Colossal Computer Cartoon Book (published 1977)

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Preface (by David H. Ahl)

graphic of page


Did you ever leaf through a magazine without stopping to look at the cartoons? Not many people do. Indeed, some sociologists feel that cartoons are one of the major influences on public opinion. I don't know if I'd go that far, however, I would not argue with the notion that many laypeople get their information about computers exclusively from sensationalist news stories and from cartoons. And just where do the cartoonists get their ideas? No one knows for sure, but it's fairly clear that the cartoonists are, for the most part, outsiders looking into the field of computers. And this look is generally through a peephole or dirty periscope.

So we probably won't get any profound knowledge about the world of computers from cartoons but that's not the object of cartoons anyway. Besides, it's the incongruous, the unexpected, and the surprise connection that makes a situation funny. And there are several hundred of these fresh creative leaps of the imagination in this book.

Ron Anderson, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota, feels that computer cartoons can be grouped into six categories:

  1. Humanized computer
  2. Computerized human
  3. Computer as a beneficial tool
  4. Tool evolves into threatening master
  5. The dependent computer
  6. Computer people and insider jokes

I don't argue with these categories since Ron has studied the subject far more deeply than I have. However, to lend this book some slight degree of organization (many computer people have this must-be-organized phobia), I found it easier to use a somewhat different group of categories from computer dating to computers in the office and so on.

If you read this far, you probably shouldn't have bought this book. The whole purpose of the book is to read the cartoons and laugh or chuckle or giggle or groan. Who ever heard of a preface in a cartoon book anyway? Let's get on with it and have a little cybernetic fun!

David H. Ahl
May 1977, Morristown, NJ

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