December 10, 2001
12:24 AM   Subscribe

Can anybody tell me what exactly a TalkBox is, how it works, and how it's different from a vocoder? I've heard that they're dangerous in some way, but I'm willing to risk bodily harm in order to get my voice to sound like Roger Troutman.
- "Taliban" John Walker Lindh, 1997

The Weekly Standard dug through Usenet and pulled out 60 postings from everyone's favorite "mixed up kid". This got me thinking, if you went nuts and ended up on front page of every newspaper in America, what would your digital paper trail look like?
posted by joemaller (24 comments total)
"talkbox" = "Frampton Comes Alive".
posted by canoeguide at 12:31 AM on December 10, 2001

Judging by his posts, he could have gone either way: the path of the whiskery Taliban or the whisky Johnny Walker.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:42 AM on December 10, 2001

There is a third path.

Wild Turkey.
posted by rocketpup at 12:51 AM on December 10, 2001

what would your digital paper trail look like?

Something stuck to my shoe?
posted by y2karl at 1:02 AM on December 10, 2001

A cursory search of the Usenet archives for me would bring up someone with an interest in Lithuania (at a time just prior to travelling there to visit a penpal of 6 years), and the Baha'i Faith (searching at a time when I was questioning my religious beliefs).

A search of the web will probably bring up the fact that I had one of the very first substantive Sex Pistols tribute websites (back in 1995), and that I swiped a choice domain name during the Clinton Impeachment scandal and tried selling it to Larry Flynt - which resulted in death threats and general enmite from the Freepers, who were certain I was part of the great left-wing conspiracy. It will also show the world that I'm a fan of the Cocteau Twins, that I do music collage, that I am a budding writer, and that I appreciate outsider art.

It will also bring up a women's fashion store in New York that has my name, but has absolutely nothing to do with me.

My goodness, I just discovered some old debates that were archived onto the web from an old dial-up BBS, from back when I was still involved in Christianity. The trail doesn't begin with the 'Net ... not if you were a BBSer in the late 80's/early-to-mid 90's.

I guess there's enough here for someone to write a book, should I become famous in my demise.
posted by at 1:03 AM on December 10, 2001

what would your digital paper trail look like?

Mine would show someone who was really into ska music, free speech, and writing mini-manifestos. Also, in the google cache will long live the erect nipple story I published on my website (for some reason if you search "erect nipple" on google, my site's in the top ten-I feel bad for all the erect nipple porn sites.)

Also, someone who champions indie rock, and online comics, and is subtley politically subversive.

I will be memorialized as a prolific poster to various message boards, and the first against the wall when the FBI comes.
posted by drezdn at 1:16 AM on December 10, 2001


This kid certanly manage to weave the english language well. I was really surprized. Not what you would expect from a 14 year old, and someone stupid enough to join the Taliban a few years later.
posted by delmoi at 2:08 AM on December 10, 2001

Alas, John Doe's Dukey Palace, though appreciatively linked in its day, is no more.
posted by Zurishaddai at 2:18 AM on December 10, 2001

<baldly-stated opinion>
I wouldn't suggest that the kid is stupid. I think it actually takes a special intelligence to get yourself into that much trouble at such a tender age.

Judging by his hip hop persona, as well as what information is available about his Islamic Odyssey, I think he throws himself wholeheartedly (and uncritically) into whatever piques his interest, doing pretty well at it if the appreciative links are any indication. Not to mention the sheer fact that he could be accepted as a serious student of Islam in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It shows a certain amount of audacity that I wish I could muster sometimes.

Unfortunately, it seems he hadn't developed his critical faculties enough to question his adopted authority figures the way he did the ones he was born with.
</baldly-stated opinion>
posted by rocketpup at 2:38 AM on December 10, 2001

"E-mails from a Traitor"

Seems that John Walker has been tried and found to a traitor by The Weekly Standard.

I'm glad they cleared that up.
posted by DBAPaul at 3:23 AM on December 10, 2001

talkbox goodness courtesy of grand royal magazine, includes build instructions
posted by sawks at 4:16 AM on December 10, 2001

I'm trying to remember an article in the NYT about an executive of USWeb at the time, I think, who went and deleted over ten year's worth of postings on The Well in one fell swoop. Part of his postings were in an erotic conference on The Well, S&M or something like that and he had been promoted to CFO or such and did not want that part of his life to become public or impact his career. Can't remember the name and my googles have been unsuccesful. Of course, on Usenet or a lot of web-based services, or email lists or plain email, you're a dead duck.
posted by mmarcos at 4:24 AM on December 10, 2001

sawks, Lil'Johnny should have plenty of free time in his future to build as many as ever dreamed of. (Though I doubt his guards will ever let him get near any 'wires' and such!)

