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Old 12 November 2006, 17:10   #1
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Question Impressions About The Oldskool UK Amiga Scene..

Hi all

Was wondering what exactly were the strongest impressions you had about the oldskool UK Scene - good, bad, indifferent, surreal andor otherwise..

For me, it's this:

That the UK always felt on the fringes of the Amiga scene as a whole - that basically the whole of this little island was, in a lot of ways merely a "+10,000 day l8est" trading post for/of the rest of Europe's wares.

It makes me wonder what history (or at least, two week old internet history ) will eventually say was the UK Scene's greatest contributon to The Scene as a whole - apart from the sheer amount of STAMPS it used to trade old "Wow, more vectorbobs than ever before!!!!" demos with..

In short (for me at least) there's arguably a distinct 'slack lameness' factor underpinning the typical 'warm twilight glow' of uk miggy-scene nostalgia.

A bit of Context: I did GFX in a totally obsolete 3-lad demo crew from the deep South of suburban England (no need to mention any names;-) and the one knackered modem we had, which we borrowed *cough* from an office removals job never quite worked: for our crew, a several months old "Budbrain Megademo III" floppy was considered 'a hot trade.' Heh.

Sometimes in the UK, "every day" really is "like Sunday." (That's a Smiths song ref.)

Some example highlights from our days in the (distinctly 'suburban surrealist') uk scene:

* Discovering some soldier dude in "Hunter" who (prob. due to a bug??) had managed to get himself stuck on the white boundary of the game world and was just walking around..
* Finding out that probably nobody in the entire sentient universe has ever completely fathomed the eternal arcane mysteries of "Corporation" (shoutout to 'freddy')
* A useless four hour attempt to hex-edit bootblock fix the second disk of "Another World" so we could complete it

Yours in a weird retro-computing mood,

Old 12 November 2006, 18:30   #2
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Thanks Frank Welcome to EAB !

I share you point of view as insofar of lacking UK scene compared to Europe scene as a whole, personally I blame most of that on telecoms companies over here compared to proper leased ISDN and even DSL lines 5 or 10 years before UK caught up. this i think limmited the creative stewing pot somewhat since not everyone had a modem and not everyone liked the idea of a £500 a quarter phone bill (yeah i got that a couple of times... kinda stung)

ahhh i can still hear a ghostly modem rining into skullmonkeys BBS and his g/f picking up the phone LOL....

However my belief is that by the time the telcoms overher sorted its crap out and properly went digital most people were in awe or stuck with win95 lol. and BBS had been replaced by homepages on the internet or superceeded by IRC.

Shame though.... I knew a lot of talented peoples from ASM coders to Fine Compter Graphix artists, not to mention computer musicians (most had a ST's untill i converted them to use Protracker and MED on the Miggy instead!)

so UK Scene ? On the Edge or somewhere middle of the table? hmmm food for thought me thinks.

anyways WELCOME TO THE BOARDS Fankyboy!
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Old 12 November 2006, 19:24   #3
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Smile Hidden Scene Memories

Hi, thanks for the reply

I agree about the phone bills, which were always painful.. which is why most of the lads in my neck of the woods heavily into regular trading of 'the latest' were also heavily into Carding


"Hello Little Johnny - sorry, I mean 'Dr. Haxxx0r 12000'."
"Hello Mummy dear."
"Why, that's a nice full wall-mounted stereo hi-fi system.."
"Yeah, I've been working really hard at my er, newspaper round.."

Scenically speaking

Old 12 November 2006, 19:32   #4
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Originally Posted by frankyboy
the UK Scene's greatest contributon to The Scene was the sheer amount of STAMPS it used to trade
Ah, sounds like you were not a true Scener then. A lot of sceners never used real stamps, or did use real ones, but ones that were post-mark resistant (non-reflective sticky tape) and so could be just wiped and used again.
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Old 12 November 2006, 22:47   #5
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Smile (uk) scene life considered as a magical mystery tour

No, lol like I said our demo crew could neither really afford the stamps (e-zee peel or otherwise) nor the cost of the fone calls to the leet bbs of a fellow crew down the road (hi Mike!)

"[..] What I did feel way back then however was some kind of sublime, constant-low-level sense of being part of a subcultural electronic underground network of like-minded Reality Hackers, who, through their fantastic digital art-works and intense life-code expressions were somehow tuning in to the wider global bio-matrix of the collective wired over-imagination.."

-Or something like that.

From day to day though, it was more like "Man, if I see another starfield I might go sob gently in a quite corner for a while" - but I do love where these two worlds (the Everyday-mundane, and the wider macro feeling of internet culture as a whole) intersect and combine - a fuzzy alien interzone of strange data ships passing in the electronic night..

Remember kids: It's all about that retro feeling..

