enth says re August 16, 2003 : Wait! I didn't accuse the staff of running scared from the man regarding copyright, I accused them of pandering to a special interest group of twitchy copyright holders. Bit of a difference.

For my last two jobs (the substantial jobs, not the two-month stint at Gateway Country) one of my duties has been to serve as the public face of the IT department. People have a natural tendency to fear and resent IT departments, with their, "We will take away the comfy old software you've finally gotten used to and replace it with something you have to learn from scratch," and their, "We are removing your beloved screensaver depicting beautiful fields and mountain streams, and will respond to the question 'why' with technical gibberish, assuming we bother to respond at all." In my current position I am, among many other things, the scribbler who writes or at least edits nearly all the communiques that flow from our department out to the rest of the world.

So I've become very sensitive to how things are presented, and how they are received. A software upgrade or scheduled network outage can be a terrible thing that makes people angry, or a wonderful thing they'll welcome. Magic words and phrases can be used to quell opposition, enlighten or confuse as necessary, wrap fragile egos in cotton wool, allay fears, or even create fear if it will motivate people to back your effort to do something that needs doing, such as installing an antivirus update.

(It's this sort of thing that's going to turn me evil one day, I just know it. Next thing you know I'll be working for the Galactic Empire, a Goebbels type who writes the memo brilliantly explaining why the universe is better off without Alderaan.)

I was thinking about this just now as I pondered the change in site copyright policy. Sure, I've posted my share of other people's lyrics and poetry in the past, but I've always thought original work to be more admirable. The change in policy is a minor pain in the ass for me as I need to go through my thousand-plus writeups and toss some out, or rework them so the original stuff is substantial and the stuff I simply copied from someone else is gone. My only regret is the effort I put in to transcribe File 13's goofy dance single "Do It (Taste So Good)" to the database as the lyrics existed nowhere else on the Web. But all along I was thinking the good here is obvious. It reaffirms that our original writing is valued here.

Then enth and Pseudo_Intellectual (no doubt among others) accused E2's administration of running scared from the Man! It blew my mind becase I had never even considered that aspect of it. And for some reason it makes me wonder if all along, people have been placing the same value on what I consider to be my best writing here as they do on my simply adding paragraph tags and brackets around the lyrics to "I Touch Myself"? Or maybe not; maybe it's the principle of the thing--maybe having "I Touch Myself" up there is a symbolic way E2 gives the raspberry to the RIAA, and (as P_I's homenode currently suggests) giving the raspberry to the RIAA is considered very important by some folks here. I do remember back in the E1 days there was talk, even at the highest levels, of us being pirates and pillaging the rest of the Web for content. That idea was fun for a while but the appeal wore off for me when I'd click on a new node with an interesting title or by an noder I liked, found that it was just another set of lyrics or someone else's poem, and felt kind of cheated.

But this is a long digression. What I'm wondering is whether or not the response would have been different if this had not been presented as a change in copyright policy, but instead the admins saying, "You know what? A few years into this experiment we feel that original content rocks and copied content is lame. So from here on out the former stays and the latter goes, unless it's in the public domain in which case we'll let it stick around."

Hmm. Playing it out in my mind, I think people still would have been angry. (Just as politely explaining that the user's beloved screensaver makes their PC run slower and clogs up the network with useless traffic doesn't make them happy to lose their beautiful fields and waterfalls.) The choice between those options would seem to be between looking like tyrants handing down arbitrary decrees regarding what "belongs" here, or coming across as a buncha sellouts.

Power has been restored to New York City as of 11:00 p.m., New York time, after the Blackout of 2003. It was great to see that everyone there took it in stride. People were talking to each other and pooling their cash to grab a cab to New Rochelle or wherever. They were picking up hitchhikers. Drivers weren't honking their horns, as much. They were waving to each other, with all their fingers. What a difference from the last two power outages.

Here in Venango County in Western Pennsylvania the lights flickered off and on just after 4 o'clock. I was at work and starting the gun lap of finishing another day at the drafting board and the computer. The power dipped enough to reset the computer. Several minutes later after a couple attempts to get going again everything went out. The battery powered emergency lights came on and off and on and off and finally stayed on. Some left early. I hung around until 4:45 p.m. which is our quitting time. I won't go on about how busy I am at work and how short handed we are since one guy quit to go back to school and another worker is off on maternity leave and just before she comes back another guy is going back to school.

