A Blogger’s Carol
I HAVE endeavoured in this spirited little blog, to raise the Spirit of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with the community, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their workstation pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.
Their faithful Mentor and Server,
J. E. S. (from C. D.’s inspiring tale)
December, 1843, er, 2010
Mr. Manjoo’s Spirit
[Mr. Manjoo | /people/manju.venkataseshan/blog] was gone to begin with.
There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his new email address was signed by the exchange server, the mail transport protocol and the mail user agent. Sprootch forwarded it: and Sprootch’s name was good upon ex’change, for anything he chose to put his domain name to.
Sprootch knew he was gone? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise. Sprootch and he were partner in the asug mobile technologies sig for I don’t know how many years. And even Sprootch was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but he was an excellent man of business process on the very day of the career change, and solemnized it with an undoubted bargain.
Sprootch never painted out old Manjoo’s name. There is stood, months afterwards, above the sig portal home page: Sprootch and Manjoo. Sometimes people new to the sig emailed Sprootch, and sometimes Majoo, but he replied to both addresses. It was all the same to him.
Once upon a time
of all the good days of the year, on Christmas week eveold Sprootch sat busy with his laptop. It was cold, bleak, biting weather foggy withal: and he could hear the people in the internet cafes outside, go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them.
Sprootch took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy takeout; and having read all the newsfeeds, and beguiled the rest of the evening with his financial spreadsheets, went home to bed.
Bells began to ring, sounding control-g, so softly in the outset that it scarcely made a sound; but soon it rang out loudly, and so did every bell in the house. They were succeeded by a clanking noise, deep down below; as if some person were dragging a heavy enqueue over the screens in the point-of-sale-merchant’s tablet.
[Manjoo’s ghost appears]
“You are fettered,” said Sprootch, trembling. “Tell me why?”
“I wear the chain I blogged in life,” replied the Spirit. “I made it url by url, and url by url; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?”
“You will be haunted,” resumed the Spirit, “by Three Daemons.”
“I–I think I’d rather not,” said Sprootch.
“Without their visits,” said the Spirit, “you cannot hope to shun the full path environment variable I tread. Expect the first to-morrow, when control-g tolls One.”
THE FIRST OF THE THREE DAEMONS.
Control-g sounded once. Light flashed up in the room upon the instant, and the curtains of his bed were drawn. Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them.
“Who, and what are you?” Sprootch demanded.
“I am the Spirit of Blogs Past.”
“Long Past”? inquired Sprootch.
“No. The recent past; 2010, in fact.”
They went in. At sight of a gentleman in a blue wig, sitting behind a webcam, Sprootch cried in great excitement.
“Why, it’s old Finnewig! Bless his heart, it’s Mock Finnnewig online again!”
They went, the Daemon and Sprootch, across the hall, to a door at the back of the house. It opened before them, and disclosed a long, bare, melancholy room, made barer still by lines of plain deal web forms and desktops. There were several students, freshers by the looks of them, trying to certify themselves.
“What is the matter?” asked the Daemon.
“Those lads,” said Sprootch, “they are copying from other blogs and works of reference. They aren’t doing original work at all!”
“So?” asked the Daemon.
“I was there; I knew better and should have said something to the webmaster, but I let them play their little games.”
“Remove me!” Sprootch exclaimed, “I cannot bear it! Leave me! Take me back. Haunt me no longer!”
“I told you these were shadows of the things that have been archived,” said the Daemon. “That they cannot be restored, do not blame me!”
THE SECOND OF THE THREE DAEMONS.
When the control-g struck One, and no shape appeared, he was taken with a violent fit of trembling. He got up softly and shuffled in his slippers to the door.
“I am the Spirit of Blogs Present,” said the Daemon. “Look upon me!”
The good Spirit led him straight to Sprootch’s clerk’s; for there he went, and took Sprootch with him, holding to his robe; and on the threshold of the door the Spirit smiled, and stopped to bless Blag Cratchit’s dwelling.
Then up rose Milly Cratchit, Cratchit’s wife, and Tiny Kia, with other moderators from the community, who were talking amongst themselves. The neighbor, Mrs. Prattlegrammar, shared news from the latest broadsheets, saying “Can you believe this? Tell those dispatchers in the basement they need to get online and start moderating, now!”
When Sprootch looked at the newsreader, he was astounded and confused at the words there; he became sensible of confused noises in the air; incoherent sounds of lamentation and regret; wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and self-accusatory.
“What content is this?” asked Sprootch.
“A place where bloggers live, who labour in the bowels of the earth,” returned the Daemon. “But they know me. See!”
The men were putting text to screens, yet the words were those of commercial advertisements, clipped from the language of the mad men, or simply references to other places, with no redeeming qualities. “Special demo web-site,” read one, while others served re-mashed turnips as if they were hasty pudding.
“How can they stoop so low,” pleaded Scrootch, “to act like pawnbrokers rather than honest creators of interesting reading material? How can they cash in on our eyeballs like this?”
The Daemon flew Sprootch on, and then asked Sprootch to look down. “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!”
THE LAST OF THE DAEMONS.
THE END OF IT.
Then, when events looks bleakest, when even the remotest function call was unlikely to complete, Sprootch realized this was all a dream. He awoke, curiously refreshed, and looked out at the blog moderation queue, realizing he had another chance to write fresh copy, to advise copy-pasters of their mistakes, and to re-route the bloviators before their methane had a chance to settle.
Sprootch leaned out his virtual office window, and shouted, “It’s a new day. Write some new material! Dance in the streets!”
Many of you may find this story very familiar. And before you go spinning up your search engines to find out how much like Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” this post is, the text I used is available online here:
[Project Gutenberg | http://www.gutenberg.org/] distributes text of books that are out of copyright. While the general rule is I should redistribute the entire text, along with all attributions at the end, in this case I’ve used the original story for a parody.
The image above is from a first printing in 1843; I needed to split it into 2 parts as it does not fit in the SCN 700×500 pixel limits. I would have linked to the file hosted on Project Gutenberg, but their rules don’t allow inline image re-gifting.
Other stories in the offing:
- The Pickiwiki Papers
- Great Presentations