Further Conversations from the Echo Network (November-December 1992)
(Item #D25) (transcription)

Item 102 30 NOV 92 14:03 Stacy Horn
William Gibson’s “Agrippa” on ECHO Dec. 9th!

On December 9th, you’ll be able to download a copy of William Gibson’s latest story “Agrippa.”

This story is currently only available in a beautiful, but expensive special limited edition book so this will be your chance to check it out for free. Mark that date down.

We’re still working out all the details but I wanted to let know. Tell your friends!

110 Discussion responses

102:1) Stacy Horn 30 NOV 92 14:10

Some people on Echo went to the actual unveiling of the book. For those of you who haven’t heard about it, the book was done by William Gibson, the artist Dennis Ashbaugh and publisher Kevin Begos. The story is on disk and contains a program that destroys the text after it is read. The artwork and the text in e book also starts to deteriorate as it’s used, the pages turn, and as the book is exposed to light.

102:2) jneil 30 NOV 9214:32

so what, happens? When Echo recieves this ‘transmission’ it disintegrates?

102:3) Miss Outer Boro 1991 30 NOV 9215:61

Cool! I thought it was only gonna be on The Thing. Way to go, Stacy.

102:4) Erin a.k.a. EB 30 NOV 92 16:55
An Echo Happening!
102:5) Babaganoush 30 NCV 92 19:00

So how do we experience this event? (pants the Gibson acolyte)
102:7) Vacation Bolex!?! 30 NOV 92 23:43

102:8) wings 30 NOV 92 23:49
102:9) Miss Outer Boro 1991 01 DEC 92 00:11
Aw! Wry!
102:10) wings 01 DEC 92 0:19
(But It Would Be Wrong.)
102:11) slacker[oJ 01 DEC 92 0:29

awe, go ahead and do it, after all , it won’t be the real “disintergrating” book, but just a mere eternal lasting immitation….


and after all, “immitation is the sincerest form of flattery”

-bootleggers everywhere
102:12) Babaganoush O1 DEC 92 0:52

And after ail, Gibson IS the man who coined the word “hacker”
102:13) Miss Outer Boro 1991. 01 DEC 92 8:54
He is?
He is so cool (unsolicited endorsement); as a writer, at least.
102:14) Sal Monella 01 DEC 92 9:14
sHe isn’t.
Read Steven Levy
102:15) Stacy Horn 01 DEc 92 9:59

I should change my first response. we’re going to have the story online for a day. This is the way it’s going to work — you’ll downlcad the story with a program. You cannot read it without the program and yes, this program iS also the one that will destroy the story as you read it. IT WILL NOT DESTROY ANYTHING ELSE ON YOUR HARDRIVE. As a Matter of fact, our very own Rob Diamond is writing it. Which brings my to my call for help!

Does anyone have access to Borland or Microsoft C compiler for DOS? (And the equivalent MAC version?) We’ve got a C compiler for Xenix but I’m helping Kevin scout around for the DOS and MAC compilers.

102:16) Bruce Schechter 01 DEC 92 11:31
If an Echoid doesn’t hack Rob’s program I will be severely disappointed.
102:17) Count Brass 01 DEC 92 19:29


I have the Microsoft C compiler rev 6.01 (or maybe it’s 6.00 – can’t quite remember). Anyway it’s the fix-release of 6.0 that works as opposed to the one that bombs out of a compile of

main() {
printf (“Hello worldn”);


102: 18 Generic Derek 01 DEC 92 22:33
I don’t get it, I’ve used 6.00 through 6.01AX and I have never gotten Hello
World to bomb. What happens?
102:19) Miss Outer Boro 1991 02 DEC 92 0:42
how many of us can watch this at once, just 12 right? Or doesn’t it work that way.



102:20) Count Brass 02 DEC 92 19:52


Then you are luckier than me because when I got the coupon saying I Could get the fix release for some low low price, I sent it in and got something that didn’t work. I think the one they sent me said 6.00B on the label.

It didn’t actually bomb I guess. It would compile the hello world program and then go to link it up. The linker would say that a couple of references could not be satisfied (at least that’s what the message meant to me.) I tried the same program with my older code compiler and it ran like a champ…as did it. when. they sent me a fix release for the fix release after I complained.


