Tuesday, January 6, 2009

BBS: The Documentary

(Part 1)

Started watching BBS: The Documentary today. I say started because the full documentary is five and a half hours long. Now, I really wasn't involved in the whole BBS scene. The closest I got was playing a MUCK called Delusions back in 1994 or so, using dial-up, and owning a baud-speed modem. So while BBS certainly qualifies for geekumentary territory, I didn't think I was going to be quite as into this one as some of the others I've seen.

One of the things that has made this a good viewing experience so far is that history repeats itself. There's enough content I can relate to in this documentary to keep it interesting, and an engaging level of "yeah, it's just like that now, only instead of BBS boards, it's happening on MMO boards." Instead of "twelveyearoldswhogotamodemforChristmas" you've got "twelveyearoldswhogotWoWforChristmas." Flame wars? power-happy moderators? It's all been done before, and I'm enjoying seeing a prior incarnation.

"My first computer came in a kit, cost me $3000 and took 6 months to put together."

- C.E. "Satan" Rawles

Can you imagine the inflation-adjusted price there? As they say in the film, it was often literally a choice between owning a car and owning a computer. Some of these modems were clocking in at 9600 baud, but well over $600. It really does give one pause, to think that nowadays you expect to get the top of the line wireless router for about $100, or a tricked-out gaming machine for under $3000 (LOADS less if you build it yourself).

So even if you didn't have direct experience with the BBS era, if you're interested in the history of it all, or that the first modem was created by Bell in 1963...you should check this thing out! It's a modern-day history lesson.

PS - Jeff Keegan, you GO, I have that Rush t-shirt too! I hate you for apparently owning Theater of Magic, though, almost as much as I hate PLAYING White Water (the two pinball machines in the background during Jeff's interviews).

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