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
Mail-order 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
The once futuristic plaything has become a retro pastime for many modern adults.

Virtual Sadism
The world of norns gets creepier with the appearance of a torturer in the breeding community.

Meet HAL's Ancestors
Can computers think? Frauenfelder probes deep into the culture of artificial-intelligence programming -- from chatterbots to the Turing Test.

Light Fuse and Get Away
Fringe shines a light on the fiery passions of pyrotechnics.

Siege Engineers
Frauenfelder throws himself into a study of the trebuchet - love child of the see-saw and the sling shot.

Electric Hotrods
AC or DC, these car enthusiasts believe that their vehicles are the way of the future.

Bolts of Volts
Most 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
While 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
BEAMers 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
Enthusiasts preserve traditional technology, using tools made of rock and bone. Cutting-edge materials, 2.5 million years ago.

The Plastic Fantastics
Aficionados 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
All 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
In 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
Now 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
Deep down in the Usenet hierarchy, there dwells a newsgroup devoted to the erotic qualities of robots, mannequins, and statues.

PEZ-Heads Unite
Collectors have taken the cult around the candy dispensers online in a big way.

My Pet is a Six-Legged Cannibal
Many new-media offices and college dorms are homes to praying mantids and their keepers. The robot-like appearance and cannibalistic behavior are like geek magnets.

The Supersonic Spudster
Sometimes, for nerds to satisfy their primal urges, potatoes must explode.

Polynesian Pop Preservationists
Mark Frauenfelder's weekly Fringe column looks at the tiki worshippers as masters of Polynesian Pop preservation.

Fun with Fundies
Postfundamentalist 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
A 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
AOL Haters are single-minded in venting their spleen.

Scarface Goes a-Gamin'
The online gaming panel at Web Market Hollywood features CEOs talking like drug dealers.

Software Toys to Disgust and Amuse
Dada Software Moguls just want attention, and don't mind ruffling feathers to get it.

Digital DNA Swap Meet
Would-be gods gather on the Net to obsess over their Creatures.

Harsh on Spam
Mark Frauenfelder takes an anthropological interest in the righteous fervor of spambusters.

Pornucopia of Posteriors
Mark Frauenfelder's new weekly column on the anthropology of the digital world. First up: The Crotch Potato.

Kooky, Kooky, Lend Me Your URL
Entertained by crackpots, Mark Frauenfelder finds that bullshit on the Web is valuable fertilizer for wild ideas.

Spumco is a funco
Hellish Room Mate! Happy Mutant Handbook

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Copyright 1998 bOING bOING and
Mark Frauenfelder.

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