An Interview with Adok
There aren't many in the scene today who don't know who Adok is. Controversial, both popular and unpopular, "the prophet of scene-journalism" and most of all, the founder and main-editor of the great Hugi diskmag. In many ways he's different from the common scener, he is young, very productive and even anti-alcoholic ("I don't want my braincells to be destroyed when it's evitable..."), and has a history unlike any other. When I first read Hugi some year back, I tried to imagine who the main-editor really was. An old, longtime scener who probably started writing for some small Amiga-mag I hadn't found, who then walked his way up to becoming a fulltime writer while, for fun, he took care of his own magazine Hugi. I unsuccessfully tried to find some interview with him in the old issues and I curiously searched for information in other diskmags as well, but found nothing. A big diskmag with a history of 19 issues must contain an interview with the main-editor, don't you think? I thought so, and in the end of last year I decided to be the initiator of it. After assembling a close to 70kb mess of plain text from the interview, I think most of your questions about Claus-Dieter Volko (yes, the name is quite, ehrm, cornflake-like, or something, kinda) and Hugendubelexpress will be answered. If you find the text too long - blame Adok :)... The italic text are direct quotes, and yeah, you understand the rest...
How it all started
While the young Claus-Dieter was in school playing with the copying machine (we'll come to that later), the scene was born and arising. Unlike most people who saw a demo and thought "Wow! How cool! I must make such stuff too!" as their first glance at the demoscene, Claus-Dieter's first interest was drawn towards diskmags.
"I started out in 1995 with a German computer magazine (PC-Heimwerker). The special thing about this magazine was that all of its articles were written by its readers. That's what fascinated me; and the opinions expressed in the mag made me wish to get to know the people more closely. So it didn't take long until I contacted them and started a nice mail-exchange. Some people also sent me disks, among which was some scene stuff. I was mainly fascinated by the diskmags. So I decided to contact some editors and soon had a nice collection of electronic mags. I kept on mailswapping and in this way was kept up-to-date about actions in the local & international scene."
Fascinated, the now twelve-year-old Claus-Dieter decided to start contributing to as many diskmags as possible. Before he got to do too much, a guy named Kaktus asked him to help him create a new diskmag. Without hesitation, Claus-Dieter - or Adok if you like that better - coded an interface and became one of the two main-editors of the diskmag. The 26th of may 1996, the first issue of Hugendubelexpress was released. The contributors Adok, Kaktus, TOXO, Activater, LeidPen, SteX Cool Man and Commander Data had founded what was later to be known as Hugi.
"I got only positive reactions to the first issue, which probably comes from the fact that I got only a few reactions, and all of them came from my contacts. :) They had been anxiously waiting for the mag; some of course had been skeptical whether this project would be finished at all. And so they were pleased when it came out. Most of the reactions were not longer than a line -- we published all of them in the editorial of issue 2."
Morph: "When did you first get the thought that "this can be something big, something many wants to read and will enjoy, something important"? Or has it just got this big without plans of getting it better all the time because of luck and good supporters?"
Adok: "Well, it was one day in 1997 that I thought a diskmag should also have a message, a vision - you name it. I wrote the article "The Philosophy of Hugi", which still appears in every new Hugi issue. I wanted to show in this article that it's important to deal with the modern technologies and actively create something new. With Hugi I wanted to offer a platform to all the people who are interested in this subject. This "philosophical" article contains the principles according to which I've acted from then on. With Hugi #11, the first English issue was released. It had an overwhelming success. I got a lot of feedback and some very good articles. I took the people seriously, I answered every mail. All articles I received for Hugi were carefully corrected and formatted. In addition, Hugi was released more or less regularly. It was then that, as I got more and more valuable articles, I thought that Hugi might become something serious."
As you know, days passed and new issues of Hugendubelexpress were created. After about 5-6 issues the now well-known diskmag got a lot of new readers. With issue #9, Adok took a giant leap closer to what Hugi is today. Being satisfied with the design, he thought his mag was mature enough to be presented to a broader audience and because of that installed an English section, and luckily for us, changed name from Hugendubelexpress to Hugi. Issue #9 wasn't very successful, but fortunately, the impact came two issues later.
"The English section focused on the demo scene straight from the beginning because the demo scene seemed to be the most easily accessible community for us: The scene was already accustomed to diskmags, so we would not have to convince the sceners of the advantages of this medium, and you could easily get in touch with the scene using the Internet and the addresses published in demo scene mags. We weren't successful with our English section at first because I didn't care enough about advertising Hugi in the demo scene, but after the great success of the first Hugi Size Coding Competition and because of Salami who persistently encouraged me to make an English Hugi I tried to install an English section once again in Hugi #11. This time we succeeded. Hugi got spread in the demoscene soon, quickly moved up to place 2 in the Hornet Charts, and after issue #13 we were known enough to get support from our readers almost automatically."
