Reflections after a decade without e2
(in which yours truly tries to tackle a delicate subject, and falls flat on his face)
I'm attempting to reflect on almost ten years without everything2. I joined everything2 on Boxing Day 1999, in my first year at University. A computer scientist by temperament, I had somehow ended up as an Arts Student. Or more accurately, "the Arts Student", as my contemporaries in the (in my case, non-degree) CS classes put it mockingly.
I was a bored one at that.
Maybe I stumbled on e2 from everything1, or from Slashdot. Certainly, I do remember being 'imported'. In the early days, the site was pretty damn busy, with new write-ups every few minutes, and the very idea of the site still developing. At the same time--and it may speak to the mean age of the users in those days -- my memories are characterised by the strong and quick formation of online friendships.
I started to drift away around 2004; now, ten years later, I see a different site. It's as though the famed nodegel has evaporated under a long sun, or been cooked and condensed down. Back then the rise of Wikipedia was perceived by some as a kind of competition, or even a threat of sorts. While Wikipedia has now taken up the mantle of being an encyclopaedia, it's pleasing to see e2 taking possession of a different aspect. Whilst there's still plenty of fact here, the emphasis is now on creative writing, it would appear.
A whole load of cruft has been purged out through judicious editing. At the same time, the site seems to have slowed, and matured, as I said above. GTKY, whilst seemingly not necessarily frowned upon, has become scarce. In the 'good old days' the New Writeups list could fly like a ticker-tape. Now, your write up from yesterday is still there today. There is a loss of the frenetic sense, though also maybe a loss of a certain dynamism.
Were we simply younger then? There were stupendous "wars in heaven", mudslinging to blacken the sky, and frantic typing as the words and lines hurtled into the abyss. Yet there, something great and new was born.
The irony is that the internet has changed in similar ways, but in almost the opposite direction. When I was a teenager in the 90s, the internet still had Directories! Nowadays, sites dynamically create (crap) pages to satisfy search queries. Whilst the internet grows in gargantuan proportions every day, e2 seems to have gone in the opposite direction. Like a fine wine, she's become mature and refined with age.
There are those we should remember, though. Many have fled*. And there are other absent friends. And even where differences ensued, each one of them helped to create a sense of community, which I hope still survives. Both here, and also, for all those no longer with us, wherever they are. You grow, you move on; wanting everything2 to be immutable would be the same as wishing for a fly in amber. It is what you make of it when you're around. As Heraclitus said, no man can set foot in the same stream twice, though I surely like all the times I've dabbled my toes here.
There. Pseudo-historical GTKY over. "Tassimo Time!"
*though Shanoyu's definition of 2000 is now incorrect: the ones I'm talking about were not "low-level."
Thanks to mad girl's love song for edits.