Star Wired: Navigating the 'Net

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Fanwork
Title:
Creator: Dan Wallace
Date(s): summer 1995
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Wars
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Star Wired: Navigating the 'Net is an article by Dan Wallace. It was published in summer 1995 in issue #6 of Blue Harvest.

first page of article
second page of article

Some Topics Covered

  • online etiquette and culture
  • the large number of new fans out there
  • practical hints on how to go online
  • a list of the 13 available Star Wars BBS sites

The BBS Sites Available at the Time

Excerpts

Upfront apology: By now, due to the media's stunning degree of overkill, you're probably ready to disembowel me if I even mention the words "information superhighway." Every publication in the country, in order to bestow upon itself a cachet of hipness, has done a story about wacky adventures in cyberspace.

In all fairness, though, on-line activity is a fantastic way to stay connected to the continuing pulse of our favorite saga. The many faces of Star Wars cyberspace include rec.arts.sf.starwars (r.a.s.s.) on the Internet, an Internet Relay Chat channel, the Star Wars Echo on Fidonet, numerous BBS's, and Star Wars areas on the "big three": America Online (AOL), Prodigy, and CompuServe. For the truly obsessed, there is even a clever Usenet group entirely devoted to everyone's favorite obscure pilot — be sure to check out alt.fan.wedge. I've been exploring the wired world for about a year now, but by no means is this a complete guide to SW online activities. I've nosed around in most of the above areas and decided to make my cozy home in AOL If you want a comprehensive study telling you everything you ever wanted to know about the Internet, check out any issue of Time, Newsweek, Sassy, Quilt World, or Concrete Repair Digest published any time in the last five years.

I had a great love for Star Wars before I went on-line, but electronically chatting with like-minded fans has tripled it. There is simply no better forum for meeting knowledgeable people, pointing out flaws, trading rumors, bashing Ewoks, exploring the symbolism of Leia's hair, complaining about the latest book, or otherwise nitpicking our favorite trilogy to death. Guides, FAQ's, trivia, scripts, and miscellany? It's all out there, just waiting to be downloaded.
If you're not already on-line, not in college, and don't have a computer of your own, first find a couple grand (cyberspace is the Great Equalizer once you're there, but getting there involves some significant barriers to entry). After buying an appropriate setup, figuring out your arcane modem, and dropping lots more money in connect time, you can begin exploring.
We've still got three years to go before the next Star Wars movie. Until the new ones are released, we have to keep rehashing the old ones. But you'd be surprised the legs a conversation about the sociopolitical ramifications of droid inequality can have when there's dozens of folks participating. (Or on the Clone Wars. Or racism. Or Joseph Campbell. Or Carrie Fisher's singing voice. Don't like those topics? Start your own, and see who joins in!) And, of course, there's always lots of new books, comics, video games, and Bend-Ems to talk about. The commercial services are the easiest to use, and many of them offer limited internet access. Call 'em up and they'll send you special software to help you connect. Use keyword "scifi" when on AOL, type "go scifi" on CompuServe, and do something similar on Prodigy (I forget how I found it).
The proper way to access the internet will vary greatly depending on your service provider. Almost all providers offer Usenet, so try typing rec.arts.sf.sfarwars or alt.fan.wedge from your Usenet area. You might also consider visiting rec.arts.sf.movies, alt.cult.movies, and alt.fan.lemurs (nothing to do with Star Wars, but fun anyway}.

Star Wars files can be found on many places, although the commercial services are skittish about handling material that could infringe on Lucasfilm's copyright (scripts, movie stills, fan fiction, etc.) The most well-known SW archive is found on the University computer at wpi.wpi.edu. If your provider has access to FTP (File Transfer Protocol), try starting FTP with "wpi.wpi.edu" as your address and logging in as an anonymous user On some providers the address must be entered as "ftp.wpi.edu".

The commercial services also offer live chatn— AOL, for instance, has a Star Wars discussion group and weekly trivia game. The live chat service on the internet is called Internet Relay Chat (IRC). To join, try typing "/channel #starwars" or "/join #starwars" while in your provider's IRC area.
Star Wars has a home page on the much-hyped World Wide Web. I've never been there (we 2400-baud saps are going to have to upgrade or get out of the way), but I've heard that this is how you do it: http://stwing.resnet.upenn.edu:8001/~jruspini/starwars.html Two other SW pages are: http://trill.pc.cc.cmu.edu:80/~ikoga/ sw_gallery.html and http://twain.oit.umass.edu/~kcm/ starwars/index.html

There are also many individual bulletin-board systems catering to SW. Fidonet is the largest BBS network, and many Fidonet BBS's carry the Star Wars Echo. For a dial-up access number near you, send e-mail (giving your area code) to Skip Shayotovich at skipshay@aol.com

Well, that's the wisest advice I can give. I hope it helps, and I hope to see you there. Be sure to drop me a line — we Star Wars fans are one big happy family.:)