From the Boidem - 
an occasional column on computers and information technologies in everyday life

July 22, 1996: On-line Life Imitates Off-line Comics

Israel's techological development over the past few years has brought it up to a level almost equal to that of the United States. Visitors from the States no longer have to bring us coffee. Instead, our supermarkets are filled with every possible American product. Fast food chains have replaced our felafel stands, and even sub-standard American cars are filling our roads.

But in the realm of daily newspapers, we still lag behind. No paper has a comics section that's worth much, whereas the American press (excluding the elitist New York Times) is filled with comics, many of which reflect the complexities of our daily lives. And since they reflect our lives, many of them now deal with computer related issues. This file of the Boidem examines two examples in which issues raised in comics spring up later on in "real" life (if there is such a thing): e-mail for the homeless and family home page competition.

(Doonesbury isn't the only comic that often deals with computers, but this time both examples are from that illustrious strip.)

The May 16, 1996 edition of the Los Angeles Times carried a report on the home page of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ( One of the links is for information on "Where to start, if you're homeless". Are we to assume that homeless people are wandering around the streets of our cities with laptops with modems? Connecting perhaps from specially equipped pay telephones? Not necessarily. As in the following Doonesbury cartoon from February of 1996, homeless are able to access the Internet from libraries and from a number of homeless shelters which are equipped with the necessarily hardware.


And from the homeless to

In this December, 1995 comic Doonesbury ushered in the era of family competition in home pages.

The dialogue reads:

Mike's Daughter: Whatcha doin', pop-o-rama?
Mike: I'm updating my web site, sweetheart. It's kind of a tip sheet on software marking trends...
I think it's beginning to catch on. Almost 100 people have logged on so far.
Mike's Daughter: Neato! Now we both have web pages!
Mike: You have a web page?
Mike's Daughter: Uh-huh. My computer teacher showed us how to make 'em. Mine's about cool games and stuff. I kinda' review 'em.
Mike: Sounds like fun, squirt! Hand any visitors yet?
Mike's Daughter: Uh-huh. Last week I had 156,000 hits.
Good luck, popster! Don't forget to use color!
And the example of life imitating art?

That can be found at: Keith's Pamela Links

It seems that this page is the result of a father and son competition. In his own words the father explains:

Due to my son's never ending pursuit to out do his old man I have no choice but to add this page of PAMELA LINKS.
He thought he was so funny when he put a counter on his Magic The Gathering page and in 2 weeks he had half as many hits as my Index page counter had in 2 months.
Well he's bit off more than he can chew now!
And who's presently in the lead? As of this writing (July 22, 1996) the count was:
Keith's Pamela Page: 4645
His Son's page: 2071

That's it for this edition. Reactions and suggestions can be sent to:

Jay Hurvitz

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