1. What is your name?
Though for a time both my username and real name were playfully everything2atized into the anagrams Dan "Octuluie" Telleps and Travis Wink Loop, since that entire school of whimsical write-up was long since evaporated into so much background radiation the references are just confusing rather than meta-meta-referential (a nerd's second-greatest delight, after recursion) and so I should probably just give my unique realname here: Rowan Lipkovits. It's true however that I probably will never again be recognized by so many as I was under my e2 username Pseudo_Intellectual.
2. What is your quest?
I had a few of these: stress-test the everything engine, fill everything (with everything, most (~80%) of which later had to be taken out), incorporate Adventures in Western Literature (and the rest of the canon, where convenient) into e2 wholesale (transcribing where necessary), and generally... stave off the approach of tomorrow by rejecting sleep, throwing an endless array of words at it in a final desperate bid to remain in the realm of pure ideas for another few minutes and refute the material underpinnings of existence. Most of this can be summed up in the Keats-ian "writing my name in water", since the fluid nature of (this corner of) the internet wasn't so apparent at the time.
However it looks like most of what I had to say I said (as you can see, I can still twist endlessly in the wind, but with precious little in terms of actual content or a thesis... but was there ever really one? the longer I wore the name the better it fit), since in the majority of the decade since I've stopped saying much of anything of my own (I'll omit an analysis of the proportions of my original material in my noded output), instead sharing the best songs ever written (according to me) with the world on a battered old squeezebox.
4. How did you discover Everything, and how did you become a noder?
A real-life acquaintance (one "soema") from the latest Internet extrusion of a local dialup BBS / echomail network community TABNet posted a link to the latest exciting petri dish those hoopy froods down at SlashDot had thrown together. The late-'90s novelty of an open-ended proto-wiki compounded with a ready-made glossary of slang terms unique to our community cemented my first overnight session at everything.blockstackers.org and by then the ticking time-bomb nature of the endeavor became apparent, something that contributed to Pedro flushing a job down the toilet: with room at the time for only two write-ups, the value of "first post" was inflated since two superficial or lacklustre write-ups could tie up a potentially interesting or important node subject forever -- had to get to them first and put something of some (concise) substance in! (or at least a placeholder write-up reading "nodesteading.")
5. What do you see as the most significant changes that have happened to Everything over the past decade?
Without a doubt the monumental sum of alterations transitioning Everything to Everything2 after a year or so of beta testing was the most significant "change" Everything has ever seen (and ever will). (And let me note here that any noded information on those early days that a hypothetical interviewee might attempt to link to is very difficult to dig up; most nodes that purport to represent that epoch are weak noder fiction the likes of which is zapped when not written by superusers.) With all due respect, everything since (including some acknowledgeably meritorious developments on both the technological and editorial fronts) has been just re-arranging the deck chairs.
6. What are your favorite writeups -- both your own and from other noders?
I always felt the Everythings excelled most by my personal criteria when they engaged work that they were uniquely suited to accommodate, with a deep and international brain trust to draw on (for factual nodes such as the Noises animals make in different languages project or rich shared universe-creation like Underground Tokyo, RIP) and, with e2's one great distinguishing technological feature the soft links, options for two-way hypertext implementations (and with it, the perennially potential-full and practice-feeble literary forms of hyperfiction and hyperpoetry) not really envisioned since WWW prototypes. (What this amounted to was our unique culture of anonymous writer criticism in the softlink table, though it also enabled an intriguing sense of contentless content through softlinks pointing to an empty nodeshell. But don't get me started on nodeshells.)
(It would be remiss of me not to distinguish e1's formal conditions: not merely boasting constraints of two write-ups, but each of them limited to a maximum of 512 characters -- making e1 an antecedent of Twitter in a sense, as was recently surprisingly pronounced at the annual Portland Columbus Day once-were-noders gathering. To someone who would later praise postcard fiction to the highest heavens, the challenge to do more with less in this elegant minimalism was highly ticklish.)
