Architects for Online Spaces discussion board: General Art Scene Threads: Architects for Online Spaces
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By God among Lice on Thursday, January 28, 1999 - 09:41 pm:

To start this discussion properly, I'll repost what I wrote in another topic:

Since I've been drawing hirez I've always been jealous of the fact that ansi artists were creating artwork for BBS's... Sure, I could draw vga for web pages, but I always hated the static nature of them.. they typically had no life. What I would LOVE is to be able to create artwork for the online environments in which I communicate and share with others.

Ansi artists were (and are) unique in that they were actually creating the Architecture for these shared spaces; together with the sysop, they'd create an entire estate complete with fancy gates, tree-lined driveway, mansion with lots of different rooms all completely decorated, recreational facilities, paths running through the woods, gazebos... everything. When I get on IRC I feel like I'm in a land made up of a bunch of crude huts, all of them with identical huge flat yards, and all separated by ugly, crude little fences.

I think of it almost as our duty to the world to take the next logical technological step and apply what we know to these more widely populated spaces. Think about it.. this scene was created entirely within online spaces, and its purpose centered around creating the artwork for bulletin boards, the very Architectural framework of these online spaces! Who better to lead the way for humanity than us?! We truly are the most qualified to show to others what a real online community consists of, so let us do it!

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By God among Lice on Thursday, January 28, 1999 - 10:52 pm:

I'd like to use this topic to discuss how exactly we might go about creating such a revolutionary architecture with the tools we have now. I once thought that maybe I could do this by organizing a few people with the right skills and ideas and just create it. I'm beginning to think now that this really requires all of us.

This is something I think about a lot in my free time... I often find myself reading something that would seem completely unrelated and then seeing it automatically twisted in my mind until it relates somehow to this concept of an ideal online space/architecture/community. It feels as though it were my fate to help bring it about, so I'd like to officially start this process of creating it.

Anyway, to get to some specifics, one central question on my mind is that of... platform. I think and have proven to me that the web can be a pretty worthy medium for creating and supporting a community, and indeed could even be much nicer than this. Yet, somehow to me, the web just doesn't seem to fit right for the picture of an ideal online communication space. You can teach classes with a tv, and maybe telephoning back and forth, yet it's sort of like pounding a cylinder through a triangular hole. I'd rather be learning in a classroom next to a teacher with a blackboard, projector, etc.. I want to learn in a place designed for learning.

Likewise, I want to communicate and hang out with others in place that is comfortable, and that ideally is designed for that purpose from the ground up. Why settle for jerry-rigging the web, with our browser plugins, and java, and all that crap, for the purpose of making an online community? Why not create a new model of things that is built from the ground up to be used just for this purpose? Using the web for all of this is like taking multi-purpose 10x10x10 boxes, cutting out some walls, putting them together, adding a bunch of appropriate furnishings, and putting a doormat out front that says "Home Sweet Home".

Granted, this is a huge step to take, to abandon this thing that everyone thinks is great and wonderful and can be used for anything. But I don't think it's such a difficult step to take if we're all stepping together. Whatever shape this would eventually become, we can form it with help and support from everyone.

Now.. I've started with the broad, the vague, and the grand. Let's hear some practical comments about why this couldn't work, and try and find some answers to refute those comments. :) The idea will be to get more specific as time goes on. If you ever have any input concerning things that would help or impede this goal, please bring them to light.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Cthulu of Mistigris on Friday, January 29, 1999 - 02:48 am:

There are very intense communities online - are you familiar with the terms MUD, MUSH or MOO?

The big question is; is there a way to synthesize that (simulated physical space) with computer art? I'm thinking of some sort of 3D-modelled space, where everyone who wants gets space to develop as they see fit, to fill with the scripted goodies (objects) and texturemaps they feel provides the context best suited for their content.

Use other technology to provide a soundscape for your space, pick up a virtual book that contains your favorite textfiles, look at pictures on the wall which are your own creations, click on the talking mouth in the corner to hear text spoken or songs sung by the individual whose space it is.

Unfortunately, this means high-bandwidth and lots of storage space.

