Best of RAH96 Humor Review:
The Dilbert Zone
by Dave Bealer
Copyright © 1996 Dave Bealer, All Rights Reserved.
We publish a fair amount of funny stuff here at RAH96, be even we can't
produce enough humorous material to please (or satiate) everyone on the net.
So one of the missions of RAH96 is to review the best of the other funny
things in the world, both online and offline. This time we review a web
site called The Dilbert Zone.
A Daily Palette of Life in the 90s
Dilbert is the hottest comic strip of the mid-90s, appearing in
hundreds of newspapers around the world. Scott Adams is the genius behind
Dilbert, inheriting the mantle of "Leading Edge Social Commentator"
from such legends as Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County) and Gary Trudeau
One reason for the success of Dilbert is the fact that Scott Adams
actually shared the general lifestyle and employment of his characters
throughout most of the strip's lifetime. Until 6/30/95 Adams worked for
Pacific Bell, one of the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs), an outfit
firmly in the middle of the communications technology revolution.
The technical savvy of Scott Adams is reflected not only in the Dilbert
comic strips, but in Adams' participation in the online world. Adams admits to
getting many of his best ideas from e-mail messages from Dilbert's real-life
counterparts. This fact explains why so many Dilbert strips hit so close
to the insane realities of the 1990s technical workplace. It also promises to
make Adams' reign a long one. Keeping in such close contact with his readers
will prevent Adams from drifting away from the reality of their lives, a fate
which has befallen every cartoonist, no matter how talented, who cloistered
himself away in some studio.
A Fresh Attitude Towards The Online Populace
United Media, the firm that syndicates Dilbert, has taken a giant step
forward in its treatment of the online community. Missing is the paranoia
that marked the reaction of traditional print media syndicates like
Knight-Ridder, which pulled columns by Dave Barry and Mike Royko off of
Clarinet (an internet newspaper distributed via newsgroup) after it was found
that people were e-mailing copies of the columns to their friends.
Such e-mailing amounts to technically unlawful use of copyrighted material,
it is true. So does sending columns or comic strips photocopied from newspapers
to one's friends. The difference is that nobody can easily detect the hardcopy
violations, so they are "overlooked." There are those who practice flagrant
abuse of the copyright laws using computer/online technology. The argument
that nobody online can be trusted with copyrighted material because of this
fact makes just as little sense as the argument that nobody can be trusted
with guns since a few maniacs use them to commit murder and mayhem.
United Media makes two weeks worth of Dilbert strips available on
The Dilbert Zone. This archive is delayed by two weeks to allow
United Media's print clients to get exclusive exposure of the strips in their
outlets prior to electronic publication. Such a plan is similar to the
delayed electronic publication technique used previously with books such as
Bruce Sterling's The Hacker Crackdown. This kind of plan may well
become the standard sequence of publication, at least as long as print
periodicals continue to exist.
More Than An Archive
The Dilbert Zone is much more than a comic strip archive, however.
The de rigueur Scott Adams childhood picture is there, along with several
unique features. Among these are the "Sock Puppet" photo collection,
featuring Scott Adams and several fans. (Don't ask me. I'm not making this
up - just reporting it.) Adams is currently touring bookstores around the
U.S. promoting his new book, The Dilbert Principle. His schedule of
bookstore stops for approximately the next month is available online.
The site recently ran a Dilbert Principle Trivia Game, and just added
the Dilbert R&D Lab game, which requires the Shockwave plug-in for
Dogbert's New Ruling Class
Dogbert is Dilbert's dog, but this mutt is no Snoopy or Farley. Dogbert has
plans. Big plans. Dogbert plans to rule the world some day. Even Dogbert
realizes he can't do that alone, so he is enlisting members for his
organization, Dogbert's New Ruling Class (DNRC). DNRC members can come from
any area or income level, but they all have one thing in common - they
understand technology. This distinguishes DNRC members from "induhviduals",
those pathetic goobers who don't know twisted pair cables from Twizzlers.
In addition to the opportunity to help rule the world some day and have
induhviduals act as their domestic servants, DNRC members get to join a
special DNRC newsletter mailing list. Best of all, DNRC members get to
register their own official Ministerial title which they will use after the
revolution. I will be the "Minister of Absolutely Certain Indecisiveness".
(If you want to know why, read my bio.)
My other official DNRC titles will be:
Intergalactic Grandmaster of Procrastination
Grand High Misplacer of All the Round Tuits
(and the reason why you can never get one)
Go For It!
The Dilbert Zone plays host to The Dilbert Store, which offers
all kinds of overpriced Dilbert merchandise, but quick delivery.
Overall the site is well maintained and changes frequently. Stop by often.
That's all I have to say about that. With all the talking completed, the
time for action has finally arrived:
Enter The Dilbert Zone
Dave Bealer is a fifty-something mainframe systems programmer who
works with CICS, z/OS and all manner of nasty acronyms at one of the
largest heavy metal shops on the East Coast. He shares a waterfront
townhome in Pasadena, MD. with a cat who annoys him endlessly as he
assiduously avoids writing for and publishing Random Access Humor.
Dave can be reached via e-mail at:
Take my advice, I don't use it anyway.