I turned on my shortwave radio to 27.185 MHz which is Channel 19 on the CB radio band. I could hear some of the truckers going through Franklin, PA talking about the traffic lights being out and traffic beginning to back up. Just before I left one of them said the blackout was across the whole state. I told the only other guy still at work, the shop supervisor. He said: "Oh bullshit, it ain't that bad."

We lost power for three days back in July this year when a freak wind shear ripped through the Northeast. Some places like Memphis, TN and Louisville, KY were worse off than we were. All we lost was $150.00 worth of food in the refridgerator. We were camping at home, cooking outside, listening to the radio, and reading by flashlight. We were hoping that the electricity wouldn't be off for two or three days as they thought this time. We had just stocked up the fridge. I tried to get some ice but everyone was sold out by the time I got to the stores. We missed out on the ice three weeks ago too. My next door neighbor's got six bags of ice.

My wife just made a big batch of spagetti sauce when the power went out. We usually eat some then and freeze the rest. I opened the fridge to get some cold water and my wife yelled, "What the hell are you doing?"

We gave a quart of sauce to my other neighbor. He is alone and we help each other quite a bit. We were out watching the Channel 11 News helicopter, out of Pittsburgh, flying around. I read their logo with a pair binoculars. The other next door neighbors are friendly but distant. They wouldn't need six bags of ice. The power came on about 9 p.m., less than five hours after it went out. Yahoo!

Listen. I turned the page on a chapter of my life today.

Today was the last day of my California internship at Maxis working on The Sims 2, possibly the most highly anticipated video game ever. My supervisors spoke highly of me, and I received vaguely positive "Give us a call next summer" (when I'll have graduated), by which they mean the game industry moves too fast to hire people if they can't start in less than a month.

In two days I'll be back in Minnesota. In seven days I'll be back in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

As with every time I get ready to pack up and move, I am struck by the transitory nature of all things. All the friends I've made this summer are left behind, returning to voiceless words on the interweb once more. I will miss them.

Many of my classmates are even more taciturn than I. A taste of the whole "getting paid for working" meme has made them question the value of an advanced degree. I tell myself that this is one of those "long term benefit" things that humans are generally very bad at noticing. But the ease with which they turn their backs on what I am turning towards is, I admit, disheartening.

Once I'm back at graduate school, I'll get to meet all the new students. Lots of internationals this year. They all sound so utterly enthusiastic. I remember feeling like that once, but now experience shows me the hard times as much as the good, for they walk hand-in-hand in graduate school. 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration may be one of the few life lessons that graduate work is really good at teaching.

The rantings of yesterday are to be replaced with a more reasonable, flowing story today.

Today began with a very early phone call. Early for us means anything before noon, as we maintain a swing shift schedule. It was Sprint. "Sorry, no DSL for you. Our engineers decided to actually check your neighborhood instead of just letting us assume it'll work, and it turns out it won't. Whoops. Say, can you send those DSL modems back to us, please? It'll be $170 if you don't." D'oh!

I intensely dislike the cable company, but it looks like cable modem is my only option. I spent the morning blabbing with assorted Cox representatives trying to figure out if they really cap people at 15GB per month like their site claims (they do), and what happens if you reach that ($10 per 100MB ... shudder).

Next came a call from the lender. Good news and bad news. Good news: the paperwork is at the title company, and we can do the closing whenever we wish now. Bad news: the lender needs to see yet another $300 so we can satisfy the damned investors. Yet another friend came to our rescue, kicking in with a temporary loan to inflate the bank account enough to satisfy the lender. The money went right back, and everybody's happy.

We scheduled our closing for 3:00pm today, and went to the title company. Oddly enough, not much bad happened. They did surprise us with irritating news: we weren't getting $500+ back from escrow, but instead owed $442.08 more. The concept of "truth in lending" must mean something other than what it sounds like to our lender, because just about every piece of this process has been less than good for us. Guess I didn't need that $400 cushion anyway.

In fact we had to tear around Las Vegas for awhile to get the cash, turn it into a money order, and get it back to the title company before they closed. By the way, Vegas is a great place, except when you're in a hurry to get something accomplished. Friday afternoons are an incredibly stupid time to attempt to get money, or a money order. Delays abound.

With that frenzy behind us, we took a deep breath, and realized something:

We own a fucking house!

We'll get the keys Monday or Tuesday (depending on how fast the paperwork shuffles through Clark County's guts).

Turns out we did not need $5,000 like I whined about a couple days ago.

