A Big Inside Joke on Several Levels

No, silly, not the Bush administration – LOL!!
Better, David McRaney’s fantastic article on Internet communication culture and sub-cultures, called A Special In-Depth Analysis L337 Katz0rz:

Still, a fusion of sorts between learned, direct language and rapid, practical digital missives takes place with Leetspeak and macros. Both relay a great deal of information in a small burst of code. Each depends on the receiver of the information having working knowledge of the culture and its references. In a sense, these serve as argots, and help identify both sides of the information transfer as belonging to the subculture where they appear. The in-joke is part of the communication. The separation of ingroup and outgroup helps drive the rapid evolution of both leetspeak and macros.

Someone uses lol, which turns into the spoken “l-o-l,” which then becomes “lol” but sounds like “lawl,” and at some point someone in a forum thread, in response to something funny, puts up an image of Lal, the name of Data’s daughter from a single, obscure “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode. It’s a big inside joke on several levels, and the creator gets golf claps for pulling together all these references into one simple understatement. Everyone who gets it belongs in the ingroup, and the behavioral cycle is encouraged and repeated.

That post is full of win. The comments are gr8, 2.