October 1998
s m u g
net worth
by Leslie Harpold


"Kung Fu Girls" was the first club I ever belonged to. Formed in earnest on the playground of Upton elementary, it consisted of four 7 year old girls who really liked the song Kung Fu Fighting and also had the knack for kicking butt at tetherball. We felt, and rightly so, that we had some sort of special edge over the other kids, and strived to rule the tetherball court whenever possible. There were no rules but we did enjoy our special Kung Fu pose greeting which, when others tried to replicate, we patently ignored.

When I was in high school, I joined the bare minimum of things necessary to keep from being perceived as the freak that I secretly was all along. Mind you, this was a real middle class high school, not some John Hughes movie where even the quirkiest losers have their day.

Fast forward past college and into the real world where it is rumored I now live. Clubs are something for the old guard mostly, where white men in business suits relax in leather club chairs while white jacketed recent immigrants bring them newspapers and glasses of port. Membership is contingent on lineage, or alumni status or some other set of criterion I can't comprehend. Outsiders like myself are only invited in for business meetings or charity events, and from that vantage point, it almost looks alluring, until you overhear some phrase that reminds you of the freedom of being considered a fringe element.

Enter Yahoo Clubs. A quick surf of personal web sites shows that all the cool kids have their own clubs. And how can I, now that I'm officially a nonconformist be any different? So, I've started one for you, in the name of research. Join it now, unless you feel like it will cut in to your valuable Smug reading time.

Yahoo has tapped into something that goes deeper than people with special interests seeking community. It is the tree house mentality, the feeling of belonging, and sharing secret communications with others that propel people to join. Access requirements, even in the case of the "unlisted" secret clubs are minimal. All you need to know is that they exist, and get someone to invite you. The public clubs are even easier, searchable even, and carefully indexed. I first tried to place the Smugdotcom club under the category "Wrestling" since I thought it would be a vaguely amusing addition to anyone's resume under interests "The Smug Wrestling Club" but the nice people at Yahoo who strive for order, quickly deleted it and wrote me a stern but polite note telling me the club had been removed and I need to reestablish it under a more appropriate heading.

Yahoo, in an effort to become the worlds biggest web site is doing a smart thing, they're giving the users license to create their own content, which is incredibly cheap, blowing ad banners all over it (the old you make it we sell it model) and then letting the users think they're special insiders in return. Users don't need to have the special technical knowledge it takes to set up a threaded discussion on their own sites, or even html, just fill in a few boxes and you're off and running. All the users have to do is show up. They can choose how "exclusive" they want to be.

Most of the more active clubs are support oriented, so people with specific kinds of problems can find each other and bask in the warm glow of cyberlove. Kind of an alternative to the alt.support USENET hierarchy, without the technical challenge of firing up Tin. Who uses their shell account anyway? Other seem to focus on web page building, again, no shocker, since web heads are always all over anything html based. Unlike other public forums, Yahoo clubs offer a job for the queen bee, or "founder" to edit and delete posts and links at will, or to block users from ever returning, more actively ruling the roost than any set of bozo filters ever could. No need to worry about Spam either, Yahoo itself had gone to great pains to see that the only people who get to advertise in your club is Yahoo itself. I'm sure they'd hat to have to co brand with those "Make Money Fast" cretins.

Smugdotcom is an experiment of sorts. Join, post, or don't but let's see where it leads. Tell us what you think of clubs on the Internet. I've listed it publicly, so it does lack that exclusivity sheen that most unlisted clubs tout, but face it, if you're reading this, you're already an in the know insider type.



back to the junk drawer

and such
and such

·feature· ·net worth· ·bumping uglies· ·smoking jacket· ·ear candy· ·feed hollywood· ·target audience· ·back issues· ·compulsion· ·posedown· ·the biswick files· ·mystery date· ·and such and such· ·blab· ·kissing booth·

·contents· ·freakshow· ·fan club· ·archive·


copyright © 1996 - 1998 fearless media