Trippin' At Digital Be-In

Addicted To Noise editor Michael Goldberg

reports: There

are times when it feels like a particular event, or scene, is at the center of

the universe, and last night, the Digital Be-In was one of them. If San

Francisco is indeed the hub of that thing called "multimedia"--a catch phrase

that encompasses everything from CD-ROM's to ATN--then the Be-In was the kind

of party where the folks who spend their days (and often their nights) hacking

into the future could let off steam. It was also an example of how the Internet

is forever changing the way live entertainment can be experienced. Upstairs, on

"The Bridge," were banks of computers, audio recording equipment, video

cameramen and the like. Additional video feeds were coming from nearly every

room in the place. On stage, one exotic act after another performed, from belly

dancers to a rock combo called the Venusians ("the kind of band that you'd find

playing at the Star Wars bar," was how they were introduced), while a light

show evolved and mutated. Various kinds of audio and video feeds to the net

were handled by MediaCast, as key new media visionaries including John Barlow

of the Electronic Freedom Foundation, Joe Sparks of Pop Rocket as well as old

hippie Wavy Gravy (hey, he was at the original Human Be-In held in San

Francisco in the mid-'60s) were interviewed. The Transmission Theater, the very

, very hip South of Market theater/club was filled to capacity with new media

types, an exotic breed themselves that seem to have come off the pages of an

old William Gibson novel. No matter where you went you could find both

intelligent and impassioned conversations about the techno future. That much of

this was being beamed 'round the world without the need for any kind of BIG

media company (no NBC, no Time Warner) points the way to a time when off-beat,

non-conformist events like the Be-In will be available on-line, world-wide

every day of the week. Stay tuned. The future is going to be very, very

interesting.