1. What is your name?

Fergus Ray Murray. Also known as Oolong, after the tea.

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

I'm the sort of person who is rarely happy doing just one thing, so I always find it hard to describe myself. I write, and program, and sculpt, and photograph, and cook, and make tea. Right now I'm gearing up for the next Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh, for which I'm making a sculpture representing the element of air, and taking photographs on the night. Meanwhile I'm hunting work on web sites and in tea houses, and working on two stop-motion animations (one of this poem, one of this song) and teaching myself the guitar.

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

I found it through a Google search, a couple of years before Google was locked out because the site couldn't take that many visitors, which was several years before it was allowed in again. I have no idea what I was hunting for, but I remember I started posting stuff on the site almost immediately. I was studying for a Masters degree at that time, so I had a lot of motivation to procrastinate and E2 provided the perfect outlet.

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

I think my single favourite of my own writeups may still be Oo, partly because I like how E2 is really the only place where the existence of such a thing makes any kind of sense. I'm proud of my piece on trigonometry - even though the version that I host on my own site benefits quite a lot from pretty graphics and diagrams, and is read by far more people than the version here, I don't think I'd ever have written it if I hadn't been motivated by having a place to put it on E2. Jesus was a Gay Black Hippie Jew made its first and probably greatest appearance here. Our sensei might just be the best poem I've written, though I don't know if it makes a lot of sense to anyone who doesn't know a bit about E2 and its early history. Green tea is my favourite of my tea writeups, and Brazil is my favourite of my film reviews.

Favourite writeups by other people - if there weren't too many to list I wouldn't still be here ten years later, but I guess I'll try anyway. How did I get here, Sarah? comes to mind, and I could add most of the rest of junkpile's work, really. I love the Metro City Chronicles, even though I'm behind with reading them. dannye's pieces on Blonde on Blonde and a couple of other albums taught me something about writing about music. I have a soft spot for Lucy-S's How to install Linux on a dead badger and the whole book that flowed from it, although I enjoy her science writing almost as much. I love Note pinned to a tree in Sherwood Forest, even though I'm still sad about wertperch leaving the country. A lot of the time, I appreciate masses of short pieces more than I do the bigger pieces that I think of when someone asks me about my favourites.

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

The worst memories mostly come from the protracted incident involving that guy who was absolutely convinced he was a poetic and analytical genius and that anyone who failed to see this was wrong, and needed to be set straight. Given the practical difficulty of keeping someone off a web site they really really want to be on, and conversely the stultifying unpleasantness of sharing a small community with someone who is crusadingly determined to share their unbelievable talent with you, the site's staff were in a genuinely difficult situation there. We tried at length to deal with it as nicely as possible, and then when that failed so spectacularly we had to put an incredible amount of effort into keeping him out. I wish I thought that gentleness and diplomacy could have won out there, because I really like gentleness and diplomacy, but by now I think it's clear that we gave a lot more ground than we should have. Live and learn.

Favourite memories! I still remember loving Will Ya Ride Me Like A Monkey Missus? : An Anglo-Irish E2 Get-Together, the first time I met anyone from the site in real life, but The Not-Nekkid Nottingham Noderfest and Crash Party was even better. Does getting married to a woman I met here count as a memory from E2's history? I still have many happy memories of that, even though the marriage didn't work out. I remember many happy hours spent having knock-down arguments with SEF, based on mutual respect combined with vehement disagreement about almost everything. Most of the good memories are just of good chat amongst a collection of unusually intelligent, interesting and often hilarious people.

6. What keeps you coming back?

I still feel like E2 provides the best audience for my writing that I've found to date, even though it can be pretty quiet sometimes. There are a lot of people here whose virtual company I very much enjoy. We still get really excellent writers sharing their work here for free - both new users and people who've been coming back for years. There's a home for certain kinds of writing here that it's hard to find elsewhere, but what's probably more important is being able to find such a huge variety of good writing in one place. I learn a lot. Finally, I can still see various ways to make the site better, and my problem-solving instinct isn't going to let me rest on its development until I've seen a few more of those put into place.

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

I hope that an improved user interface and more stable running will allow the site to start growing again. I think the chances are good, too. The internet's grown an awful lot around us over this last decade or so, and it sometimes feels like we've been left behind, but I still don't see anywhere else filling quite the same niche. I'm fairly sure there's still a real appetite out there for writing that's more than 140 characters long. I could be wrong, but I strongly suspect that the main reason we've ended up as a tiny speck on the map of the internet - just south of Troll Bay and the Sea of Memes - has little to do with the concept, the content or the community here, and a lot to do with the fact that the site was never as easy to get into as it might have been. Both its purpose and its interface tended to be needlessly obscure. That was acceptable back in 1999-2001, when people expected to have to put in a bit of work to understand The Internet, but people expect better now and we're just getting there now.

8. What does E2 mean to you?

It's one of my communities, a venue for my writing, a pleasant way to waste time, and a project I enjoy working on.

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

I love Tem42's tremendously voluminous output, collecting random facts on just about every subject imaginable. I love anthropod's writing on food and language and all sorts, and I miss having her being really active on the site. I love Lucy-S's poems as much as I love her science and her fiction. I love TenMinJoe and spiregrain as much for their banter in the Chatterbox as for their excellent but seldom-posted writing, and I'd say the same about Sam512 only he actually posts quite often. I love Junkill's podcast contributions and dedication to massage and tea. I love all the noders I share a city with - diotina, gnarl, heyoka, bol and lila are all excellent and versatile writers, and I don't see enough of most of them.

I miss Gritchka, and I wish I knew what happened to him. I always loved his extensive and madly eclectic writing, and I used to see quite a lot of him in real life, but only ever at noder meets; he never gave me his phone number, or even his real name. I miss BlueDragon, who wrote with such passion about topics including a fair bit of science. I miss sneff, one of our best food writers. I miss Bitriot, who I think was one of our best fiction writers and also a notably good reader for the E2 Podcast - I wish that better communication had kept him here. I miss RalphyK, who was hilarious both in chat and in his writing, and I hope I get to meet him again for a few pints some time, but I guess he's pretty busy at the moment with Cockneys vs. Zombies, his second feature film. I miss amnesiac, peace be upon him, even though he always dedicated so much of his talent to pissing people off.

10. Who would play you in the Everything2 movie?

Hulk Hogan?

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


Everything2 Decaversary Interviews

If you have questions or comments, please contact Oolong or Jet-Poop.

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