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Peter Schoonmaker

Hey, I remember Punk Rock. I was there. Although I didn't understand that at the time. A few years later, in 1982, I got a lesson in the true nature of punk, from an Irish guy - a burly sweet natured tough, complete with earing, crappy tatoos, shaved head and missing teeth from too many football riots - who was visiting me in the Atacama desert in northern Peru. I was working there (don't ask, it's too weird) and he was wandering the world, disillusioned, looking for an authentic experience. He had dozens of bootleg punk tapes with bands I'd never heard of and don't remember. This was punk, he said, and it was already dead.

I would argue that the WELL, that forerunner of our more commercialized web, is a better analogy to punk. Where it's buyer beware on the web, the WELL had, and still has, an authenticity that has eroded on the web.

A better analogy to today's web (and the computer I'm typing on), is the early postal system, (and the printing press) which could deliver your inner-most thoughts to the world in a ridiculously short amount of time for a relatively small sum. That was a revolution. Which was repeated with the telegraph, the telephone, community radio and television, and now the web, each time with an exponential magnification in information transfer. Like the web, each could deliver everything from slime to sublime.

I'm not sure how much information was ever transfered between Punk Rock participants, but apparently it was really authentic for a short period. I wish I had been paying attention at the time...

So here's a question that you've already thought of I'm sure, but I'll ask it anyway. What's the next exponential leap that makes the web look quaint?


Jimm certainly raises an interesting analogy, but the short answer is no, the web is not today's punk rock. Punk Rock is a lifestyle, a form of self expression-- and one of the most galvanizing forms of self expression in our modern time at that. Being/understanding Punk is like the difference between Democrats and Republicans, true believers and atheists. You either get it or you don't. Sure, you can have empathy for differing opinions, but that doesn't mean you truly "get" it.

The web on the other hand is merely an outlet for that expression. Without input the medium is meaningless.

If you want to make correlations, the web equivalent of punk rock might be the original WELL, napster or craigslist. Those were/are properties with a true DIY spirit and groundswell of support. Sadly, most of today's "web" is more like Brittney Spears than Punk thanks to too many corporations with deep pockets asserting their own agendas. That said, the Punk spirit is still alive and well as long as you know where to look for it and know how to see it for what it is.

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