Welcome to the Web version of the 1991 HyperCard classic
Frontiers are always fraught with danger, romance, utopian flights of fancy, and no small amount of madness. When Peter Sugarman and I first began talking about creating the Beyond Cyberpunk! HyperCard stack in 1990, the frontier towns of cyberspace were tiny outposts and the populace was a rough and tumble crowd of hackers, research scientists, libertarians, academics, military types, and various flavors of bohemians. It was a time of great excitement and hyperactivity. Cyberpunk science fiction was still a major inspiration to the advance teams building cyberspace, Mondo 2000 was the hip new magazine and the hacker community was still licking its wounds after Operation Sundevil/The Hacker Crackdown. Academia had discovered in the burgeoning cyberculture a full-blown example of postmodernism, with its decentralized, anarchic structure, its virtualizing of the human body, and its use of multimedia and hypertexts to socially construct stories and knowledge. Social scientists like Donna Haraway began using the idea of the cyborg as a useful metaphor for describing the human/machine hybrids we'd become in the twilight hours of the 20th century.
When we began Beyond Cyberpunk! (BCP), there was no such thing as the World Wide Web. Hypermedia programs like Apple's HyperCard were the only way to inexpensively deliver hypertext with linked sounds, images, and animation. We saw in HyperCard the opportunity to create a compendium of all this cybercultural output. We wanted to map the territory, but to do so in a way that allowed the user to explore her own links and interests. We tried to cram in as much material as we could, covering everthing from high-brow crit theory to sci-fi lit and films to the wired worlds of hackers/crackers and the zine publishing scene which was starting to move into cyberspace. The result was a 5.5 megabyte "connect-the-dots" cyber-manifesto. In 1993, we followed up the first BCP stack with a one-disk update.
Since doing the BCP project, the online world and the cyberculture have reinvented themselves several times over. What you're reading here is an artifact from a future past. Some of the material holds up, some of it is down-right prescient. Other parts make us cringe, and it's all we can do not edit out the embarassingly dated (or poorly-written) parts. After continuing to get so many requests for copies of BCP or the directions to an Internet version of it, we decided to create this site.
Until we meet again:
Watch your six, Ace!
© 2005 The Computer Lab
Gareth Branwyn and Peter Sugarman