[Air-l] hmm, thinking about internet stories

Rob Furr rsfurr at curie.uncg.edu
Fri Mar 22 08:04:07 PST 2002

At 08:00 PM 3/21/2002 -0500, you wrote:
>being somewhat of an interpretivist( at times), i was sitting here last 
>night considering the net.legends faq 
>http://www.killfile.org/~tskirvin/faqs/legends.html and what it meant for 
>the wider community of usenet, and then i thought about the tropes and 
>narratives that so many of us use to illustrate our points, so I thought 
>I'd open up the discussion a bit.  What do you use to illustrate your 
>conceptualizations of the Net, some of us use classic examples like muds 
>and moos, I tend to use Irc and web stories gained from my experiences, 
>but have used the more acceptedly historical examples from time to time, 
>but what do you use?   what stories make sense of the internet for 
>you?  if any?  do you have any really good stories, I participate in the 
>community memory list about the history of the internet at least as 
>lurker, to find some of these stories, but surely there is a broader set 
>or are we already tending toward a set of canonical 
>stories?  opinions?  insights?  share your stories:)

I tend to use my own experiences for my illustrations and stories - I was 
there for much of what's described in the net-legends faq. (my brother's 
mentioned about once every three paragraphs, and I was sharing an apartment 
with him at the height of his infamy,) for instance. I've used my 
experiences during the Great Worm 
(http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/jargon/html/entry/Great-Worm.html) to 
illustrate and explain what was going on during, f'rinstance, the various 
recent eruptions of Outlook virii, I occasionally ramble on about the 
Pornquake that shut down the UMNEWS bitnet-based mailing list system, I can 
describe in insanely boring detail what, exactly, it took to provide 56k 
service to western North Carolina colleges in 1994, and I was there for the 
September that Never Ended 
and so on and so forth. When you've got this kind of thing in your 
background, you don't need to go looking for more material.

On the other hand, I guess I don't believe that my experiences, or, 
honestly, any of the semi-legendary events I've seen, are really any more 
worthy of being made part of a canon of net history than any other, equally 
instructive story. If I didn't have the Great Worm to use as an example in 
my lectures, I could use the time a machine I adminned was hit by a DOS 
attack, or the time I got three hundred and some-odd copies of something 
telling me that "I Love You", or any one of a hundred different stories 
about security and how servers react to overloads. Anybody who spends time 
on the net doing more than one activity is going to eventually gather 
experiences that will teach the same lessons. I saw the rec.pets.cats 
troll-and-group-destruction live, but I'm sure dozens of other people on 
this list have seen equally pointless destruction of online forums (the 
rec.pets.cats one was just the biggest one I ever saw.)

I guess what I'm wondering here is this: Sure, there's a million stories on 
the net, but ... are there stories that *aren't* just more of the same? 
Will telling someone who wasn't there the story of the Great Worm teach 
them the basic lesson any better than telling them the story of Melissa? 
Heck, I was heavily involved, at one point, during the Green Card Lawyers 
debacle, and *I*'m not interested in going back and reading up on that 
thing again.

(Not to try to chill the conversation. If people have great stories to 
tell, I'm all for it. I'm just wondering about the community memory part of 
the question.)

  Rob Furr
  rsfurr at curie.uncg.edu

More information about the Air-l mailing list