Regarding the post's question: I wonder if that stuff will EVER get purged. Scary thought to have everything you've ever posted brought back up. (Honest, I was really pissed drunk when I posted that nasty thing back in '88). All the more reason to consider anonymous tools.
posted by HTuttle at 4:32 AM on December 10, 2001

What's going on? The Standard beat us to finding this information? C'mon, folks. This shoulda been a MetaFilter find. Are we all too hopped up on Egg Nog already?

I'm disappointed. This will show up in everyone's progress conference.
posted by Hankins at 4:58 AM on December 10, 2001

what would your digital paper trail look like?

Porn. Lots and lots of it. Just kidding, he he he... [looks around nervously]
posted by Rastafari at 5:08 AM on December 10, 2001

From Newsweek's December 17 story, A Long, Strange Trip to the Taliban:
"Most teenagers, when they rebel, say they want more freedom. John Walker Lindh rebelled against freedom. He did not demand to express himself in different ways. Quite the opposite. He wanted to be told precisely how to dress, to eat, to think, to pray. He wanted a value system of absolutes, and he was willing to go to extreme lengths to find it."
posted by Carol Anne at 5:56 AM on December 10, 2001

My digi-paper trail? I shudder to think what the current Justice Department would make of this
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:15 AM on December 10, 2001

If I shoved a copy of critical beatdown by the ultramagnetic MC's up your ass, you still
couldn't drop any phat shit. Take those generic lyrics back to your Wu-Tang Clan fan club
meatings, SZA, and keep them out of the eyes of the public. Thank you sir.

He sounds like a snarky MeFi member!
posted by adampsyche at 6:21 AM on December 10, 2001

I'm in my early twenties, my name is Jon, I was raised in the DC area, and then I moved to Fairfax, California in the mid/late 90s. My parents are divorced.

Which is kind of spooky.

My paper trail would be a piece of cake. I have a MySQL database of over 1000 rants/essays, so if I'm ever in the news, they could use immortal lines like "You could also fit more grains of sand in a bucket than you could crabs."
posted by jragon at 7:37 AM on December 10, 2001

A couple jobs ago I was in the enviable (or not) position of interviewing new developers, and as soon as I got a good looking resume I'd go out and do "the creepy" on them -- searching for web sites/pages and usenet posts. Most were just as you'd expect. Some weren't. I remember our receptionist snagging the link to an erotic fiction portfolio written by one potential DBA. The receptionist spent the afternoon in the lobby of the company reading S&M porn and giving us periodic plot updates.

I miss the great dotcom days. :)
posted by fnirt at 7:56 AM on December 10, 2001

Was he a MetaFilter member? :)
posted by matteo at 8:06 AM on December 10, 2001

what would your digital paper trail look like?

Porn. Lots and lots of it. Just kidding, he he he... [looks around nervously]

thank god that only the credit service they use show up on your credit card bill, and not the actual strange-fetish site's name.
posted by lotsofno at 8:18 AM on December 10, 2001

A cursory search of Usenet reveals me to be a dryly sarcastic, vociferous, homophobic, misogynistic, uncooth, self-deprecating, trolling, egomaniacal drama queen. And that pretty much covers the truth.

Some newsgroups I frequented include,, alt.culture.usenet, alt.fairs.renaissance,, alt.galactic-guide, rec.humor, alt.discordia, alt.slack, and last but certainly least, alt.adjective.noun.verb.verb.verb. Actually there's a disturbing amount of posts in here from and, where I was majorly kissing the ass of a woman named Anne who had been on Road Rules one season. Well, at first I didn't believe it was really her but after a few emails from her I got rather smitten.

Shame I'll never be famous. There's a lot of embarrassing fodder here that's good for a laugh. There's some great quotes from me like, "I would never shower naked with a camera shined on my ass" or "Anyone who actually listens to what I have to say deserves to have their head caved in. Myself included."

Pathetic really. That would describe my Usenet persona in a word: pathetic. I hope someday all this does come back to haunt me. I deserve it.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:22 AM on December 10, 2001

Wow, I was on the same local ISP as that weirdo! (Under the screen name xtimer). Hooked saved me from the quagmire of AOL, and got me up to speed on the real Internet. Tragically, Hooked was vaporized in a chain of buy-outs, which is why I was forced to switch to DSL.

Small world, huh?

You can find my posts in such places as rec.arts.movies.current-films (with such fanboys as Harry Knowles) and, where "WORST EPISODE EVER!" was coined. I gave up on Usenet due to the whole "signal-to-noise" ratio.
posted by Down10 at 12:57 PM on December 10, 2001

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