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He woke up in a bed of expensive Egyptian cotton sheets, leaned over, admired his sleeping girlfriend, still exhausted after their long night together. The time on his gold watch read 10:13 AM.
After pulling on a pair of sweatpants, he shambled into the kitchen, got himself a drink, looked out the floor-to-ceiling window at the secluded lake outside, then went into the studio to update himself with the day's events online.
The studio was engrossed with hardware: stereo equipment, mixing equipment, an expensive Yamaha keyboard, flat-screen HDTVs, speakers on top of the bookcases which covered all the walls. A table in the middle had computer cases piled up under it, monitors and other peripherals all on top of the table. There were two chairs on each side of the table.
He touched a button on the stereo which sat next to his computer desk, a desk surrounded with various equalizers and sound kits and laptops. A dozen speakers placed around the room emitted the crisp, heavy sounds of some mellow experimental techno.
Julian woke his computer and the four monitors connected to it glowed back to life, flashing hundreds of words of new information at him, temptingly. He connected to a dozen or so IRC channels on several different networks, both public and private, while also checking his various bot shells and crontab logs of the night before. Chat windows lit up all over the monitors, people eager to fill him in on news on the latest games ripped, confidential files decrypted, hackers busted by the Organization.
He also received messages from some good buds of the latest info to hit his ethernet servers last night and he rifled through his directories to find that a few couriers had already uploaded that info to his system, circulating itself throughout the network set up in his and his girlfriend's shared studio. The network had a large firewall set up, and Julian had noticed several attempts to undermine his system. Pointed a few shells at the source IP address and nuked it for a good five minutes. Broke through the host servers and ripped out the system directories, rendering them useless until they were fixed by a shocked and scared sysadmin.
He burned a pirated game to CD, installed it, to pass the time. The game would not be available for retail for another month, as it was being distributed to stores. He filtered out the good MP3s, flooded the IPs of the people who sent him incomplete MP3s with redundant copies of the same MP3.
He left a note on his server, asking for intelligence gathered the last night on hackers sniffing military sites for weaknesses. A passing courier instantly fulfilled his request. He sent it off to some fellow site operators through IRC, keeping an eye on two of his other monitors which had surveillance footage of outside the cabin on one, and a looped demo which was presented to him by his contracted consultant group.
Kismet walked in, pulled Julian's chair away from his desk, straddled him, and kissed him fully before getting up and sitting down at her side of the network. Julian was taken by surprise by her good morning greeting, Kismet was taken by surprise by news of her distribution server dipping below 40 terabytes. She rifled through dozens of shell offers from prospective site op owners. She wanted more access.
Later that day, Kismet and Julian would have dinner at an expensive Italian restaurant, and then attend a drum and bass techno club in the metropolitan area for free, since they knew the bouncers, enjoying the music and atmosphere before being let into the backroom, where they'd be given the new, authentic laptops set up for attacking phone systems from while on the move.
The couple passed effortlessly through a sea of information, plucking whatever was most important while discarding the useless. Information did not reach the rest of the world before going through people like these first, and the speed at which they operated was unreal. They were tapped into a network of highly-dedicated people who were always ready to share the vast pool of resources they all had command over. This couple was part of the system, part of the underground, part of a transparent group which had its hands in every form of media available. This made the group high in demand, even though it had no multi-million dollar operation to work from. What its power came from was its access, not its money or morality. It had what other people needed: information.
Do you have any idea what's going on out there on the Internet? There are people who say that the Internet doesn't actually have much to it. Of course, the 'Net is not the right thing for many people -- they prefer the real deal, or they hate using computers, or they just want something different. But there are those who doubt the significance of the 'Net, who have not been exposed to how many completely different worlds exist online.
"The Mass consensual hallucination in which humans all over the planet meet, converse, and exchange information" aside, what we're dealing with is an online world which is not just an archive of information, as popular media will tell you, but a large network which thrives off of new information and novelty.
The fact that there is information passively sitting on servers goes without saying. But the Internet is as detailed and fresh as you want it to be.
If you just casually use the Internet, you'll hear of a major product release through official newsletters or retail store flyers. You'll hear about trends long after they've faded and gone. It is not enough to just be online -- you have to learn how to use it.
Out there are environments consisting of people coding chat rooms and multi-user worlds for free so others can enjoy them and contribute their own ideas to them. Out there are discussions of news that hasn't even happened yet. Rumors of political deals and commercial negotiations find their ways to bulletin boards and unofficial news sites. Retail software demos are downloaded and previewed, and reviews of them are posted everywhere. Music groups put samples of their music online and people snag them and listen to them and buy the CD if they like them. Some people always have the latest versions of software on their systems before you even know of the updates at all. Instant information, as soon as it happens.
Most of the dynamic nature of the 'Net is admittedly illegal. Leaks in the system are letting people download full-length versions of movies that are still out in the theatres, so you can watch them on your computer. Computer games are leaked from people at distribution centers, where they're hacked and uploaded to the 'Net, being downloaded by hundreds of people just in the first night of release. MP3s of music groups' songs proliferate themselves online, and even the purest of people have huge collections of their favorite one-hit wonder bands' songs.
This is, no doubt, amazing. You may consider it cheesy that even people like me still think about these seemingly straightforward principles of the 'Net. But there are big things happening out there. I do not see where the Internet is going now that it is blending with the commercial world. Everything on the Internet leads back to some sort of corruption or piracy. The Internet isn't about money -- even the most hardcore people online probably don't pay any more than just for Internet access; they get their news, TV, music, games, and so on for free. Newspapers are offering most all of their content free online because people won't pay for it otherwise (although the Wall Street Journal does, and it offers pretty good content). Very, very few companies charge people to look at their sites. No matter what its form, information is being spread for free online.
Commercialism is clashing
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