Erotic Computing

EC 1.12 (8-24-94)


by Douglas Davis, Ph.D.

Heading [sigh] back to his day job, Dr. Doug reflects on an earlier diary entry.

It's Woodstock + 25, and lots of folks my age are trying to recall those halcyon days. No personal computing systems outside SF then, so we're trying to do it with what's left of the wet-ware, with a little help from our friends at the San Francisco Examiner:

Where were you, say ten years ago? What was on your mind, and how was it affected by the computer you were using? My meta-theme in these past three months' Webster's columns has been the investment of emotional attachment in personal information systems. It's what I mean, really, by "Erotic Computing"; and what I imagine keeps the guy in the picture hunched over the console when he could/should be wiping those tears from her eyes, or walking through the meadow to the bay ...

As reported in my introductory Webster's column, I started lugging a personal system around with me late in 1981. By 1984 I was keeping a diary of sorts on an Apple //c, using the Advanced System Editor (ASE) developed for the UCSD p-System. It was plain-ASCII and ssslllooowwww on that 128K system, but I loved it so. I'd bought the //c because Apple's ads showing an attached LCD screen made me imagine the kind of computational ubiquity I finally approached with a series of Toshiba laptops and toward which this Powerbook is another jump -- a system I could carry onto airplanes and a lake-side deck, and on which I could let my mind wander over the Freudiana, the family dynamics, the social commentary with which I fill my mind between school years. I've kept the resultant files accessable as I've migrated from Apple to IBM-compatible p-System and thence to DOS, Windows, and the Mac. I delight in finding myself in a decade-old account of a dream or a letter of Freud's; but a rather dismaying result of these forays into my diary is being reminded how wrapped up I've always been instead in the mechanics of trying to build some user-friendliness and hypertextuality into the word-processor/operating-system mix. Here's a substantial portion of what I found in my entry from a comparable point in the summer of '84, with comments that might make it comprehensible.

27 Aug 84: p-System, L&A;, MPR, Mondale/Ferraro

ASE 27 Aug 84: I've rethought my //c exec for using ASE on a one-drive system: the result is

%fp#10 t*ase.code,#10:system.editor qe%%%%

This allows me to get at ASE any time directly from the root volume, but only by a volitional act [eX(ecution]. The usual process will be to access ASE.CODE as SYSTEM.EDITOR, by eX(ecuting the exec file ASE.TEXT. This would seem to be the only way of having two copies of the editor available in a one-drive system, without their being system-confusable. Maintaining two copies of ASE becomes important with the //c, because for reasons not yet apparent to me the //c damages the copy of ASE in RAMdisk (I'm using software designed for the Neptune card to set up a 126-block PSEUDO: on the //c's 64K of bank-switched RAM) after anything >= a reinitialization [my //e will preserve PSEUDO: contents even through an exit to play a binary game like BOLO, though of course the designation of #10: as the P(refix is lost with anything >= H(alt; and the system will resond to an E(dit command immediately after reboot and produce editable versions of previous files on both volumes]. The single symptom of the resultant disorder is dangerous--the editor seems to respond completely normally until you try to update to disk [pseudo-or real-] with U(pdate (be sure to put your root volume back in before U(pdating), A(nother, or B(ackup: then you get a ERROR writing out the file and, as is always the case with ASE, your textfile-in-progress is gone. Rebooting with H(alt, , or will now seem to restore things to normal, but in fact replacing the RAM copy of ASE is all that will produce well-formed files.

Fun to read, wasn't it? Seems like that's been the story of my life -- before I get to reflect on the double-binding dynamics of my daughter's relationship with her grandmother, or the [never-to-be-realized] fantasy of a Mondale-Ferraro administration, or even the great Morning Show on Minnesota Public Radio, I have document the arcana of a piece of software that stands between me and my reflections. I assume that if we could tap into the guy at the console that's what he'd be up to, too.

Today's markup languages are the descendants of the embedded macros and text-formatting commands of my p-System days, but now at least one can write in a real WYSIWYG word-processor, save to Rich Text Format, and run a RTF to HTML utility. It's still non-trivial to get the pix and sound-bytes linked, but hey, in another decade ...

Next week: transference.


Douglas Davis, Ph.D. <ddavis@haverford.edu>


About the author ...

Copyright (C) Douglas Davis 1994. All rights reserved.