"When was the last time you had a meaningful discussion about laundry?" -- Steve Gilliard, 2001
Steve Gilliard was Netslaves.com
's star writer, but he wasn't Netslaves.com's only regular contributor. For a brief time between 1999 and 2002, Netslaves functioned as a low-rent cyber-salon for the stylishly unemployed, servicing a roster of contributors who submitted articles because they had something to say, hoped to become famous for a few nanoseconds, or had nothing else to do, having lost their jobs but not yet their Internet access.
When Netslaves.com was destroyed in 2003, its writers scattered to the ends of cyberspace. Steve Gilliard found temporary shelter at The Daily Kos and ultimately founded his own site, but others, including the writer known as "E-Bitch," remain unaccounted for. Before she disappared, however, E-Bitch left behind a remarkable multipart series dubbed "Unemployment Journal" which chronicled what it was like to be young and unemployed in New York during the dotcom bust. (Hint: it wasn't fun.)
While the bulk of the writing that went into Netslaves.com concerned itself with dystopic futurist issues, E-Bitch's writing refreshingly concrete: the way the walls looked at the New York State unemployment office, the way cheap food tasted, the way decomposing hair feels when it is removed from the shower drain. Because it wasn't really "tech writing," it rarely got much attention from Netslaves.com's readers, who clearly preferred articles about the flaws in Linux, The New Economy, Pseudo.com, or Jason McCabe Calacanis. Consequently, E-Bitch probably took more online abuse for her choice of subject matter than Steve Gilliard did for repeatedly using the F-Word or failing to use a spell-checker.
Still, E-Bitch's articles provide an acerbic look at how desperate New York was back in the early '00's, and her best work continues to stand the test of time. Among my favorites is Unemployment Journal IX: The Laundry Chronicles
, a free-verse ode to the most prosaic task imaginable in the Big Apple: taking steps to ensure that your clothes don't stink. While the New Economy of 2001 bears little or new resemblance to the Google Economy of 2007, laundry remains a constant in our lives, and people feel as strongly about it as they do about Rupert Murdoch, Sergey Brin, or Yahoo. Laundry remains relevant, and it's amazing to me that VC's haven't become involved in the laundry industry, especially because geeks, as long as six years ago, were clamoring for more connected laundomats. One wrote:
Are there any e-enabled laundries in New York? You know, with three dollar an hour 56K dial-up terminals? I've been looking to drop a load in one for a while. This might be a great business opportunity for the owners - they could simply recycle old machines (computers, not dryers), run Linux/GNOME on them, and put them to money-making use. Could give Linux a big boost too.
One can only hope that this geek didn't wait too long before "dropping his load" because E-Laundry parlors never did became established in New York City.You can read (but not discuss) E-Bitch's Unemployment Journal IX: The Laundry Chronicles by clicking here.More Classic E-Bitch Articles from The Netslaves Archives
- Unemployment Journal I: What Large Shapes Can You Squeeze into Your Mouth?, January 20, 2001
- Unemployment Journal Part II: The Existential Burrito, January 24, 2001
- Unemployment Journal III: The Sims, January 29, 2001
- Unemployment Journal IV: In the Middle of the Night, February 6, 2001
- Unemployment Journal V: Backrubs and Lies (E-Bitch's Gradual Virtual Nervous Breakdown Continues), February 15, 2001
- Unemployment Journal VI: Sucking Badly, February 21, 2001
- Unemployment Journal VII: Zen and the Art of Rejection, February 26, 2001
- Unemployment Journal VIII: Insurance and Revolting Soy Crisps, March 3, 2001
- Unemployment Journal IX: The Laundry Chronicles, March 14, 2001
Labels: Cyber-Feminism, E-Bitch, Netslaves, Silicon Alley History, Steve Gilliard