Faxlore refers to humorous texts, folk poetry, folk art, and urban legends that are circulated, not by word of mouth, but by fax machine. ‘Xeroxlore’ or ‘photocopylore’ is similar material circulated by photocopying. Cartoons and jokes often circulate as faxlore; the poor graphic quality becoming worse with each retransmission.

Because faxlore and xeroxlore is the (mis)appropriation of technology owned by the employer, it is often mildly subversive of the workplace and its values.

Like email and chain letters, office technology has given new life to various forms of practical jokes, urban legends, and folklore. The items are often office-related, such as a spoof agenda for meetings, spurious descriptions of ridiculous training programs that all staff will allegedly be required to attend, and so on. Names may be whited out and replaced with someone in the office, making it a joke on a particular person, or details may be altered making an item more topical.

The somewhat sexist but now semi-traditional lists of reasons ‘why a cucumber is better than a man’ or ‘why a beer is better than a woman’ often circulate as faxlore, as has the well known mock German variations of ‘Blinkenlights’ (a hacker’s neologism for diagnostic lights on network hardware). Another commonly circulated text contains ethnic humor; a typical version goes: Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks French, the mechanics German, the lovers Italian, and it is all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the chefs are British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss, the police German, and it is all organized by the Italians.

Materials of this sort have existed from the beginnings of duplicating technologies. World War II era blueprints exist of drawings of female nudes with their body parts labeled as if they were the parts of airplanes. With the widespread adoption of photocopying, amateur duplication of this sort of material became available to a much larger social base. Cartoons and other amateur materials were distributed in the workplace, usually in violation of managerial restrictions on the use of office supplies, and often in disregard of copyright law.

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