I'd like to thank the folks who took the time to /msg me about both the lending crap and about my mini-whine about downvotes. The encouragement was helpful in calming down a bit about the lender, and I now understand better the purpose of downvotes on day logs. So, vote dumpers, consider voting up instead of down if you don't actually care (be positive, instead of negative, for a change). Day log haters, go, uh, hate something more productive, or something.

Heh...so I have this house thing now... guess I should get a second job to I can have some money to help pay for stuff to put in the house.

    Have you ever played that game called Pachinko? You know when the ball drops pinging and bouncing around all the little metal pegs as it makes its way into a slot? Sometimes I see users like that, whether or not they end up in a winning slot depends on which way they tip the game, but not in the playing games kind of sense; more serious than that.

I’m pretty much an objective oriented kinda person who takes things at face value so when I do contemplate it’s on the evidence presented. It’s also how I manage to not only survive but thrive in the midst of the subjectivity here. Next month it will be four years that I’ve been a noder and I have come slowly (at times utterly reluctantly) to see it as a good thing. I trust E2 and those that run it.

The purpose of this day log is to help the newer users to gain some perspective in where we have been and how we got here. The hope is that it may for a few allay some concerns over recent events so we can move on. Based on several events it is in my opinion that E2 is attracting a higher caliber group of writers as members now, as well as, others who want to join in but may feel strongly opposed to the lax copyright policy and I don’t blame them. This is how they provide for their families, put a roof over their heads and feed their children.

Recently I took a writing class and one of the questions I asked was,
” Is there a writer’s group here in town?”
The answer was categorically no with many classmates acknowledging that writing is a lonely profession.

How lucky we are, I think Pound and Eliot would applaud. Here is a real writer’s paradise with all kinds of feedback and ethics prevent those who make a livlihood by writing from joining in on the fun.

That’s a real dilemma and it would be selfish to leave it unattended. What follows is an edited reply to an e-mail composed last week about my thoughts regarding E2 and Copyright. One caveat; this is from my rather fuzzy headed way gathering of information --

    The E2 Backstory is pretty straightforward. nate created the E2 core and “node ball” I really don’t understand the concept behind a node ball but at the time he thought it was unique enough that the code might be marketable at some point. He wanted something to showcase his idea and E1 was born. /. was still in its formative years and there was a link put there.

    nate, dem bones, hemos (whose house keeps burning down), clampe, theguildedframe, lawnjart, Commander Taco, thefez to name a few off the top of my head may have been all high school buddies. No idea where all this whiz kid brilliance comes from. I asked thefez once what inspired all this creativity. Was it the school, a teacher, parents, each other? He couldn’t say but here they are. It astounds me.

    In the beginning of E1 nate wanted little blurbs of information much like a Reader’s Digest magazine. There could only be two write-ups per node and a character limit to the size of the write-ups at E1. Sometimes you’ll come across what were called “node strings”. If there wasn’t enough room for all we wanted to say we made a new write up and hard linked it on to the next one.

    Dorks and Geeks and Nerds showed up in droves from Slashdot and pretty soon we had all kinds of nuggets of odd little infobytes. It was great! A lot of fun. We were the happiest little noders on the net but there was no way to communicate as a group and for a while we did so through soft links and nodes.

    People began running around claiming,
    “Aha! I have 500 write-ups I’m a K noder!”
    “I have 1000 write-ups I’m an M Noder!”
    so there was competition.

    Some thought we needed a dictionary for our hard links and noded away on words and… oh! the Bible was important too because so much of literature is based on that so Bible verses were noded. This is where “noding for numbers” came from and while the quality may have been poor it laid an important foundation for the future users to come along and add to, or supercede.

    When E2 was born they auto noded Webster_1913 and the KJV, imported E1 and put in the catbox. That was the foundation of this “wonderfully complex beast.” The XP system wasn’t established for quite some time and was so confused by it-- I didn’t like it, but over time I can look back and see how it has encouraged me to become a better-quality writer.

