Jul 29, 2013
Older denizens of the Net probably remember the name Gareth Branwyn. His name and visage were well known amongst people who were active in what came to be known as the cyberculture of the late 1980's and early 1990's, that weird mish-mash of hacker culture, people who identified as cyberpunks, psychedelic culture, rave culture, and other tiny social groups so far out on the fringe that they never really coalesced but instead moved in the cracks and fissues left in the wake of those other groups. Most of us remember two major projects he worked on at the time, the Beyond Cyberpunk hypermedia stack for the Macintosh, and what became known later as The Cyberpunk Manifesto, excerpted by Billy Idol on the album Cyberpunk, but Gareth's a prolific author and many of us lost track of everything he wrote between then and now.
Those of you who are cringing at the sight of any or all of those words that you'd hoped the rest of the world had forgotten may continue to do so. Those of you who are carefully keeping a poker face are no doubt remembering that you came of age during that era of history and how it helped shape you into the person you are now. Continue reading.
More recently Gareth's been working as the Editorial Director for Make Magazine but lately he's gone back to freelancing. Gareth has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to publish an anthology of his essays, entitled Borg Like Me. Some of these essays were written about the unusual technological subcultures he was observing and interacting with at the time. Some of them are long-lost columns from zines that you may recall, such as Mondo 2000 and Boing Boing (which regenerated into the groupblog we all known and love), and some of them are his uniquely insightful and witty essays about life, death, health, sex, technology, and the wild and crazy worlds we live in. Other essays lined up for the Borg Like Me project are about the luminaries and infamous folks that he's met and run with, the adventures he's had on the fringes of modern society, language and jargon, prosthetic implant surgery, and.. hell, just check out the project's Kickstarter page. He does a better job of talking about it than I do. If nothing else, scan the list of pledge rewards and think back to the slightly less crazy, more youthful times of your hybrid online/offline lives and see if any neurons fire.
I've been a fan of his work since I was quite small. I'm not ashamed to say that I encountered The Cyberpunk Manifesto at a formative moment in my life and it was one of the works which inspired me to live my Neuromancer-meets-Buckaroo Banzai roller coaster ride of a life it is today. I kicked some money into this campaign because I very much want to see his project come to fruition, and I strongly recommend that you do the same. Gareth's work has always been top notch and thought provoking, and when that ebook hits your inbox (or the dead tree hits your doorstep, if that's the way you roll) you will not regret a single solitary second of this reading experience.
Show Gareth some love.