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Ripping the Net
A User's Guide to Netrip Theory and Application
by Scotto Moore
Issue 2, Winter 1997/98
Originally published in The Resonance Project
In the face of it, the concept of the netrip is simple enough. The adventurous will of course parse netrip in two ways simultaneously - both as the more obvious"net trip" with all of its psychedelic connotations, and the less obvious "net rip" which presupposes a fabric in the net which can, in fact, be ripped. Properly ripping the net, furthermore, allows a revisiting of the"net trip" from two angles, both summed up as tripping on the net, i.e. taking psychoactive substances while on the internet, and using the net as a psychoactive substance.

Alter your state and begin posting at will.

Under ideal circumstances (not found in nature), the existence of a mailing list is presupposed. This mailing list, a hub of e-mail traffic among a relatively close-knit community of peers and friends, functions as the vessel, the "setting" if you will. The call goes out in advance to this group: on weekend such and such, plan to be here, on-line, with whatever psychoactive enhancements you care to bring. Alter your state, and begin posting at will. In previous experiments, altered states have ranged from full-blown LSD mania to 48 hour sleep deprivation - as always, friends, your mileage may vary.

The netrip is not your average entheogenic experience. We are not interested in quiet, dark rooms and inwardly focused contemplation; the netrip is not a solitary experience. Instead, imagine if you will a memetic attractor pulsing at the heart of your mailing list community. This memetic attractor is a gravitational force, comprised of the topics and interpersonal dynamics which make the mailing list a community. It is likely what brought you all together in the first place; and it is an evolving thing, growing as the community grows. If you dare, you can go so far as to imagine this memetic attractor as a kind of central nervous system (CNS) for your community; and you can imagine yourself, and your compatriots, as neurons firing within the CNS, each e-mail ping a signal sent and hopefully received and assimilated. The netrip is about letting this nervous system experience the psychedelic state.

You begin, then, on a Friday evening. You are aware that, under ideal circumstances (never observed in our labs), twenty or thirty of your compatriots are also logging in this evening. Your goal is to attempt sheer communication - the simulation of an immediate experience. We will not presume to say what the content of your communication should be, as each community will know its own subject matter much better than we do. We will not presume to dictate what length each post should be, nor how much so-called "weight" each message should contain. We only suggest that you begin immediately, and that you not censor your impulses.

Feel the wake of those ripples from the future washing over you.

As you are posting, your compatriots will begin doing the same. Doubtless while you compose a single message, five or ten other messages will arrive in your inbox. As you read those five or ten, another five or ten are likely to arrive. As you begin responding to any number of these messages, still more messages will arrive. You are now having the experience of time travel, so to speak. E-mail, normally an asynchronous communication medium, is now demanding your immediate attention, and the Feedback Point for a given netrip is that elusive point, somewhere in the future, where the very latest mail has come through the mailing list. That single message is the Feedback Point. That single message is the leading, bleeding edge of the årip, and you, as you årip, are feeling the wake of those ripples from the future washing over you.

At any given point during the weekend, additional netrippers can join in, starting from the earliest wave of the netrip and charging toward the Feedback Point. From your perspective, chasing the Feedback Point from perhaps a day ahead of the newcomers, you may now begin to see ripples from both the future, where the Feedback Point exists, and the past, where the newcomers are now riding your wake. The newcomers may bring new perspective on the past which will force adjustments in the netrip's content all the way up to the Feedback Point itself. Yes, the mailing list's CNS will be positively humming at this point, should you succeed in attaining that elusive mix of connection and communication that feeds a netrip best.

Notes on technique: Ripping the net in this fashion can allow more fluid communication than e-mail otherwise provides. Please be aware, however, that the temptation to flee into IRC or other so-called"real time" chat forums will actually diffuse the momentum of the netrip. Even if your e-mail messages become one sentence pings · la lines of chat, they are pings that are subsumed by the list's CNS, versus pings that are lost to the undernet. Remember,"Stay on target, stay on targetä" - Red Leader.

Actualizing the netrip is a profoundly unusual experience.

In addition, your community will likely find its first attempts at netripping to be a confusing morass of jumbled intentions. This primer does not attempt to address the issue of content! Content remains the"X" factor which must be adjusted on a case by case basis. Eventually you may find that the fluidity of such communication, coupled with the concentration required to stay at a terminal and actualize the netrip, is a profoundly unusual experience. Use the netrip as a tool for metaprogramming at the group level. Do not expect the quality or caliber of experience you would get were you sitting behind a blindfold; the quality of a netrip will not be better or worse, but will simply be something else entirely, a new ball game to be played, a new avenue of exploration. The usual disclaimers apply - these techniques are for TRAINED PROFESSIONALS only, use with caution, and of course, there are no money-back guarantees.

Renowned interdimensional traveler Scotto is a Contributing Editor and Inner Space Correspondent for FringeWare Review. He can be reached via e-mail at scotto@asylum.org. His ongoing attempts to destabilize all of time and space can be accessed at http://www.scotto.org/.

©Copyright Resonant Media, 1998. All rights reserved.