In nineteen hundred and fifty-seven,
The Soviets were the first to leaven
Into orbit a little ball of tin
Entitled Sputnik, which, to the chagrin
Of a mortified American pride,
Signaled to the world a colossal stride
In the national race to outer space.
Quickly the Yanks, fearing further disgrace,
Directed the Department of Defense
To spare – as usual – little expense,
And see ordained with urgent fervency
The Advanced Research Projects Agency,
Abbreviated – as per convention –
To ARPA, whereat anal retention
Was a dubious trait among the staff.
‘Twas the ARPAn charge to redeem the gaffe
Of a languorous technical culture,
And salvage from that lauded sepulcher
Of the second world war some remembrance
Of minds that minted atomic ordnance.
So in the service of militant might,
The scientists, often into the night,
Researched and reported on their findings.
For the most part, there were little tidings,
And they may or may not have been aware,
When, in sixty-two, by the constant glare
Of the Cold War, the American Air Force
Set the RAND Corporation on a course
To study how the military brass
Could maintain its command o’er the ass
Of every missile and B-fifty-two
Bomber in the unthinkable boo-boo
Of a thermo-nuclear snack-attack.
To its eternal credit, RAND came back
To recommend a “packet switched network,”
Which, to those for whom such jargon is murk,
Suffice to say is what started the fun.
And so at last, by ‘sixty-nine, ‘twas done:
Together were linked four physical nodes –
Minicomputers from the brains’ abodes
Of S.R.I. Stanford, UCSB,
UCLA, and Utah U. You see?
Now, with its architects fully acclaimed,
The ARPANET was their cartilage named,
And slowly its number of nodes increased
Until, in ‘seventy-three, with at least
Twenty-three machines in operation,
The developing conglomeration
Bodied from it forth TCP/IP –
A protocol built to become the key
By which diverse networks could integrate.
‘Twas from this arrangement did circulate
The first coinage of that word, “Internet,”
And slowly therefrom advanced the onset
Of additional nodes, exacting codes,
And ARPA-funded academic odes.
By ‘eighty-three, sporting some five hundred
And sixty-two host computers, kindred
But by their mundane, numbered addresses
That, for to recall, caused many stresses,
The U of Wisconsin – praise them their wits! –
Fashioned a means where the network transmits
Its delicious packets to domain names
Instead of numbers, and thus the mainframes
Assumed a more humane disposition.
Seven years later came the fruition
Of hypertext, a system to provide
Wanted information in simplified
And more efficient form across the means
Of three hundred and twelve thousand machines.
Two years later ‘twas nineteen ninety-two.
The number of hosts connected thereto
Had by exponential explosion grown
To over a million, and formed the zone
To be known thenceforth as the world-wide web.
‘Twas a breathless place of negative ebb,
Where, with the following year’s addition
Of a graphical user condition
Called Mosaic, one could request a page
To prove the Internet had come of age.
So from this story, told a priori,
What, pray tell, hath become of its glory?
Emoticons! Quote-a-thons. Fucked-up views.
Fan-fics, tittie-pix, monetary news.
Policies: Privacy, Piracy, Spam,
Pop-up ads, silly fads, yet another scam.
Chain letters, game debtors, meaningless shrines,
Guest books, best looks, apocalyptic signs.
File-sharing, couple-pairing, wireless LANs,
Broadband, viral-scanned, hacker-friendly WANs.
E-mail fraud? E-mail God! “Enlarge your Cock!”
Mortgage rates, candidates, self-serving schlock.
Armies of shoppers with credit for cash,
Pirating swappers of digital trash,
Consummate lippers with nothing to say,
Farcical ‘shippers all ‘blogging away.
Please create a username: something Zen.
Now relate a password – six keys to ten.
Make it oblique, to none of it speak, then—
Oops! Invalid password, please try again!
Needless to say, I’m dismayed at the way
Its fleshy content ‘pon the vertebrae
Of electronic phonic has fattened:
‘Tis too far gone fast beyond the satin’d
Simplicity of its body’s intent—
Hey there! Hold up! You’re totally dissing everything
the Internet is!
if it wasn’t what it is – your business wouldn’t
exist! That’s a little hypocritical, don’t you
at all, my dear Tristan. Sir-Richard-Wadd-dot-com is hardly
your standard, run-of the-mill, short-and-shrill, grab-your-fill-and-go
porn site. There’s artistry to it. There’s
intelligence, reverence, literary might. If every pornographer,
every commercial enterprise, every web-based community of
bickering fools were as articulate, denticulate, and matriculate
as I, let me assure you the Internet would be a place of
astonishing majesty, and I’d have no complaint. It’s
the crassness of the Internet I disparage. The
lack of any kind of widespread aesthetic principle.
exists as but a fraction of its full potential
to edify the human race above the bland and dangerous commercial
impulse. It is a place of mental and spiritual degeneracy
– not only in the devastatingly uncreative realm of
porn, but as evidenced in the arena of online religion,
where dogmatic and sanctimonious dot-com ministries profess
to hold and – for a fee – distribute the divine
wisdom of any number of large and small deities; As evidenced
in the endless squabbling of monomaniacal tilters who believe,
with a laughable degree of intensity, that their contributions
to on-line forums have even one iota of influence in the
political and economic spheres of the real and physical
world; As evidenced by the great multitude of morons who
say nothing worth speaking, post nothing worth reading,
and create nothing worth contemplating. In summation, the
state of the Internet is a profound embarrassment. A dismal
and disappointing woebegonument to the idealism
of those that first envisioned it. I weep for the
Internet. And by so weeping, deflect the charge of hypocrite.
For I am lamenting a state of affairs from the position
of one who believes himself to be among those who are working
toward a solution, rather than as a drone from among the
vast unwashed who stupidly and-or stubbornly choose to remain
a part of the problem. (Beat.) Tristan, your recording
light is not on. In the name of Mary mother of Christ, please
tell me you got that.
ran outta tape about thirty seconds in.
for heaven’s sake, Tristan!
sorry! I didn’t want to stop you. You were on a roll!
sigh:) I suppose I was. And to stop me would’ve
constituted an unacceptable case of hoitus-toitus-interruptus.
you do it again?
Our time is limited. We’re moving on. We’re
stepping out into the city. The bewilderness! Into the real
and physical world where conditions are considerably worse
than what I just described.
are they worse?
they’re touchable. And being touchable, it makes them
immediate and dangerous.
worry, Sir Richard: I’ll protect you.
Sir Knight: I’m counting on it!