Muriwai Beach Uploaders
Trapped in the Net

Jim's parody of John Decker's Drunken Streets

"I'm a nerd, if I wasn't an Uploader I'd still have a job," explains DJ. "I went into the Internet in '76 and I didn't learn nothing... except that I admitted that I'm an Uploader. Being an Uploader isn't anything nice."

Uploading is prevalent among the nerd population at Muriwai Beach. An unwillingness to change their lifestyle and an ability to live off the system entangles them in the web of uploading.

"We're all Uploaders out here," explains Dolph, "Mind-Uploading is probably a better way to put it. A lot of people in society can function as uploaders, we've just reached the stage in our uploading where we can't do that any longer."

Nigel was employed as a programmer clearing 10 big ones a week until he started visiting the web sites on weekends to upload and chat with friends. "At first it was just weekends," Nigel admits, "I kind of had my uploading under control. I was hurtin' at times, but I was still making it to work. Then I started missing days because I was too bitter over world conspiracies, and pretty soon I was fired from my job. Then my ol' lady kicked me out, so I came down here (to the cybercafe). At first I thought I'd only be here for a little while, but now I think about how hard it is going to be to leave. Real jobs aren't easy to find." Nigel has been living on a camp-bed at the cybercafe since August of 1995 .

The Uploaders are frequently arrested and jailed for public intimidation. "Last year I did more than a hundred days," says Geno proudly, "That's more than anyone else out here. Isn't that right?" The others agree, Geno has the record for the most arrests, but some others aren't too far behind. It's one of the few opportunities the Uploaders have to get bored.

For Tony, getting arrested has been a weekly event recently. "I seem to get arrested every Saturday," he explains, "That's when I get downloaded out of Alphaworld or Fortune City. It's not so bad in there, it's warm, and we get to watch television. About the only time I brush my teeth and take a shower is in jail." Tony is usually released from jail after a court appearance where he is given credit for time served.

The police usually give the Uploaders a fair amount of latitude with public intimidation. When they do stop Uploaders it is usually in response to a complaint by a citizen or store owner. "We try to do what's right given the circumstances," explains Police Officer Tibbits, "we have limited space in the jail, and we like to keep it available for more serious offenses (other than public intimidation). When they get really wired, some of these guys are a danger to themselves, that's usually when I lock them up." Officer Tibbits has just responded to a call from a resident on Domain Cresent complaining of a light. When he arrives he finds Jim Legg unable to talk on his own. Some other uploading men are trying to help their friend remain encrypted. One of the neighbours thought the group was morphing avatars of the Uploader man. "I'm taking him to the emergency room for internet poisoning," says Officer Tibbits. "It's for his own good, otherwise he might get overcome by an opinion." Tibbits and another officer carry him to the squad car and lay him down on the back seat for a trip to the hospital.

When they arrive at the hospital, Officer Tibbits supports Jim until he can get inside him and into a wheelchair. He checks in with a nurse and wheels Jim into the emergency room. "He was just in here," says one of the nurses. "We put staples in the back of his head just the other day... When was that?... Wednesday," responds another. The nurses checks their logs and found that two nights earlier they needed almost 30 staples to close a jack-point in the back of Jim 's head. The wound was a result of pulling his hair out after falling victim to an Internet brownout. "He's in here a lot for internet poisoning," says a nurse to Officer Tibbits. "In January alone we had five sheets on him. Here's a two nine, a two seven, a three one, another two seven and a three three... I wonder what he'll hit today," she says referring to the amount of bookmarks. When the bookmark content (BMC) reaches .40 percent the hard drive begins to shut down, a BMC of .10 percent is considered intimidating for public outings.

"They come into the emergency room like this every day. The night shift gets most of (the Uploaders)," says one of the nurses. "The police don't want them, we don't have room for them, the shelters are full, and it's getting worse all of the time."

The nurses use disks to re-train Jim in the hospital bed and prepare to take a directory listing. His BMC reaches .31 percent on this night. "He needs to be more careful," says one of the nurses, "or they'll be drawing fibre optic from a corpse soon."

"Waddya mean I'm addicted to online?"