Plans and dreams, the present and the future
There is no point in telling what happened next with Hugi. It is now considered the #1 diskmag and read by a lot of people, worldwide. However, one question I asked myself was if Adok sometimes thought about giving up Hugi. He may have reached his goals, he may be bored with it and it may take too much of his time.
Morph: "Do you think you'll someday quit Hugi because of boredom etc (kinda like Darkness/Imphobia)?"
Adok: "I have never wanted to give up Hugi. What concerns the future, it's still almost two years until my final exams, which means that I have fairly much time for Hugi. I don't know what will happen later; I have not even decided yet what to study."
Morph: "Then take some time off this shit and start planning your future :)..."
Adok: "The situation is a bit difficult because in two years I have to do my military service. The only alternative is to do a civil service. However, I've heard that if you study medicine, you can do your military service in an army hospital after graduating from university. That's why I'm thinking about studying medicine... :) And furthermore, I want to reach something big in my life, like the Nobel Prize, and so I don't have that many alternatives anyway. :)"
Morph: "So you think the Nobel Prize is an achievement? People forget you anyway you know."
Adok: "But they won't forget you that fast if you appear in history books... :)"
Morph: "Yes they do :)... But if all students have to learn your name they just hate you instead, you force their brain to work, and most people hate that :).. And then after their exams you are forgotten again."
Adok: "Okay, true. :) But know what I'm thinking about? Deciphering the genes so that it's no longer needed to cure human beings with strong medicines which also have disadvantages, by radioactivity, by making cuts etc. but just by manipulating the genes. I guess that if I managed to achieve this, every student would like to read about me. :)"
Morph: "Well, back to Hugi now. What are your dreams and plans for it? Maybe to be the main-editor of a worldwide read paper-version of it? To work with it and get paid for it? To be able to more precisely see how many really read it?"
Adok: "So far, I have not thought of it. I mainly want to make it look more like a professional magazine. That's why Chris coded a new interface with more text-formatting features (true-type fonts, text columns, paragraph and picture alignment)."
The man behind
As an eleven-year-old, Claus-Dieter got his first article published, a review of "Story of Thor" for the German paper "SEGA Magazin". To start with, I can't understand why a eleven-year-old Austrian kid could (or would) write such a thing. Secondly, how could he understand the game at all? It is a RPG and it is in English.
Morph: "You read a magazine and got inspiration and motivation from it to start writing a review of your own. Normal young people would never even think of something like that. Why do you think you did? And how could you understand the game at all?"
Adok: "I think it's because I have always been creative; I've always wanted to create something new. At the age of three I started filling hundreds of exercise books with comics. I imagined whole stories and expressed them in this way. I was able to read and write when still attending kindergarten. This is why I started attending school at the age of 5. In the first grade I already published a, erm, school magazine - or some sort of it. Handwritten, handdrawn and copied using a simple copy machine.
I understood enough English words at the age of 11 to play Story of Thor. I had also played Shining Force II, Wonderboy in Monster World and other English-language RPGs/adventures at this age or before and had no problem with them."
Morph: "That must have made all the other children think that you were quite strange, right?"
Adok: "Maybe, but I have not noticed it. I didn't care about what the others thought about me. On the contrary, I felt even embarrassed when someone said something good about me."
Morph: "What do the people around you in real life think of you? Be honest and don't be shy. When people see my stuff, check my homepage or read my reviews, poems, novels, articles or whatever, I sometimes think people think that I'm a thin and poor, pimplefaced dork. A dork who never have seen life and never have been in love cause I'm just spending all my time inside. That I am too shy to speak, have no sense of humour at all and is a no-one in school. The real me is almost the exact opposite.
When I first tried to imagine you (after reading Hugi 14 the first time) I saw a guy in the mid-twenties. Maybe you were a journalist or something and enjoyed the scene a lot so you made Hugi-issues on your spare time. When I then heard that you were 16 that picture of you morphed drastically :)..."
Adok: "I do not know what other people think. I can only say what I think they think. I regard this with mixed feelings. Regarding my teachers, I'm accepted by each of them. It's just like that: Some teachers have not steadily updated their knowledge after graduating from university. Due to this it has already happened that they taught something which was not correct. For example, one teacher confused the European and the Austrian ways of calculating the unemployment figures. Since I'm used to pointing out such mistakes and correcting them, some teachers seem to have inhibitions to tell something they cannot prove. But in general, what should I say... I and my teachers share a correct relationship...
My parents support my interests. I cannot complain... They have a lot of understanding, and it's always possible to discuss with them when they are wrong."
