Issue 1

Voice Card  -  Volume 31  -  John Card Number 6  -  Wed, Mar 2, 1994 2:04 AM

This card is the first installment of a new feature that will appear in every issue of Archipelago from now on. The title of the card says it all: for every new installment I shall travel 30 issues back in time and report on what seems quaint or interesting from our current perspective. In this way I hope that Archipelago will begin to perform one of its intended functions: a living history of our lives and times.

The cards of issue one were written almost entirely by yours truly during the summer of 1988. The first shipment of Archipelago also included a volume zero which served as a help document: using voice cards to explain voice cards. Volume one was the first true voice volume and was bursting at the seams with conversation starters. Many long-lived and improbable converstaion trees sprouted from the seeds planted in volume one.

Since none of the original members had received their first packets, none were able to write hello cards. Therefore I took it upon myself to write brief introdcutions for each member.

Four of the original ten members are no longer in the group. These four were Cliff, a philosophy professor, Robert, Paul's old college roommate, Thomás, a Chilean-born artist who was the only Archipelagoan I never actually met in person, and my ex-girlfriend Dionne.

Here are the biographical snippets for the six surviving founding members as they appeared to me in the summer of '88:

John lives in a charming little house near the Continental Divide above Helena, Montana. He is a rabid Macintosh enthusiast and an even more rabid HyperCard booster (or "stackhead" as they are called). He is also a writer, a reader, and an amateur mathematician. He likes cats, Oriental food, and getting lost (in mazes).

Paul is currently a senior software specialist with Digital Equipment Corporation. He is also a photographer, gourmet cook, audiophile, bibliomaniac, and a devoted collector of obscure quotations; his "Quotationist" column will be a regular feature of Archipelago. Paul recently recovered from a fire that melted his Mac II (shudder). His new system is bigger and better than ever!

Roger is a retired engineer who loves to dabble in the market and collect personal computers (he has over a dozen in his closet). He dreams of creating an artificial language that could be more easily understood by computers. He is learning to program in C and HyperTalk and attends meetings at Berkeley Macintosh User's Group.

Holly has a Masters degree in Arts Administration and is currently searching for some arts to administer. She has recently moved to Santa Clara to go job hunting. She is also a formidable Dark Castle player.

Larry is currently a research analyst for the San Jose school system and is finishing his doctorate in Educational Psychology. Both he and his wife Diane are involved in Education and would like to start a special school some day.

Stuart and his wife Kathy are both published poets and professors of English. For years now Stuart has been working a collection of poems called the body bestiary. In June Stuart completed a rigorous week of training at the Cartan Canyon Creek Computer Camp.

As I said, many memorable conversation trees had their roots in volume one. Among the most memorable were:

- The Crab Epic. The first two installments of our first serial work of fiction began a wacky sci-fi thriller about the crab creatures of Altair 6. I wrote the first card and Dionne wrote the second (hers was the only card in volume one not written by me).

- Fun and Games. These days we play Solitaire and dream of bowling but back in '88 the games of choice were Crystal Quest, Strategic Conquest, and Dark Castle. Our game discussion grew to include much boasting about high scores. An ongoing series of Conquest games, complete with maps and several Mr. Wizard columns eventually lead to my collaboration with Paul on the currently booming Alexander project.

- The Desert Island Quiz. In a series of voice cards and a special stack we explored what kind of possessions we would take with us to a desert island. Our choices were strangely revealing. Larry was the only member NOT to include a computer on his short list, preferring instead a millipede video game, a basketball court, and toe-nail clippers. It would be an interesting exercise to retake the island quiz (without first peeking at our original responses) and then see how they compared. The opening voice card on this subject also described one of our rare, face-to-face Archipelago meetings: the Desert Island Dinner in which each attending Archipelagoan brought along one of his 6 favorite dishes.

One of the forgotten gems of issue one was a ponarv of which I am still proud: my breaking of the Postal Service's machine-readable zip code. I can still remember my thrill at discovering a two-out-of-five code with a parity digit using tall lines for ones and short lines for zeroes.

It's also interesting that some of the discussions started in volume one re-appear again and again, even into the current issue. For example, issue 1 and issue 31 both include a discussion of sharing Archipelago with a wider audience. And even in volume one I was grappling with the problem of late submissions.

In our next installment we will examine volume two, the first volume to include the voices of the entire group.