Scenes from the Rheingoldian Road
Meet Lionel and Annick in Paris and Geke in Amsterdam, Joichi and Digital Reiko in Tokyo, the Gunafa Twins in Frankfurt, Spoonman in San Francisco. Here are a few folks from everywhere who observe, translate, and create, who use digital technologies to build communities, make art, join together in worldwide media jam sessions. Some of them are virtual worlders . Others are zeitgeist busters. A few have nothing to do with visible technology. Some write on walls. Others use screens. A few do it with their minds alone.
- I took a walk on the virtual side of Tokyo in October, 1994, QuickTake in hand.
I just can't resist getting virtual in Tokyo. I met Digital Reiko and toured the virtual brewery last October, 1994. Now it's July and it's hot and raining outside. But inside, it's cool and, yeah, the virtual stuff continues to spread.
- The most concentrated collection of state-of-the-art cybergizmos I've ever seen in one place is currently part of a public future-tech theme park, Tepia, in the artsy-fashionable Aoyama district. I tried out a virtual skiing experience and other fun compumedia doohickies. If hands-on silicon futurism gives you a thrill, Tepia's a must-see when you are in Tokyo.
- The Tokyo version of Kit Galloway's and Sherrie Rabinowitz' "Electronic Cafe International" just opened in Shibuya, the densest concentration of fashion-conscious teenyboppers on the globe. I dropped in and met some folks. ISDN and cappuccino, industrial-grade megasound system, Picturetel and QuickTime conferencing. Definitely a cool, convivial, nicely designed social space that includes technology.
- Life isn't just pixels and virtual worlds. I celebrated my birthday at the rockinest place on Earth, an African nightclub in the heart of Tokyo. Next time, I'll get audio.
- A month later, August when the entire city of Tokyo traditionally sits under a yellow-brown cloud, with street temperatures in the Arizona class, I visited a Parisian-style websurf-and-sip-expensive Coffee joint, Cafe des Pres.
- I dropped in to the Japan Wired party Tokyo digerati threw for Louis and Jane in November, 95. The young and digital-minded in Tokyo have taken to the web zeitgeist in a big way. The ones they call the New Breed are gung-ho on cyberstuff these days. As with other cultural forms, the culture Japanese youth are building with the new tools is different from the American version in sixteen ways nobody would have imagined.
Plugged-In Paris: Early Spring, Year Zero
- In Paris, 1995 is year zero of the Net. A year ago, I had to hunt among academics and hardcore futurists to find net-savvy Parisians. Now, commercial Internet providers proliferate, Liberation runs a weekly multimedia supplement, and the haute digerati are beginning to print URLs on business cards. There is already a rich computer graphics and virtual reality community in France. With affordable Internet access, I think French digital cultures will grow rapidly. The Web is definitely in the air in Paris this Spring.
Amsterdam Does Digital
- Amsterdam, always a rich brew of media experimentation, is taking the Net and the Web to its bosom. Grassroots activists, hackers and crackers, government-subsidized artists and Internet entrepreneurs are conjuring a special Nederlander brand of digital culture.
- ACS-i, young media-analysts/media-activists run their own public-interest commercial thinktank in Amsterdam.
- Planet Internet, Nethead entrepreneurs and Dutch Telco team up to provide commercial Net/Web access, Webservers, forums, chats, and more.
- De Digitale Stad, The Digital City Foundation, the first FreeNet in Netherlands, is at the center of an active, aware, and idealist Dutch Internet community.
- Café Électronique is a sunny, cool, informal-techno, internet-and-coffee parlor in the shadow of Notre Dame.
Bandwidth Orgy in Geneva