Let me begin by totally contradicting myself: Despite my writing this daylog, I am not a daylogger.

That's not to say there's anything wrong with daylogging, or that daylogging is any less of a part of E2 than anything else. It's also not to say that I won't one day make more use of the daylog function, but for now, it just feels weird. I was never one of those types who kept a journal or a diary (except when I was very young), and so I tend to keep my private thoughts private. So I imagine this will be my first (and last) daylog entry...at least for a least a little while.

But something happened over these last few days that caused me to want to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys, so to speak). And so here I am, posting to the daylog for the first time, haphazardly tossing my personal thoughts into the nodegel like a MLB pitcher on crack.

On Reaching Base Camp. (A short treatise.)

According to the info on my homenode, it's been 3.6 weeks since I joined the ranks of E2. I've always been a fan of the site, using it here and there to find interesting facts about soy, Mr. T, and lesbians--but I frequently used it as a real research tool, especially when it came to investigating geek memes like All Your Base Are Belong to Us, which can be confusing to folks when they don't know the background behind the meme.

Anyway (Jesus, I hate using "anyway" as a transition, but I digress), I had always intended to join E2; I suppose I was just waiting for inspiration. I needed something to node.

That inspiration (as corny and crude as it was), came on 21 Nov, when Comedy Central aired an episode of South Park entitled "The Death Camp of Tolerance." In that episode, the writers of the show introduced a new character--Lemmiwinks--whose epic journey was to find his way out of a certain man's...well, I won't go into all of that. The point is, the character was hilarious, and a quick check showed that "Lemmiwinks" hadn't yet been noded, so I finally set up an account and went to work.

I posted three nodes that night, and before I knew it, all of them had great reps and two had been cooled (thanks, btw, to Gamaliel and GoodKingNerdnor for encouraging my newbie ass in that respect). There was no turning back now; I was hooked.

Like many newbies, I quickly set my sights on Level 2 because I desperately wanted voting power. E2 was such a special place...I didn't want to just post here and there; I wanted to put my $0.02 in everywhere I could! Voting gave me the chance to do that, and so I noded the requisite number of writeups and, all of the sudden, I was looking at the long climb toward Level 3.

I use the climbing metaphor very purposefully, because it wasn't too long after reaching Level 2 that I read Kidas' excellent writeup, comparing E2 to a mountain and a noder's ascent through the ranks to a climber's march towards the upper slopes. Says Kidas (original hardlinks, not added for emphasis):

For me, this point marks the difference between the stayers on E2 and the temporary residents. According to the Prof's statistics, E2 has 10,000 or so active contributors. About 90 percent of these are on levels 1 and 2, leaving only around 1000 at level 3 and above. So from here on up, we are in the top 10 percent of all noders.


Level 3 is base camp, above the hubbub of the clamouring newbies, but not yet high enough to reveal the top-most slopes. Upper base camp, Level 4, is the place where serious assaults on the higher slopes begin. Down here, below the cloud base, we new acolytes have made all the preparations; we have proved that we can climb at least a little, and we have displayed enough perseverance to convince our team leaders that we can attempt the next pitch.

I don't know why, but Kidas' writeup really struck me. I mean, what really is the difference between a Novice and an Acolyte? Ten frickin votes and a couple of extra options in the user preferences section. Nothing that sexy, and yet still appealing. Why? Obviously it is because the ascent to Level 3 is, as Kidas says, "a base camp above the hubbub of clamouring newbies"--not the highest point on the mountain by far, but a nice spot to sit for a second, relax a few minutes, and be recognized by others as a noder who isn't transient, who is here to stay, who wants not only to add to the information base but to become a part of the E2 community.

The result was, of course, that I was both excited at the thought of reaching Level 3 and frustrated at the time it was taking me to do so. To borrow Kidas' metaphor again, I was making my way up the mountain, but my pace didn't exactly thrill me. I made a promise to myself that even if it meant noding night and day until the 31st, I would get to Level 3 before New Year's.

