She's so young, she's got the answers (she's got the answers)
She doesn't need to question herself like I do, like I do....
She's so young, she's got the answers (she's got the answers)
She doesn't need to question her life like I do, like I do...
"She's so young", The Pursuit of Happiness

At HD5 I looked over rather blearily at one of the E2 big cheeses and said that realistically speaking, Everything2 should have been called Experience2. Because as I've said before and will say again, facts I can get from any of a number of places. And facts are rather irrelevant.

Facts are often simply things to hang a point of view or ideology on. That's why we tend to seek out those that support our position. It's rather difficult to convince someone of something with facts, because in and of themselves they are meaningless. Facts are the dots in a connect the dots picture. It's the interpretation of facts that give them meaning.

Experience, on the other hand, is an interesting thing. It's one of the reasons why, for example, hate crime perpetrators are often made to go and work helping a charity supporting the people they despise. It's why some drunken frat jock dude I know stopped telling "fag" jokes when his best friend quietly came out to him, and it "stopped his world" (as Carlos Castaneda would say, even though he made all that shit up). It's a trope of movie after movie that after walking a mile in another man's shoes, it changes him.

I used to think that I was an infovore - that the quarter of my life I have wasted hunched over a keyboard, reading page after page of type (first text over WWIV, then dialup on IRC and Gopher, and now on the WWW) was a quest to know more. I read text file after text file. Heck, I racked up scores of books in real life and I collected MANY a text file on any of a number of subjects. This was back when I thought I knew everything, a common affliction of the young. I've also had a hell of a lot of experiences, and interesting ones at that. I've been involved with diplomacy and European royalty, was a speed metal and punk guitarist, made a living with art for a while, was at ground zero when the whole dot com became dot bomb. I've been burned in effigy at a rally, and watched the sun rise over a Montana skyline, with the burning first rays of dawn glinting off motorcycle chrome. And when I die, and that's a certainty, all of what I am will be gone, unless I can impart it somehow.

But what's interesting to me is that we're starting to recognize that the currency of the new millennium is experience. Software engineers can use all kinds of physics models, ray tracing breakthroughs and the like to try and simulate being in a Spitfire over occupied France in WWII. However, with all that knowledge and all that book study, they still couldn't get it right. It was only when they went and hired WWII veterans (at a hefty price) to fly the simulator games that they learned that planes didn't explode when you shot them, that there was no way, specs from the archives be damned, that a Spitfire would handle that way, etc. And after some trial and error, the vets said "yes, you got this right".

After all, isn't experience what life, since the dawn of time, has been about? We gathered around the campfires to hear people tell stories. During the Great Depression, one of the industries that thrived was the movie business, which put people in different worlds every single week. In Ancient Greece, historia were NOT simply dry recitations of facts but were intended to be written and read as documents that placed you in a certain place at a certain date and time, seeing through someone else's eyes.

One of the interesting little factoids I read recently was that the Internet, once considered the province of geeky males trading porn and directions on how to make pipe bombs and discussing math and D&D, now has a mostly FEMALE audience. They're using the medium to network, to bring people together, to scrapbook, to write diaries, to do the kinds of things that E2 already does really well. Not to make sweeping gender generalisations, but I have noticed that experience and community TEND to be more important to the distaff side of life. We're ahead of the curve.

I'm astounded that daylogs tend not to be as popular as they are. Sometimes it's the little details, the small victories and losses in someone's life that are quite illuminating. And the genius of this place is that alongside this giant body of experience, the people who wrote it are available to chat with.

One of the reasons I'm sure there's been high drama in all of this site is that noders really put themselves into this site. There's significant personal investment. I'm not reading random words - I'm reading someone's poetry. I'm not reading about the London election, but aneurin's take on it. People have shared their rape stories, crises in their relationships, deaths. Births. The best nodes, you can tell who it is without even looking at the author's name... you're more than aware of who those words belong to.

And hence the incredible wisdom of a live and let live policy. I might abhor certain viewpoints, but if I can understand the people who subscribe to them, I'm light years ahead of where I was. Hell, if we as a species can watch butchery and horror on the silver screen in the name of entertainment, we can try and sympathize with people who we don't agree with.

We're getting older, collectively. We're not so young that we've got all the answers, and our self-questioning isn't, as someone put it, adolescent navel gazing. The site's become what it is, a comfortable niche with a very powerful philosophy, which is why it can be so hostile to new noders. There's no lazy sitting on the intellectual sidelines, you've gotta participate. And what a learning curve.

But the rewards? Sometimes, writing down your thoughts and opinions, you're called upon in doing so to question them as you do so. That can be just as valuable as being challenged by others. I mean, one could come here just to transmit information at others, to try and push an ideology. But these sorts of people don't last long and it's very rare that anything they write are kept.

E2 as therapy, as Heisenberg said? Sure. Therapy, archive, watering hole, meeting place, but more importantly, like a review of life done by an eclectic and weird cast of Siskel and Eberts.

This is E2, and long may it prosper.

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