Entropy Gradient Reversals

Bring Me the Head of Carl Steadman!

Actual email...
-----Original Message-----
From: RageBoy [mailto:clocke@panix.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, October 07, 1998 8:00 PM
To: Entropy Gradient Reversals List
Subject: EGR - Bring Me the Head of Carl Steadman!

       EGR is graciously underwritten by Entropy Web Consulting
      "Because that's ***still*** the only page that's working."

Valued Readers:

We have some exciting news this time, relating to the Subject line
above. Unlike our usual depressed whining, this particular issue-like
non-issue contains Things You Can Do and Buttons You Can Click to
change the constitution of society as we know it and stuff like that.
But first, these important announcements...

1) That Larry Flynt, what a guy! You'll laugh, you'll cry, etc.


2) Don't ask why, just buy this book so the author can afford to
   publish EGR. Then when it goes platinum, you can tell your friends
   you read it first on the net for free!
      Information Eclipse
      by Michael Fraase
   Michael published the first book on Mosaic in like 1993 and it sold
   over a million copies. Look around at his site for other unusual
   mind artifacts, like his thoughts on Way New Publishing in the Box
   of Rain section. He writes to EGR:
      "Tell your readers whatever you like about Information Eclipse.
      They're all a bunch of unemployed degenerates anyway just like
      you and me. Problem is, most of us would rather buy books than
      food. If you mention it, please be sure to tell them it's
      available NOW."

3) Seth Ross at Albion.com has started a newsletter called The Daily

   ...which, he says, "represents an entropy gradient reversal of
   sorts. I too want the immense satisfaction of abusing a faithful
   reader base." Sign up for it by all means. In fact, here's one now:
   send mail to flamemail@albion.com with a message indicating that
   RageBoy told you to subscribe and asking how the hell you're
   supposed to do that anyway.

OK, there's more, but we know we'll lose your attention if we give you
too many URLs at once. So, over the weekend we started working on a
sort of updater patch for The Seven Deadly Sins. Why? Hell, we don't
know. Maybe it was all the blather about ethics and morality that's
been flying around these latter days. As you know, EGR doesn't like to
address topical topics directly -- no, there will *not* be an issue on
the Y2K issue; no there will *not* be an interview with Monica's
interviewers -- but we do tend to a sort of orthogonal coverage of The
Big Picture. However, this is not finished yet and we kind of got
bored with the whole idea. Maybe later.

What happened is we got sidetracked into a million other directions
and became maniacally overexcited about too many things at once. This
is probably just backlash from the recent bout of depression brought
on by the fact that our application for Official Zuni Shaman was
rejected by that tribe. Well, what do they know, anyway? At the same
time, we have been experiencing even greater difficulty than usual in
getting to the point.

Listing in that general direction, we got mail from Paul Patrick
Robinson, who is possibly EGR's oldest subscriber. Oldest not in
length of subscription to EGR but in terms of Actual Years Logged on
the Planet. You can check him out at:


Paul told us some real interesting stuff about the local flora of his
island paradise, but we don't feel entirely comfortable sharing his
mail with the world. Outing him as an EGR subber is bad enough. But
this got us thinking about how many cool and unusual people have
gravitated into this tiny but powerful group of hopeless nut cases --
now a mere handful away from 2500 souls.

Problem is, aside from a list of bare email addresses, we stopped
keeping track of who you are. In many cases, the only records we have
look like this (choosing a few at random):

As you can see, not much to go on. We started thinking we need to
create a page of EGR subscriber URLs so you can get all acquainted
with each other. There really are some interesting people on this
list, but you know, privacy and all that crap, blah blah blah. Plus,
when we thought about it some more, we realized that asking for your
waycool URLs would also mean collecting some sort of database info,
like name, address, Mastercard number and bra size (where applicable),
and turning all that into a meaningful and tastefully designed web
page would mean a whole shitload of work you just know we'd never do.