I wanna start with a text-based MUD and work my way up to the other goodies.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By lord scarlet on Friday, January 29, 1999 - 06:39 am:

i think what cthulu is describing would be ideal, but way too far-fetched. this would truly make a "community" online to chat in..

but.. i'm not sure that this is what liceboy was referring to.. i could be wrong, but i think the idea was slightly more simplistic, and less real-time based. one of the great things missing in the scene now that we've left the days of bbses is that you can no longer drop a line to someone without knowing their email address. there is no message base and there is no networked email.

what we would need is some sort of independent tcp/ip program that was basically a hirez bbs application.. maybe i'm worng, but this is the way it seem sto me..


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By xten on Friday, January 29, 1999 - 11:39 am:

Building the architecture or infrastructure for a NEW method of communicating online seems like a big task. What I gather from your initial posting is that you're looking for something that makes our "space" unique.

My answer to that is custom interfaces. I love the fact that many new apps are allowing for customization of their front interfaces. Eg: Skins in Winamp/and other mp3 payers/The ability to develop mods (sound and gfx) for rebirth, programs that allow you to change the look of windows, and, of course, a pioneer: Kai Krause, with all the pretty kai (now Metacreations) interfaces. Just playing with Bryce 3d, for example, is an immersive experience--you're in a completely different environment than any other standard program.

To cite an example better related to the underground scene--diskmags. Custom fonts, music in the background, and pretty graphical backdrops.
Remember Imphobia? Content takes a whole new meaning--the interface commuicates a certain theme and feel--much more than a website could. I think details like that are much more conducive to user participation.

Maybe this isn't what you're talking about, but I think its a start. And for those of us who enjoy that kind of work , it's exciting to see developers implement the ability to customize interfaces.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By filth on Friday, January 29, 1999 - 12:33 pm:

i'm assuming god that you're saying creating a whole new web frontier soley for artists, and for the artists to show what the art scene is about?
it's proven that vga artists are more mature than ansi artists, so really i doubt you'd even wanna work with them. not only that, but why bother with ansi? sure you can have textbased mode, and a hirez (win95 type) mode. like ircii to mirc.
you're asking for everyone to pull together, and my time in the scene has proved that that's something _really_ hard to do. i'd say about the life span of ansi/hi-rez scensters isn't all that long. it's usually someone goes from ansi, to vga, then they just sort of quit the scene due to school and/or jobs. and it'd be a shitty thing to see something nice like this to be put on the back burner, or even forgotten due to lack of interest, or time.

i do think it's a great idea (assuming that i understand it all :) but it's hard to get scenesters to not only contribute, but to be responsible, and dependable.

if you can conjure up such people, i'd love to see something happen.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By God among Lice on Friday, January 29, 1999 - 02:33 pm:

It's interesting to see the different interpretations people have for themselves from reading my vague descriptions. I'll try and narrow down what I was personally thinking of, though I still don't want to be too specific, since I still want to hear what other people's ideal online spaces would be like..

I wasn't thinking of a MUD/MOO-like world like cthulu describes, though I agree these are great for creating intense communities. I've played Ultima Online, and there are newer massive multiplayer rpg's like that coming out that are true 3d worlds, even..

I think these are intense because of the immersiveness of being lost in another world, and you can achieve that immersiveness even with just text-based MUD's and your imagination. However, I don't think it's as appropriate for a BBS kind of setting. I think a BBS should be pretty straight-forward. If I were using a virtual world to leave posts like I'm doing right now, it would seem strange, because I'd be using this entirely separately constructed world to talk about something that exists outside of it. Virtual worlds are such that they imply that they exist separately from our real world, and so I think they're better suited for games or other diversions.

When I speak of architecture, I mean it in an abstract sense; it consists of both the visual arrangement of things and the interconnected functional purpose of things. My ideal mansion might have a fancy locked gate, just as a board would have a nice welcome screen and logon/pw. My mansion has a tree-lined driveway, the board has more welcome screens or stats or oneliners or whatever. It's the combination of form and function that I'm after.

To get more specific, what I was thinking of was indeed a "hirez bbs", to put it simply. I was thinking of some kind of client/server type thing, probably with a central server listing, or allowing others to create their own server listings. Though I'm not well-versed in relevant technical details, I assume it could work just like irc, ftp, shoutcast, and other servers do: you'd connect to an ip address that's running the server software via a unique port number.

I'd guess the hardest part is the actual method of graphical interface. I was thinking the same thing as xten.. custom skins seem to be a great direction. Custom desktop programs like litestep are also sort of an inspiration. Ideally to me, this program would run at full screen, or at the very least have it as an option. Complete customization of everything is the key here. Ideally there'd be no remnants of the windows interface left at all. This is the sysop's interface, not Microsoft's. That's what was great about ansi bbs's.. there was no overarching interface that sidiously crept into every facet of every program.

