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By Philip Elmer-Dewitt Time, February 8, 1993 In the 1950s it was the beatniks, staging a coffeehouse rebellion against the 'Leave it to Beaver' conformity of the Eisenhower era. In the 1960s the hippies arrived, combining antiwar activism with the energy of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Now a new subculture is bubbling up from the underground, popping out of computer screens like a piece of futuristic HYPERTEXT (see indentation). Hypertext - In this article, words printed in color [not here] are defined or expanded upon in marginal entries coded to the same color. In a computer hypertext article, electronic footnotes like these actually pop up on the screen whenever you point your cursor at a "hot" word and click the button of your mouse. They call it cyberpunk, a late-20th century term pieced together from CYBERNETICS (the science of communication and control theory) and PUNK (an antisocial rebel or hoodlum). [Well I guess we can stop the debatre on alt.cyberpunk now =) ] Within this odd pairing lurks the essence of cyberpunk culture. It's a way of looking at the world that combines an infatuation with high-teck tools and a disdain for conventional ways of using them. Originally applied tooa school of hard-boiled science-fiction writiers and then to certain semitough computer hackers, the word cyberpunk now covers a broad range of music, art, psychedelics, smart drugs and cutting-edge technology. The cult is new enough that fresh offshoots are sprouting every day, which infutiated the hardcore cyberpunks, who feel they got there first. Cybernetics -- Norbert Wiener of MIT was designing systems for World War II antiaircraft guns when he realized that hte critical component in a control system, whether animal or mechanical, is a feedback loop that gives a controller information on the results of its actions. He called the study of these control systems cybernetics (from Kybernetes, the Greek word for Helmsman [Anybody want to deconstruct this one]) and helped pave the way for electronic brains that we call computers. Punk -- Cyberculture borrows heavily from the rebellious attitude of punk music, sharing with such groups as the Sex Pistols a defiance of mainstream culture and an urge to turn modern technology against itself. Stewart Brand, editor of the hippe-era 'Whole Earth Catalog,' describes cyberpunk as "technology with attitude." Science-fiction writier Bruce Sterling calls it "an unholy alliance of the technical world with the underground of pop culture and street level anarchy." Jude Milhon, a cyberpunk journalist who writes under the byline of St. Jude, defines it as "the place where the worlds of science and art overlap, the intersection of the futureand now." What cyberpunk is about, says Rudy Rucker, a San Jose State University mathematician who writes science-fiction books on the side, is nothing less than "the fusion of humans and machines." As in any counterculture movement, some denizens would deny that they are part of a "movement" at all. Certainly they are not as visible from a passing car as beatniks or hippies once were. Ponytails (on men) and tattoos (on women) do not a cyberpunk make -- though dressing all in black and donning mirrored sun- glasses will go a long way. ANd although the biggest cyberpunk journal claims a readersh approaching 70,000, there are probably no more than a few thousand computer hackers, futurists, fringe scientists, computer savvy artists and musicians, and assorted science-fiction geeks [hmmm where do I fit in] around the world who actually call themselves cyberpunk. Nevertheless, cyberpunk may be the defining counterculture of the compute age. It embraces, inspirit at least, not just the nearest thirtysomething hacker hunched over his [sic] terminal but also nose-ringed twentysomethings [wait - was that an insult???] gathered at clandestine RAVES, teenagers who feel about the Macintosh computer the way their parents felt about Apple Records, and even preadolescent vidkids fused like Krazy Glue to their Super NIntendo and Sega Genesis games -- they training wheels of cyberpunk [Look Ma! no hands.]. Obsessed with technology, especially technology that is just beyond their reach (like BRAIN IMPLANTS), the cyberpunks are future oriented to a fault. They already have one foot in the 21st century, and time is on their side. In the long run, we will all be cyberpunks. [ugh - Goddess Save Us All ] RAVES -- organized on the fly (sometimes by electronic mail) and often held in warehouses, raves are huge, nomadic dance parties that tend to last all night, or until the police show up. Psychedelic mood enhancers and funny accessories (white cotton gloves, face masks) are optionals. [what, no ubiquitous Cat-in-the-Hat has?] BRAIN IMPLANTS -- Slip a microchip into snug contact with your gray matter (a.k.a. wetware) and suddenly gain instant fluency in a foreign language or arcane subject. The cyberpunk look -- a kind of SF surrealism tweaked by coputer graphics -- is already finding its way into galleries, music videos and Hollywood movies. Cyberpunk magazines, many of which are "zines," cheaply published by desktop computer and distributed by electronis mail, are multiplying like cable-TV channels. The newest, a glossy, big-budget [where'd all the money go to?] entry called "WIRED," premiered last week with Bruce Sterling on the cover and ads from the likes of Applie Computer and AT&T [Boo... Hisss...]. Cyberpunk music, including ACID HOUSE and INDUSTRIAL, is popular enough to keep several record companies and scores of bands cranking out CDs. Cyberpunk-oriented books are snapped up by eager fans as soon as they hit the stores. (Sterling's latest, "The Hacker Crackdown," quickly sold out its first hard-cover printing of 30,000.) A piece of cyberpunk performance art, Tubes, starring Blue Man Group, is a hit off-broadway. And cyberpunk films such as "Blade Runner," Videodromve, Robocop, Total REcall, Terminator 2, and The Lawnmower Man have moved out of the cult market and into the mall. Acid House -- White-hot danced music that falls somewhere between disco and hip-hop. INDUSTRIAL -- Mixing rhythmic machine clanks, electornic feedback and random radio noise, industrial music is "the sounds our culture makes as it comes unglued," says cyberpunk writer Gareth Branwyn. Cyberpunk culture is likely to get a boost from, of all things, the Clinton-Gore Administration, because of a shared interest in what the new regime calls America's "data highways" and what the cyberpunks call CYBERSPACE. Both terms describe the globe- circling, interconnected telephone network that is the conduit for billions of voice, fax, and computer-to-computer commmunications. The incoming Administration is focused on the wiring, and it has made strenghtening the networks high-speed data liks a priority. The cyberpunks look at those wires from the inside; they talk of the network as if it were an actual place -- a VIRTUAL REALITY that can be entered, explored and manipluated. CYBERSPACE -- SF writier William Gibson called it "a consensual hallucination ... a graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every cojputer in the human system." You can get there simply by picking up the phone. VIRTUAL REALITY -- An interactive technology that creates an illusion, still crude rather than convincing, of being immersed in an artificial world. The user generally dons a computerized glove and a head-mounted display equipped with a TV screen for each eye. Now available as an arcade game. Cyberspace plays a central role in the cyberpunk world view. The literature is filled with "console cowboys" who prove their mettle by donning virtual reality headgear and performing heroic feats in the imaginary "matrix of cyberspace. Many of the punks' real-life heroes are also computer cowboys of one sort or another. "Cyberpunk", a 1991 book by two New York TIMES reporters, John Markoff and Katie Hafner, features profiles of three canonical cyberpunk hackers, including Robert Morris, the Cornell graduate student whose computer virus brought the huge network called the internet to a halt.