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The Force of Internet Culture
The forces that gave rise to folk art of lasting cultural value are also at work on the Internet. Why do Internet fads like the following suddenly break upon the scene?
Wanna-be Internet Fads
Some fads just didn't take off like their creators (perpetrators?) had planned.
12 Dec 2001; compiled by Dennis
In the late 80s, Wil Wheaton had the dream job -- he was a child actor on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The appearance of a quirky Usenet newsgroup named "alt.ensign.wesley.die.die.die" pretty much describes what hard-core Trek fans thought of his character.
Wheaton's self-deprecating website, his knowledge of hacker culture, and his sense of humor eventually won over the ubergeek slashdot crowd, which led to an article in the geeky-but-kinda-mainstream Wired, and eventually a feature in the more-hip-than-geeky Salon. As an emerging spokesman for Internet libertarianism, Wheaton is successfully re-inventing himself, now that his child-actor days are far behind him.
In light of Google's recent release of 20 years worth of archived Usenet postings, I spent a bit of time tracking down the first Usenet references to Wesley Crusher and to Wil Wheaton.
14 Nov, 1987: The first Usenet reference to Wesley Crusher is an apparently unironic quotation from a dramatic Wesley scene: "I'm with Starfleet. We don't lie."
20 Nov, 1987: What seems to be the next reference is just a short blurb introducing a block of code: "Please don't flame. Wesley Crusher is watching."
05 Jan, 1988: G. "Murdock" Holmes starts posting with a .sig that identifies him as "Another Member of the Society to Reduce Wesley into a Little Styrofoam Dodecahedron."
07 Mar, 1988: Eric Johnson begins posting with .sig file that includes the line, "Crusher... Crusher? We don't need no Wesley Crusher!" (This is a riff on "We don't need no stinking badges" -- a line that many people have only heard [mis]quoted and out of context.)
19 Mar, 1988: A poster mentions that a wunderkind named Bryce Nesbitt was hired by the prestigious computer company Commodore; the poster then asks what Star Trek: The Next Generation scenario it reminds him of. He mentions Wil Wheaton as the actor playing the relevant character. The replies to this post include one who says he liked a recent episode featuring "Wesley and the Academy."
17 Apr, 1988: Roger Crew posts with a .sig reading: "Beam Wesley into the sun."
08 Jan, 1989: A posting by John Russell includes this hilarious .sig: "I figured there was this holocaust, right, and the only ones left alive were Donna Reed, Ozzie and Harriet, and the Cleavers." -- Wil Wheaton explains why everyone in the Next Generation is so nice
26 Jan, 1989: Somebody (Jon Pugh?), who met Wil Wheaton at a convention reports (down a ways on the page): "He's a Mac owner and he laments the lack of user's groups in LA. Life's tough in Hollywood, kid. He was very nice and I think he loved the attention of people were giving him stuff left and right. He's still a kid though and brought his folks and a friend of his who was a stand-in (you know, one of the people who walks down the corridors)."
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