Anyway, I'll leave it at that and ask what other people think.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By filth on Friday, January 29, 1999 - 10:25 pm:

let me get things crystal here so i know what's going on. :)

are you saying that you sort of want to move from ansi/text based graphics to hirez? this kind of reminds me of excalibre(sp) the alternative to ansi/rip type graphics. and instead of getting on the net and opening say netscape, you'd open a program soley made for your architecture, and you could post msgs, download, etc...

i guess you could say like bbs + web pages(ie acheron) = architecture?

so i'm assuming such programs for architecture would be programs like iniquity, infusion, reneagade, etc.. but in hirez? and instead of using things to access such things, instead of using things like telix or terminate, you'd use a hirez type program?

i just wanna make sure i know what's going on so i can keep in the discussion. :)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By God among Lice on Saturday, January 30, 1999 - 03:44 am:

yea, a hirez interface for an internet-based BBS, is what I'm saying. But NOT web-based. And when I say architecture I mean it generally... most everything we use online has some amount of describable architecture to it. Also, I'm not interested in creating a program with "it's own" architecture; I'm saying what's important is that the design of the site should be entirely dictated by the person creating it. The amount of customization possible would ideally be pretty much unbound, or at least allow the customizer to escape the ever-present windows interface. It should be the sysop/creator designing the interface, and not the platform, not the software or operating system. I think that's one way you could distinguish this from other previous hirez bbs systems like excalibur/worldgroup or whatever; I'm pretty sure those usually limited boards by including elements of the software's interface that would always be seen from board to board.

I'd probably write more but I'm slumping over onto the keyboard right now.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Cthulu of Mistigris on Sunday, January 31, 1999 - 03:11 am:

Hirez-based bulletin board softwards have been around forever - Ripterm, RoboTerm and RoboFXterm and Excalibur, to name several. These never caught on because of the high hardware requirements for their time and the obligatory downloading of proprietary software (they had their own term programs) compounded by the fact that graphics took a long time to send back then.

Perhaps someone should look into whether those software packages still exist now that their flaws are no longer contextual and see perhaps if something along those means can be rigged up to be telnetable.

The newest versions of some conventional BBS softwares (WildCat!, MetaWorlds and the new PCBoard [not sure what it's called]) were designed with web-compatibility in mind, but these are more emulators than anything else - offering all of the limitations of BBSes but none of the advantages of the web. (See for a local-to-me example of how one of these works.)

None of these however still address God among Lice's primary concern, which seems to be the configurability of the user's experience. What has been suggested so far (skins, custom setups) seems to encompass the user-end of the completely malleable BBS concept but there is no way of sharing this experience with the other users without zipping up your setup and sharing with them - in which event, why not just provide five or six of the best templates to every new user?

What I'm thinking of is a short-lived experiment in my local area code. It was called Al's House of Meats. It was a bulletin board run off of Telegard with a certain degree of micro-interactivity (the colour scheme was by default set to the most glaring, bright, flashing colours possible to provoke the user into choosing their own colour scheme) but a unique quantity of macro-interactivity; every user was granted sysop access. Users made message and file bases as they saw fit, changed the menus on a regular basis, and stuff which everyone enjoyed as concensus remained as a semipermanent fixture of the board. When everyone has sysop access no one has any power over any other person (beyond the possibility of deleting other sysops who irritate you or locking them out / changing their password - which is what eventually happened) and it becomes a public creation. The local sysop was the only person with access to and in DOS (to prevent one malicious individual from ruining the experience for everyone) (the files in question were taken off the hard disk and kept on a floppy disk for emergency use) and when the vibe turned bad (users interfering with each others' freedoms) he declared the experiment over and took the board down.

I have never seen or heard of anything similar since, but this seems to be the closest approximation to God Among Lice's vision that I can find.

I intend to put up a (text-based) MUD where everyone gets space to create as they see fit, and would like to see a web-BBS operating under a similar principal - add to everyone else's experience, and above all Create; do not Destroy. (- a slogan I have taped to my monitor to provoke users of my machine to produce.)

