Home Forums General General Yeah, that is nice, but what about my question? Reply To: Yeah, that is nice, but what about my question?

John D Salt

When I started using the internet it was still the norm for forums to have branching threads, so that issue wasn’t really as big of a problem back then.

Ah yes, back when technology meant manned spaceflight and supersonic passenger aircraft, rather than new ways to share photographs of your lunch with the rest of the planet. A Usenet-style text-only threaded newsreader would still be my preferred way of reading most fora, both for ease of use and to avoid all the pics of lunch. Perhaps modern forum software will catch up to thread branching some time soon. Remember, kiddies, it’s not the pace of technological advance that’s dragging the blood to the back of our brains, it’s just that we’re getting dizzy from going round in circles, which is why the flying car comes around every ten years or so, and AI and VR are back in fashion this season.

There is of course a bit of a difference in the purposes of Usenet and Facebook. Usenet was set up to post news of technical interest to nerds, and administered by archnerds as a public service for reasons of interest and hackery. Facepark was set up as a medum of social interaction, implemented by people who apparently have not even sat in the same room as a book on user interface design, for reasons of advertising and making money fast. So, to a first-order approximation, usenet posts (at least up until eternal September) were expected to have some content, whereas Facepalm posts are not — they are phatic communications, designed to establish and maintain social links rather than to pass information. Which explains why arguing on Faceache is an exercise of even more prodigious futility than arguing on Usenet was. I also suspect that it might partly explain the curious scent-marking instinct of many Faceplate posters, who suffer from the delusion that they somehow “own” discussions that they have started. In olden days such nonsense would have been met with accusations of being a .net.cop, and demands to see the receipt that said you’d bought the internet.

Where on the phatic-informational spectrum should forum posts sit? That, of course, is a question for the moderator. But I hope there will always be a policy of suppressing with a flamethrower of iron resolve the AOL frosh habit of posting content-free utterances such as “+1 Jim Spriggs” or “Bill Throbes for the win!”, which, so far, have not afflicted our cosy little island of approximate sanity at TWW.

And, to answer the original question, I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

All the best,