I'm an Everything "occasional" and I just want to think aloud about why Everything is cool, and what this means. I have no status here, so feel free to ignore me if I have the wrong end of the stick.

So, what makes Everything (the system) different from any other bulletin board - say, Slashcode or Kuro5hin's system? Two things.

My view of the relation between these elements is that the technology enabled the ethos, but it didn't determine it. For example, perlmonks - site here - also uses the everything engine, but it feels much more like a conventional bulletin board, with comments followed by responses in a thread of argument.

What makes Everything unusual is that instead of the rational, linear" thread" model, with each thread revolving around one topic, you have a "web" model, where links are non-linear, often between apparently unconnected nodes.

Corresponding to this non-linear technology is an ethos of non-linear, intuitive, whimsical thought. Everything is dreamlike. That's what makes it cool. You come here to drift, not to focus - right?

There's a reason why we need to dream. The greatest creativity often comes from irrational drifting. One metaphor to pursue this train of thought back into the realm of technology is the neural network. But whether or not Everything can really become a huge neural network, a data storage and retrieval engine for, well, everything, isn't the main point. The main point is that dreaming is worthwhile in itself.

The next bit is maybe controversial. Again, my apologies if you think this is nonsense. I am just a passer by.

If the uniqueness of Everything is its irrationality, then there may be a hidden danger in making obvious improvements. Your improvements are rational. They make noding better, according to your criteria - criteria which I would probably agree with, by the way. You eliminate the dross, encourage the interesting. I'm talking about XP, killing nodes and so forth. But this has two unintended consequences:

  • You make Everything less like all of a brain - a neural network - and more like the conscious part of a brain. Our brains are famously full of crap. Most of it is worthless, random trivia. But without the crap, you couldn't have the nuggets of gold.
  • Everything becomes more controlled by a group of users - especially those with high status - and less controlled by random input. It becomes more of a rationally designed institution and less of a tradition. Thereby, it ends up looking more like Slashdot or Kuro5hin. Which are cool places - but I can go there when I want that.
Beware, in other words, of features which allow users' conscious behaviour - voting or whatever - to control the structure and content of Everything. Instead, try and get unconscious behaviour to do that. That way, Everything can be more ramshackle, more full of shit, but maybe also more full of nuggets.

That's the end of my rather goal-directed, logical, argumentative rant. My compliments to the chef.

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