You’re Not Doing It Right

That’s what I tell myself all the time about this blogging business. I’m old school, after all. I came from the land of SLMR and DOS. A world where you had to preface your photo database entries with a 3 letter code: ASS, PU…well, you get it. And let me tell you – after you’ve described the contents of a CD of boobs one is hard pressed to think of new descriptors. “Another fine set jammed up against a wall/the glass/her cat…” Yes, it’s true. I was once a partner in the purveyor of pYorn.

Oh, it was a profitable venture in the beginning! I cannot tell you the name of the broadcaster who had a tender passion for Barefoot Women Smoking. It was a kind of honor to be able to sate that predilection, let me tell you! Weird, too, that overly intimate knowledge of a complete stranger. Their spouse didn’t know but I did.

And as the Mustang software turned that 1200 BAUD base into the clambering 2400 set, they didn’t just want photos, no. They wanted to talk about their thang. It wasn’t long before I stepped away from that hot mess and moved on to something a bit more erudite. It was there that I “met” Billy. And McQ. It was the domain of the man that wrote this. (I’ll loan my copy if you promise to return it.) That little corner of the web’s fetus was a sort of Valhalla. I would only sit back and read, too afraid to respond. (Not much has changed, frankly. I am still quite silent in the midst of most of your posts, friends.)

There was nothing else like it and I wish someone had saved it all. From the story of the Catastrophe (award for the cat with the best butt) to the tale of the naked guy who woke up to a fireman to the “no man is/on an island” debate…it was all quality stuff. But it was so different! It was difficult back then – you had to know how to use a modem then how to find a BBS that suited you, and finally the rules of the joint because they’d keel haul you and kick you off if you were a jerk. Then, Usenet. The floodgates opened and any moron could figure out how to get “online” because – ok, fine – the nekkid chicks were a big inducement to learn how. But then it was just too tempting to not act like a jerk online because you knew no one could find you.

And now it is nothing but a junior high on the net. I sometimes think back to the early days wistfully. Why not shut out the idiots? Why not keep it private and quiet? Or maybe – this comes back to my point – maybe it’s just me.

I am a data snacker. I love a fact, enjoy too much the research a mystery can demand. I can link things together like some geeked out NSA cube rat, stuffing it in my packet/pocket for thinking about later. But I am not very good at keeping track of the rest of you. I manage, these days, to hit a top 20 list. I might comment (tucking away that always-niggling fear of sounding like a complete newb) but then forget where/when and lose track of it, never to return to the topic.

Sometimes I think this entire affair a very bad idea. All these words that cannot be erased. I think my friend was wise when he unplugged that halcyon place and didn’t try to make it work in the dingy present. I think often about just ditching the whole damned thing. (All 10 of you may update your links. Har!) It is actually quite a relief to have a none-small audience. Because I take (perhaps too) seriously the task of Communication.

So…no Happy Mothers Day photos, no standard fare but just this hearkening back to Better Days…like the Wild West, it was a more polite society online then. I miss it, really. But then I’d be missing all of you, “we few, we happy few”. So carry on. Just know that I’m not very damned good at this blogging thing. But I mean well.

10 responses to “You’re Not Doing It Right

  1. I for one am glad you are out there! I too remember the “old days”. We are easy to spot, still naming files with 8.3 convention.

    Still as one put it when AOL opened up Usenet in 1993: “It's always September on the Internet now”.

  2. Those were some interesting times…I actually still have my old 286 machine with the 4800/9600 modem kicking around.

    Amazing to think about how much it's all progressed. Luckily, most the faces remain unchanged.

  3. Hey, guys – yes, I find it hard to not use the old filename formats, too. But then they made more sense!

    I have some old PCs laying around – I would love to pull their drives and see what is there. I think.

    I do miss the days when the command line made sense and networking wasn't full of twelve-deep menus…

  4. I used to come home and read. Now I come home and write. There's enough time for reading in hours in a hotel sometimes. But if I don't write, I do miss it. I've thought of going private, but I've made some good friends, and found out what current friends were true. No regrets.

  5. I've commiserated with some old Usenet friends about the deterioration of dialog. It seems that no one can communicate in meaningful and relevant sentences without succumbing to gutter language or ad hominem attack. Sound bites rule!

    But, I'm in Brigid's corner. (I wish I had her poetic vision for writing!) I love to read and have since my very early grammar school days when I would sneak around the back corner in the library to get out of the children's section and into adult books.

    Reading helps your writing. Writing regularly helps your writing even more. Writing and then reading what you've written for clarity, consistency and spelling/punctuation/grammar, etc. improves you still more.

    Finally having somebody read what you wrote really improves your writing and your motivation to write some more. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  6. @Ed,

    I agree that writing is indeed a perishable skill. I wrote a great deal during the acquisition of the Masters but now I find short technical documents and corporate e-mail the norm.

    I too enjoy Brigid's writing; I frequently refer to her as a wordsmith. I mean that as a great complement!

    Excellent observation on Usenet! It truly is September!

    Nice to meet you!

  7. I still call 'em “directories”.

    We had to pass a test to get *into* Squarf's place, nevermind getting thrown out. Today, he'd be picketed by “free-speech” imbeciles with full TEEVEE news regalia.

  8. HA! Billy, I had FORGOTTEN the entry test! I am laughing my ass off just now remembering how afraid I was to just ask for entry.

    And yes, directories…man, it's all just hauling ass down the road and I feel like I'm Fred in the rock wheeled cart with my fat feet paddling…

    Ed, you are right, of course. But there are some of us whose literary muscle has atrophied beyond repair. Not yours. Not Brigid's. And no, not Billy's.

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