Usenet author posting in justified paragraphs?
January 14, 2014 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know the name/email address of a guy who used to post to Usenet in the mid-1990s in justified text? (When rendered in a monospaced font.)

His posts had exactly the same number of characters of every line, with exactly one space between words. (Maybe two after a full stop, but he was very consistent.) Amazingly, they didn't read any differently to anyone else's posts.

I think he might have been from ANU (Australian National University), and despite the apparent difficulty of ensuring that each line ended at exactly the same column, he was a fairly prolific poster. I can't remember what groups he posted to, but I was reading tech, GNU and various misc groups at the time, so it was probably one of those.
posted by mstillwell to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Jesse Garon. Unless there were two guys doing the same thing back then.
posted by asterix at 8:21 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's a post of his that specifically mentions the justification.
posted by asterix at 8:29 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I met "Jesse Garon" a couple times; he briefly worked here in Seattle when a certain local online bookstore first started. He also sometimes posted in terza rima and he was active in alt.religion.kibology. He's an American, but I don't know if he spent any time in .au-- I recollect that he was in California? but I don't really remember that well.

"Jesse Garon" is the name of Elvis Presley's stillborn twin brother, so the story goes.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:16 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I remember people doing this in the mid to late '80s on the BBS scene, so it likely went further than "one guy on Usenet".

Although it wasn't always a consistent thing, sometimes it was "oh, this is happening on two or three lines, I should rework the rest of this paragraph, for kicks".
posted by straw at 9:43 AM on January 14, 2014

As those guys said, Jesse Garon was the primary instigator, mostly on alt.religion.kibology, but there were fully justified threads with lots of participants, so maybe that's where you're getting Australia. There were at least a couple prolific Kibologists there. And Kibology was always big on crossposting, so really, you could have seen those threads just about anywhere.

(He did live in CA at the time, but he's not there now.)
posted by ernielundquist at 9:47 AM on January 14, 2014

I can't find a link, but I have saved this posting for years out of pure admiration:
From Mon Feb  2 12:23:49 EST 1998

In article ,
Roy Stogner  wrote:

>It is a UNIX thing.  You see, all the Windows 95 and NT people here
>are using GUI newsreaders that try to do all the text formatting on
>your message, giving you no control over how everything looks after
>it has been broken up into separate lines and posted.  Advocates of
>Linux (and UNIX in general, of course) are primarily using terminal
>based newsreaders, on the other hand, both for the exact control of
>monospaced fonts in their messages and for the powerful features of
>said newsreaders.  This particular newsreader, slrn, uses my choice
>of editor for text.  I am using vi, which with a few keystrokes can
>pipe a selection of text through a UNIX-style filter command.  This
>particular filter goes through each line of text, taking every word
>one at a time and using an online dictionary to produce synonyms of
>that word.  It chooses from the collection of synonyms to find some
>that will produce a line of the required length, either a number on
>the command line or a predetermined length set at compile time.
>The intended effect is to "wierd out" all the Windows users reading
>the message, and to subliminally demonstrate the superiority of the
>popular UNIX tools at even the most trivial tasks.

That's... that's weird.  I really like it, don't get me wrong.  It's
rather clever, and it's something I would never even have thought of
doing, even though I use a Unix system for most of my Internet needs
and I know how to pipe data around.  But it's also weird.

Is there any chance I can get that filter from you?
"And don't skimp on the mayonnaise!"

posted by roue at 10:11 AM on January 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

The late Michael S. Hart of Project Gutenberg used to do this, too.
posted by scruss at 10:33 AM on January 14, 2014

Hi! Back in the 1990s, I used to be known as "Jesse Garon" on USENET, and it's true, from January to June 1996, everything I posted to the newsgroups was fully justified if you were using a monospaced font like I was. (I was still using a UNIX shell back then, and writing my posts in Emacs.) I forget exactly WHY I started doing it, but Kibology definitely played a part in the decision -- something like I must've seen somebody do it once or twice, and boldly declared I could do it all the time.

I have never been to Australia, but I'd like to remedy that some day.

I'd feel a lot better about my Fully Justified phase, though, if it weren't for the fact that, as was the case for much of my time on USENET, I could be a real asshole; a lot of the justified posts were, as I recall, about intellectually browbeating people, if not outright bullying them. Fortunately, I grew up.
posted by RonHogan at 8:32 PM on January 14, 2014 [19 favorites]

Kibo recently showed up here on MetaFilter too. Usenet reunion, everybody!
posted by mbrubeck at 9:38 PM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

For reference, the phenomenon was (and is) known as "bricktext". The name seems to have been co-opted by graphic utilities which put textures on text, but the historical usage has some hits on a search.
posted by jackbishop at 2:20 PM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

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