May 1998
s m u g
net worth
by Leslie Harpold


Target Audience

I never get credit for my inventions. When I was six, I turned to my mother and I said "I think a good thing would be a computer system that would connect all the people in the world so they could chat about nothing at all in real time, deliver sensitive documents from behind enemy lines, keep in touch with loved ones, post their opinions on cat care to be read by the general computer owning populace and also have a forum to trade things like pirated software and hard core pornography uninterrupted by petty tasks like leaving the house.

Do I get credit for inventing the Internet? No. The government did, of course, as part of a larger plot to keep a sister down. It must have been the next day when I turned to her and said, "An even cooler thing would be pages - connected - like - like a spiderweb mommy, where people can write about thing like their NASCAR racing favorites and their favorite rock bands, and maybe show pictures of themselves and their cubicles at work and perhaps their favorite niece." She told me no matter how many "inventions" I had to share I would still sit at that table, even if I had to be tied there a third day until I ate my lima beans. She didn't understand my genius, and Tim Berners Lee with all his "scientific knowledge" and "programming experience" walks away with the credit.

That's just not fair. The one thing the Internet has taught me is this: for every action, thought or idea, there is a web page. Every obscure private joke from Andre the Giant's posse to Mr. T's ball consumption has been not only immortalized, but done to death with each person claiming credit for being the inventor. The secret is documentation. Nothing cool or funny can be kept to yourself anymore, everyone - myself included, now feels compelled to publish with a vengeance, if only to show the world just how witty they were, that one time - remember? When that guy said the thing and they turned to them and just as ,plain as can be said that other (insert not particularly amusing) funny thing? That was great. That deserves a web page.

My Contribution
I'm a geek now. I used to be - well, who cares, really? I wasn't always though. My contribution to the small irrelevant humor stems from a deep groove based appreciation of hip hop lingo and the accompanying hand gestures and an all too intimate knowledge of HTML. I have invented the quintessential "peace out" gesture replacement for geeks. Also - the pointy headed equivalent to "tell it to the hand." Invented over dinner in a chic noisy Manhattan boite I had no business being in, I had an epiphany. Since I have this venue, I'll share with you now:

really ... i made these!

Brackets. That's right. Use your paws as illustrated above and you have the ultimate geek rock shoe gazer gesture for see ya later, word to your sysadmin, peace out, whatever you need it to mean. There will be signs they say, for the apocalypse, and this very well may be one of them. Because life just isn't worth living unless it's translatable to web deliverable documents. This gesture sums it all up nicely.

Enough already!
Geeks are known for three things: 1. The tendency, when in groups to talk about web sites, where normal people would discuss things like art or current events, 2. an unparalleled intimacy with the Netscape Color Cube and 3. talking too much about one and two. Sometimes you've had enough.

um, i made these too?

This gesture neatly, and in terms they understand tells them to shut the hell up. What? What is that gesture you're making - oh, I think you mean to use your right hand for that part and - oh. Okay. I'll shut up now.

Just remember where you heard it first. Oh, it won't cure cancer or stop world famine, but consider it my little contribution to the pointless and inane use of web pages. After all, why should I be any different than all those Geocities people? After all, Geocities got an IPO that would almost support Todd in the lifestyle to which he's become accustomed.

really ... i made these!


Photos by Gregory Alkaitis-Carafelli from his self portrait series called "helping leslie at 3am" soon available in paperback.


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