I don’t remember which day of the week it arrived, but everyone subscribed, and no one cared it was composed entirely in plain text. Plain text, like: courier. ASCII art. Back then, you sent emails with the assumption that the less design, the better, cause most browsers and mail clients would choke otherwise.
What was in ICONOCAST? I wish I could remember. I can’t seem to find a screenshot of it anywhere. I imagine early web detritus floating like an island of plastic rubbish in the Pacific Ocean, bobbing in the waves, waiting to be found. The dancing desktop Austin Powers from togglethis. A murmuration of branded Comet Cursors. WAP text messages urging you to vote in American Idol, Season One. And a sludgy pool of thousands, no, millions of disregarded 100×600 skyscraper display ads that beg, “Click Here.” Fish, if you are reading this: do not click.
ICONOCAST, like many emails then and now, was just a combination of “hey this happened” and “come to this event” and “buy this stuff.” But its contents, to me, today, are irrelevant. What I remember about it is the sensation that everyone who worked in tech, in New York and San Francisco, read that email, at the same time, as soon as it arrived. No, it wasn’t a we’re-all-watching-Michael-Jackson-do-the-moonwalk-for-the-first-time moment. But it was a feeling of connection, a brain tingle.
Is IYR1T brain-tingle worthy? I don’t know. Who reads it? Well, many of you, and by “you” I mean people who work in financial services but also many many many people who don’t, like the woman from Cadillac whose away message I get every single Friday. (Hi! <3)
We barely talk about it, and yet, it seems to have a readership. And now it has an archive. Where you will never read anything like “hey this happened” or “come to this event” or “buy this stuff.” Nor will you be pointed to more than one story we find worth calling to your attention, wrapped lovingly with our, let’s face it, increasingly horrifyingly Gen X, down-with-the-man-also-with-men take.
The IYR1T archive means our beauteous library of things we considered worth commenting on, from the Hustlers trailer, to insurers creepin’ on your Instagram, to a reminder that money is a made-up concept, will be there to peruse, in all its poorly written glory, for many internet generations to come. Or as long as our parent company allows us the room on its server to keep the lights on.