Adok then took a break for lunch, which resulted in a small discussion with his mother (hihi) and this followed;
"My mother said it isn't completely true if I say that the other kids weren't envious of me. There have been struggles about the pecking order and jealousy indeed. But as I've never been stuck up but, on the contrary, always helpful, they always had an advantage of me. That was a driving force for keeping up their friendship with me. Nowadays I guess it's similar, but the others seem to have accepted that the pecking order can no longer be changed. That's why I think I'm even more integrated in the community than before."
In the scene, Adok seems to be both popular and unpopular. In Wilby #4 he was voted as fourth "most popular scener", just under Statix, Unreal and Made. He's also been voted as "most popular writer" a couple of times, both in Hugi and other diskmags. However, some people don't seem to agree with those voters. "Adok is a 16 year old kid playing with computers who discovered he could edit a diskmag. He then tried to make a scene mag and failed miserably, because he didn't care about the scene at all. A 16 year old who doesn't go outdoors unless its for school is arrogant when he calls himself a prophet of a thing he "thinks" he knows, yet doesn't care about."
Morph: "Lately you've been accused of being arrogant, not caring about the scene at all, just making Hugi for satisfying your own ego etceteras, any guesses why? Do you agree in some points?"
Adok: "Utter nonsense. Hugi is a lot of work for me and I derive hardly any benefits from it -- I got some friends in the scene and spent lotsa fun evenings, but that's all. I think the scene profits much more from Hugi than I do."
Adok - in-depth version
Now you know a lot about how Hugi was founded and who Adok is. Let's now find out what he likes and dislikes, both on the scene and in real life, by asking some common, fast but interesting questions.
Morph: "Tell me something very embarrassing about yourself you haven't said to anyone before :)"
Adok: "Hm, there are too many things.. :) Hm.. OK, this one is good: Almost 5 years ago, I handed a girl in my class a love-letter.. Its contents were a bit inspired from our last biology lessons.. :) She didn't respond to my love though. On the contrary, she handed the letter to our class' main teacher.. who was so shocked (she was yet unmarried then :)) that she "invited" my mother to her. As a result I got a worse behavior mark in the next report."
Morph: "Haha, bad technique :)... Name some wonderful demos and intros, musicians and graphicians."
Adok: "Demos: Dis, The Fulcrum, Sunflower, State of Mind, First Infection, Second Reality, Square, Megademo by NoLogic (hehe), Crystal Dreams II, Event Horizon.
Intros: Mesha, Void 3, li'l djevotchka's antibiotics (especially the title and the info file rule!), Paper, Totraum, Omniscent, Outline, Mojo, Garbled.
Musicians: Smash, Boo, Acumen, Melcom, Jester, Andromeda, Hunz, Makke, Yolk.
Graphicians: Mirage, Ellyn, Hellfire, Antony, Made, Lazur, PL, TMK, DTC, Sky, Cyclone, Acryl, Niko, Bridgeclaw."
Morph: "I guess you didn't forget someone :)... Ever tried music or graphics yourself? Good at any?"
Adok: "I tried graphics, but I'm an absolute lamer in this area. :) Check out Hugi issues 1-8 for gfx from me (and some Picture Publisher effects, hehehe). I've never made any music on PC... I composed some songs on my piano almost a decade ago, but all I can say now is, they plainly suck. In general, I'm more a logically thinking type of human being than an emotional one. I don't have the "feeling" (to quote Psychic Symphony, who is just the opposite of me) which is needed to make good graphics and music."
Morph: "You can be an emotional but still logical person. Which is the best diskmag except Hugi in your opinion? Please don't name more than one."
Adok: "I like 'Generation' (Amiga) a lot. I read the online issues. They contained entertainingly, wittily written articles that strongly increased my knowledge of the Amiga scene and its diskmags."
Morph: "Name five writers on the PC-scene you really like and motivate why."
Adok: "Coctail: great for inner monologues; writes in such a style that you believe you can follow his way of thinking; peculiar sense of humor. Coctail was the main editor of HotMag and Cream, two German diskmags, and he was one of those who wakened my interest in diskmags. Decoy: vast mathematical knowledge and excellent English; knows what he's talking about.
KB: great knowledge of coding and the scene; good English and eloquence. Too bad he doesn't write more articles.
Morph: sense for non-standard topics that make a diskmag more interesting to read; writes long articles which allow you to think of being in the narrator's place. Nice stories, also in a good language.
TAD: very prolific writer; good programming knowledge; has a lot of humour."
Morph: "Has it ever happened that you've received an extremely lousy article but published it anyway cause you weren't man enough to tell the author what you really thought of it?"
