1058: Old-Timers

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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You were on the internet before I was born? Well, so was I.
Title text: You were on the internet before I was born? Well, so was I.


In this comic the man with the beard thinks he is Leet and tries to show this to his conversations partner by calling her noob (see also n00b). He claims that he has been on the internet since the BBS days, and thus long before his conversation partner was even born.

A Bulletin Board System, or BBS, is an online service based on microcomputers running appropriate software. They were the precursors to modern day online forums.

However, he is up against Jill who tells him he is wrong. She explains that her parents took samples of their sperm and egg and sequenced the DNA. The resulting genome was then e-mailed to the Venter Institute where they synthesized the genome and used this to create the egg and sperm that became Jill.

The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) is a non-profit genomics research institute founded by J. Craig Venter, Ph.D. in October 2006. Although what Jill is describing may be possible this comic must take place in the future as this has not yet been used to create human beings.

Her point though is, that the man is wrong when he says that he has been on the internet. When you are "online" you are really just looking on the screen where the results found "on" the internet is displayed. So, he has been looking at the internet. The girl's genome (which is basically the closest you can come to the data a computer would need to create you) has been sent on-line in an e-mail. So, in her words, she has actually been there.

It is also worth noting that it was technically her parents' sex cells, not her, which traversed the internet.

The title text is another common retort from "old timers" that they have been doing X since before the younger person was born. In this case, Jill accepts that the old timer was "on the Internet" before she was born, but so was she... At least in the form of her genetic information.


[A man with black hair and a neck beard types away at his computer screen.]
Man (typing): Whatever, noob. I've been on the internet since the BBS days.
Screen (reply from the noob): Wrong.
type type
[The noob turns out to be Jill, with two hair buns, who kneels on her chair, typing at a laptop on a table in this frame-less panel.]
Jill (typing): Before I was born, a lab took egg and sperm samples from my parents and sequenced the DNA.
type type
[The man sits at his desk, reading his screen.]
Screen (Jill writing): They emailed the genome to the Venter Institute, where they synthesized the genome and implanted it into sperm and eggs which became me.
[Jill still typing on the laptop.]
Jill (typing): So, no.
Jill (typing): You've looked at the internet.
Jill (typing): I've been there.
type type

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Wouldn't the heat from the servers have thawed the egg and killed her early? Davidy22[talk] 13:44, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

  • What? That... What? The egg isn't actually sent through the internet, if that's what you mean. The information from the parents' genes was taken from their proteins, encoded in digital format on the computer at the lab, sent to another lab, then re-encoded into protein format to be implanted in an egg. In that context, the egg was an entirely separate part of the process. If you mean the egg would have been thawed by the people at the Venter institute holding the egg up next to the servers, unprotected, while they implanted the synthesized genome (or the people at the lab doing the same thing with the unfertilized egg while sequencing the DNA), that's... well, simply not how that works. As for "killed her early": I'm not sure of a good way to start asking what you mean by that. As opposed to killing her at the intended time? As opposed to killing the unfertilized egg before they could sequence the DNA? Or even killing the physical egg while it was somehow being transported via the internet? JET73L (talk) 11:07, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
    • Sincerely, Summer Glau -- Wotpsycho (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Perfect. ([1]) Beanie (talk) 11:08, 17 May 2021 (UTC)
Amazing usage. Pure perfection. Props to proving an admin wrong! 42.book.addict (talk) 22:48, 2 February 2024 (UTC)

To me the title text seems to be referencing something completely different, as it seems to be coming from Neckbeard, to Buns, saying that he was on the internet before he was born as well, possibly in the form of pornography while his mother was pregnant. Just my idea. Tyman2651 (talk) 20:43, 12 May 2013 (UTC)

I was thinking along those lines, except maybe the conception was on the Internet. lol 21:26, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
The title text is clearly from Buns' perspective. Tharkon (talk) 20:39, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

I cringe when I see her sit like that. 16:44, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

I sit like that. I'll hazard that odd personalities go with odd sittings. 02:35, 26 July 2020 (UTC)
I thought it was just emphasizing her lack of height 16:32, 12 December 2020 (UTC)

Another important part of the joke is that BBSes have nothing to do with the Internet. While there were some that morphed into ISPs, e.g. Prodigy and AOL, mostly they were self contained and reached peak popularity after the modern internet was created. --Rhmcoff (talk) 04:25, 28 May 2017 (UTC)

  Actually not true that BBS had nothing to do with the internet, as many were on networks that had connections to email servers to send and 
  receive email from any domain, like today. When I was assisting running a system I sent and received such emails regualrry though my own 
  email address was a long cluster of text since it was used to direct the email to right BBS on the network on this side of gateway. 13:21, 29 August 2017 (UTC)

You could say she was Assigned Email At Birth 18:20, 31 August 2022 (UTC)