I'm halfway through Indra Sinha's The Cybergypsies.

Among other things it details a "pre-internet" group of computer enthusiasts/addicts/users. The most striking thing about them is their disdain for the Internet, which at first I could not understand at all.

After reading more (and playing some Uplink), it started to dawn on me. They mourned for the loss of the direct connection between two machines. The "physical" connection between one modem and another over a copper wire. There was an intimacy there shared by all those who dialed into the same BBS or MUD.

With the internet, I can still SSH or telnet somewhere--and, indeed, have basically the same experience--but now our data is mediated by the Internet, a labyrinth so immense and entangled as to put any Creten maze to shame. It delivers our data for us through some dizzying number of hops. It plays with us an ironic game of "telephone" that, by the graces of TCP, tends to give us what we wanted.

That computer-to-computer intimacy is replaced by a swarming, unfathomably large horde of troll-faced minotaurs.

Interestingly, the type of interaction afforded by BBS-dialing has gone nowhere: I can open up a terminal right now and telnet or ssh to any number of interesting places. Such means of networking have simply fallen out of vogue among mainstream computer users.

As the web becomes more and more commercialized, censored, gated and banal, look for me not on a blog, not on Twitter, not on Facebook, but on some machine out "there." I'll be hiding from the information apocalypse behind a telnet connection, sitting in a well-described garden, reading plain-text poetry, waiting for you to utter a "say" command.

I might even brew you an imaginary pot of Earl Grey tea with a few Lapsang leaves tossed in.