Back to Glossary (D - L)
Down to Navigation Controls

The Matrix

The Matrix is another term (slang) for the globally interconnecting computer network. As more and more networks are bridged together, we are ending up with one network of networks. Soon, as computers are equipped with radio modems, users will be able to access the worldnet from just about anywhere.

(Gareth Branwyn)

OK, Back to the Glossary List


Memes are patterns of information that behave like viruses. The science of memetics studies the replication, mutation, and carriers of memes. Many scientists consider memes to be actual living things that "ride" in the nervous systems of human beings, and hibernate in books, computer disks, etc. Examples of memes include catchy commercial jingles, the concept of money, political beliefs, and art styles. Certain memes are very susceptible to mutation, such as teenage cultural fads, while others have hit evolutionary dead-ends and hardly change from decade to decade, such as the major religions. Some memes, like fire building techniques, are beneficial to their host, while others are toxic to their host, such as the kamikaze and Jim Jones memes. Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins coined the term meme in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene.

(Mark Frauenfelder)

OK, Back to the Glossary List


Nanotechnology is a future technology which will allow for the fabrication of objects, atom by atom. One recent experiment involved the placement of individual Xenon atoms onto a nickel substrate to spell out words (in this case "IBM"). Nanotechnology will allow the building of self-replicating molecular machines that can manufacture almost anything, using the right chemical ingredients. Nanotech also offers the possibility for dramatically changing our own physical structure and processes. The potential uses and abuses of nanotech should be obvious in this statement:

"Molecular machines might be used to read the contents of the human brain and its personality, transfer the information to an external storage medium, and then write one or more copies of the record to another brain, either biological or computer. Such personalities might be edited to correct defects, to purge unneeded memories, or to enhance deficiencies. This could permit effective immortality of the personality" - Jon Roland, The Futurist

(Mark Frauenfelder)

OK, Back to the Glossary List


Phone hackers are most often referred to as phreaks or phreakers (from phone freaks). They use a variety of techniques and devices to alter phones, make free calls, and do other naughty things. The main devices phreakers use are called "boxes," which are designated by colors: blue box, black box, red box, etc. These devices are used to "trick" a phone into putting through a free call, registering phantom money in a pay phone, or returning your money.

The two most reliable sources of info on phreaking are 2600 magazine and TAP. The name "2600" comes from the 2600 HZ tone that can be heard on the US phone system.

(Gareth Branwyn)

OK, Back to the Glossary List

P'Orridge, Genesis

Genesis P'Orridge has been around the experimental art and music scene since the mid-seventies. His COUM Transmissions were Crowley-inspired performance art pieces that pushed the envelope of art, taste, self-mutilation, and endurance to the breaking point. His "anti-Muzak" sound experiments, called industrial music, mutated into a whole new genre of avant pop music inspired by factories, machine and industrial sounds, found objects, and audio samplings from mainstream consumer culture.

P'Orridge was also inspired by William Burroughs' cut-up methodology and his interest in brainwashing and other technologies of mind control. After Throbbing Gristle, P'Orridge's industrial outfit, he went on to found the more pop/dance-oriented group Psychic TV and the designer cult The Temple ov Psychick Youth.

(Gareth Branwyn)

OK, Back to the Glossary List

Post-Modernism (or "Pomo")

Post-Modernism is not a theory, but a collection of ideas and criticisms that attempt to address the short-comings of Modernism. It is a nihilist-tinged belief that enlightenment thinking is dead, that culture has imploded such that high and low culture are mixed together, and that conventional reality and conventional readings of culture are suspect. Various forms of aesthetic and cultural dissent arise out of post-modernism, including the mixing of codes and contexts, and the leaking of margins between fantasy and reality, simulation and referent, history and fiction.

"Post modernism in its positive form constitutes an intellectual attack upon the atomized, passive and indifferent mass culture which, through saturation of electronic technology, has reached its zenith in post-war America (Newman)."

Many people, bored with the boredom of post-modernism have taken up the cry: "Nomo Pomo!"

