Modes of communication on the World Wide Web!



I enjoy talking to people over the internet. But it occurred to me, this is a relatively new mode of communication. Where we can type out a comment, and then, almost instantly, any stranger with access to a computer can read and comment on what you’ve just said. So I guess we’re all just kind of learning how to use this new technology this on the fly.

Now my dialogues with people on the internet often follow a naturally progression (or regression): They start out as 1.) discussions, then turn into 2.) debates, and then into 3.) arguments, and finally into 4.) insult-fests. And i can enjoy all four modes to varying degrees.

“Discussion” is probably my favorite mode (though there’s a lot to be said for “insult-fests,” too). Especially when the other person comes to the discussion in good faith. Neither party is trying to “win” anything. Its merely an “exchange of ideas.” And we usually both end up learning something new by being exposed to new points of view that we hadn’t previously considered.

“Debate” can be a livelier and more exciting mode. Because your point of view is actively being challenged. But this can be dynamic, like a hotly-contested athletic contest between two equals. The verbal equivalent of a fencing duel. And you can become sharper in your thinking from the exercise. But alas one’s opponent often doesn’t come to these exchanges in good faith. Their primary concern is to “win,” by fair or foul. Often they’re motivated by a need to show the world how “smart” they are (so naturally they don’t actually listen to what YOU’RE saying — they already know everything). Or else they’re urgently trying to advance some agenda that they think the world at large urgently needs. So any dirty little debating trick they employ is justified by the greater good of their agenda being advanced.

Which usually leads to the third mode, “argument.” By this point both parties are like radios: they transmit but don’t receive. And it usually just degenerates into who can shout the loudest and the longest (use all CAPITAL LETTERS if necessary).

Which leads to the final mode, the “insult-fest.” Which can also be enjoyable as we each access our inner Don Rickles. As well as serving the purpose of putting the whole exercise to a quick and merciful ending.



Welcome to the Computer Age

Is that a computer in your pocket or are you just happy to link me.


I was a late-comer to the party. I didn’t look at a computer for the first time until 2000. At the time my mental image of “computers” was formed by those old TV shows and movies where the scientist is in his laboratory and there’s this big wall of machines behind him with all these clocks and dials and blinking lights and levers on them . .

But then one day this friend of mine said: “Ace, there are all these old comic strips by you posted on the internet.” So that got my attention. I remember thinking: “Gee, how did THAT happen?” So he dragged me to a public computer at the library and showed me how to use this thing called a mouse — which I fumbled around with at first until I finally got the hang of it. So that’s how that started.

But I really didn’t get hooked on the internet until the Presidential election of 2000, Bush vs. Gore. It was election night and they had these public computers in the lobby of the Student Union Building. And I was amazed at how you could get up-to-the-second election results from virtually anywhere in the country. And if you remember, that was an election that went right down to the wire (and then some). So it was incredibly exciting following the results moment-by-moment in real time.

So they had me at that point. I was hooked. A junkie. Hopelessly addicted to the internet for life. Apparently. Though it wasn’t until 2002 that I finally got around to getting an email address. So by then I was really in the soup.

I never really adapted well to computers. For years, whenever I wanted to go to a link, I would faithfully type out https:// until somebody finally told me you didn’t have to do that. And then it would be years after that before someone told me you also didn’t have to type out www. (Why am I always the last to find out about this stuff??) And it took me YEARS to figure out how to do a simple thing like copy-and-paste (up until that point I used to type out the entire string of words and numbers if I wanted to post a link). But at least to my credit, I CAN say, I have mastered the mouse.

So it’s been 18 years for me since I entered the Computer Age. And it’s amazing how in such a short time, the computers have changed virtually EVERYTHING about modern life. For the better. And for the worse. I guess that’s just how it works.




(Originally published March 14, 2005)

Why, my name is “Ace Backwords,” what the hell is yours?

Fame in itself is worthless, of course. The guy who reads the weather on the TV news is famous.  Fame doesn’t mean anything. The only ones that count are the legends. And they probably don’t count for anything either.

The saddest cases are the poor slobs who waste their whole lives working and slaving to become famous, thinking it’ll make them happy or fill the emptiness in their souls. Of course they don’t figure it out until it’s too late. The same old story; fame won’t make you happy. And then they become famous for being such miserable fucks. So it all works out.

Fame won’t make you happy. But then, almost nothing else in this life will make you happy, either. So what the hell.

Probably the only thing fame is good for is weird, bloody kicks. And there’s a lot to be said for that, actually.

Then there’s the bit: “My name will live on in the annals of history!!!!”

Yeah, like Sir Thomas Crapper, the inventor of the toilet. Here the poor guy invents this great invention for the uplift of all humanity, and all he’s remembered for is the butt (geddit?) of a thousand punchlines.

Then there’s the Earl of Sandwich. Now, THAT’S pretty cool. I’d be PROUD to have a sandwich named after me. “I’ll have the Ace Backwords on rye, hold the sour grapes.”

Or I’d be proud to have a weird sex act named after me. “Did you hear, Joe pulled an Ace Backwords! Yeah, he’ll be hospitalized for several weeks.”

The comedian George Carlin used to do a routine about how annoyed he was about all the famous people who are famous to some people but he’s never heard of them. They’re famous in some narrow sphere he doesn’t know anything about. Like the guys that are really famous to everyone who watches a certain cable channel, but nobody else knows who the hell they are. Course I’m sure there’s somebody out there wondering who the hell is George Carlin.

I’m sure there’s somebody out there who is famous for being the greatest left-handed billiards player in Hungary. Amongst left-handed Hungarian billiards players the guy is a Super Star.

My problem is, I never watch TV or go to movies, but I always read newspapers and magazines. So I KNOW all the famous people, I just don’t know what the hell they’re famous FOR. The other day I was reading the cover story of the latest PEOPLE magazine. Jessica is very mad at Ken. I felt cheated somehow, like I should know all about who the hell Jessica and Ken are.

And then there are the people like Paris Hilton who are famous for being famous. Then, somebody writes a book about her and he becomes famous for THAT. Somebody else comes along and does a documentary about him and becomes famous for being famous for being famous for being famous. And then, I write a website about it and… well, you get the picture. We have a terrible crisis on our hands. There’s simply too many famous people. We have a veritable log-jam of famous people. Everyday now, dozens of famous people die and there’s just not enough space in the obituaries to cover them all.

When I first became aware of the Internet two years ago, my first reaction was: “Gee, maybe I can use this thing to increase my level of fame.” S o you know I’m fucked. I had a landmark moment last week:  There are now over 1,000 entries for “Ace Backwords” when I do a Google word-search for myself. Plus, another 250 for all the illiterate dunces who spell my name “Ace Backwards” with an “a.”  Which means I just need about 99,000 more entries to qualify as a bona fide Famous Person. And this website counts for one more entry, so I’m getting more famous by the minute while you’re sitting there on your lazy, unfamous ass. Hah.

In the World Wide Web of the future, everyone will be famous for 15 kilobytes.