1. What is your name?

David, though I have had a series of other usernames, including wrinkly, Oxherd, Dudders and AspieDad. I'm pretty sure those are all the ones which were active for any length of time, but there may have been others that I have forgotten.

2. Tell us something about you, your background, and what you've been up to lately?

I've spent over three decades in the publishing business, writing for a living. A couple of years ago, the North Atlantic recession swept in and we – my long-term partner Iza and I – needed a bit more money. More money to see our kids through college; more money to feed my wine-drinking habit; more money to fund a retirement plan.

So we set up our own publishing business, buying a moribund magazine title and turning it to profit.

Like any home business, it takes a lot of time and a lot of energy for fairly modest reward. The good news is that now I have my own iMac, a pile of fancy software and I have learned to drive Photoshop, Indesign, Flash and Acrobat Pro fairly expertly.

Not only that, but both Iza and I have learned a lot about selling; about pricing; about the market and about the magazine publishing industry. We've also earned enough to know we can fund the college fees, buy a few bottles of wine and think about a retirement fund. So not too bad a result for a couple of years' hard work.

Lately, my other full-time job has become a bit more active, so I spend more time travelling to China, the US, India and other interesting parts of the world, exploring strange new cultures and seeking out new processors of rubber.

All that, together with writing the odd market research study; looking after a 17- and a 14-year old, and other necessities of a suburban life, does not leave a lot of time for resource-intensive activities, such as E2.

3. How did you discover Everything, and how did you become a noder?

I was one of the early ones who was not a regular on Slashdot. In fact, I discovered Slashdot only after seeing it referenced by other E2 users.

Instead, I was part of the influx as E2 went mainstream – or as mainstream as it ever got.

I want to pay tribute for a moment.

E2 was the first serious site which in which the visible front end was built of nothing but user-generated content. Slashdot and E1 were the precursors but E2 was the first website to truly hand over full responsibility to the user base for generating substantial pieces of content.

That was before Facebook; before Twitter; before Wikipedia. This website is a little piece of internet history. Nate, Bones and the rest of the EDC invented Web 2.0.

Treasure it.

Back in 2001, I was bored in my job. One Friday afternoon I was searching for something to do and found a post on some random website by a participant in E2 – I think it was Dragon Dave – with a link to a site which, he said, could easily consume a few hours on a quiet Friday afternoon.

It surely did occupy that afternoon. And then some.

I was trained as an engineer, and I love finding out how things work. It took me a long time to figure out how E2 worked. Best part of a couple of years and a few hundred writeups, and hours and hours and hours of research and writing.

For me, that is unusual. The web was then and still remains a place where things move easily down to the lowest common denominator, and where websites are designed to be easy to use and easy to access.

E2 was not like that. It required time and effort to understand it. That barrier was an automatic selection process. If you liked the anarchy and the irreverence, you worked hard enough to become accepted, or to out-smart the incumbents. If those things were not attractive to you, you wouldn't bother.

The result was that E2 self-selected the oddballs and the persistent and the smart.

If I need some advice on some aspect of Ubuntu or an Xbox or Indesign, it's easy to find a likely site; sign up with a false name and alter-ego to avoid the spam, find my answer and depart, never to visit the site again.

That is not E2. For those of a certain mindset, it is an intriguing place, and one which requires effort and commitment to access fully.

4. What are your favorite writeups -- both your own and from other noders?

Time passes. Writeups come; they go. I'm not a great believer in looking back to any piece of writing produced in a certain culture as it existed 5 or 10 years ago. E2 has ways of identifying the popular contributions and authors and my own choices would not be so different from those of the hive-mind. I take that as evidence that there is something which we might call good writing.

To my mind, the best writeups on E2 are the ones produced today or in the last few days.

I'm not on E2 enough to know anything that was produced in that time frame. If you posted something on here in the last week, that's a far greater contribution than many of us old-timers have have made in the last year. Be proud of that and do more of it.

As to my own stuff, I wrote a lot that was of its time. Much of it was part of the effort, noted above, to understand E2 as it was evolving in the 2001 – 2004 period. I can't say I'm especially attached to any of it now.

