The green glow of the VDT is the only illumination in the windowless room, bare but for a mattress in one corner and a pile of junk food boxes in another.

He sits cross-legged in front of the VDT, leaning against a wall, keyboard resting on his knees, fingers flying over the keys. It is an old CRT text terminal, heavily modified though; no VR deck for him.

“I want no part of those blinkenlights interfaces,” he said to me once, “a useless waste of bandwidth. To process all those signals, that’s what we have computers for; why should i have them dumped onto me raw?”

Lines of text scroll by on the terminal, too fast to be read, but he knows what he’s looking for. Unerringly, he halts the output, types lines of response. It’s like two old friends who know each other well, know what the other thinks—they need not talk much to communicate.

“All those pretty blinking graphics and synthesized sound they’re polluting their minds with! It’s absolutely content free. A few lines on my screen tell me more than they get out of gigabytes worth of high resolution VR.”

Thus he navigates through the networks, largely unconcerned by congestion: what little bandwidth he needs is easily obtained. He moves with the swiftness and certainty of one who knows his surroundings well.

“I don’t look at pretty facades, I look at the bytes underneath. You can’t gloss over details on that level; I know the system’s quirks, its strong points, and its weaknesses.”

He knows its rhythms and patterns, easily noticing when something is amiss, easily patching it up.

“It’s like a parody on those stories about nano robots keeping care of your body; only I’m the robot and the net is the body.” He laughs, “looking for tight spots, fixing them and moving on; yes, that’s what I am.”

“I like the net. Those using it, they don’t see: its beauty, its elegance—it’s a miracle in its own right.”

November 1995