Identity: Piranha- Under the Black Flag BBS
Before the World Wide Web was launched in 1993, the main form of online communication was through Bulletin Board systems, BBS for short. BBSes were computerized systems that were used to share public messages and files. The BBS was popular during the entirety of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s until the World Wide Web was launched, a more practical way of online communication. Most BBSes are dedicated to particular interests, people could go onto these BBSes and communicate with each other about their shared interests. Although not as popular as their height in the early 90s, there are still plenty of BBSes around today. In modern-day society, we go on our phones and connect with our friends easily through Imessage, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. there are so many different outlets in the present to communicate and catch up with our friends and even with people that we do not know. In the 80s-90s, people would go onto their computers and log onto a BBS of their choosing, instead of communicating with people individually, they communicated with each other through large groups who shared the same interests as themselves.
In Kevin Driscoll’s The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media while discussing the BBS, he states “From the late 1970s until the dot-com boom of the 1990s, dial-up BBSs were the prevailing form of social computing for PC owners. Built by amateurs using off-the-shelf parts and regular telephone lines, this “modem world” offered an open, grassroots alternative to the closed, institutional networks sponsored by state agencies, research universities, and multinational corporations” (Driscoll, The Modem World, page 2). Millions of people were communicating through these BBSes, and each of these people was communicating with another person who they shared something in common with.
One of the most popular BBSes during the mid to late 1990s, which is still around today is called Pirahna: Under The Black Flag, an underground acid art show. Although, not a very good artist myself, Piranha: Under the Black Flag is a BBS where people can post mainly retro pirate-themed ANSI art. ANSI Art is constructed from a large set of 256 letters, numbers, and symbols alongside 16 colours. The Black flag was founded in 1990 by ACiD production out of Hudson, Florida. In the 90s, the group focused on ANSI art, nowadays the group has expanded to graphical media and computer software development. The Black Flag most certainly was not made for kids as most of the photos posted are quite gruesome, the Black Flag BBS calls itself “the most dangerous BBS”. Today the Black Flag serves to preserve the heritage of the Earth’s greatest underground art scene group ever.
Over the last 30 years, the world has made significant improvements in online communication. Online communication was first introduced to the world through bulletin board systems where people could communicate based on the interests that they share. For example, through Black Flag, people could make and post artwork sparking conversations among people who share the same passion for underground ANSI artwork. Nowadays, people can communicate with each other more privately, through iMessage, Snapchat, Whatsapp, and more. Although there are apps where people can discuss publicly like Instagram, Tik Tok, etc. these websites are similar to BBSes in the way that they are geared to what you are interested in. You can follow whomever you like and can communicate through the comment section with people who are also interested in the same thing as you are. Although modern-day online communication is more practical, it is structured the same way that BBSes are.
Driscoll, Kevin. The Modem World. 2022.
Home Page – Telnet BBS Guide. Telnet BBS Guide -. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.telnetbbsguide.com/
The acid telnet headquarters. Black Flag BBS Official Website. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2022, from http://piranha.acid.org/
Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Bulletin-Board System. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/technology/bulletin-board-system