The Bicycle Story
July 7, 2000 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Did I miss something? Okay, the bicicycle story that Barbelith, Megnut, and Kottke have all blogged.. what is this? I must have missed some inner circle of childhood memory bonding?
posted by eyesandfists (44 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One could take it that the past trend of blogging where each blog copied each other's links has now moved to the new blog trend of adding a personal touch. This brings the question as to whether they are copying each other or just share like interests and life stories. Perhaps it really is a sign of a collective online consciousness manifesting itself in an ever growing mirror of endless reflections....should I go on? No? OK.
posted by john at 11:20 AM on July 7, 2000

i'd guess that it's related to tom's theory and "discoveries"...
posted by mmanning at 11:57 AM on July 7, 2000

Blogger bug would be my guess. Three simultaneous posts, the same post ID gets associated to all three accounts, but only one of the posts actually survives. Kinda like that transporter accident that created the twin Ryker in STNG (or maybe not)...
posted by Calebos at 12:22 PM on July 7, 2000

I thought Kottke was hand-maintaining his weblog, snd not using Blogger.
posted by harmful at 12:43 PM on July 7, 2000

Yeah. That's what I thought.
posted by eyesandfists at 12:48 PM on July 7, 2000

Has anyone thought there might have been three girls riding bicycles down the street at one point yesterday, and that maybe, *maybe* these three people happened to see them all? I think they all have worrisome parents.

it could happen.
posted by mathowie at 1:04 PM on July 7, 2000

Oh no, I think we've got something here. I brought this up about a month ago. But it kinds trailed off and was wiped under the rug.
posted by monkeyboy at 1:13 PM on July 7, 2000

Or maybe the aliens are getting sloppy when they alter the memories of abductees.
posted by harmful at 1:16 PM on July 7, 2000

I just thought of something. They're Replicants (like on Bladerunner) and by some retardo mix-up of engineering, the same thoughts have been planted in their robo-heads.
posted by eyesandfists at 1:17 PM on July 7, 2000

Replicants, huh? Reminds me of my theory about why the ALGORE2000 thinks he invented the internet.
posted by harmful at 1:19 PM on July 7, 2000

The would give them a 3 year life span wouldn't it? How long do you think a person can run a weblog before burnout?
posted by john at 1:22 PM on July 7, 2000

Although the alien theory is easily supported.
posted by eyesandfists at 1:23 PM on July 7, 2000

My mistake... Jason isn't a blogger. Searching, I also found the same post on Steve Champeon's site, as well as ustler, who points out a few more:

Obviously there is collusion afoot, probably. I wonder if this will ever be explained, or if they are just doing it to laugh at the meta discussion, or whatever. Actually, who cares? I cared when it was a possible glitch in blogger, but if it's just some folk horsing around...
posted by Calebos at 2:02 PM on July 7, 2000

stop laughing, all of you! I was that little girl.
posted by pb at 2:13 PM on July 7, 2000 [1 favorite]

No! This is a sign that the Agents are altering "reality" for some reason!
posted by harmful at 2:16 PM on July 7, 2000

Who's laughing? I always suspected that.
posted by eyesandfists at 2:31 PM on July 7, 2000

Actually, all the "cool webloggers" are actually guinea pigs in an evil experiment to use the Internet to implant false childhood memories. AND IT WORKED!
(Can I go "BWAHAHAHAHAHA", now?)
posted by wendell at 2:55 PM on July 7, 2000

i remember when i was a girl
our house caught on fire
and i'll never forget the look on my father's face
as he gathered me in his arms
and raced to the burning building out on the pavement
and i stood there shivering
and watched the whole world go up in flames
and when it was all over
i said to myself
is that all there is to a fire?
is that all there is?

is that all there is?
if that's all there is, my friends, then let's keep dancing
let's break out the booze and have a ball
if that's all there is
posted by monstro at 3:11 PM on July 7, 2000 [1 favorite]

Hmm. Thinkthinkthink.... ah! Tom said he was starting a 'chain letter' a few days ago... you had to mail him for info...
posted by prolific at 3:14 PM on July 7, 2000

Well, THANK YOU! Yay. A straight answer. Because emailing someone is out of the question for me, I was feeling dejected and sad. You're my new best friend! Issue solved. Sigh of satisfaction.
posted by eyesandfists at 3:21 PM on July 7, 2000

Hmm... wonder what would happen if I were to post that in on my site, try to leech off, be confronted and screamed at, then killing them, assuming their identity and picking up a lover who was a friend at the time....
posted by tiaka at 3:30 PM on July 7, 2000

Today I saw a little girl riding a bicycle, and I thought, I hope she's careful riding that bicycle. Because when I was a kid I had an accident with a bicycle. I was riding down my street and I turned onto the bigger street and then rode really really hard up the entrance ramp to the freeway and tried to get to the inner shoulder. That's when I had the accident. So I saw the little girl and her mother patiently watching her circle around their driveway, and I screamed at her mother, "Child murderer! Child murderer!" and drove off quickly.
posted by dhartung at 4:33 PM on July 7, 2000

