While reading the support.txt from Hugi 20 I was hit by an old question which so many people who aren't interested in computers and the scene have often asked before: "WHY".
The world is filled with unanswered questions, how does gravity work? can we ever time travel, will genetic engineering be the best thing to be discovered or will it be the most deadly technology? and why do Kola-bears taste like chicken? Most of the above questions have some small attribute of merit to them, and so too does the research around them. The "why" I was thinking about is "why do we do what we do?" (gee, sounds like the beginning of a song ;)). I mean, why do we spend hours of our precious lives sitting in front of a humming metal box creating things which don't really exist? A painter would be able to exhibit their work in a gallery, a musician could appear on MTV or the radio and writers could happily walk into their local bookstore to see their own work on the shelves.
The ASCII scene is still alive and this seems to fly in the face of all common-sense. I mean, why would anyone spend ages using monochrome characters to create a blocky 80x50 image when there are packages like Paintshop, PhotoShop, Corel draw and MS Paint (*grin*). It seems crazy for these artists to restrict themselves to such a low, base medium. "WHY?"
The world of the tiny production coder seems equally as baffling. They spend days, even weeks, to find new ways of squeezing another byte from their 129-byte intro. At the end of the day the coder (and usually his/her peers) will have a brief moment of pride, of achievement that they have managed to push themselves that little bit further and 'squish' another darn byte. "WHY?"
There have been a few occasions when musicians have also placed material shackles on themselves. I can remember hearing some very tiny MOD files which contained very low quality sounds and a highly repetitive tune, all for the sake of creating a tiny sound MOD file. Or they may have restricted themselves to only 2 channels, spending ages trying to achieve multi-channel sound far beyond their self imposed limits. "WHY?"
Madness or Mayhem?
So why do we do what we do? (Come on everyone, join in at the chorus. ;)) I can't explain everyone else's reasons for investing so much time in the virtual domains of the numerous electronic crafts, nor should I attempt to. For me it is a fascinating world in which physical, social and perhaps spiritual laws are challenged and broken. The screen is far more than a dynamic workspace. It can be used to cast new ideas, to inspire, to compete, to impress, to demonstrate to or to aggrovate others. The recent French court cases about banning certain websites has shown how serious this digital paint pot truly is. It shows the power of the flickering screen and how potent it can be in capturing and holding people's attentions. The Internet is awash with adverts for every product and service known to spam (oops, I mean man ;)). There is a power in the tube which can hook people, to hold their attention for long periods of time. Maybe this is why so many of us invest so much time in computers (so we can show others the adverts about ourselves)?
Perhaps the male desire to compete, to win, must also share some of the blame for 'wasting' so much time doing what we do. Otherwise why would so many people enter competitions in which there is absolutely no prize for winning? Some may suggest that they only enter these competitions in order to have fun. Okay, there may be some truth in this, but they are still competing, not with others but with themselves. They want to push their ingeniouity to the max. For some the fun may come in sending a message like 'Hey, just managed to beat you by another N bytes. Hahaha!' and for others it may be seeing their name in the top 3 or top 10 (hey, we're talking about songs again ;)). The competitive nature of men may also help to explain why so few sceners are female, or perhaps women have better things to do than to stare at a flickering box till 4:00am each morning.
I have no idea.
Sorry to disappoint you crazy readers, but I have no answers to all those 'WHY?' questions. And here's the punch-line, "WHY did you expect to see any?"
There must be some reward in spending our free time doing 'scene stuff' or most of us would stop almost immediately.
"Life is like a box of chocolates."
What? Okay, maybe Forrest Gump was right. Life is like a box of chocolates, you start off with a nice, new clean box filled with new things to try out. There is lots of mystery surrounding each part, new paths to follow and new experiences to taste. But soon you realise that all the good ones have gone, only those f**king horrible ones are left, those which taste like goat dropping covered in crude oil and flakes of skin. After scoffing the entire box of chocolates you start to feel sick, you have regrets and then you realise "Life if like a box of chocolates".
Because we all end up in a box. The point is, do you want to be one of the 'leet chocolates, or one of those goat pellets?
Well, that's enough of this nonsense. Just like chocolate, computers are addictive. You only have to look at "MonkeySlap corp." to realise this... after all, if you use Windoze then you need a 'fix' every week.