Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine / Volume 2, Number 5 / May 1, 1995 / Page 8

I Survived Comdex

by John December (

ATLANTA - April 24-28 - A barechested man identifying himself only as a former Navy SEAL fired three shotgun blasts into the air outside the Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta on the night of April 22nd. The blasts dispersed the crowd of looters emptying the women's clothing department of Rich's department store at the mall. The event was part of "Freaknik," a weekend orgy of mayhem Atlanta (reluctantly) hosts annually. The shooting was not representative of the full range of Freaknik activities--there were also multiple sexual assualts, and hundreds of other violations ranging from resisting arrest to bomb threats. By Sunday, Freaknik blended with Comdex, a week-long orgy of mayhem frequented by approximately the same number (100,000) of people, including computer industry players, gawkers, and raiders, who were also bent on a fierce time.

Microsoft CEO Bill Gates didn't fire a shotgun in the Atlanta World Congress Center ballroom in his keynote address Tuesday morning at Comdex, but he did present a "shotgun" approach to demonstrating Windows '95--listening and looking interested as a series of Microsoft employees and others joined him onstage to demonstrate the new software's features. Windows '95 is a complete rewrite of the popular windowing system for PCs, with notable additions including seamless communication among applications across the Microsoft Network and a panopticon-like ability for system administrators to control and monitor Windows users' files and settings across networks. Gates showed a film which offered a series of testimonials from people testing Windows '95. The theme of the film, as one CEO in it said, was "a PC in every home in America using Windows '95."

Gates dismissed criticisms of Microsoft's recently-released "Bob(tm)" interface--saying that critics just don't want the tools simplified and the knowledge threshold lowered. Gates also asserted that Windows '95 will be "finished up" by August of this year and enthusiastically proclaimed the personal computer as "the communications device to redefine how we work, play and learn." ¤

John December is a PhD candidate in Communications and Rhetoric at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a columnist for The Net Magazine (Burlingame, CA: Imagine Publishing).

Copyright © 1995 by John December. All Rights Reserved.

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