"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
It's been a while since we first
met Greg, and though he's left
his deep-fry specialist position
for more digital pastures, his
stoic misanthropy seems as
healthy as ever. Greg's peeve
with the incestuous machinations
of the social pyramid has left
him with a Big Mac-size chip on
his shoulder, but that doesn't
go far in helping us determine
whether this most recent
communication is meant as a
sidebar curse to "The System" or
a cutesy-pie plea for help. No
matter - the truth is always good
for a laugh, and we see a bonus
punchline in short-circuiting
Greg's "Ode to the Loner" with a
Everybody, meet Greg. Greg,
"There's no such thing as the
kindness of strangers."
So you thought the Web would be
different than real life, did
you? You thought that you stood
a chance - maybe, if you were
good - to be known, to be
somebody. You thought that with
raw talent and a driving
ambition, you could march into
the great wide Web and
And you thought this while
working your day-job at
If all you've managed to do with
your pathetic, squirming little
real-world existence is eke out
a living at some fetid
hash-house - or as some grunt
coder in cube hell, like me -
then you sure ain't gonna get
any farther than that on the
Because they're run by the same
Rule, you monkey. Exactly the
This whole Web thing is just as
incestuous and crony-driven as
real life. Don't kid yourself.
There is one Rule, and one Rule
1. Who you know.
Somehow I suspect that doesn't
work in your favor.
And if you haven't gotten the
hang of that little gem in the
real world, then you're going to
get just about as far on the
Web. You've got a home page?
Great! But you're still the
McDonald's fry-guy. And, likely,
that's all you'll ever be.
Hits are what count, m'boy.
They're the currency of the Web,
the high-tech penis-inches in
the WWW locker room, and you
don't get the hits without
links, and you don't get the
links without knowing somebody.
What? You think people are going
to link to your page because
they like it? People who matter,
anyway? Go back and read the
Two years ago I began mailing out
stories to a small group of
friends. One of them collected
the stories and slapped together
a Web page, and called it An
Entirely Other Site
Entirely Other Site. My friends
have entirely too much free time.
The page languished. A few hits a
day, max. And half of those were
from me poking around. I suspect the
other half were from the guy who
created the site.
Then, out of nowhere, my page
gets a mention in an
up-and-coming on-line 'zine.
Bang! The hits jumped. Then it
gets listed as the "most
entertaining" site on the Web in
a prominent national magazine.
Bang again! The hits bounded.
And early next year it will be
featured in one of those how-to
computer books from a big
publisher. Bang bang bang! I
expect another increase.
All told, the site is now running
at roughly 5,000% of what it was
before all this started. Nothing
significant in the world of the
big boys, yeah, but a lot better
than most self-indulgent look-
at-me pages. And it's a truer
count since I've stopped looking
at the damned thing - the
writing's kinda dull.
A fairy tale, you say. A miracle.
A beacon to every other hash-
and/or code-slinger out there
who wants to get known, to
become someone. A testament to
the democratic power of the Web.
It must mean something if I can
up my hit-rate 5,000% just based
on my talent, just based on the
sheer brilliance of my writing.
It's good, you say, that quality
Except that it's all a crock.
Those wonderful references were
all from people I know. Friends
of mine. Go back and re-read the
One of the editorial cheeky chums
at Suck knows the guy who
maintains the site - a friend of
a friend. The person who created
the "most entertaining" list for
Infoworld is an old buddy of
mine - I sleep on her sofa when
And the book author is somebody
I've known from eons ago. He
recognized my name, so he threw
it in. He could have used any
other site on the Web, but he's
using mine. Because he knows me.
Nothing magical, nothing special.
Nothing, even, about the site
itself beyond, maybe, a few
one-liners and the requisite
self-importance needed to think
that an archive of my writing
has any place on the Web.
It all comes down to who I had
the good fortune of meeting
years ago, who I spent time with
in college - who I know, and who
the people I know know. That's
the Rule; it's the way the world
works. I got my job that way, I
got my car that way, and I'm
getting many more hits than I
rightfully deserve that way.
My page isn't better than yours,
my life isn't more interesting.
You just don't have my friends,
and they'd rather be nice to me
than to you.
Ha ha ha.
And I get free movie tickets from
a guy at Paramount, too.
courtesy of An Entirely Other Greg