I am not so sure that the hirez component (and ergo new or unfamiliar software) is essential - AHOM users made much of the crude technology available, but upon completion of this venture into nostalgia would be very interested in seeing an organic webpage complex set up with similar limitations and directions - with access to all to the directory the page is located in, and people constantly adding links, text, commentary, new pictures, modifying extant pictures, changing imagemaps to correspond with new pictures, etc.

Problem here would be the requisite overwriting of the previous copy of the file (not so if each new iteration was given a new version number - WebBBS01.html could be renamed CT-WebBBS02.html and uploaded, with the update noted on some other webpage or discussion area like here so people would know to check it out) and subsequent dissatisfaction with people's modifications, the possibility of destroying what's already up by uploading new files of the same name or just the conflicts of people both trying to modify it at the same time.

Let's address these! Start with a public webpage then if that works we can size up the task of an organic internet-based BBS structure.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By filth on Sunday, January 31, 1999 - 02:17 pm:

i think the reason why excalibur, and ripterm type programs didn't catch one is becuase you had to dl a special terminal program to call. and most chances, if some sysop ran a special board (other than ansi based) it'd be the only one in the area, so most people wouldn't bother. but with this net based thing, all you'd really need is windows. and it's not really like a bbs, so if this does take off, you could use the same program to connect to all of the places

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Leonardo.iCE on Monday, February 1, 1999 - 07:54 am:

Well I'm still for a WWWBBS type system, because I think its very doable right now, it might take a little work but it could be done very nicely. We should just stick with the web because its so easy access, there is no special program to download (besides netscape). and with the popularity of WWW and html and java always in constant development, it seems like the web is the only logical place to create this BBS architecture.

Here are some things I'd like to see:

Message bases - I really like the speed and ease of *this* forum. We could create something similar or just rip whats here but make it more customizable.

Users/Passwords - it would create a BBS feel if everyone had usernames and passwords, you could also keep out the lamers who do stupid shit. The sysop could also keep track of what people do. There could also be a structured voting system for voting packs and stuff.

File Server - another great thing would be to have a webbased file server where people could upload and download files. Basically anything but artpacks (because there are already web directories for them). also, with tight security and a good new user application someone could setup a warez section exclusively for art-related warez. like software, plugins, and any other warez artists would be interested in. I'm no web expert, but is there a way to run a web server from your HD with a cable modem or isdn connection? This might be the ideal way to run your WWWBBS.

Chat Rooms - it would also be nice to have some good, fast webbased chat rooms. and with usernames/pwrds there would be a lot more control and efnet irc.

interactivness - anything else thats interactive would be ideal to add to a bbs, it makes it more fun when you can do something else besides reading and clicking. Some ideas would be: users could add in links, users could post their artwork and get feedback in a special user gallery section, users could also completely customize their settings, they could make their own signatures for posting, etc, etc, etc. this list could go on and on.

These are just a few ideas I came up with right now, I could come up with many more. I'm sure you all could come up with more too.

This important thing is that this is DOABLE NOW, we could make this happen. I'd like to help out with making a WWWBBB shell. I'm no html/java expert but I could do a little. I can also do ALOT of custom artwork, and come up with ideas.

lets get some more ideas rolling, maybe once we get enough ideas, someone can start actually comming up with some stuff. Cthulu had a good idea about uploading the pages somewhere and then reviewing and disscussing them.... So, who is going to be first??


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Leonardo.iCE on Monday, February 1, 1999 - 10:32 am:

I found this kind of interesting:, its a DHTML webBBS type site, check it out (its kind of lame and 'PD'ish) but it has some good qualities to it. It might also give some ideas on creating a WEBBBS similar to it, and as it has been suggested, its not like regular html where you don't get the feel of actually being connected to one thing and one thing only...


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Joe Nobody ( - on Friday, February 26, 1999 - 12:14 pm:

As a Linux user, the big hoopla over customization seems silly... people are crowing about changing the look of a few apps, while for years X users can get right down to the source and change *everything*. Remember: not everyone uses windows.
The other point I'd like to make is that a lot of these things seem to be reinventing BBS. So I'd like to suggest that no one forgets to dial up a few BBSs and look at what works and what doesn't... save some headache of reinventing the wheel.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By atom ( - on Saturday, February 27, 1999 - 09:09 am:

i think what would be really nice, would be more like an interactive demo... if anyone ever messed with statix's invitro to wired 97, you know what i mean. imagine taking the design sense of some of the newer demos, and laying onto an interactive environment... i realize that thats pretty damn hard, but still..... not impossible

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