This minor conundrum was exacerbated (not a bad word) by mail we
recently received in behalf of (note not *on* behalf of) one Carl
Steadman. Those of you who have been online more than a week will
probably recall that Carl was co-founder of Suck, of which we were
once very jealous -- back in the beginning, you know, when it was any
good. Here's what we got:
   You've been listed again. Looks like this whole sixdegrees thing is
   working. Your networking potential is growing by the second. Carl
   Steadman listed you as "Life Partner."

   Please let us know if you are in fact Carl's Life Partner...

Now usually, Carl just says he's our pal, so we were pretty darn
flattered to be upgraded to Life Partner. Especially as we've never
met the guy in person or anything. But we confirmed that we were
indeed his Life Partner and, curious to know more, went to check out

If you click that and you're not a member, sign up immediately (yes
hoser, it's free). This is very important and we're about to tell you
why (we're sure it'll come to us in another paragraph or two). And no
they are not a client. Though they really should be; thanks for

Last time we went to this site ("member since: 05/23/97" our StartPage
tells us) was about a year ago. We were checking out so-called buddy
systems, the name of which alone made us want to be sick. ICQ and
Ding! and things like that. We signed up for everything and within
about a week had turned them all off. Shit, we're a busy man! We have
eggs to crack and cats to kill, so who has time for this puerile
nonsense? Wanna chat? NO! Wanna get laid, sorta? NO! Wanna explore
this infinite mindspace and its possible ramifications for future
generations? DEFINITELY NOT! Uninstall, uninstall, uninstall. With
extreme prejudice, we might add.

   [As there are CEOs of some companies in this category on the EGR
   list, we will give you equal time -- i.e., one paragraph -- to
   argue another view. We don't claim to get it right more than 99.9%
   of the time.]

But we arrived at sixdegrees and were increasingly amazed at what
seems to be going on there. We haven't seen energy like this since the
Well back in 1939 when Adolph Schickelgruber used to post these
hilarious things to the Weird conf.

One significant new addition was this automated "contact uploader"
they've got now:

See, the way sixdegrees works is: you sign up, create a profile, and
invite other people you know. (Is it a pyramid scheme of some sort,
yeah probably, but forget that. What isn't a pyramid scheme? The IRS?)
However, the inviting process is too slow for certain Power Users, and
it quickly became clear that Carl had used this uploader to invite
anyone and everyone he'd ever met to be his Life Partner. Now, Carl
has this huge circle of contacts, through which he is connected (in
some abstract way, the value of which has yet to be determined) to
every man, woman and child on earth -- or at least those wealthy
enough to afford a) a computer and b) massive amounts of idle time to
spend fucking around with the web.

Not to be outdone, EGR attempted to upload its entire subscriber list.
But here we were foiled, as sixdegrees requires, in addition to a
valid email address, a First and Last Name. Turning back to our
examples, how are we to know whether billg@microsoft.com is really
William Gerstner or Bill Gatormouth or what? So that didn't work.
Instead, we used our Outlook 98 contact manager, which -- after some
culling -- yielded only 250 people we think of as Friends, if not Life
Partners. Some of these names we really didn't recognize at all, but
what the hell, you know?

As of this writing, less than 48 hours later, we have 77 confirmed
contacts, which constitutes our First Degree. Never having gotten a
degree before, we find this pretty exciting. Given that at least some
of these people are connected (as Friends, Life Partners and other
forms of relationship too numerous to litanize here) to other
contacts, and that these other contacts have their own sub-contacts,
und so weiter ad infinitum (or damn close), this means that our
      2nd degree =    332
      3rd degree =  2,413
      4th degree =  9,537
      5th degree = 25,605
      6th degree = 62,552

This all gets wonderfully, deliciously complicated and we're probably
not explaining it right. But do take a couple days of your employer's
time to figure it out. The cybercultural ramifications of whatever it
is that's going on here are hard to overstate. What it comes down to
for us is the auto-generated prime directive to *BEAT CARL*, who
currently has 114 contacts to our measly 77.

