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Virtual Community Or Virtually A Nightmare

The age of exploration revisited during the sunset of the 20th century as a new frontier opened itself with explosive possibilities. Previous eras had their Marco Polos and Prince Henrys; we had our Bill Gates. Thanks to Bill, trailblazing was chic again. History was alive! Explorers. Discoverers. Exploiters. Expansionists. They were now in vogue and we were to become a bit of them all as we staked a claim in the vast, uncharted internet territory, pitching a tent called mohicanpress.com. With a photographic guide book to sell, we mapped out the quickest spice route and set out for the market, slowly building what was to become a virtual community, though we hadn’t the slightest clue what that was. In ignorant bliss, we had thought of ourselves as mere carpetbaggers only to discover imperialistic colonialism could still thrive in cyberspace. 

As explained in ‘From Mohican Land To Mohicanland,’ our cyber-odyssey began before we knew we were traveling it. Moving south from New York’s historic Hudson Valley to western North Carolina, we found ourselves in the heart of the film locale for Michael Mann’s The Last of the Mohicans. We remained accidental tourists for awhile. We’d read about the filming and looked forward to its release, but there was no plot to take up a LOTM connection or track down film sites. We were focused on other joys of southern living like how to plant vegetables in red cement, how to summer in a sauna without melting, and acquainting ourselves with millions of species of garden-eating insects not yet discovered beyond the Carolinas. We were in pre-LOTM mode. Rich was learning the art of Kudzu wrestling, and I, the art of southern hospitality, courtesy of the local Welcoming Committee president. “I’ve always said it would be nice to have more Med-eye-terranean people in the area.” Our Eye-talian family was among the fastest growing groups of foreigners in the county, second only to the Japanese Kudzu. It wasn’t long before we started bagging those carpets.

In 1993, Rich discovered he had an obsession. In 1993, I discovered VCRs had faulty rewind mechanisms. About that same time, our children discovered family outings were something to dread. The Film Site Scouting and Mission Impossible phases are recounted elsewhere so I’ll jump ahead to the Personal Computer phase, but before I do, I should note signs of addiction were evident in these early days. When one person single-handedly raises the price of stock for Mystic Color Lab you’ve got a potential problem. When that person decides mail order film developing no longer “does it” for him and moves to the hard stuff like One Hour Photo, you’ve got a crisis. Millions of photographs later, we embarked upon the computer scene. I admit I was apprehensive about this new turn of events. Computer? I was opposed to computers. They were so ... twenty-first century. So weird. So incomprehensible. I was against them. I was still grappling with the wonders of radio, television, and telephones and wasn’t eager to embrace sci-fi reality. Nonetheless, the computer age had arrived and we were swept up in its path. Applying the old ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ philosophy, I was going to give the PC its chance. As long as I didn’t actually have to touch it, I reasoned, it could stay.

 There were logistics to work out, of course. I had to really think about this remodeling project. Where does one put a Star Wars radar appliance in a home? Not the kitchen. The food might get contaminated. Dining room? The nuke look wasn’t quite right. The living room already had a radiation device and who knew what crossfire might start up. Bedrooms ... bathroom ... barn? The excessive wires needed their own outlet. That left the school room. It was going to have to share. The PC arrived and was pried out of its Styrofoam fitting. I understood then that we were going for the pathology lab look. Hmmmm. Not quite Art Noveau, not quite Art Deco. Just a drab lab look. There wasn’t much to work with here so I just shoved everything to one side of the room and let the radiation appliance have its space. I looked it over and thought, I could live with this. I adapted. It didn’t really seem too bad as long as we didn’t sit too close. Rich had no misgivings. It was a new toy and he was going to have fun. Fine. Whatever. And then he turned it on. And connected. Now I understood the lab look. In those early days of home PC’s, the pre-Pentium device connected to the super-highway sound waves via a five minute rocket launch. The screeching was awful.

... oh, SO much more to come! The Trail had barely begun ...

Meanwhile:

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