PIPORG-L: The Floating Party

Scott Smith

It is difficult, almost impossible, to imagine what our world of 2003 would be like without the computer, and, moreover, the Internet. We now live in an age where virtually everything seems to be completely dependant upon the computer...governments, military, banking, commerce, communications, transportation...even the pipe organ.

I can vividly remember my own astonishment of the intellectual gap displayed by the most computer-savvy person I knew back in the early 90's, who dismissed the Internet as a "fad." It was actually around the same time I attended a convention of the American Institute of Organbuilders, where there was an equally stunning pronouncement of similar ignorance in a workshop, dismissing MIDI as a "fad," as well. The old world of communication was colliding head-on with the new, and, much to the disapproval of the "Old Guard," the new was winning out...dramatically. How could two seemingly intelligent men, both skilled in business and both knowlegable in the ways of modern technology be so...intentionally ignorant? How could they, of all people, not readily see for themselves in which direction the world was headed?

Indeed, the Internet age has reached a sort of maturity in a very short time, as has the PIPORG-L mailing list. Personally, I have learned much more than I already knew about pipe organs because of it, have met people whom I would have never dreamed of meeting, have communicated across the globe in a New York second, have bought and sold items through it, and cannot imagine going back to the old ways. What? Envelopes? Stamps? Are you kidding?

In many ways, PIPORG-L is analagous to a perpetual floating party in cyberspace. You enter the room any time you feel the urge, and get caught up on the latest news and gossip, almost as it happens. You state some sort of fact, or perhaps you have an upcoming event you wish to announce, or speak your mind on an item of either general interest or some picayune item that's annoying you at the moment. Everyone listens patiently and responds one by one in a rather democratic fashion until the subject matter has been flogged to death. In the meantime, others around you are speaking about other subjects. Perhaps you wander into the cyber-library, with your cyber-cocktail in hand, and find some information about a particular instrument or piece of music or an organist readily at hand. Being satisfied with your find, you wander back out into the main party and continue on until you tire after lengthy discourses with others. People come and go constantly, day or night. Some say nothing. Others say a great deal. At some point, you discover that the others are all holographic images who are actually speaking to you and the group from a great distance...images of people you may never meet in the flesh, but seem as real and warm and interesting as anyone you've ever known. The truth be known...the party never ends. You feel heady. Your mind reels with the volume of information at hand. You look down. Upon close examination, you find your cyber-cocktail glass is not filled with liquor...it's filled with millions of tiny little words! That is what has made you lightheaded...you've been drinking in all of those words. Time to rest...to think...to act...and to return for more later...

Happy anniversary, PIPORG-L! May the party never end!

Scott Smith
Lansing, Michigan