Moreover, Carl, unreconstructed media whore that he is, has cleverly
chosen as Life Partners those types who already have a huge number of
contacts and -- as you probably already guessed -- this means he has
more contact downlines and is therefore whipping us in a very big way
at the upper-level-degree glasperlenspiel, if you catch our drift. An
added complication is that, since we foolishly accepted his offer of
Life Partnership, any contacts *we* add instantly become *his* as
well. So by trying to overtake his lead, we're actually working
against ourselves. Also, the only reason our network of contacts is as
large as it is at this juncture is that Carl has linked us as Life
Partner, so we're linked to all *his* weird pals. However, thinking
about this for very long gives us a migraine, so just forget we
mentioned it.

What is *crucial* however, is that you go sign up right now and take
three other indispensable actions:

   1) fill in your profile for god's sake and put your URL in there
      along with as much information as you feel comfortable adding
      (forget those Nervous Nelly privacy types!) -- we even added our
      birthday and shoe size.
   2) go to the Member Directory and search for:
           First Name: Rage
            Last Name: Boy
      Then click on the record that comes up. *Add* RageBoy to your
      list of contacts -- as your Friend or anything else that
      appeals. This needs to be approved from our end, but rest
      assured, we are turning down no overtures.
   3) add as many additional contacts as possible. This is REALLY
      REALLY IMPORTANT TO *BEAT CARL* (hint: get the auto uploader to
      make this step a total breeze).

But just why, you ask, it is so urgent an initiative that we BEAT
CARL? Well, hey, get a load of this. In a sixdegrees bulletin board
posting titled "content content content" he posits that:

   sixdegrees could really use some organized activities, like those
   rental apartments with the piped-in bird sounds to the courtyard
   that scared me away when they explained to me that tuesday was
   video night, and they also scheduled regular get-to-know-each-other

   i'd start with quizzes. sixdegrees should really have cosmo-like
   quizzes. get to know your first degree and second degree circles
   with how they score on "how manipulative are you?" or "are you a
   sensitive lover?" depending on the results, you might choose to
   leave your current circle altogether, and go join some other, more
   compatible circle.

Manipulative!?! Sensitive?!? Compatible!?! Is this the lamest crap
you've ever heard in your life to date, or what? What is he, the
self-appointed one-man activities committee for the Good Ship
Lollipop? Look, all this bleeding hearts bullshit about online
communities has simply got to stop! Anyone who knows anything about
the dynamics of large-scale human communities knows that there is one
and only one thing that galvanizes them into a sense of common
purpose. War!

Therefore, we are hereby launching an all-out Holy Jihad against Carl
Steadman. Hey, we'll give him piped-in bird sounds! Count on it.
Actually, we're not entirely sure what form this action should take,
but we're confident of your ability to come up with creative
strategies and tactics. We'll also post this to our sixdegrees
bulletin board to throw down the gauntlet and get the festivities

Speed is of the essence here. Carl is not only likely to find out
about the Anti-Carl Jihad through sixdegrees, but also through EGR
itself, as he's on this very list. We can only hope he's too busy with
his next column for The Industry Standard or off registering more
effete domain names to read this, so that he doesn't get wind of
what's about to befall him until it's too late to mount an effective

So act quickly! That URL again...


Oh yeah, and once you get all hooked up, don't miss the "People
Surfing" section. Here's where you can see how you're connected to
RageBoy as well as to *each other* -- something we cannot tell you
directly due to certain stupid privacy concerns over which we have no

Also note the Final Irony in all this. Right now, Carl is our Number
One contact -- as contacts are listed in descending order of the
number of contacts *they* have. So, by declaring war on Carl, and with
a little help from the Ever Faithful EGR Irregulars (that's you), we
(that's me) will become his top-ranked contact. That'll teach him to
be more careful in his future choice of Life Partners.

To the barricades then! 

Thank You, 

The Management

to subscribe or UNSUBSCRIBE -- c'mon Bunky, you can figure it out if
you try real hard -- go to http://www.rageboy.com/sub-up.html and
*read the freaking directions there* -- sheesh what a buncha morons!

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