Adok: "Well, I've always been man enough to sort out the stuff you would call "lousy". That's usually very little, like 0-1 articles per issue, and usually they are even written by me. :) If the article wasn't written by me, I've always told the author the reason for not publishing his work. Usually it's because we already had a more extensive article about the same topic. I've always felt sorry for rejecting an article, though, because the author made a lot of effort."
Morph: "What's the best article you've ever read in a diskmag?"
Adok: "This is a very difficult question. The articles deal with many different topics. You may be able to create a "top ten" of articles that deal with a particular topic, but it's harder with articles on different topics, if you don't only want to rate style but also contents (which I find more important).
If I find an article really valuable, depends on whether I can really need the information presented in it. It has often been the case that I was first fond of articles which were well written with a lot of eloquence while underrating others with specific information, such as special programming details. However, while I read the first once and then forgot them, I later remembered the articles of the second group and learned to praise more than the other articles. So I think the best articles are those that contain valuable information and are entertainingly written at the same time, like TAD's "3D Coding TAT" and Decoy's work on file-format design."
Morph: "What's the best party report you've ever read in a diskmag?"
Adok: "I enjoy those party reports most that give me an impression of the activities at the party and the productions presented there, and if I know the author it's also interesting to read his own feelings. It's also interesting to read organizers' reports because they can tell extra details which the visitors don't know. A report I enjoyed reading was Lharp's Fiasko 99 report in Hugi #17, but this is not the only good one -- the Dreamhack 99 report in Hugi #18 was interesting, too."
Morph: "What's the best story you've ever read in a diskmag?"
Adok: "Well, generally, and especially concerning stories, "best" is a relative term. I've read many stories in diskmags and there were some very good ones among them (some of which I perhaps no longer remember), so it's hard to decide for one very good one. I choose "A valuable lesson" by Wade/Scoopex in the end because it's among the three most impressive stories recently published in Hugi. TAD, who made "The wake-up call", got already some praise in the "article" section, and you, the interviewer, are the author of "Alternative Asylum". It might look a bit strange to the readers if the interviewer's name appeared so often in the interviewee's answer. :)"
Morph: "Haha :) It won't look strange unless you're not being honest, i.e. sharing something not coming purely from your own mind blablabla, and I think most people already know that you ain't that kind of a guy. Now, which contribution to Hugi are you most proud of?"
Adok: "I am of the opinion that you should be proud only of what you've done yourself. I am very grateful to all contributors to Hugi, especially those who contributed the articles, graphics, music and code that got the best feedback and became part of Hugi's identity. Very big thanks go to Chris Dragan, who has lately invested much time and effort to create the new Hugi engine, a very modern hypertext engine with a text format offering some features HTML does not offer, such as text columns."
Morph: "Which diskmag has the greatest design?"
Adok: "Imphobia issue 9."
Morph: "Do you often visit demoparties?"
Adok: "No. So far I've only been to a small Austro-Bavarian scene meeting in Vienna, with 15 visitors. I've never been to a real demoparty, mainly because there's none in Austria and as I'm pretty young (well... still :)), my mother still has an argument to keep me locked up at home whenever I announce her to plan to go abroad. :)"
Morph: "You must learn to flee from your mother, you know... Name some great movies."
Adok: "Ah, the movie expert is testing my knowledge at this area? :) Well, I'm by far not a movie expert myself, but I enjoyed The Truman Show and the Faust movie from Berlin 1950. Also nice watching were Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas... but well, I was very small then. :)"
Morph: "Haha, yeah :) In about ten years you'll love my movies as much as you love Aladdin ;) What about the very popular movies among young people, like The Matrix, Braveheart, Star Wars, American Beauty, The Godfather, American History X and my own love - Blade Runner?"
Adok: "I watched none of these, though I read reviews of some -- don't worry, I know what Star Wars is all about, I don't have a hole of education. :)"
Morph: "Hmm... watch them! When just watching you at pictures, I don't get the feeling you love sports, correct?"
Adok: "Why, do I look that fat in the pics? :) OK, you've guessed right, I hate sports, but I regularly go to our school's fitness chamber."
Morph: "Okey... Do you have a girlfriend? Are you a real girl-chaser like myself? :)"
Adok: "No, not really. I have some friends who are girls but I don't have a real girlfriend yet. But this might change sooner or later, revolutionary or evolutionary... just keep smiling. :)"
Morph: "Haha, optimist? :) Name five heavenly beautiful women."
Adok: "Yeah. Always be an optimist, that's also what I tell Dario all the time.. :)
Beauty isn't the most important thing about a woman. I think a woman should be intelligent, educated, nice, friendly and honest, that's what counts for me."
Morph: "Thanks for telling your readers about yourself and sharing your thoughts. Good luck with your undecided plans for the future and keep on working with the lovely Hugi."