    Why did nate call it Everything? I’ve been told it is because he is a Douglas Adams fan and you may have heard of his book titled “Life the Universe and Everything” About the same time www.h2g2.com came on line or maybe it was already there. I’m not sure if he got the idea from that web site or the ideas seemed to strike at the same time --anyway, they are similar concepts except I’m pretty sure that h2g2 owns the copyrights to what ever is submitted there and there is no cat box, leveling, or XP system. It’s not as close knit as E2 either as far as I can tell. They don’t seem to have this phenomenon of noder meets, but does run on a limited community feedback like a message board and seems to be successful.

    nate seemed to want the site to evolve naturally on its own as far as being self governing so there was a lot of subjectivity until the users began to develop some pride in their work and began to naturally define some FAQ’s. bones wanted information and creative writing. nate runs the coding and bones oversees the users, which I think has been a wise policy. It still pretty much runs on that combined process and from time to time the editors, gods, and noders will make an observation, bones will acknowledge that we have reached a certain point and sometimes the outcome is a policy change or an FAQ doc.

    For example I think it was the observations made in a write up about how rude a user was to a professional writer that has been one of various impetuses for this change. Like many it was sad for me to learn about that and sorry for the potential that was lost.

    Throughout all of these changes there have been some tough times for me personally. I learned early on to detach from the gossip and politics. Even though I may be clueless about a lot of things I know that because of this decision to stay out of all that I am much more relaxed about my writing and can enjoy others and the site because of it.

    Sometimes users decide for whatever reasons it’s no longer in their best interest to write here and leave. I have no idea what is going on behind the scenes but there seems to be desires to have users come who are interested in writing as a serious endeavor, as well as, to get the professional writers who have been attracted to the site to join in.

    Writing more than chatting has consistently been emphasized as the goal and at this time seems to be getting focused in on more intensely by the Admins. If someone is here just to chat or to make trouble or there are sour grapes over these modifications in expectations, it’s unprincipled. Understandably many members of the community don’t want the new users put off by all of this. I have to admire this group of editors for keeping it well balanced and using their integrity.

    There appears to have been a schism among the long-term users in early spring and C2 was created, in a way, to catch those who would predictably fall away. They say it will be run in a “new” way but I can’t figure out what they mean by that at this time. If it goes public I will be interested in seeing how it does. Maybe at some point in the future the sites will dovetail.

    What caught my attention was the comment that E2 will not be able to keep its non profit status so I wondered--is there a goal to make a profit and if so how? One can only guess for now …maybe charge people for a membership? Pull articles and publish them in the hard print media? I don’t know but it’s interesting to watch and hope I may have a place in that. I don’t think there has been any firm decisions made. At any rate I agree, there must be a higher level of journalistic integrity in place.

    As for feeling guilty about fitting in with E2 I encourage you to be kind to yourself. Your flexibility and willingness to learn has been key in getting off on the right foot. Your experience has been one that I wish to see more of. Some of the new users that pop up on the radar jump in only to discover that this may be more than they wanted for a writing experience. E2 is not for everyone and that’s okay.

    For sure E2 is going through another bumpy ride, some more growing pains and the composition of the community is changing again. I think there will always be some sort of community spirit but it will transform and only time will tell us what the outcomes will be. I hope the noder meets will renew in spirit; they contribute so much to E2.

    Some of these comments are only explorative on my thoughts about the recent events against the backdrop of E2’s past. I hope you will keep that in mind. I thank you for your opinion. It’s valuable to me for many reasons and one is that it helps me see through less jaded eyes and forms a personal outlook about the situation. I hope the long amble down memory lane is as helpful for you as well. Let me know what you think.

There you go Dear Reader, I trust it will be enlightening to some. If I’ve made mistakes in my recollections well that’s okay, tell me about it and know that they’re honest ones.
Yours truly.
morven says re August 16, 2003: Much in agreement.
Wuukiee says re August 16, 2003: nicely, nicely put.
arieh says re August 16, 2003 : I think you're largely right, and it's interesting to see some history laid out. E2 seems a little afraid of history sometimes. E2 is moving in the right direction, I'm sure.
The only thing that worries me is a change in the primary E2 paradigm. I came here for the database, not to be a writer. It was - sort of - altruistic, in that there was a mission, a common purpose. Things like the CRT reinforced this idea.
There's an ancient jewish proverb: "it's not for you to finish the job, but neither are you free to quit it".
Somewhere on the way, I started enjoying what I do, wanting to take pleasure in my creations. E2 may attreact writers, but it's much more important that we create them.
I've been thinking for some time about how E2 should develop, and it's nice to see the discussion being had without all the massive recriminations that normally come with it.
Wiccanpiper says re August 16, 2003: Dear Lometa, this is without a doubt the most well-reasoned take on recent events. I hope everyone reads it. Thank you!

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
- Hebrews 13:2


Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.