*sighs and waxes philosophically again*

Old 12 November 2006, 23:46   #6
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The UK "scene" was a bit weird, for both C64 and Amiga. And its going to be hard to describe it...

I remember some great chat sessions on CNET and [forgets name the bloody system!] micro800 or something like that, in the summer of 85, on the C64. I was dialling in from Germany, which had nothing like that. But the German "social" C64 scene was pretty good, and I got the impression the Uk didn't have anything like that.

Well we did, sort of, but not in a scene sense. "Home computer" clubs sprang up everywhere from the late 70's onwards, often in libraries and public halls. Bring your own home computer, a mish-mash of PETs, Apples, TRS-80 etc. Pretty soon there were "specialist" clubs, dedicated to one manufacturer. And pretty soon they became national associations with regional clubs IPUG, later ICPUG, was one of the more famous. I guess they also followed a similar sort of culture - copying of tapes was at first condoned, then outlawed, but individual members would probably do so away from the gaze of the club officials. But this isn't the scene, its just another aspect of it. The average age was in the late 30's (note *average, given there were often younger members, but predominantly far older as how many teenagers/early 20's could afford the £800 for a basic system in those days!), and the emphasis was on serious use, or hobby computing, not games and demos.

In comparison, in Germany I found the C64 clubs had a much, much younger average age, and the emphasis was on demos, trading, cracking, and fun use.

Come the Amiga scene, and it sort of followed a similar vein. The german groups were far more socially active, still in fun stuff; demos, games, hacks. In the UK, Amiga users seemed to be far more insular, or met via formal clubs like ICPUG, where the emphasis was on serious use (databases, Unix, bubble sorting, yawn...).

The scene seemed to consist of groups like SAE, with enjoyable but tame (in comparison to continental groups') demos, and the odd flash of brilliance from LSD - albeit this took a couple of years after, say, the landmark RSI Megademo. Sure, there were copy parties when peeps from all over Uk would get together, but these were one-off (or annual) events, not regular meetings.

On-line, we seemed to have lagged - the on-line chat sessions on CNET and microlink [whoever!] and disappeared with the demis of aforesaid systems. Amiga users were either traders for groups, sysops for groups, or warez-dudes downloading FinalWriter v145 or The Return Of The Grandsons Of Lemmings Part 13.

Zetro allueds to the reasons why - the high costs of telecomms in the UK at the time. BT strangled ISDN as it was seen as a threat to the high margin leased line services. PSTN calls were still generating 5p just for going off-hook, let alone using it. And "broadband", even in 1993, was nothing more than 22 cable companies frantically digging up the UK and amalgamting tue to an incredible lack of financial planning.

iof course, some of us "old hands" from the 70's knew how to manipulate the PSTN system (isnt 2280 a wonderful number. Aren't hospital PABXs and manual operators wonderful ) and avoided having to explain 3 or 4 digit phone bills to spouse/parent/employer. But the majority of BBS systems were single line, or at best two line ringdown, so very little on-line chat other than with the Op (hi, Dangermouse!).

Yeah, I guess the Uk scene could be summed up in two words - "Jiffy Bag!!!" because for most, that was the sum of it. Ah, the anticipation of the imminent arrival of the postman. The dejection when yet another day consisted only of letters. The wondering whether L33TDUDE was really a (what was the term for someone who never posted back??? Wasnt leech...)... the joy of hearing the postman knock, holding a badly abused jiffy bag held togther with Sellotape and old staples, and the relief when he walked away without mentioning the very odd smearing over the stamp. Careufully cutting away the 11 latyers of tape, pricking fingers on the 37 old stapes, and spilling out a pile of blue floppies with 9 layers of disk label. Firing up the Mig, and sticking a disk in, checking out the latest warez, and the shouts of "Fuckin Lamer" to the error message "The disk in DF0: has a read error on block 443" The calls back of "You could have used XCopy you lame got"....
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Old 13 November 2006, 03:55   #7
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Thoughts on the use of technology generally

I like where this thread is going.

- Traditionally, I think there are several clearly-defined "as-said" boundaries when it comes to saying what, and more importantly what is not, to be considered as being "part of The Scene" - what it consists of. For me these (historically ie. in the Old School days) always seemed to be:

* A primary focus on the physical technology, for technology's sake: what miggy you have, how much mem it has etc.
* That one's own realtime "Life Story", one's inner emotional states and psychological motivations for doing 'scene stuff' (programming etc.) are always (deliberately??) hidden behind the technology itself - the final 'product' is almost always the 'goal' of the Scene, not the person behind it..

I always liked to wonder what someone who Protracker mod-ed some soulful and introspective tune I found on a random disk somewhere, was actually thinking at the particular time they composed it.. just sometimes you can hear the person behind the work itself 'speaking' to you, telling you how they feel (trouble with parents and education, the loss of a girlfriend, the happiness of simply being young and alive in a strange wide world..)