I used to enjoy finding the new talented writers and rewarding and encouraging them. If you really want to know what I liked, or thought worth publicising back then, go to the user account wrinkly and look through the things to which I gave a C!.

5. What are your favourite and least favourite memories from E2's history?

Once, if anyone had asked this question in the context of E2, I would have written paragraph upon boring paragraph about a series of incidents which showed the strengths and merits of particular individuals, or in some cases, showed certain usernames in a bad light. See my response above. I desperately wanted to understand this place.

Those of you who knew me in that period from 2001 – 2004 may understand how deeply I cared about this place. I spent way too much time obsessing about policy; about decisions and about possible futures.

With hindsight I can see that some of my judgements were worthwhile. In other cases, my debating partners at the time had more insight. I don't have the energy or the interest to count up each side of the balance.

Instead of getting unnecessarily worked up about small decisions made 10 years ago, I'll take the opportunity to muse on the progress of E2 and what it might mean for the future.

Broadly, this site has got the people and the decisions it deserved. Someone has always been willing to step up to the plate and cause a fuss, or make tough decisions, or put in the time and the effort, for no material reward. All those individuals, collectively, have driven the site forward in one direction or another. That direction has changed many times as time and the E2 zeitgeist have moved forward. I'm sure it will continue to change into the future.

When I was active, I sometimes agreed and sometimes disagreed with the individuals making those decisions. I cared enough to make my views known and to argue my corner forcefully – sometimes with a little more emotion than was strictly necessary.

I like to think I made some contribution to the evolution of the site. In the end, how and where the site evolved during my time is largely irrelevant. Much has changed since then and almost every aspect of this site upon which we spent so much time, energy and emotional commitment has altered more than once.

Nevertheless, I do not think that decade-old passion and energy was wasted. It seems to me that anyone who gets involved in this site needs the passion and the intensity and the energy to drive things forward. Everyone who regularly participates has made a substantial commitment to the site and that commitment demands a management team who are as passionate and involved as they are themselves.

From what little I see of the site nowadays, that passion and that energy remains.

That makes me happy.

6. What keeps you coming back?

I don't. It's over a year since I logged in and probably three since I wrote anything worthwhile for E2. I've had a number of accounts over the years: that was not done to hide my identity – the IPTool – or whatever it is called nowadays would usually get around that one.

The changes of name were more to avoid building a reputation on the site. I noticed that with certain users, their work received upvotes, irrespective of the quality of the writing or content.

I fell into that position with a couple of different account names, so I killed those users off and created new ones. Later, it was the opposite – My contributions received downvotes irrespective of the quality.

Of all the things which drove me away, that was probably the most significant. It meant the site had lost whatever credibility it ever had over rewarding good writing and highlighting the flaws in poor writing.

I believe that since I left, it has largely regained that credibility. I think that is less to do with my presence or otherwise, and more to do with a general maturing of the user base. It's also a reflection that there are other places on the web where one can go to indulge in trolling and flame wars. E2, it seems to me, is more civilised now than it was back then. Whether that is a good or a bad thing is not for me to say. I just make the observation.

7. What do you hope for E2's future?

I hope people continue with that energy and passion.

8. What does E2 mean to you?


9. Who are your favourite noders? Which ones do you miss the most?

I made the decision to leave. I don't miss anyone. However, I do want to award some shout-outs. These people influenced my experience at E2; many of them heavily. In some cases, we were driving toward the same objectives. Others were working toward similar goals, but followed a different path, while a few were working in directions which appeared to me to be diametrically opposed to my own.

For the first group, these are thank-yous. For the second; mad props. To those few in the third group, I want to say, No hard feelings. If you feel you deserve an apology, you have it. I am sorry for all the occasions I managed to upset people or spread discord. You know who you are.

All in alphabetical order of the usernames as I knew them.

10. Who would play you in the Everything2 movie?

Richard Dawkins

11. Please fill in the blank: "E2 is to the Internet as ___ is to the world."

The Cambrian Period

12. Any questions that I didn't ask that I should've?

What else do you do, apart from E2?

My answer is given above. Yours?

Everything2 Decaversary Interviews

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