What a delightful experiment. It's all so terribly Norbert Wiener. Look at us participating in the feedback loop!
posted by frykitty at 8:37 PM on July 7, 2000

You people hurt my head.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:29 PM on July 7, 2000

posted by eyesandfists at 5:00 AM on July 8, 2000

It's not the chain letter, and the best thing about all of this is that it's not collusion either. It's just organic meme-growth. It looked like an interesting thing to do (post exactly the same thing as someone else - it was already replicated once when I saw it anyway), particularly as it is such a "personal" experience. When I came to it, and it was only on two sites, I already knew that I wasn't going to be able to tell which one of them had the "genuine experience" - and so I followed my instincts and decided that it being genuine was completely irrelevant. And so I posted it as well. Lots of other people obviously felt the same way, because it's all over the place now.

I know this sounds like a bizarre comment, but I kind of think it's the most interested thing I have seen happen in weblogging in months. Can't really explain why.

Jack at thinks that I reposted because I am malevolent, and wanted to take the piss out of Jason, which couldn't be further from the truth.

That's it, really...
posted by barbelith at 8:33 AM on July 8, 2000

Frankly I'm still weirded out that anyone reads barbelith anyway...
posted by barbelith at 8:35 AM on July 8, 2000

[And yet (and this is kind of interesting) it was easy enough to tell that Tom's entry was a reproduction, because there's no way he could have got his "driver's license" at 16: we get our driving licences at 17. Experience is universal; interpretation is local.]

I still want to know what that little girl was peddling, though. Something illegal, I'd suspect ;)
posted by holgate at 10:41 AM on July 8, 2000

For the record, it looks like tiaka and harrumph! both posted this thing yesterday (7-7-2000) too, but it was either Megnut or Kottke that posted it first, on the sixth. Wow. I think it was a practical joke that Kottke and Meg started to get us all worked up over. Very funny.
posted by deckard at 11:12 AM on July 8, 2000

Did I also mention jeblog?
posted by deckard at 11:13 AM on July 8, 2000

I think the little girl must have gotten to Tom. It's the only explaination for his post.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 1:10 PM on July 8, 2000

Several months ago, a little girl was riding her ferris wheel in the middle of the bathtub. She still had the training goggles on as she wobbled and struggled to piddle. It reminded me of when I was a rock star and how badly I wanted a piano but couldn't get one. My parents wouldn't let me drink until I was 12; my mom was too afraid I'd hurt myself. I'd pass the hills and valleys in the subculture of mediocrity and just look, having given up asking the tooth fairy for a santa claus. I eventually did get one after much pleading and begging. Amazingly, getting my pedigree at 16 and the subsequent borrowing of the family dinosaur passed without incident.

You people still hurt my head.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:28 PM on July 8, 2000

So you're returning the favor?
(Don't know what kind of family you grew up in, but I NEVER borrowed the family dinosaur..)
posted by wendell at 11:36 PM on July 8, 2000

I can imagine borrowing one, but the thought of *PASSING* one just about causes me to pass out. I mean, OUCH!
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 1:01 AM on July 9, 2000

That was no dinosaur, that was the trademarked METAFILTER DEAD HORSE!

(or should I have said that Was (Not Was) a Dinosaur?
Boom boom acka-lacka lacka boom!)
posted by wendell at 3:18 AM on July 9, 2000

I get it now. Sometimes I don't know the meanings of the words people use, and then I get all discombobulated.
posted by eyesandfists at 4:54 AM on July 9, 2000

There are three kinds of observations: The first ones are called servates which are remarkably different from vations and not related at all to obzures for reasons which will become obvious. Allow me to demonstrate.

As I was walking my dead horse this evening, a little dead horse was riding her dead horse in the middle of the dead horse. She still had the training dead horses on and it reminded me of when I was a dead horse...

[It is at this point that the entire Metafilter Mob should go postal.]

This soon-to-be-infamous "Megnut & Kottke girl on a bike meme complex" reminds me of a concept I've played with before but since I was never able to congeal it into something fashionable and debatable, I've never mentioned it before now.

Journal entries (or weblog entries, take your pick) have certain repetitive variant streins about them. One of the most common works something like this.

"As I was walking home this evening, a little girl was riding her bike in the middle of the street. She still had the training wheels on as she wobbled and struggled to peddle."

A common blog entry will start with something that occurred that day, or very recently. Or perhaps it will be about a magazine article the blog writer read recently. Possibly a link on the 'Net he or she refers to causes them to start off on their little blog tangent. Practically every Metafilter post starts off in this vein.

This is normal. It's part of what journaling is about: journaling one's life. Weblogging is about talking about recent events and links and commenting on them. Personal narrative is about telling stories that actually happened to you (sometimes stretching the truth or toying with "well it coulda happened" techniques). I mean this is all common. It's just that to a jaded participant, it's repetitive. Someone like Kottke might find it amusing, or annoying, or boring, or all the above or something else entirely.

