Cafe des Pres, Tokyo's Parisian Cyberhangout

The first cyberhangout I visited in Tokyo, the Electronic Cafe in Shibuya, has an awesome sound-system, a dozen Macintoshes, PictureTel, a loft-stark decor, bar, and an avante-nerdy-laidback atmosphere. Directly across from the Hiroo subway station is a different flavor of websurfing cappuccino joint. Cafe de Pres has disturbingly convincing Parisian decor, Parisian cuisine, Parisian waiters in long aprons, three boxes running Warp, and a 64K/sec ISDN link.. For 500 yen per half hour, you can add websurfing to your tab. For two thousand yen per month, you can hang your own home page on their server. The Warp browser lacks Netscape extensions, so pages like this look lamer than they actually are.

The Parisian simulacrum is cool, and the clientele is suave. It's on the street, it's happening with the uptown early adapters, but they ought to add some Macs or at least Windows. The Warp browser sucks.

Tokyo Parisian Online Simulacrum

I had a beer with friends, paid my 500 yen, and put my URL on their browser. I guess ruthless Darwinian competition among URLs is what it has come down to.

Yoko Ueno, of CapeX and Adam Peake of Glocom. CapeX is for the young, digital, and already-clued-in crowd; there are other magazines for the young, digital, and need a clue crowd. Glocom is more like a thinktank run by some cool guys. The powers that be in Tokyo's media technology and media technology policy circles go to Glocom for clues. So in a sense, Yoko's and Adam's employers are in the same business.

We ran into a friend of my Austrian media-techno-art-music pals, Gary and Elise of Station Rose, but known and loved by many as The Gunafa Twins. The fellow seated here is their homie from Frankfurt, Stefan Beck, whose card reads "mediengestaltung, digitalkonzepte, and typografie." I could dig some digitalkonzepte myself. He had come to Japan to participate in a solar bicycle race in Akita.

Go to Howard Rheingold's home page.