Because I am puckish and perverse (and because, after all, the open beta of the everything engine was expressly to try out potential applications for it), I get my chiefest thrills from lateral thinking and unintended uses of tools. On more than one occasion I have stumbled across isolated nodes, not linked to any others, and dummy user accounts intended to act as trail-less flashpoints in which to convoke e2 secret societies, with entire constitutions and codes of conduct. No doubt there are still some of these kicking around in user scratch pads, but it overlooks the key element of misallocating a resource for ulterior aims while being entirely up front about it -- conducting a secret society through a public entry secured only through there being so much more interesting stuff around it on all sides, the neighbors clamouring for attention. A great thought experiment! Maybe not such a great node.
For my own writing, it might be an understatement to assert that I found e2 a stimulating creative milieu, between the instant feedback (/msgs more useful than votes) and the endless peripheral sideshow of the catbox, random node feature, unexpected search results and medium-relevance soft-link pollution. Endless distraction to an unfocused writer, but endless new angles to one who refuses to be thrown.
I can't ignore the wider context of my sitting in the middle of the flaming rubble accompanying the collapse of my stalled academic career; some of my favorite of my write-ups were an opportunity to more deeply investigate intriguing topics only glanced on in my classes (Imagism, School of Athens), to engage them in a tone that wouldn't have been academically appropriate (Socratic dialogue) or explore topics that might have been covered in a curriculum more to my personal tastes (New Delhi Monkey Man, and of course the old The ability of planarian worms to run a maze more successfully after being fed the remains of a successful worm). Ultimately I grew so comfortable here I ended up with a very personal (and utterly indulgent) creative non-fiction voice (exemplified perhaps in gursha or The Saragossa Manuscript) so personally satisfying that subsequent writing anywhere without pipe links and footnotes became supremely irritating. It could be faked at LiveJournal, but of course it wasn't the same (of course not; that place had pre-existing cliques in place, ones who had no qualms with elitism, and I was not over the course of things inadvertently thrust to their upper echelons.)
Certainly it is easier to select bodies of work as favorites rather than individual write-ups; few writers will ever have a general run as appealing to me as those of mutant and pingouin, engaging with the print of their mind regardless of whatever subject they chose to cover. Certainly I like everyone else was swept up in the advent of jessicapiece's blogging revolution pre-dating the buzzword, addressing the world in the most casual fashion possible like an old friend, saving only all the choicest and most whimsical elements of life, more compelling with mundane words than the contemporary JenniCam revolution was. (Her tits on a keyboard in its original, contextless form may well constitute the best remaining example of a punky (but humble and non grandstanding -- I'm looking at you, moJoe) high-water mark of what was once "business as usual" here. Either to your taste or not; that's why I was here and you weren't. Now you are here and I'm not.)
This was all fresh and new; an exuberant breath of Web 2.0 that I was at the time still experiencing through Lynx's text-only web browser on an amber monochrome monitor linked to a dial-up internet connection. Everything was enough to make a dumb terminal all the computer anyone needed. And of course, like any retro fixation, a certain nostalgic romaticization occurs -- all the trappings and key people become enshrined in a kind of gilded cloud of memory. But because we can't walk in that river twice, we aren't those people anymore, never will be again, and in many cases thanks to node heaven there is no longer any trace that those people ever existed, except etched in our soft pink storage, an imperfect medium. It's poignant.
7. What are your favorite and least favorite memories from E2's history?
Definitely any memories I might have had clicking on links (uncovering the secret thread connecting abstract users Shapes, bunkey and Unstrung! How vindicating), no matter how excessively, pale compared to having fallen in love with a couple of its users (and, ahem, experienced a naive ungendered infatuation with Gritchka). Does anything get better than that?
Well, not having contributed to the dissolution of an existing relationship would have been an improvement... but to his credit the third party left high and dry as a result refrained from quite justifiably punching me in the nose when our paths eventually crossed. It would have been nice to have actually met the lady at the heart of the furor at least once, but I can report that she did have a very charming telephone demeanor.