The common blog entry usually starts with something innocent on the surface, and may very well be innocent, or it could be an event which shocked the blogger writing it and may or may not effect you in the same way. Firedrake used to talk about roadkill, which would occasionally lead her onto something else entirely. There's countless other examples. To someone jaded by blogging, it would be a 'been there done that' kinda reaction to something that the blog writer thinks is very interesting. Otherwise they wouldn't have written it.

Again this would frustrate a jaded participant to this whole thing. They want to make fun of it. Or somehow change it. They're dying for someone to break the mold and try something new. This is a brand new concept to some people, and already it's falling into mediocrity and repetition. It can already be pigeon-holed and dissected. It's already passe.

"It reminded me of when I was little and how badly I wanted a bicycle but couldn't get one."

This is where the blog takes its "exciting" and yet predictable left turn to Alberquerque. The recent incident will inevitably lead the blog writer to comment on a tragic or surreal event in their past. Or it will cause them to wax philosophical about gun control laws, or how the constitution is being dismantled by some faceless conspiracy, or about no matter how hard you try you can't find pie in the cafeteria downstairs on Wednesdays and it's really chaffing your hide. This is usually the real reason why the blog writer wanted to post today. The innocent recent 'incident' was just a red herring; an unconscious attempt by the writer to sugar coat the more serious issue begging to be let out of their heart. For some, this more controversial subject matter is offensive and tastes like castor oil. To a more jaded blogging participant, it's more of the 'been there done that drank the dew' and if they haven't already fallen asleep they're about to click surf on to the next repetitive blog dreaming for a change from monotony.

"My parents wouldn't let me have a bike until I was 12; my mom was too afraid I'd hurt myself. I'd pass the bike section in the store and just look, having given up asking my parents about it long ago. I eventually did get one after much pleading and begging. "

Were the Reminiscence to end after one sentence, that would suffice most jaded blog participants. But no. The blog writer feels s/he must justify why s/he has insisted on bringing this up at all, by going into further detail about his/her exploits and whatnot. This can take several sentences and sometimes several blog entries, as the writer gets emails from people saying, "why the hell did you talk about that?" and the writer feels they have to further defend their stance. The jaded blog participants have by now moved on to play Quake Arena.

Usually the Story is involved and complex and rambles and goes off on misleading tangents, but it works something like this: Blog writer has similar incident to recent Incident some time in the past. Blog writer is emotionally stymied or intellectually confused by the events as they occurred. Blog writer comments in hindsight about the event (further Reminiscience) and comes to some vague conclusion that allows him/her to get on with her life.

This American Life functions under much the same principles.

" Amazingly, getting my driver's license at 16 and the subsequent borrowing of the family car passed without incident."

The final repetitive, predictable and common thread in many a journal entry, weblog entry, or personal narrative short story works like this. After going through all of this pomp and circumstance, the blog writer feels a need to complete the Story by describing a relatively happy but predictably ironic ending. This is much like how you tell jokes and have to have a punchline at the end. However, the blog writer has just been writing this out, usually as a first draft, and didn't necessarily have a POINT B to arrive at when they started. So the irony can sometimes only sound ironic to the blog writer and be very perplexing to the reader. The result of which is like a very bad joke that the jokester has to explain over drinks to people still scratching their heads.

If the blog writer is successful, it's a PAYOFF. It's a good thing. If the blog writer is not successful, and the reader ends up wondering why they just spent the last five minutes of their life reading the piece of crap, it's an IRONY.

George Carlin once said, "if I make you laugh, I'm a comedian. If I don't make you laugh, I'm a performance artist." Again, there is NOTHING WRONG with any of this. I'm just trying to explain how something like the 'girl on a bike' incident occurs.

If you still don't get it, the preceding has been a work of performance art. Please buy my sculptures made out of cow manure that are presented in the lobby. Thank you.

posted by ZachsMind at 8:39 AM on July 9, 2000 [2 favorites]

Way too much thought is going into this.
posted by john at 8:49 AM on July 9, 2000

Louisiana's Supreme Court has upheld a two-century-old law that makes blogging about the little girl entry punishable by death.
posted by Zeldman at 1:52 PM on July 9, 2000

I'd better up my Amnesty International subs. Seriously, I thought it was fairly obvious. Shows how closely people read these 'blogs'. Or not!
posted by c huber at 3:55 PM on July 9, 2000

Honestly - it's up on my weblog, and I haven't even read it all the way through. I skimmed it the first time I saw it, read the first sentence the second time and cut and pasted it the third time. Reading it isn't even the point (should we still even be vaguely interested in that - which frankly is debatable)...
posted by barbelith at 4:31 PM on July 9, 2000

fyi: as of july 6, it's on brad's site, too.
posted by sturtle at 1:03 PM on July 10, 2000

Oh, that? That was a typo. Personally, I prefer Lance's version, but don't anyone go drawing any conclusions...
posted by schampeo at 10:35 PM on July 10, 2000

posted by barbelith at 5:53 PM on July 15, 2001

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