by Bonnie Burton, UCB student, School of Journalism
If you have ever logged into Netnews, you'll know there is a plethora of interest groups to read and post announcements. One unique newsgroup is rec.arts.bodyart. Here Cyberspace and the counter-culture of skin art merge, allowing a unique way to chat and connect with other modern primitives.
Men and women worldwide use the newsgroup rec.arts.bodyart to discuss everything from talented tattoo artists in their area to the proper method of cleaning a freshly-pierced navel. The subscribers to rec.arts.bodyart are just as varied as the topics of their discussion. Students, computer programmers, artists, librarians, sales people, receptionists, and military personnel of both genders and all ages log on to read and post information about bodyart.
"I think it's important for any special interest group to have avenues for communication," Lani Teshima-Miller, University of Hawaii Student Services officer and r.a.b. subscriber says. "The global distribution and participation over the net allows people from all over this planet to communicate together. You can't do that in any other format right now."
To reach Netnews, type nn at the system prompt. For example,
You will be transported into newsgroups of every topic, from beer brewing to vampires. To get to the tattoo net mentioned previously, press the shift key and G at the same time. The computer will ask you for the group name requested. Then type rec.arts.bodyart. Now you are in the newsgroup where everything you've ever wanted to know about tattoos and body piercing is at your fingertips. Students from all over the globe post their recommendations, advice, horror, opinions, and gripes about bodyart. Unlike tv or magazines, the medium of the Internet lets you post, reply to a specific subscriber, or just read what is out there.
There are several ways to read the articles in a newsgroup: one article at a time, a discussion at a time, all discussions of interest at a time, or the whole newsgroup at a time. Select the articles that you want to read by typing the posting letter (lower-case), which toggles the highlight on that posting. Select multiple articles by typing, for example, a-l. Once the article is selected, Z (uppercase) will bring the full text of that posting on the screen. The spacebar scrolls you through all that you have selected. To quit reading the selected articles and get back to the newsgroup posting summary, type q (lowercase). For help, just type ?.
After your initial introduction, you will probably want to make some newsgroup selections. You can unsubscribe by using U (uppercase) or you can edit the .newsrc file and select only the newsgroups that sound interesting.
This file lists all of the possible news groups available at the University of Colorado. Any listing that has a colon (:) after the news group is one that you subscribe to; any listing that has an exclamation point (!) after the news group is one that you do not subscribe to. The vi command
will perform a search on colon (:) and replace it with (!). Do this if you find it easier to re-subscribe to your favorite news groups rather than to un-subscribe from your least favorite news groups. Soon you will want to jump in and post your own messages.
For some subscribers who are already tattooed or pierced, r.a.b. is a friendly atmosphere to discuss popular artists and piercers, announce conventions, or even just mingle.
"I've gotten help on the board, such as the name, address and phone number of the artist I wanted to work on me when I was in San Francisco," writes one regular. "And now I have two tattoos by Freddy Corbin, which might not have happened had it not been for r.a.b."
Eric Fisher, Illinois student, 20, agrees, "The fact that the group is so widely distributed also contributes to the accuracy of the information provided. People won't give misleading information if they know that they're going to be corrected by other people who do know what they're talking about."
Students who access r.a.b. who are not yet tattooed or pierced find advice and postings from seasoned bodyart participants invaluable.
"R.a.b. is an excellent source of information and I'd never have known half the stuff I do about tattoos if I hadn't subscribed," Canadian computer network installer Joel John Palenychka, 28, says. "I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking of getting a tattoo or pierce." Palenychka is "seriously planning on getting one [tattoo]."
Because of these features plenty of students worldwide are subscribing to the benefits of cyberspace bodyart networking.
"In the process of maintaining the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) file, I have retrieved information that indicated there are thousands of people who read r.a.b.," Teshima-Miller explains. "In my FAQ file I have recommendations of artists in Canada, England, and even Poland. The maintainer of the body pierce FAQ has an extensive European piercer list too."
"Because of the international nature of the board, it will influence all of us to seek out the best artists we can, to give us the contacts and resources we need to do this, and generally to raise the level of skin art we acquire," Lewitt explains.
If you would like more information about how to read News, request the CNS documents "Becoming a Netnews Junkie," and "Becoming an Improved Netnews Junkie," from the CNS advisors, 492-1615.
Mingle, read, post, or discuss. Now is the time to plug in and find out where rec.arts.bodyart can lead you on that long, winding Information Highway.
Return to Monthly