
of the see-saw and the sling shot.
or DC, these car enthusiasts believe that their vehicles are the way of
Bolts of Volts
people have seen Tesla coils -- two poles with a bolt of electricity crackling
up the space between them -- in science fiction films. Coilers are the
dedicated tinkerers that build their own.
Absinthe Devotees: The Green Fog
revivalists of the outlawed liquor take their inspiration from 19th century
artistic ne'er do-wells, they gather their resources on the Web.
Robots from Rubbish
create small autonomous robots which rely on discarded analog materials
instead of expensive, power-hungry computer brains. The lean machines
can display surprisingly smart behavior - and killer survival instincts.
Stone-Age Hardware Hackers
preserve traditional technology, using tools made of rock and bone. Cutting-edge
materials, 2.5 million years ago.
The Plastic Fantastics
of 1960s design aren't the hippies you might think. These fans are straight-up
students of the era who are serious collectors, to boot.
Fun with Dead People
sorts of businesses - from mainstream mags to the pushers of kitsch commemoratives
- rake in the bucks when celebrities die. Alongside the memory-mongers,
though, a blackly humorous subculture thrives: Dead pools.
Let's Go Thrifting
this installment of Fringe, we examine the people who've perfected the
art of "buying for the experience of buying" for pennies on the dollar.
Human Guinea Pigs
that a network of zine readers is trading advice and swapping stories,
probed persons no longer have to take it on faith that research facilities
are respectable and comfortable.
Erotibots and the Guys Who Love 'Em
down in the alt.sex Usenet hierarchy, there dwells a newsgroup devoted
to the erotic qualities of robots, mannequins, and statues.
have taken the cult around the candy dispensers online in a big way.
My Pet is a Six-Legged Cannibal
new-media offices and college dorms are homes to praying mantids and their
keepers. The robot-like appearance and cannibalistic behavior are like
The Supersonic Spudster
for nerds to satisfy their primal urges, potatoes must explode.
Polynesian Pop Preservationists
Frauenfelder's weekly Fringe column looks at the tiki worshippers as masters
of Polynesian Pop preservation.
Fun with Fundies
Poppy Dixon believes that Christianity is a very interesting religion.
Unfortunately, most Christians don't want to talk about the good parts.
That's where her Web site comes in.
The ASCII Artists
culture of Net dwellers believes that a picture's worth a thousand words
- especially if they create it out of nothing but numbers, letters, and
a little punctuation.
Hating AOL above All Else
Haters are single-minded in venting their spleen.
Scarface Goes a-Gamin'
online gaming panel at Web Market Hollywood features CEOs talking like
Software Toys to Disgust and Amuse
Software Moguls just want attention, and don't mind ruffling feathers
to get it.
Digital DNA Swap Meet
gods gather on the Net to obsess over their Creatures.
Harsh on Spam
Frauenfelder takes an anthropological interest in the righteous fervor
Pornucopia of Posteriors
Frauenfelder's new weekly column on the anthropology of the digital world.
First up: The Crotch Potato.
Kooky, Kooky, Lend Me Your URL
by crackpots, Mark Frauenfelder finds that bullshit on the Web is valuable
fertilizer for wild ideas.