Jun 12, 2007

Find your own road

(from suck.com, published june 4 1996)



I have a dream. A dream of mythic

proportions. A dream that began

with the first kill file I ever

wrote. A dream of declaring

myself independent of this

so-called "online community." I

want to become one of the

Freemen of the Internet.



That particular group of

Montanans have proven themselves

to be masters of viewpoint

inbreeding. Nothing matters to

them except what matters to

them. It's brilliant, really.

But I'm going to give them a run

for their money.



While the Freemen have the jump

on the news coverage, I've got

something the Freemen don't.

Venture capital. Dozens of VCs

are indirectly funding my

experiments in filtering

information, personalizing

content, and tweaking my

signal-to-noise ratio. Companies

strewn across the Valley are

helping me whittle down the

bitstream into something



They understand that I no longer

have a need for the shared

experience. They know I've moved

to my compound in virtual

Montana. And that it's a place

where I'm completely in touch.

With myself.



This is how I've found my own

road. Or at least my own



I took down my website. Sure, my

friends are getting 404s, but it

was generating hits from people

I'd never heard of. All of whom

usually felt the need to write

and tell me what they think.

Like I care. I've replaced my

site with a personal workspace

at Netscape. It's an exercise in

net.minimalism. No scanned

photos. No lists of links. No

self-righteous opinions. In

fact, no content whatsoever.



Just one single, solitary link:

Affinicast. I filled out their

survey, answered the question

"What style of Web site do you

prefer: unconventional or

trustworthy?" and now surf only

to sites that match my

"individual media preferences."

And mine only.



The websites that Affinicast

recommends I Freeload. While I

sleep, dreaming of cable modem

bandwidth, Freeloader downloads

complete sites to my hard drive.

In the morning, I surf locally,

the "contacting host" message a

thing of the past. And since I'm

not connected, I no longer feel

the need to follow the

distracting hypertext. I know

full well that all those links

are full of useless propaganda.



Speaking of useless propaganda, I

killed the ads, too. I just fast



I stopped shopping for books.

Bookstores were not only a huge

time sink, but added to the

general feeling of option

anxiety: too much information,

too little time. Instead, the

"highly anthropomorphized"

electronic editors at Amazon

work for me around the clock.

They constantly analyze my

reading habits, the non-fiction

topics I'm interested in, the

viewpoint I like my short

stories told from, and send me

mail when they think one of

their one million titles will

turn me on.



I pared back friendships with

people who felt it was their

solemn duty to recommend new

music. Instead, I'm spending

quality time with my personal

agent at firefly. I've learned

from my psychographic neighbors

that I should be listening to

Tortoise instead of Sebadoh.

(Thank you, neighbors.) I'm

hoping that eventually I won't

even have to make a purchase

decision, much less visit a

record store. I'd rather just

create a standing order of $100

per month, and have them send me

music automatically.



I don't read my email. Or at

least most of it. I've spent

weeks training Eudora in the art

of ruthless triage. My sorting

agent now operates by two simple

rules. If it comes from a

mailserver, keep it, for obvious

reasons (see above). If it comes

from a person, it must have the


AGENTS" somewhere in the body of

the message. Otherwise, straight

to the trash.


[The Message Center]

I silenced the phone, without

going so far as taking it off

the hook. At first I went for

The Message Center, but it

wasn't enough. I had to go one

step further. With Caller ID,

I'm currently screening out

everyone but my broker at

Fidelity (even a Freemen wannabe

needs a good retirement plan). I

set up my online savings

personality and filled out the

FundMatch Worksheet and am

waiting for him to call with

some new investment



Which I'll track with Bloomberg




Living out on the virtual range,

comfort becomes an issue. Thanks

to Levi's Personal Pair(tm)

Program, I rid myself of

ill-fitting jeans. I had a

custom-made pair shipped to me

via Federal Express.

Unfortunately, they wouldn't

accept my measurements via fax -

I had to go to the mall. It's

the price you pay for



[A La Mode]

I stopped going to church,

because I no longer have a need

for anyone but my own personal

Jesus; someone who hears my

prayers, someone who cares.


The Freemen had a sense of the

inevitable. They knew that The

Man would come, looking for

their tax dollars. Which is why

they stockpiled food, water,

supplies, and guns. Nothing like

a little self-sufficiency to

scare the shit out of Janet




Likewise, I know my own personal

Feds will come, most likely in

the form of advertisers

demanding back pay for all the

sites I've filtered, the ad

banners I've blocked, and the

telemarketing calls I've

screened. And at $0.05 per hit,

I'm going to owe plenty.



But I will not give in. I'm

already preparing for their

arrival. I'm stockpiling my

Telescript agents, readying

their release into the net at

large, where they will do my

bidding silently, tirelessly,

without me. At which point I'll

just unplug the modem and come

on out, guns blazing.

courtesy of Dr. Freeman