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Title: The Forgotten Pioneers of Creative Hacking and Social Networking– Introducing the Demoscene
Authors: Carlsson, Anders
Keywords: demoscene
network culture
creative hacking
Issue Date: 4-Jun-2019
Abstract: During mid 1980s evolved a networked culture that brought together tens of thousands of teenagers within the computerized world: the demoscene. This culture revolved around the production, dissemination, and competition of realtime generated audiovisual works (demos), demonstrating how to maximize specific hardware through unorthodox programming. The old demoscene was a closed community with its own infrastructure, artifacts, software tools, copyright system, aesthetics, economy, and social stratification, but new questions arise with its presence on the internet. With modems and illegal tricks to use telecommunications, teenagers at remote places could reach fame with their technical efforts in a subculture fenced off from real life identities. They were programmers, composers, and visual artists but also dedicated people that formed the backbone of the social network. Traders and swappers sent data around the world using modems or postal mail, sysops operated the bulletin board systems that people dialled with modems, while ascii artists designed the text-graphics for these boards. The demoscene receives very little attention in media, academia, and the arts. The paper will focus on communication but also explain the aesthetical aspects in order to fuel current discussions about open source creativity, remix culture, hacker art, digital communicative autonomy, and competition.
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