Inventor of FidoNet, punk / HomoCore activist and finally
artist from California.
"My main strength is synthesis -- problem-solving across
multiple discipline boundaries. Computers, software, and electronics
since 1977; computer networking since 1984, internet since
1992, basic machine-shop skills, and when all else fails,
I make art. I've run two profitable businesses (tiny, largish)
and created more than a few cultural/social entities, some
= = = =
In true network-pioneer form, Jennings took FidoNet along
the route that software and intellectual-property radicals
are now advocating - but 10 years earlier: he gave away one
downloadable version of the software or charged US$40 ($200
for corporate customers) to those wanting a software diskette
and manual. While he enhanced FidoNet for free with "practically
every feature anyone asked for," he also did custom work -
for money - for those who wanted specialized implementations
or who didn't want to do the customization themselves. Jennings
scoffs at intellectual property radicals like Richard Stallman,
who believe software makers should accrue revenue only for
technical support. (See "Copywrong," Wired 1.3, page 48.)
"I am not an ideologue," Jennings insists. "I think Stallman's
'Free Software' stuff is a fantasy, and he's being propped
up by money that's not his own."
Pauline Borsook, Wired, apr 1996
= = =
The instruction card attached to this instrument says it
"The Model 71 is a portable standard for calibrating once-living
and non-living organic substances. It accepts a wide range
of inputs and may be used with a minimum of surveillance...
Only a small quantity [of the organism] is needed; a small
portion may be removed with little harm to the subject."
While the Model 71 performs its intended functions with hopeful
grace, it leaks out hints of its cultural inheritances and
intents (intentional and otherwise). Some things are reasonably
visible, but others might remain obscure to those outside
the priesthood; this instrument of deduction is tightly focused
and utterly unaware of its own context, unsure of its own
authority, unable to relax and just get the job done.
A sample is prepared, according to excruciating instructions
on a card in the front cover, and placed into the complicated
and delicate probe mounted in a little door in the front of
the machine. The operator carefully adjusts a calibration
control as instructed, and the machine is set to run; the
Model 71 then performs a number of calculations based upon
actual electrical measurement of the sample.
(If none of this manual preparation is actually done and
the machine is left idle, it will occasionally find things
to do of it's own accord.)
the Model 71 is constructed of excruciatingly correct and
luscious materials and components; veneered cabinetry, deep-etched
copper plate, bakelite knobs; delicate glass, rubber, and
nickel-plate probe assembly, and ancient and beautiful electro
- mechanical graphical displays (for presenting the symbolic
results of the calculations) and an optical "single plane"
display for operational status.
The cabinet once housed a Beckman portable laboratory pH
meter; the sample-measuring probe assembly mounted inside
the chamber on the front of the unit are original, though
modified to use nontoxic solutions. Test vials and a bottle
of reagent needed for testing (including a recipe for the
preparation thereof) are contained in a pouch within the removable
cover. The front panel is quarter-inch-thick copper plate,
deep-etched and corroded, hand-machined to accommodate the
display units and controls. All other hardware is brass and
Mixed media (wood, brass, electronic components), 10.5"h
x 11.25"w x 8"d, approx. 15 lb.