Laugh Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018

What's Inside

Best of RAH96 Humor Review:
The Dilbert Zone

by Dave Bealer

Copyright © 1996 Dave Bealer, All Rights Reserved.

We publish a fair amount of funny stuff here at RAH96, be even we can't produce enough humorous material to please (or satiate) everyone on the net. So one of the missions of RAH96 is to review the best of the other funny things in the world, both online and offline. This time we review a web site called The Dilbert Zone.

A Daily Palette of Life in the 90s

Dilbert is the hottest comic strip of the mid-90s, appearing in hundreds of newspapers around the world. Scott Adams is the genius behind Dilbert, inheriting the mantle of "Leading Edge Social Commentator" from such legends as Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County) and Gary Trudeau (Doonesbury).

One reason for the success of Dilbert is the fact that Scott Adams actually shared the general lifestyle and employment of his characters throughout most of the strip's lifetime. Until 6/30/95 Adams worked for Pacific Bell, one of the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs), an outfit firmly in the middle of the communications technology revolution.

The technical savvy of Scott Adams is reflected not only in the Dilbert comic strips, but in Adams' participation in the online world. Adams admits to getting many of his best ideas from e-mail messages from Dilbert's real-life counterparts. This fact explains why so many Dilbert strips hit so close to the insane realities of the 1990s technical workplace. It also promises to make Adams' reign a long one. Keeping in such close contact with his readers will prevent Adams from drifting away from the reality of their lives, a fate which has befallen every cartoonist, no matter how talented, who cloistered himself away in some studio.

A Fresh Attitude Towards The Online Populace

United Media, the firm that syndicates Dilbert, has taken a giant step forward in its treatment of the online community. Missing is the paranoia that marked the reaction of traditional print media syndicates like Knight-Ridder, which pulled columns by Dave Barry and Mike Royko off of Clarinet (an internet newspaper distributed via newsgroup) after it was found that people were e-mailing copies of the columns to their friends.

Such e-mailing amounts to technically unlawful use of copyrighted material, it is true. So does sending columns or comic strips photocopied from newspapers to one's friends. The difference is that nobody can easily detect the hardcopy violations, so they are "overlooked." There are those who practice flagrant abuse of the copyright laws using computer/online technology. The argument that nobody online can be trusted with copyrighted material because of this fact makes just as little sense as the argument that nobody can be trusted with guns since a few maniacs use them to commit murder and mayhem.

United Media makes two weeks worth of Dilbert strips available on The Dilbert Zone. This archive is delayed by two weeks to allow United Media's print clients to get exclusive exposure of the strips in their outlets prior to electronic publication. Such a plan is similar to the delayed electronic publication technique used previously with books such as Bruce Sterling's The Hacker Crackdown. This kind of plan may well become the standard sequence of publication, at least as long as print periodicals continue to exist.

More Than An Archive

The Dilbert Zone is much more than a comic strip archive, however. The de rigueur Scott Adams childhood picture is there, along with several unique features. Among these are the "Sock Puppet" photo collection, featuring Scott Adams and several fans. (Don't ask me. I'm not making this up - just reporting it.) Adams is currently touring bookstores around the U.S. promoting his new book, The Dilbert Principle. His schedule of bookstore stops for approximately the next month is available online. The site recently ran a Dilbert Principle Trivia Game, and just added the Dilbert R&D Lab game, which requires the Shockwave plug-in for Netscape.

Dogbert's New Ruling Class

Dogbert is Dilbert's dog, but this mutt is no Snoopy or Farley. Dogbert has plans. Big plans. Dogbert plans to rule the world some day. Even Dogbert realizes he can't do that alone, so he is enlisting members for his organization, Dogbert's New Ruling Class (DNRC). DNRC members can come from any area or income level, but they all have one thing in common - they understand technology. This distinguishes DNRC members from "induhviduals", those pathetic goobers who don't know twisted pair cables from Twizzlers.

In addition to the opportunity to help rule the world some day and have induhviduals act as their domestic servants, DNRC members get to join a special DNRC newsletter mailing list. Best of all, DNRC members get to register their own official Ministerial title which they will use after the revolution. I will be the "Minister of Absolutely Certain Indecisiveness". (If you want to know why, read my bio.)

My other official DNRC titles will be:

Intergalactic Grandmaster of Procrastination

Grand High Misplacer of All the Round Tuits
(and the reason why you can never get one)

Go For It!

The Dilbert Zone plays host to The Dilbert Store, which offers all kinds of overpriced Dilbert merchandise, but quick delivery. Overall the site is well maintained and changes frequently. Stop by often. That's all I have to say about that. With all the talking completed, the time for action has finally arrived:

Enter The Dilbert Zone


Dave Bealer is a fifty-something mainframe systems programmer who works with CICS, z/OS and all manner of nasty acronyms at one of the largest heavy metal shops on the East Coast. He shares a waterfront townhome in Pasadena, MD. with a cat who annoys him endlessly as he assiduously avoids writing for and publishing Random Access Humor. Dave can be reached via e-mail at:


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