web analytics


Click to enlarge. It’s worth it. Basemap by that XKCD guy (if you’re not checking his site a couple times a week, you’re a nincompoop) based on relative size and purpose of various ‘online communities’ as of Spring, 2007. I added the star. That’s us. We’re under it. In open water. In a canoe.

Primates are tribal. Drop a bunch of us on the savannah, and we promptly coagulate into angry screaming monkeyclumps and start a war.

It’s been fun watching this play out online. I’ve been here since the mid eighties, from local bulletin boards, Fidonet and PCPursuit, to Prodigy, GEnie, Compu$erve and Arbornet, from USENET to IRC to online games to Web bulletin boards to blogs. I sat down a decade ago and started to write down all the groups I’d been a part of and handles I’d posted under and I got well over 50 of the one and 100 of the other before I lost interest in the question.

The internet is particularly well suited to tribal warfare. It is a slippery place; only a “place” at all in the most metaphorical way. It’s a suitable place for anonymity, intrigue and imposture. It’s a billion timbreless voices whispering to each other in the dark.

The thing I most loved to read on USENET was the sputtering indignation of a newbie who suddenly realizes that, yes, that other guy damn well can talk to you that way and no, there’s not a thing you can do about it. But, of course, this is why internet arguments never die: they don’t have to. There is no mechanism to declare a winner and go home.

Except when there is. And moderated groups and bulletin boards tend to generate the hardest feelings of all. Moderation is a job almost impossible to do gracefully. Most places it’s like romping through a toe factory with a hammer.

I have hung out in happy places and cranky places and contributed as lavishly as I was able to the happiness and the crankiness thereof, if not always the right way around. I’ve been so busy identifying and supporting my online tribe, it totally snuck up on me, that point where I came to identify more with the online tribe than the meat tribe.

Oh, I trim my hedges and say hi to my neighbors. I vote. I shop. If the Redcoats ever come back, I’ll run to the barricades with my carbine (getting tired of keeping up my marksmanship skill in preparation for that glorious day, in fact). But if you ask me where I live, work and play, the answer to all three is on the computer. And, pretty much, online. I blame broadband. What’s satellite wifi going to do?

Leave a mark on the genome, is my guess.


Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: June 12, 2007, 2:08 pm

I saw that a while back. Pretty cool. I noticed that vast Pr0n tribal lands are missing though. I guess they’re all on the other side of the map with the warning “Here be dragons. In leather bondage gear.”

So, we’re paddling around in a canoe eh? I hope we have plenty of food and water with us. I’d hate to have to eat Steamboat McGoo.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: June 12, 2007, 2:23 pm

That’s pretty nifty but I agree, no porn sites – probably on the dark side of the planet. I can just imagine how big Barely 18 teen nudes island is. Just to give you some more Google hits.

Comment from mesablue
Time: June 12, 2007, 3:12 pm

I see — I steal.


Comment from Dawn
Time: June 12, 2007, 3:18 pm

Clever. Did you see where the SS Howard Dean wrecked off of the coast of The Blogipelagos?

Pingback from Land of confusion « Absolute Moral Authority
Time: June 12, 2007, 3:27 pm

[…] The bi-continent Weasel has a cool post up about his twenty year journey to semi-enlightenment on teh Intertubes and it’s precursors. […]

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 12, 2007, 3:36 pm

Pr0n! I hadn’t thought of that. Probably a difficult one to work out figures for.

Didn’t Ace or somebody recently post something about all the reasons it was in the porn industry’s best interest to exaggerate the wealth of their business grossly? (I originally said “size” and “hugely” but that didn’t sit right).

If you get the full-size map and look directly North of the Sea of Memes (lower right), you’ll see a little bump labeled Soviet Russia. I wonder if that’s really a comparison of the population of Russia compared to some of these online communities?

Comment from Pupster
Time: June 12, 2007, 4:10 pm

I think Mesa broke the blog.

Margins are whacked on IE.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: June 12, 2007, 4:11 pm

Not counting eBay? In a horrible way, I reckon it really is a community. In fact for a lot of users it’s their sole use of the magic Interweb.

Shame to see poor old Usenet reduced to a vague, shadowy patch of sea.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 12, 2007, 5:01 pm

Woohoo! It’s a mesalanche. Which, on the whole, sounds better than a moralauthoritylanche.

Comment from pupster
Time: June 12, 2007, 6:13 pm

I’m in a bar, one last vodka soaked hurrah before the Utah trip. I’ll never understand why a ‘sports bar’ has 5 big screens tuned to sports, but blasts the suck ass juke-box so loud you can’t hear anything else. HURRAH!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 12, 2007, 6:18 pm

I wondered what you were doing commenting when you were a-sposed to be hiking. Enjoy your vacation, Dog.

Comment from Pupster
Time: June 12, 2007, 7:26 pm

Flying out tomorrow, hungover apparently.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: June 12, 2007, 10:20 pm

The more I look at that map, the more little details I notice. Did you guys see “Stallman’s Airship” south of Wikipedia and west of Google’s Volcano Fortress?

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: June 13, 2007, 8:26 pm

I linked to this by the way, interesting and well done stuff, I couldn’t pass it up.

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