NETWORK : Easier said than done

Group therapy
Alt.unusual.beginning.do not.stop.reading. Why am I writing like this, you ask? I've been spending a bit of time in the alt.adjective.noun.verb.verb.verb newsgroup and I'm trying to mimic the house style. It's a place for people with plenty of time on their hands and not a little eccentricity in their nature. Their sole aim is to communicate using this exact format. Don't ask why or who started it all; I couldn't find out.

Writing like this sounds simple enough, but when you try to keep a whole conversation going it's quite a mental test. However, the regulars in this forum are a cerebral crowd. Not for them discussions on technology or the Internet. The first posting I came across was "alt.20th century.history.abbreviated. summarised.encapsulated". It begins with "alt.Queen.Victoria.dies.perishes. kicks-it".

Later on "alt.doctor.Freud. psychoanalyses.obsesses.sexualises" and "alt.brainy.Einstein.ponders.theorises. relativises". In 1914, "alt.Austrian. archduke.shot.assassinated.whacked". Later, Pearl Harbor is bombed and "alt.Allies.bacon.saved.saved.saved". However, this all ends up in "alt.atomic. bomb.dropped.exploded.mushrooms" and "alt.cold.war.succeeds.ensues.frightens".

Even if you want to ask a straight question in this group, you have to speak the lingo if you want an answer: "alt.curious.observer.asks.inquires. wonders" begins one newcomer in a posting asking for advice on style.

What also makes alt.adjective etc, etc unusual is that its contributors do not ignore those get-rich-beyond-your-dreams schemes that are a feature of almost every Usenet forum. One posting that promised quick wealth through a pyramid scheme attracted a lot of cynical comment. But one writer actually confessed to trying it: "alt.empty.wallet. had.regretted.endured", he began. "alt.marvellous.idea. heard.tried. worked! alt.fast.cash gain.garner.earn.alt. five.dollars.risk.gamble.try".

Any story goes in alt.adjective.noun. verb.verb.verb. Someone had posted a bloody but entertaining tale about their rotten teeth. "alt.messy.office- desk.sit.work.write.", the story began. "alt.sudden.pain.sear.blind. scream. alt.impacted.wisdom-tooth.throb. hurt.agonize.alt.emergency.dentist.saw. inspected.exclaimed. alt.spurting.blood. soaked.splattered.amazed-dentist. alt.immediate.surgery. prescribed. ordered.insisted."

It ended up with "alt.four.teeth. extracted.removed.pulled-out-with-PLIERS. alt.much.later.woke.shook-head.sat- up," followed by "alt.chipmunk. cheeks.swell.grow.turn-black-and-blue- and-green. alt.fiendishly.ugly.am.am.am."

That's it, or perhaps I should say alt.unfortunate.goodbye.going.going. gonen

Andrew North

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