01 July, 2007

Datacenter Confidential #4

Recently, when hanging out with a couple of old friends in my apartment, I raised the specter of the "geeklab rule."

The originator of the rule, we'll unkindly refer to him as "NRH", was someone I met on the "Internet Relay Chat" network in 1992.

At this time in the narrative I need to make a few things clear. First of all, in 1992 there was an "internet" but there was no such thing as the web. I can't emphasize that point enough, because in 2007 the internet is synonymous with "the web" as we know it today.

Explaining the internet without the web to the average person is like trying to explain to a blind person what colors smell like.

It can't be done.

But there was an internet before browsers. And it was a world of text, by and large.

The "Geeklab Rule" came into being probably in 1993 or 1994. The rule was very simple: "given a group of people in the same room or building, if there is a terminal available, speech is not permitted".

If someone I wanted to communicate with was a mere 3 feet away from me, I was not permitted to speak to them if I could otherwise message them using IRC or ICB (Internet Citizens Band).

The rule was enforced in varying degrees of severity or apathy, depending on who was speaking to whom. But NRH was the most adamant enforcer of the rule, and the most annoyed by violators.

That I lived with NRH not once, but twice, is a testament to my abiding patience and tolerance of pedantic bullshit.

As controlling and pedantic as NRH is, I still love him like a brother; and he had better feel the same way about me given the number of times I have rescued him from certain ass kickings or worse.

This morning I thought about the "geeklab" no talking rule because I wanted to have terminals in my roommate's room, and for our couch surfer, so we could text each other back and forth without moving around or talking (in my case slurring) to each other.

I was reminded of the rule last night, however, when my roommate and I were at the bar down the street where the rock band was so loud we couldn't hear each other talk. So we sent each other text messages using our cellular phones. Two feet away from one another.

Mostly, we were talking about how much the band sucked.