102:21) dmg < david geshwind > 02 DEC 92 21:51
I’ve got MSC for DOS version 5.xx
didn’t update; figured why tamper with something that works if version 6.xx doesn’t work, let me know if you need access to v5.xx


102:22) Jamie 03 DEC 92 7:55
Stacy: I have Borland C++ version 3.0 for DOS. Be glad to help out this
102:23) slacker (0) 03 DEC 92 18:16
I love the idea of an electronic book that *poof* , evaporates when read!

i dunno if so thrilled with the reality of it though.
102:24) Stacy Horn 03 DEC 92, 19:22

This event has been postponed!! We’re shooting for New Years Eve — stay tuned for updates. Thanks for all the compiler offers, will pass this info on to Rob.

102:25) Jamie 03 DEC 92 21:29
actally, Stacy, if Rob would pass the source code on to me, I would be willing to take a shot at converting it to DOS/DOS for the good of all. I’ve done this kind of covdrsion before.
102:26) Miss Outer Boro 1991 03 DEC 92 21:45
Stacy, was it postponed for all the sites, or just Echo?
102:27) Stacy Horn 05 DEC 92 11:05
It was postponed for all bulletin boards, conferencing systems, and so on but there’s still going to be a realtime transmission to various museums and school around the country. I can tell you which museum is doing it in NY. Kevin only said the name a half a million times but it went right out of my head.

102:28) Miss Outer Boro 1991 O5 DEC 92 15:09


Society of the Americas or something?

102:29) in gravity we trust 05 DEC 92 16:42

The Thinking Machine gang has promised to crack it. I’m sure they will, but that won’t hurt it. _Agrippa_ says that people, ideas, and things go away, and all that’s left is human memory.

And even with a big hard disk, what matters is what’s in your head.

* Penn Jillete *
102:30) Miss Outer Boro 1991 DEC 92 17:45

What’s the Thinking Machine?

102:31) mNEMOnic device 05 DEC 92 19:04
Thinking Machines is a company in MA which makes Computers called “The Connection Machine” of a few sizes: it’s a fine-grained parallel processors and the “expensive one has 00000. The operating system actually uses virtual processors which get swapped in and out in case you need more. Why would one need more? To do stuff like factor large numbers or predict the weather. Or do spook stuff. Still, I’d be surprised if this thing uses RSA encryption or some similar high-powered deal. Of course, I could promise to do the NeXT version and find out…. (I have no C compiler on the Amiga – sorry)
102:32) Villanelle 06 DEC 92 22:42
wow, i am so excited about this!! But the part i don’t get, is will we all have access to this on Dec 9th or do we reed the program??

this is cool.
102:33) .ulysses 07 DEC 92 14:59
Actually, my publisher has a distribution system whereby the day after your book hits the stores, they’re out of copies and will never re-order.


the last week of December (hopefully). You can still go to a live, realtime transmission. Those are happening at various places around the country. The two places in New York are:

December 9th

The Kitchen 7PM
521 West 19th
$15 or $20, not sure which.

America Society
Park and 68th 6:30PM
Also $15 or $20, not sure which.
This place is smaller so you might have better luck at The Kitchen.



102:35) wings 07 DEC 92 18:15
Do I have this right? Fifteen or twenty bucks to watch a novel scroll by on a screen? This Gibson guy’s ON to something.
102:36) Stacy Horn 07 DEC 92 18:30

It’s more than that, it’s a whole performance/party/happening thang.

102:37) s l a c k e r 07 DEC 92 19:06

well, what could be more than *that*…maybe paying $25 – 30.00 ???

102:38) Count Brass 07 DEC 92 20:28

Wow, $15 to see the book once? I’ll wait till it comes out on cable.
I guess Gibson doesn’t want to have to go through any more of those author-signing-books sessions in shopping malls.

Count Brass

102:9) Mark Taranto 07 DEC 92 22:11

I was told, by Torn Maddox (who is a friend of Gibson’s) that it is a 5-page poem — not a novel or a story.

102:90) s l a c k e r 08 DEC 92 0:28

of course; now it makes sense!…

self destructive (art)work…POETIC LICENSE

102:41) Stacy Horn O8 DEC 92 11:00

I saw it yesterday. It starts out as a poem and goes into a short story.

