Notes to Chapter 3
notes to chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

All the Web addresses included were checked when we went online, but some, inevitably, may have moved or changed.

  1. Josh Quittner, "The War between alt.tasteless and rec.pets.cats," Wired, May 1994, 46-53. <back to text>
  1. One of the things technology can do is create autoresponders. These are used widely on the Net--for example, if you follow the instructions to join an email discussion list, you'll get back an autoresponse telling you you've been joined to the list and enclosing a help file of information and instructions for using and posting to the list. Similarly, the test newsgroups are monitored by auto- responders that spot new messages and automatically spit out replies to their senders to confirm that their newsreaders are working correctly. Morons who send messages saying only "test" to other newsgroups deserve the flames they get. I mean, why pick for these things? <back to text>
  1. "Net.Legends FAQ (Noticeable Phenomena of Usenet)," maintained by David DeLaney and archived at <back to text>
  1. The home page is at <back to text>;
  1. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, a method for transferring files, be they text, graphics, or computer programs, across the Internet. FTP sites function much like public libraries in the real world in that they maintain archives of files that users can download. When you get a file from a Web site, you're using FTP to retrieve it whether you know it or not; it's built into your browser. By 1996, companies like Microsoft and Netscape used this sort of setup to sell software as well as give it away, but in 1994 pretty much all FTP sites were run by universities, and the expectation was that everyone would benefit more or less equally. <back to text>
  1. AOL's "easy-to-use interface" dubs these offline facilities "flash sessions," which may be why you never noticed their existence (if you're an AOLer). Look on the Mail menu. <back to text>
  1. Proxy servers are designed to minimize the duplication of traffic that's inevitable when millions of users all access the same popular sites. Instead of getting a new copy each time, your host site stores frequently accessed pages on a special machine (the proxy server). Users then pull down the copy, which is theoretically much faster. In practice, it seems to be rare for proxy servers to work out that way: searching through the cache of stored pages takes time. In addition, care has to be taken that the pages stored in the cache are up to date. If the page is stock quotes that are updated every fifteen minutes and the proxy server only requests a new copy of the page once a day, the information is frequently going to be out of date. When, late in 1996, Singapore instituted nationwide proxy servers to block citizens' access to pornography and other types of controversial material, reports came out very quickly of just this sort of problem. <back to text>
  1. A chat room looks like a small window on your computer screen. One piece of the window shows a list of the people in the discussion, another is a blank space into which you type your comments, and the main section shows the whole conversation scrolling by. <back to text>
  1. The story is archived on the Web at <back to text>
  1. Jeff Goodell, "The Fevered Rise of America Online," Rolling Stone, October 3, 1996, 60-66. <back to text>
  1. "Demo of the AOL browser," at "AOL's Secret Dirty Word List," by Jordanne Holyoak, at "America Online Sucks" is at <back to text>
  1. July 1, 1996, settlement announcement on AOL's Web site, archived at, and contemporaneous coverage at <back to text>
  1. Used by permission. "The Now-official 'AOL is sucks!!!!!' Bisk Poetry Archive," at
    <back to text>
  1. 14. BOFH comes from a hilariously funny diary, written by Simon Travaglia, of a supposedly fictional system administrator who spends his time doing everything he can to discombobulate his users, from rerouting all help desk calls to the off- duty librarian to telling users to type in commands to reformat their hard disks, erasing all their data. The full set of diaries is at <back to text>


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