(for a "low-impact" introduction to post-modernism, see Sarup's Introductory Guide to Post-Modernism and Post-Structuralism)

OK, Back to the Glossary List


Post-structuralism is a critical philosophy that has grown out of the work of Lacan, Derrida, Focault, Lyotard, Deleuze, and Guatarri. Post-structuralism can be broken down into several critiques:

Critique of the human subject: post-structuralists want to deconstruct the notion of the "subject." They hold, as the structuralist Levi-Strauss before them, that the goal of the human sciences is not to constitute man, but to dissolve him. To them, human reality is a social construction and consciousness is decentered.

Critique of historicism: Post-structuralists reject the notion that there is an overall pattern to and a reliable text of history. They see no linear historical progression from savage past to civilized present to utopian future.

Critique of meaning: As in deconstructionism, post-structuralism holds that there is no inherent truth in a text. The linguistic sign is arbitrary, it "means" something only through use and convention. Post-structuralism stresses the interaction of reader and text as a productivity. Reading loses its status as a passive consumption of product and becomes a performance.

(Gareth Branwyn)

OK, Back to the Glossary List

Thomas Pynchon

Pynchon is one of the most enigmatic authors of our time. His complex, monumental works The Crying of Lot 49, V., and Gravity's Rainbow have inspired legions of writers and artists, including most of the c-punk authors. His recent Vineland was one of the most anxiously awaited books of the last few decades (many people swore that Pynchon would never publish after Gravity).

Perhaps more than anything else, Pynchon's absolute seclusion and his long publishing silence has greatly magnified his mystique. Don DeLillo's (also a recluse) latest book Mao II deals with a very Pynchon-like writer and his reasons for hiding and refusing to publish a follow up to his magnum opus. Ironically, Pynchon writes a back cover review on the paperback version of Mao II.

(G. Branwyn)

OK, Back to the Glossary List

Rudy Rucker

[Rudolf Von Bitter Rucker]

(1946 - ) Rudy Rucker, is the great-great-great-grandson of the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel. If that isn't enough, he's the winner of two Philip K. Dick Memorial Awards, AND he's one of the major authors at whom people toss the cyber word. His earlier novels helped motivate a contingent of his Texas fans, William Gibson, Lewis Shiner, and Bruce Sterling to write their own books. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, graduated from Swarthmore College, and received a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Rutgers University.

Rucker has had several stints as a college professor in the U.S. and in Europe. He is currently teaching Computer Science at San Jose State University. As a mathematician, Rucker has written several articles on mathematical logic and set theory, as well as several math books for the layperson including

His underground cartoons (full of zany characters such as the unicycle-like boy named Wheelie Willie) have appeared in several newspapers and magazines, including the Rutger's Daily Targum and bOING bOING.

He won the first Philip K. Dick Memorial Award for Software (1983), one of his eight science fiction novels:

Rucker is also the Mathenaut for the Advanced Technology department of Autodesk, Inc., a software company in Sausalito, CA, where he has written two software programs: Rudy Rucker's Cellular Automata Lab, and Chaos: The Software.

Also by Rucker:

"In April, 1984, the head of Jerry (Falwell's) Moral Majority organization was a man named Cal Thomas. As it happens, Cal Thomas lives about a block from me. I was going through a difficult period in my life just then - I was jobless and broke, I'd just finished writing "The Secret of Life," which was supposed to be a great novel, and I had no idea what to write next. I was abusing substances, as the saying goes, and for some reason the fact that Cal lived so nearby was starting to rankle.

It was Friday. I went to the 7-Eleven to get another twelve-pack, On the way back, I saw Cal there, mowing his lawn, I drove my car up on the sidewalk and jumped out and gave him the finger and yelled: 'Christ sent me here to take you and Jerry out!'" .

- "Jerry's Neighbors" SCIENCE FICTION EYE #2

(Mark Frauenfelder)

Navigation Controls

Ahead to: Next Glossary Section (S - Z)
Back to: Previous Glossary Section (D - L)
Up to: The Glossary List
Way Up to: 4 Zones Menu
Over to... Master Table of Contents

© 1998 The Computer Lab
Gareth Branwyn -

Go to Street Tech, Gar & Pete's Tech Review Site.