102:42) Barbara Krasnott (barbk) 08 DEC 92 12:28
I think I’ll wait for the paperback…
102:93) Stacy Horn 08 DEC 9215:10

Oh you guys. You’re going to get it on Echo at the end of the month, that’s not it. The December 9th events are more of a performance/party thing. Should be lots of interesting people, a good time, etc. It’s not just about the story.

102:44) Margaret 08 DEC 92 19:29

I’ll wait to read it on Echo. ‘
102:45) KZ (Boca Babe) o8 DEC 92 19:44
Stacy…where where did you see it yesterday?

102:46) Green Lantern 08 DEC 92 22:43


I like the idea of this being like a “memory” that fades, but really, a book that vanishes before the eyes sounds like a gift you give someone who is a slow reader and who you don’t like.
102:47) Stacy Horn 09 DEC 02 8:48

I saw it at my house. Because I am a prividged person and I have very important friends. Actually I did see it at my house because Kevin Begos was over downloading something for the project and while he was here he was trouble shooting something so I watched it go by.

102:48) Bruce Schechter 09 DEC 92 10:33
I heard Penn Gillette reading it into a taperecorder as it scrolled by this morning on NPR. He was making a tape to be played along with the scrolling story at the bash tonight. Reading it into a taperecorder seems the easiest hack of all. From what I heard, though, I’ll probably forget the story faster than the computer erases it.
102:49) Stacy Horn 09 DEC 92 13:24

PS: Kevin was on his way to that reading so I downloaded about 20
of the best Item titles from Plain, printed them out and gave them to
Kevin who promised to hand them to Penn. I included a note that said Plain would feel like home to him and invited him to visit.

102:50) Miss Outer Bore 1991 09 DEC 92 13:28

Nice going!

102:51) Kilgoricus Trouticus 09 DEC 92 17:31
Stacy sure is on the ball!
102:52) mNEMOnic device 09 DEC 92 18:22
I’m going to the Kitchen one…
Some publicity agent this guy Gibson has, eh?
I’ve encased my laughing chip machine in friendly plastic to play the part of “Dixie Flatline”. Yes, I realize that Agrippa has nothing to do with the other stuff.

Naturally, our “real” online literary experiences outshine any foolhardy “art” commercial effort.
102:53) Steve B. 09 DEC 92 19:03
Heh. The fun part about the NPR thing this morning is that it was so obvious that Gibson knew that a) what he was doing with Agrippa was essentially BS, and that b) the text would be cracked and propagated any moment.
102:54) Mark Taranto 09 DEC 92 22:28

I mentioned earlier that Tom Maddox (a friend of Gibson’s) had told me a little about the poem/story. He also said that the idea of making it self destructing was the artists — and that Gibson thought the idea a bit silly.

102:55) Stacy Horn 10 DEC 92 10:13


102:58) wings 11 DEC 92 21:06
102:59) Steve B. 11 DEC 92 22:00
NEMO shoots . . . scores . . . the crowd cheers.
102:60) ewordicus 12 DEC 92 11:25
wouldn’t an occasional screen dumpt to the printer do the trick here?!? really, the conceptual i seldom very freestanding, what happened to the neuromancer gibson??? he should stay from sterling is what he should do!
102:61) Michele L. 12 DEC 92 16:26
What was that text I just got when I longed out a few moments ago????!

Was that Agrippa?
102:62) Josh Karpf 12 DEC 92 18:33
Looked like it… I’ve PRINTED IT OUT and am REREADING it, hahahahahah…
102:63) Jamie 12 DEC 92 22:41
wish you would warn us before you put up a multi screen message as part of logoff. I captured lots of it – i would have captured more if i had known.
102:64) wings 12 DEC 92 22:45
It scared me… I control C’d out of it.
102:65) Miss Outer Boro 1991 13 DEC 92 10:13
I thought that was a great idea to put it at the end without warning. It was so in keeping with the original idea of having it disappear as it scrolled by. Thanks!
102:66) KZ (Boca Babe) 13 DEC 92 10:31
I’m sorry I missed this. Would have liked the surprise.

posted by David on 09.07.05 @ 6:11 pm | Comments Off on Further Conversations from the Echo Network (November-December 1992)
(Item #D25) (transcription)