But for The Scene, strictly speaking these inner thoughts are always automatically subsumed, absorbed, hidden or even repressed inside the outward expression of the technology itself - basically what's important to The Scene is that the thing (eg. demo) itself merely exists, and that there's more of it coming down the (overpriced) phone line - not 'what it means' in everyday human terms, ie. culturally, historically, for us as a species..

To my mind, there has been no real in-depth investigation whatsoever into these (mainly hidden) underlying socio-cultural Meanings of "the scene".. which is why I started this thread, I guess. What does it really mean to "make a demo"? What exactly is really being expressed when one composes a tune or codes an amazing graphical effect?

Simply speaking, a mod or a piece of electronic art or even a single line of code is never just some atomistic, free-floating wad of raw data - but rather is always also a deeply personal, ultra-subjective life-expression of..

- The human soul
- The need to "express oneself" through art
- The ways through which our species manifests and extends itself, it's own natural senses through information-based hi-technology..
- Perhaps the innermost collective hopes fears and dreams of humanity as a whole..?

I loved what alewis was saying about the jiffy bag, and that unique feeling of getting 'the latest', the tactile feeling of the tape on one's fingers, the sight of the disks, the excitement about their possible contents and the new, unexplored electronic worlds they might contain - all this 'kind of thing' is exactly what I'm talking about (whatever that is - I'm not too sure myself - maybe Life Universe and Everything..)

To paraphrase wikipedia's entry on Humanity (the Science and Technology section);

"Human cultures are both characterized and differentiated by the objects that they make and use. (Digital) Archaeology attempts to tell the story of past lost (hidden, online-realtime) cultures in part by close examination of the (virtual, electronic) artifacts they produce. Early humans left stone tools, pottery, jewelry (and cheap scratched blue plastic Amiga Demo Disks ) that are particular to various regions, times, and perhaps the unconscious collective archetypes of the species as a whole."

"Together, these developments make possible the commencement of civilization and urbanization, with their inherently complex social arrangements. Eventually this leads to the institutionalization of the development of new technology, and an associated understanding of the way the world functions. This science now forms a central part of human culture."

It's possible to become very myopic and blinkered when it comes to the possibilities and inherent dangers of technology - and The Scene is a particularly good example of that! Rather than a traditional focus on eg. Who's-who, endless Lists, file sizes, dates, mountainous reams of random incoming data - is it possible for us to 'zoom out' from "Yes! Optimization of my 68000 machine code is complete! I am invincible!" to ask ourselves "What it all means"?

Just more nutritious food for thought


Some interesting associated links you mght want to check out:

Cyber Youth Culture (pdf):

What Are We, Who Produce 'Art'?:

Technology and Humanity in the 21st Century:

Collective Unconscious:
Old 13 November 2006, 09:28   #8
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You express your ideas very eloquently. Perchance, are you an academic? I enjoyed reading your post.
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Old 13 November 2006, 17:02   #9
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Arrow Definitions Of Retro

No not really, just another handsome geek male ninja in his early thirties who loves playing Syndicate and Mercenary and reading too much Cyberpunk science fiction

Incidentally, has anyone here ever read "The Hacker Demo Scene and its Cultural Artifacts" by a dude called George Borzyskowski? http://www.scheib.net/play/demos/what/borzyskowski/

It's pretty good. While he makes a lot of cool insights about life in the Scene, some of it is slightly-unintentionally funny, mainly because this particular academic tends to forget the kind of crowd he was actually dealing with (and thus possibly over-complexify the issue) - which was a loose, wired bunch of 13-35, sexually overcharged pizza-eating Amiga fanboys in unwashed black t-shirts who were intensely competitive, with upper mid-range IQs and too much time on their clammy, hairy little palms!

..Not that I'd want to stereotype anyone around here of course.. lol.

- As far as an overall 'retro aesthetic' or feeling for the UK Scene generally, I like the idea of a 'home grown culture', which for my is typified by the image of: 'Someone playing "Warlock Of Firetop Mountain" on a ZX Spectrum 48k in their shed.'

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Old 14 November 2006, 01:20   #10
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Ahhh cyberpunk....

been a long long time since i read any Gibson and or Sterling.. man... takes me back a bit. used to RPG 2013 *punk* (paper, pencil and dice for you newbie MMORPG'ers out there) I have to admit I did prefer the update 2020 ruleset since the deck and hacking rules needed a serious overhaul... but hey Imma rambling...

anyone read / gamed shadow run ?


black shirt... pizza-eating.... intensly competative.... clammy hands...

hmms sounds like some one i know very well... I'v just gained a few middle aged pounds since then ...
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