239: Blagofaire

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Things were better before the Structuring and the Levels.
Title text: Things were better before the Structuring and the Levels.


Facts become distorted as time moves forward. What do we know about the Elizabethan times? They spoke strange English. What will 400 years from now think of the first twenty years of the Internet? Crazy people said crazy things online. Will we even say "online" 400 years from now? Won't the internet be everywhere, and everyone on it all the time in their retinal implants that being "offline" will seem absurd? Particular facts that this reenactor seems to have confused are:

  • "battling roving bands of trolls." Trolls in fantasy refer to monstrous creatures that are often antagonists who do battle with heroes. However, online trolls refer to disruptive members of discussion boards.
  • "The generation's finest minds meeting on comment threads, […] and holding the great dialogues of the age!" As Randall has pointed out in other comics (202: YouTube, 301: Limerick, and 481: Listen to Yourself), the discussions that take place online are often very poor examples of intellectual discourse.

"Ren Faire" is short for "Renaissance Faire", described as "an outdoor weekend gathering, usually held in the United States, open to the public and typically commercial in nature, which emulates a historic period for the amusement of its guests." While Cory Doctorow is not in this comic, the character is cosplaying him. This comic inspired several xkcd readers to give Cory Doctorow a red cape and goggles when he won the 2007 EFF Pioneer Award. Cory Doctorow's balloon is featured in 482: Height. The title "Blagofaire" might be an amalgamation between Blogosphere, Medieval Faire, and Blag, Randall's way of referencing his blog. The same topic is mentioned in the title text of the second image of the what if? article Facebook of the Dead, which say: "An elderly Cory Doctorow cosplaying by wearing what the future thinks he wore in the past.". The "festival" the cosplayer references is later referenced in 771: Period Speech.

The title text is probably the future cosplayer referring to the state of the future internet, indicating some organizational structure that constrains and stratifies it, and his preference for what he perceives as the wild and unfettered internet of the past.


Man in Red Cape and Goggles: Hey, it worked!
Cueball: What? Who are you?
Man in Red Cape and Goggles: I'm from the distant future.
Cueball: Wow. Hi!
Man in Red Cape and Goggles: Are you a blogger? I play one of you at our festivals!
Cueball: Huh?
Man in Red Cape and Goggles: Like the Ren faires of your time — I do reenactments.
Man in Red Cape and Goggles: We relive the days when the internet was new and free. The days of risky sharing, Slashdot, the Myspace music renaissance. The generation's finest minds meeting on comment threads, battling roving bands of trolls, and holding the great dialogues of the age!
Cueball: Is that how you—
Man in Red Cape and Goggles: We're fuzzy on some details. Did bloggers really wear red capes and goggles and blog from high-altitude balloons?
Cueball: No!
Cueball: Well, Cory Doctorow does. But nobody else.


This is the first xkcd comic featuring Cory Doctorow.

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Offline would mean dead. 13:35, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Structuring and levels?

I still don't understand the title text. Structuring, levels? Can it be explained more thoroughly? 15:52, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

I can't figure out how to word well enough to add it in, but my interpretation is that's it's a joke about the way that we organize time, with the Structuring and the Levels being like the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment. Someone living through both wouldn't notice a sudden difference between them, while someone looking at them as past events can think of things in terms of decades and centuries, and choose a point at the start, middle or end of the gradual changes which brought about the later time period. 22:16, 31 August 2014 (UTC)

I have no other explanation, yet I wonder if there was a time before people tended to simplify past events or things in general. The title text sounds like a reminescence, maybe of how Munroe perceived the early internet. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

No-one else thought that Structuring and Levels referred to some kind of event that restructured the internet of the future? I mean, the future cosplayer speaks of the modern internet as some wild and adventurous place, free of rules and responsibility. The future internet could be strictly regulated, where bloggers can only speak to bloggers of their "level" and a talk thread digressing out of it's place in the Structure would be ruthlessly persecuted!

Or something like that. In fact, the "wizard" explanation is dumb, so I'm gonna change it. -Pennpenn 03:51, 9 June 2015 (UTC)

Levels would be the amount companies are going to force people to pay to keep the same Internet that they have now with the end of Net Neutrality and the ability to go to any website without restriction because it does not help pad the pockets of today Government/Corporate overlords162.158.62.231 11:20, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

i think the struckiring and lvls is 1 a refrence 2 video game levels and the sturcking like capcha but more

Randall also seems to have likened Internet trolls to fantasy ones in this comic: https://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/591:_Troll_Slayer162.158.30.86 03:42, 24 January 2023 (UTC)