Angia finally found Dizz on the porch, reclining on what looked like a really rough sketch of a hammock, doing some kind of research. “I found something interesting about the 2-ohs”, Dizz said without even looking at them, “Have a seat, I’ll show you.”
Angia frowned. They didn’t like when Dizz assumed that everything they did was interesting to everyone else, no matter how unrelated to their general interest profile. Nonethless, they quickly drew a hammock like the one Dizz had created earlier, though a little more refined and cozy-looking. Dizz didn’t like to admit it, but they weren’t great at thaumaturgy. Of course, that was because often seen as an old-people thing—Angia’s own parent often complained about the discomfort of the cranial vibrations that sometimes occurred during long sketches. Dizz, however, was young, and didn’t want to be mistaken for an old person, or a luddite.
“So, look at them—I mean, her”, they said, giggling a little at the gendered pronoun. “It’s alright”, they quickly interjected when they noticed Angie was about to protest, ”it’s the 2-ohs, remember? They used gendered language, and so I will.” Angie wanted to protest, but decided to shut their mouth instead. They knew it was just a manifestation of Dizz’s weird urge to shock people without actually being offensive—walking the line. Dizz dabbled in techno-history, after all, and admired 2-oh-era hackers for all of their blatant rule-breaking and tinkering, and sometimes for the pure shock value of their work.
Angie tried to instead focus on the picture of the person that appeared inside of her. “Maya Silverstein”, explained Dizz, while the three-dimensional image slowly rotated, “was one of the more well known hackers in early 2-oh-2-oh. Her first contribution to the canon was made on the 23st of April, 2021, to be precise. We can’t be completely sure, of course, because back then only the work people wanted to publish was enmeshed into the canon, and there are some apocryphal code sharing platforms of which no records survived.” Dizz paused a little and the two contemplated both the person and their background. What was it like to grow up in a world where contributing was optional? Where people had to fear that sharing all of their work would lead to them being shunned or shammed or expelled from whatever social cabal people formed back then?
Dizz swapped the image to the next one, an old-fashioned page from the two-dimensional web; a picture of Maya on the left hand side, and a few meagre blocks of hyperlinked text on the right. Angia recognized the baroque design: some ancient code-sharing site. “Her first few years of contributing must’ve gone by relatively quietly. Low publicity count, and her web activity also suggests a few minor personality issues: she was member of some pretty dark niche communication platforms, and her sexuality profile—or what little we have of it, mostly aborted searches and such—shows some unusual kinks for the time. Maybe she just searched for them out of curiosity, of course—”
Angia sighed. It wasn’t so much that they had a problem with Dizz choice of topic, but they really wished Dizz would stop fooling around. The sexuality of 2-ohs was so boring! “What do you want to actually show me?”, they said, clicking around Maya’s profile randomly to pass time.
Dizz reset the site and faded all but one element. “Look at that contribution block! They—she called it ‘Ceberus’.“
“Well, what is it? I can’t read 2-dim code, you know that!”, grunted Angia. Dizz opened the contribution block, and transpiled it to a more modern format. “I trained a little network this morning to aid me in decyphering these. It isn’t perfect, but it understand like ninety percent of these and spits out Fab.” Angia rolled their eyes at the idea—Fab was Dizz’s own creation, and while straightforward, not the best code format in the world. “Get it now?”, Dizz inquired excitedly—they either hadn’t seen Angia’s gesture of annoyance or chosen to ignore it—, “It’s the first compiler for non-2-dim code! She figured it out!”
Angia moved the presentation out of herself and looked at Dizz. “You cannot be serious!” Their eyes were wide now. “How is this not in the canon?”
“I know, right?”, Dizz looked like a kid that had just discovered that Santa actually exists, unbeknownst to parents worldwide. “She figured it out, all on her own! She wrote papers about it, and if you follow the chain, she even got quoted by the people behind Neumann and squeal and all of the early mul-dim format compiler writers!“ They forced the presentation inside Angia again, and showed them a few select papers, and the references back to Maya’s work.
“I think it is because she chose to write those papers in the canon and not publish them in journals—I think that that was some lowkey act of defiance, a stick-it-to-the-gal kind of thing. Anyway, she apparently was a small celebrity among mul-dim format researchers and compiler writers for a while, and eventually even got a mul-dim compiler done in a mul-dim language—in a text editor.”
Angia chucked. Dizz often reminded them that back in the day, people programmed with nothing, and Angia never stopped being amazed.
“So, you’re telling me that it’s not only possible to do that, but also that we don’t even remember the people who do?”
“Kind of. You see, Maya fades from the canon pretty early. Not only code, but also web, and that either means she died or became a luddite. Both are about equally likely, because a bunch of megacorp people repackaged her work and passed it to the masses as their own work, and it seems that that was pretty hard on her. Researching lawyers, then pharamceuticals, that sort of 2-oh mind drama.“ Dizz paused, and sighed. “And that’s all I have.”
Angia went through the snapshots of Maya’s life again. The picture: grainy as a three-dimensional reproduction of a two-dimensional picture always was. The person in it looked like a typical 2-oh hacker, nothing obviously remarkable. The profile: a clunky representation of a life slaved away on tools so much inferior than anything Angia had ever touched, and yet obviously Maya had wrestled them and prevailed, and co-authored one of the main strands of the canon. And then the transpiled code, a beautiful mess of obviously machine-translated mul-dim code, into a format only Dizz could really navigate. But the intricacy and preciousness of the artifact, small as it was, was still there. Somehow, after hundreds of years, the beauty of this piece of the canon was still apparent.