Regardless of my own personal peccadillos, I can't hardly think of anything more regrettable (well, almost) than the DMan phenomenon, a real Anakin Skywalker case of someone with limitless capacity for good whose basic inability to play well with others (online at least, a Mr. Hyde now ubiquitous on YouTube comments) compelled our little utopian community to rein in its upbeat vision-questing (perhaps indefinitely?) in favor of punishments and restraints for the first time, which felt like it was diminishing to all of us. Once the cops are called, the party was over. E2 could engender all sorts of comparisons to the Panopticon, but unlike that, it wasn't designed as a prison.
Speaking of which, my own everythingomania, while exposing me to all sorts of exciting ideas and individuals (and hopefully enabling me to pass at least some of those along to others), was most certainly to the extreme detriment of my own personal life. No time for class, a job or girlfriend or, heck, sleep -- there are so many items in this closet alone that aren't yet registered in the database!
(The most disturbing general trend I observed in e2 was the gradual transformation of all its foremost citizens into its unpopular garbage collectors. Superuser powers were the kiss of death; all we knew about these people is that they once did something that a lot of people enjoyed, but you couldn't tell to look at anything they'd done recently. This phenomenon is hardly unique to e2, so I should cut it some slack. That said, it would be a conspicuous omission for me to fail to mention how proportionally much of my favorite aspects of e2 were chewed up and spat out by its administrative sausage grinder mechanism.)
8. What keeps you coming back?
People may have questions that deserve answers; alternately, they may have corrections. (Periodically someone sets the story straight on a technicality that's gone uncorrected for a decade!)
9. What do you hope for E2's future?
It has a future? I hope for nothing beyond permanent mirroring of the content at least through 2003; everything since hasn't much meaning or value to me. (It may sound callous, but I hope that you understand; I bear the recent material no especial ill-will, and I understand that it is precious to all of you who were there. Because I was not, it is not.)
I hope to continue visiting my friends in Portland every Columbus Day!
10. What does E2 mean to you?
E2 was an accelerated early Web 2.0 star which, when deflating from red supergiant, stabilized as a white dwarf rather than disappearing into its own black hole. It may have a centre of diamond, but it's barely visible against the night sky. I can't really imagine what could restore it to its onetime position as a provider of warmth and luminary radiance.
11. Is E2 a writing site, a community site, an online encyclopedia, or something else? What should it be?
E2 is the writing-site frontend to a community site backend; people who write about nothing in particular to nobody in particular, for no especial reason other than that they are used to being there in each others' company and doing that. As for what it should be, if we haven't yet found out, we may never know.
12. Who are your favorite noders? Which ones do you miss the most?
I have an entire section of my homenode dedicated to this: you can search it for the phrase "Bookmarked Users". Though there are dozens of them, I would be very surprised to find any of them still active in the realms that motivated me to bookmark them in the first place. In that sense I miss them all; especially, I miss their sum, and being in their midst as a peer. Perhaps I am the noder I miss the most, but I must say I am happier now than I was as a noder, so why pine after cunningly displaced discontent?
13. Who would play you in the Everything2 movie?
A thousand monkeys on typewriters.
14. Any questions that I didn't ask that I should've?
Don't beat yourself up; anything we wanted to say we would have contrived a way to squeeze in somehow.
Sorry about the ominous tone of my replies; though e2 was definitely a life-changing institution for me (or at least one that allowed me to put off changing my life for a few years), it was definitely a love-hate relationship... and every time I visit back, I keep finding more of the elements I loved airbrushed out by Stalin's most patient 'Shoppers. I must eventually conclude that the site I loved is the one in my memory, not the one on the web (which, let's be honest, might well be more appealing to me at age 40 than to me at age 20. But I'm currently neither here nor there.)
Everything2 Decaversary Interviews
If you have questions or comments, please contact Pseudo_Intellectual or Jet-Poop.