Source of "Art OS 98" is

ISBN 0-553-57901-0

When he'd gone I flipped the drive out of his com-
puter and slotted Mal's in. Then i connected the digipic
up to the serial slot and turned the whole lot on.
"Password," the computer said, bluntly.
"Pardon me?" I asked. I knew perfectly well what it
meant. I was just surprised to hear his own voice com-
ing out of the speaker.
"The password, ass-wipe."
"I don't know it," I said.
"So take a guess. I've got nothing better to do."
"Samoy," I offered, off the top of his head and with
no little irony.
"Correct," the machine said, and started whipping
through the start-up procedure.
I shook his head. "Oh, Mal," I said. Security had
never been his strong point.
"You can stop congratulating yourself, smartass,"
the machine snapped. "'Samoy' isn't the real pass-
word. The real password is a thirty-digit combination of
numbers and letters which is a real bastard to pronounce."
"So why are you letting me in? And what is your
fucking problem?"
"Mal left a loophole. He figured the only guy who'd
come up with the name of the second-best brand of
Japanese pickles would be you. I'd compared your voice
patterns with mine before you even got that far. I was
just pissing you around. And you're the one with the
problem, dickweed."
"Look," I snarled, "do you want a fight?"
"Yeah? You and whose pliers?"
"Are there some default versonalities on Mal's
board?" I asked.
"Might be."
"Are there or not?"
"Why? Don't you like the sound of your own voice?"
"The voice isn't problem."
"Mal downloaded this versonality specially. He said
it was the closest thing to you he'd ever heard."
"I have to live with it all the time. Give me some-
thing else."
"Or what?"
"Or I'll boot up off another drive and erase you with
a soldering iron."
"Tough guy. There's two. Nerd or Bimbo."
"Give me Nerd," Ed said.
"Can't. Mal wiped its voice to make room for
"Bimbo, please."
"You'll regret it," the machine sniped.

Maybe it's impossible to see out when you're stuck there
in the if-loop. Maybe you've got to be dead for any of it
to make sense. Life and chance write code which
drags you along, and all you can do is watch-alter-
nately saddened, bored and horrified-as they execute
their instructions. Emotions run the action, as they al-
ways have, and the brain is powerless to intercede.
I was on a bit of downer, in other words.

At first they said it was the Interzone, as it was called back
then. They said the traffic on the interzone had gotten too
dense, that this virtual world had grown too heavy and
that all the people with the cat did was discover it had be-
gun. They said all this, but it wasn't true.
Yes, the Internet snow crashed two weeks before
The Gap was discovered, and they never worked out
why. True, they had to switch to the alternative Matrix
which was already in place, and the old net never
worked again.
But The Gap was always there, waiting.
Then they said computer code was at fault, the little
lines of syntax we'd thought were perfect and inviolate,
simple instructions to simple beings, the chips in the
wild inside, flowering up through meaning into func-
tion. We'd believed the language we'd created were
protected from ambiguity, but there was seepage from
day one. The same sentence in English said with two dif-
ferent inflections creates slightly different meanings:
turned out we hadn't appreciated the difference situa-
tion made to code, because we didn't really understand
the way computers think. All the unspoken half-mean-
ings we missed, the sly words, hidden implications; all
of these, it was said, added up to something and went
somewhere else and created another place.
They thought they'd finally gotten to the bottom of it
when they stopped the writing of collapsing code, a lan-
guage based on the way the human mind itself was
shaped. When written with perfect syntax it would col-
lapse in on itself, creating software with just one line, a
line whose meaning was opaque even to the person
who had written the original. The writing process be-
came like a childhood, lost and unreachable. The soft-
ware would work, and work marvelously, but there was
always the fear that something else, something unin-
tended, had been sealed in with the instructions. Espe-
cially after computers themselves were given the job of
writing the code. They were better at it, much better
than us, but their motivations were sometimes uncer-
tain, and after the code was sealed it was impossible to
tell what was in there. Perhaps things were being said
that we couldn't hear; perhaps this was a conversation
humans weren't invited to eavesdrop on anymore.
Once they banned collapsing code, The Gap didn't
get any bigger, so maybe there was something in that.
But some of artists believed that if any of the above was
true it had only been a facilitator, a gateway that let us find
something people had been looking for all along with-
out realizing what they might find.f

We discovered how to get into the world's subcon-
scious, but instead of respecting it, and letting its
good influence seep out into the conscious world as it
always had, we tried to charge in and take it over, as if
it was a new territory which could be owned. We found
Eden, and napalmed it; found Oz's wells, and pissed in
them; found the mainspring of power which kept the
real world sane and spread the art of insanity
throughout it. Maybe artists even found the truth my father
believed the real world hid; if so, artists should have left it