Every culture has stories. Some are long, twisted narratives that begin with a puff of lilac-scented air and end with a heaving, musky whoosh. Others are mere ribbons of storytelling that, on their own, could barely fill the interior of a fortune cookie but when placed in the context of a culture and its mores, take on far greater significance.
Some people call them fables and fantasies. Less cynical people think of them as legends. I prefer to call them myths, and the Boulder tech community has many of its own. Some are rooted in fact, like a mighty oak tree. Others are the flimsy delusions of web developers who have stirred far too much cough syrup into their coffee — a concoction known on the street as “Robituspresso.”
These myths are not written down anywhere, as most of us have dreadful penmanship. No, the collective folklore of Boulder’s geek population is passed down to each generation verbally, late at night as we sit ’round the warm glow of a dozen iPads and tell tales in hushed voices.
Let me share some with you.
The myth of the guy who knows when to reply-all
This story is one of the oldest of the tribe. It dates back to a time when email was the chief form of online messaging, (it’s still relevant today, despite the bevy of chatter options at our disposal).
It tells of a man who exercised judicious, considerate use of the reply-all button in his email communications. When someone sent an email to 20 people, asking them to reply directly to the sender — this strange, strange man would actually do so.
This spooked the villagers so much that they ran him out of town, setting his router ablaze and jabbing at his monitor with their pitchforks. They say he still wanders up and down Baseline Road in the dead of night, looking for wifi and asking, “Why? Why?”
The myth of the girl who’s not on Facebook
This story tells the woeful tale of a beautiful young woman who, while on a walk through the woods with her two sisters, came upon a handsome prince by a lake.
“Hark!” said the prince, alighting from his white steed and taking a deep bow as his chestnut locks framed his face. “Fair maidens, to look upon you is to look upon the dawning of three radiant suns!”
The three sisters blushed. After a pause, the prince added, “Are you chicks on Facebook?”
Two of the sisters nodded, but the most beautiful one shook her head. The prince grimaced, blinked and then looked confused, as the girl was suddenly invisible. Her sisters, with furrowed brows, couldn’t see her either. Slowly, they forgot she had ever existed and they all left the forest together to get freaky.
The moral of this story, as all Boulder geeks know, is that if you’re not on Facebook, you don’t exist. You can still hear her sobbing if you listen closely enough in the early evening. Just go to MySpace.com and turn your volume up.
I tell you these tales, not to fill your football-shaped head with nonsensical ideas, but to illustrate that Boulder’s tech culture is steeped in tales from the past. Learn them. Share them. Reply all — for the children.