Saturday, July 08, 2006

International House of Kumquats

Everyone posting about myspace lately has made me wonder what the attraction for me is. I'm not making new friends or looking for someone to date. I don't read the bizarre novel chapters sent to me by one of my "friends" every single day. Because my connection is so slow, I can't even see the funny clip of the burger king that's on my page.

But I think we all crave some sense of connection from the internet. Since 1994 or so we've been told that it's bringing people together, making the world smaller, the internet superhighway!! We want to map out our own space and use that space to proclaim ourselves and connect with others. I really do think that we think of the internet in terms of connections. I think that's why myspace and friendster are so popular; the way in which you get to collect your own connections.

My first internet connection was in 1994. It was a bbs (remember those?) in the DC area called IHOK (int'l house of kumquats) run by an awesome guy named Geoffrey Claussen. His handle was Pickle. Because of the beauty of google, I looked up it's old address in the (then mysterious cyber world):
International House of Kumquats, Intl House of Kumquats
(1993-1996) Geoffrey Claussen WWIV

You had to dial into it with your modem (my friend Kim called in on an actual 300bps modem. Posts came onto the screen letter by letter. I'm not even kidding). It was incredible. I have no memory at all of how I found it or learned to use it, but it defintely changed my life. I met this group of amazing, intelligent, artistic, thoughtful kids from all around the DC area, people I would otherwise have never met. So much of my taste developed during that time, just being exposed to what these people were into and getting to post about it, endlessly, on IHOK. I mean, like all groups of teenagers, we had sex and gossip and all that, but I still remember it as something purer, something I felt I needed.

I have to give my parents credit for even letting me do it. People were a lot more afraid of strangers then, I think. There was no real internet yet; we weren't accustomed to the idea of meeting people that way. The first time all the ihokians got together (these events were called 'kumquasia') I was actually allowed to go to DC by myself and meet a bunch of strangers. Once, on the 4th of July, I was allowed to host kumquasia at my house, a big co-ed sleepover in the basement. Yeah, my parents were cool.

I miss those guys. Some I've been able to track down over the years, but others, honestly, I can't remember their real names. Or sometimes I'll remember parts, but not enough.

Old ihok members, come and find me! I was Tig and I miss you all!


Cue Gal said...

I don't know why the hell I've been so myspace obsessed lately, either. Like you said, I definitely *do not* want to date anyone I'd meet on there, and I really like the friends I already have. So... what is it? A rolodex with pictures and cute anecdotes? I'm not sure.

Your parents were super cool! Mine barely let me leave the house. (Big surprise, right?)

penelope said...

I like feeling "connected" in the safety and isolation of my own home. It is fantastic. But I also strongly suspect there are subliminal messages planted in the pixels of myspace that inspire addiction. Because I cannot for the life of me stop. I even think about myspace while driving. It's weird and doesn't make sense.

Summer said...

I used to IHOK! I didn't hang out with all of the kids as much as I wanted to because I was younger than most of y'all... But, man, yeah. I've never replicated that feeling with anything on the internet since. Jacques (Snow Wookie) and I have exchanged a few emails over the years but otherwise I've not been in touch. I just randomly googled IHOK and found you. Hi. Awesome.


Summer said...

Oh, I went by Star Shadow on the board. Which is pretty much the lamest handle of all time. But oh well.

Mark Argent said...

Tig? Yowza. My mind is officially blown.


Megan said...

mark/grendel (god, whoa, too long ago) sent me the link to your blog - I was the other Megan, aka then as Sister Ray.

Megs said...

Mark, Megan, Summer--email me!

Jacques-Jean said...

wow. twelve, fourteen years ago... wild.

sam(n) said...

Sublime Lemon. Ditto on the random googling. Now myspace is old news- I was just thinking how there must be a facebook group for IHOK. Time to check. All the flash, sound, and live action in the world can't replace the local focus of a BBS, and the excitement of a 14 year old connecting to the world at 300bps (I had one, too - I dialed in on a Kaypro II that folded into a suitcase...)

Megs said...

Hi Sublime Lemon! And a big hi to Screwy, who mailed me today through flickr, but my email account is all screwed up there and I can't reply.

Screwy--even after all these years, I recognized your real name in my email box INSTANTLY. It's wonderful to hear from you. email me at that goes for anyone else from ihok.

I'm sorry about the horrible spammers infecting this thread. I'm afraid I let this blog lapse when I started writing novels, but I'm happy that this thread continues to serve as some kind of reunion.

Love and miss you guys.

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Monty Python said...

Monty Python checking in (that was one of my nicks, I can't remember them all!) There's been a little resurgence of actual WWIV boards (and other types) operated by folks in the hacker community, with board games and everything. They're only accessible through telnet, so they're a pale imitation of having to manually dial a phone number and hope the line wasn't busy-- and by virtue of the community they draw from, they don't have many users and the sense of community is different-- but I still get a twinge of nostalgia when I try to remember how to navigate them.

Most of the old net is being supplanted or dying off; usenet is withering, even if google groups is keeping it alive. Everyone's still around, though, just hiding in plain sight. I stumbled across you by chance after I idly googled "International House of Kumquats." Neat!

Screwy said...

The neat thing is that this page has an Atom feed (link in the footer), so I've subscribed with Google Reader and I get notified any time somebody has a whiff of nostalgia and posts a bit of IHOK history. Yay!