HOWTO explain the Internet to a Dickensian street urchin

From Fast Company's ongoing "Explaining Everything With Flowcharts" series, a flowchart showing how a time-traveller could explain the Internet to a Dickensian street-urchin. Very funny stuff and excellent use of a maze!

Flowchart: Understanding the Web, for Fans of Charles Dickens (via MeFi)


  1. Go to 1975 to show the urchen the beginning of the internet.
    Angry programmer beats you to death for using rectangles instead of diamonds for “decisions” in your flowchart.
    You Die.

  2. Cute, but I would find it very positive thinking to believe that Twitter will still be a primary mode of communication in 3085.

    Meanwhile, your previous passenger is stuck back in 1835, cursing your name.

  3. This author would be great at creating old adventure computer games. That’s a game I want to play!

    And yes: “Dickensian.”

  4. WTH is up with the site, the pop window to look at the image full size doesn’t have any scroll bars. Annoying site design is annoying.

  5. 1) Explain to urchin that the internet is like the post (mail). All of the post is handled by machines and delivered nearly instantaneously. You can correspond with anyone else using it. Great intellectuals, harlots, libraries, and beggars. Even machines so complicated, they seem to think.

    2) Beat him until he understands. (when in Rome…)

    1. But I don’t speak French. I suppose I’ll have to use the universal language of love…the language that OW SYPHILIS.

      1. But I don’t speak French. I suppose I’ll have to use the universal language of love…the language that OW SYPHILIS.

        That is the funniest thing I have ever read. Ever. I can’t explain it, I can’t help it, I’m not proud of myself.

        Last night I was in a classroom situation where revealing that I had read such a thing during lab time, and found it hysterically funny, would have been a major embarrassment … it was all I could do to crush my face into some parody of calm, and even then I had to repeatedly turn away from the students (thank God it was late and only a few remained) in order to release a silent shuddering guffaw.

  6. Wonderful flow chart: I have always liked flow charts but you don’t often see one that makes you laugh out loud. (Though it seems that this source … )

    And, just to add to all the others, Cory will you please use the spell checker as a favour to the rest of us? This ain’t the first time. And I am well aware that many riters ar bad spelers, but there is technology to assist you. (Doesn’t always work, which is why you probably need people like me — proof readers.)

  7. The plague-carrying rat giving you plague should actually be fleas from the plague-carrying rat biting you. He’s confused the vector with the reservoir.

    1. Also, plague wasn’t really an issue for London in the 1830s. Water-borne diseases on the other hand…(cf. turthalion, Dr. John Snow, et al.).

  8. If it’s 1835, the section talking about explaining it as a “series of tubes” with the urchin responding “like the tubes that run under the city”, and you responding “yes, but not carrying fecal matter” is wrong.

    London’s sewers were not yet constructed in 1835.

    Thank you, Seven Wonders of the Industrial World.

      1. > Also, the intertubes actually do, predominantly, carry fecal matter

        Oh, well played. You sir, win one set of Intertubes.

        Of course, given what they carry, how do you feel about that?

  9. Funny comments, with lots of tongue-in-cheek and clever humor. Interestingly, though, no one seemed to notice how this flowchart is a perfect way to teach Wittgenstein’s theory of how language in general works (language games). Though humorous and evocative, Cory’s post is actually quite philosophical — deeper than it appears!

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