The Death of Nirvana

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[Updated with pictures! And bad HTML.]
Last week an e-mail went around at Time announcing that they were shutting down Nirvana.

This is not something that affects anybody anywhere. Not even here. Nirvana is, or was, the part of Time‘s internal network responsible for shuttling files and documents and memos in between Time‘s various bureaus around the world. Its official name was the Time News Service System; I don’t know how it got its nickname. It was a clunky homebrewed beast, crude but effective. It had its own weird internal grammar — it referred to story ideas as SUGs, short for SUGGESTIONS I suppose, and that turned into Time office slang: people here call a story pitch a “sug.”

Nirvana is, of course, totally useless now, and has been for years. What with e-mail and all. If they hadn’t announced it was being shut down I never would have noticed it was gone. But it’s weird how the corpses of dead information technology just lie around in offices — you can never quite get rid of them.

Like the weird building-wide system of translucent plastic mail chutes. Or last time we moved offices the halls were full of dumpster after dumpster of old yellowing manila folders, thousands of them. They were full of old newspaper clippings and other documents about famous people, arranged alphabetically by name. I guess that’s how they got that information before there was Wikipedia.

And here’s my favorite one: A couple of months ago I noticed this weird kiosk at the back of a supply room, set into the wall, with a bunch of junk piled up against it. I cleared it off (yeah, it was a slow day). Turns out it’s the client-end of an old pneumatic tube system! It has a little in-door and a little out-door on it, with a little bin to catch the canisters as they come in. It’s got a rotary phone dial, I suppose to tell it where it should send your canister. The best part is the thing’s name, printed in a this-is-the-future font: DIALAMATIC TRANSITUBES!

I Googled it and got nothing. I’m going to take a picture of this thing and post it. The internet: it really did used to be a series of tubes.

I figure it probably worked something like this: