Steve Cisler, digital librarian, RIP my friend

 

I remember I was there 15 years ago (1995) at Apple computer for a forum on this. I was (and still am : ) a budding grass-roots Indian webmaster. I had a mentor who somehow had stumbled over the website I was handcoding. His name was Steve Cisler, of Apple’s Library of the Future channel. He had helped the Oneida of New York State set up their site. We on the other hand were totally on our own – all of our work happening on the Mac Classic II (b&w) I owned and dragged around, then a Performa screaming at like, 30 mhz, but in color! My first  wife and my kids knew I was officially nuts right then.

Reading Politico March 3, an item catches my eye on my (Mac) laptop…

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: TECHIES TALK SECT. 230 -Sen. Ron Wyden and Twitter General Counsel Alex Macgillivray are slated to speak at Friday’s event at Santa Clara University‘s High Tech Law Institute, where top legal experts are looking back at the 15-year anniversary of Congress’s enactment of Section 230. More on the event here:http://bit.ly/chNUR9

And I remember I was there 15 years ago at Apple computer for a forum on this. I was (and still am : ) a budding grass-roots Indian webmaster. I had a mentor who somehow had stumbled over the website I was handcoding. His name was Steve Cisler, of Apple’s Library of the Future channel. He had helped the Oneida of New York State set up their site. We on the other hand were totally on our own – all of our work happening on the Mac Classic II (b&w) I owned and dragged around, then a Performa screaming at like, 30 mhz, but in color! My first  wife and my kids knew I was officially nuts right then. At the time most news was actually passed around on NATIVE-L and other groups (oh, and in newspapers and freebie community rags). But it was plain that the dazzling Web page presentations were the future. The recycled FCC “initiative” (after 15 years for  C*****’s sake!) brought it all back. Politics using “poor Indians” for political leverage. Greed. The brain-dead American institutional memory. Change, and that it must start at the roots to make a difference.

Of all the interesting and active and admirable Indians on the Internet in my 17 years hanging out here, NOT ONE had anything to do with the government. Everyone had a tough personal life, usually not a pot to p**s in and are the ones you want around. Like Paula Geise (RIP), one of the original organizers of AIM. Her site is still up in legacy as a labor of love at http://www.kstrom.net/isk/maps/ca/california.html and its link to our site from a crude California map I toiled over in MacPaint circa 1995 and shared with Paula still sends web visitors to our site! Boy, does it EVER “come around !” I just glanced at the stats at our site. 

Of the last ten hits,  TWO! came from Paula’s site. There IS an advantage to have propagated for 17 years : ) Other friends I communicate with every day are likewise great and so grass-roots their hair is green. Steve got it. Here’s one archived article by Steve at Cultural Survival Quarterly  that shows he knew this then. (they have others there if you search “Cisler”) http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/csq/article/standing-stones-cyberspace-the-oneida-indian-nations-territory-web

So when I searched for Steve’s contact today to forward that FCC event, I was saddened to learn he had passed away in 2008.

Steve Watkins, admin of UCSC’s Science Library server scilibx also had faith and let me, an older returning Indian student working in the , set up a site on the server. Only intstructions: “Don’t leave it an orphan.” Aaaaaaannnnd I was off! And my Costanon friends at Indian Canyon enjoyed the 2nd or 3rd Indian created and controlled website ever. The othesr in there was that site at Fond-du-Lac run by Paula Geise and the Oneida. I remember an article for Cultural Survival Quarterly (there are several there mentioning him or authored by him in their archives) pointing out issues that had been eating me. We have steered by those issues at Indian Canyon since. In those days a lot of weirdness was happening on the web – I mean there were like only 8-10k websites total up and running. So it was an Oklahoma Land Rush with ruthless elbowing and scams right and left. What did it mean to be an Indian presence on the web? There was one site up in Santa Clara for a while that featured “online” (actually “virtual” was a more popular term then) ceremonies to make you into an Indian Warrior. I think the site was run out of an office block near where I later worked programming CNC equipment in a machine shop. I think it was run by some hippies and an Iranian guy. I had to create my own guidelines. Steve got that, too.

Steve Cisler, digital librarian, RIP

I visited Steve and his wife and son at their house in the Campbell/Saratoga neighborhood a few times commuting home from work to home in the Santa Cruz mountains. He accompanied me to Robinson Rancheria at Clear Lake to video Dr. Darryl “Babe” Wilson, PhD and Clayton Duncan keeping critical thinking and basketmaking alive (both oh-so-important for California Indians). But that was before youTube, before Vimio and ‘way before yfrog and twitvid – so those movies never made it onto the internet. I have them stored somewhere – probably on a floppy : ) And they WILL see the light of day.

I love metaphors…so here goes. Steve was like an Indiana Jones character. Khakis, jacket, using a flashlight to explore a dark ruin or cavern on the track of untold splendor using a yellowed old map with dotted lines and scribed with html-esque heiroglyphics. Today, the cavern would have the mountain top above mined away, forest shredded by huge yellow (or bluebird blue tweety-colored) robotic GPS-guided excavator-amalgamator-packager-marketer-banking combines at least 7 stories tall. And really fast. The musty cave in the hills would become a bare desolate trench in a dirt parking lot and the relics scooped, filtered and the rig would then crawl away on quad-core 2ghz tracks. In time the jungle might reclaim the crater. Or not.

more on Steve… all these links (as Steve would have said) are free to spread knowledge, if you happen to want it

digitalkoans

@ the Real Paul Jones

@ unconnected

 

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