While I was working on this "quest," shuffling along in my attempt to grow as a new noder, I greatly benefited from the positive feedback and constructive criticism of folks like Bitriot, Excalibre, machfive, novasoy, mirv, wertperch, 00100, jasonm, SEF, and dannye (among others). And I enjoyed bouncing ideas off ac_hyper, who is probably my closest new E2 buddy and fellow frustrated Novice--though her writing is incredible, making me certain she'll soon vault to Acolyte and beyond before any of us has a chance to blink. (I was very glad when she didn't know what the blab! button did either, because then I didn't feel so stupid when I asked the learned folk in the chatterbox.)

The individuals listed above did everything from pointing out stupid spelling errors to highlighting common noder etiquette mistakes to suggesting additional material I should include to simply taking the time to /msg and say, "hey, nice job," which means the world when you're just a self-conscious newbie writing for a world of strangers. And when I posted a fairly personal bit about my family and Thanksgiving, supportive /msgs came from all over (and Rancid_Pickle placed a link to it in his Editor's Log, which I thought was especially courteous).

All of this further reinforced the fact that E2 isn't just some tool for cutting one's creative writing teeth; rather, it's a close-knit community of geeks and nongeeks, of noders of fact and noders of fiction, of serious noders and lovers of sick humor, of meme lovers and meme haters, but most importantly, of people who enjoy sharing their views and knowledge with an international audience of people who, in turn, also want to share.

As I started getting closer to Level 3, I found myself writing more for my own enjoyment and less for the "need to node." The result was A brief history of sleep apnea and its treatment and Colgate Total, two factual nodes that revealed a little bit more of my character in the writing. Soon they had two of my highest reps...and I knew I’d finally found my groove.

Last Friday, I was making some last minute preparations for a trip to Memphis and I happened to log on to E2 to check my /msgs. And behold (thanks to the honor roll), there was the message I had been waiting for:

You have 20 votes left today.

You gained 7 experience points!
You need 40 more writeups to earn level 4.
Wow. I had actually done it. I had reached Kidas's base camp. I know it sounds cheesy as hell, but I was pretty damn proud of myself. I had accomplished my goal, and with two whole weeks to spare.

As I said earlier, I had been hastily gathering a few items together for my trip to Memphis, and I was expected to be on the road soon, so I didn't have time to really bask in the accomplishment for any real amount of time. But as I settled into my a nice 6-7 hour drive, I had plenty of time to reflect on what had happened and, more importantly, what was to come.

I started to think about dem_bones and the whole "Earn Your Bullshit" thing. I know that's not as big of a deal today as it was back when bones first coined that phrase, but certain things he mentions in his FAQ (as well as the whole "Noding for the Ages" concept) really got me thinking.

As it stands, I have a fairly decent merit, an excellent level factor, and I'm only a few dozen writeups from Level 4. (And don't think I'm not lusting after C! power, because I surely am.) And so, when thinking back to Kidas' mountain metaphor, it seems almost natural to smile a bit, pat myself on the back, and start climbing ever higher. But something is stopping me.

Have I "Earned my Bullshit?" Have I "Noded for the Ages?" Perhaps to some degree, but there's still work to be done: novasoy was nice enough to point out that my indie film reviews of Drawing Flies, Vulgar, and A Better Place would all be made better with cast and crew listings. And mirv encouraged me to update those same reviews with DVD-specific information. jasonm suggests I bolster Back Door Sluts 9 with more information about how truly evil that video was; meanwhile, shimmer and wertperch pointed out a volley of softlink/hardlink opportunities in previous posts.

So here I am, at base camp, ready to climb ever higher, and yet stupid noder ethics make me want to stay and make everything right. These nodes have already passed muster to some extent--after all, they've received fairly high reps and many have been cooled. But the question remains: could they be better, and if so, shouldn't I make them so?

It's a dilemma, but not a very difficult one to handle. Can I make everybody happy? Certainly not. Can I make every writeup perfect? Hell no. But can I make the obvious corrections/improvements that have been suggested, when I know that said improvements will make my nodes even better for future readers? Can I put off my assault on the next peak of the mountain for a day or so, while I repair the writeups that got me where I am today? Absolutely.

As I've said several times in this writeup, I think Kidas' mountain metaphor is an accurate one, and I enjoy gauging myself by that metric. But while base camp is the place where one plans for his next ascent, it is also a place to rest, a place to find the energy to begin anew, and a place to look back (or down, as the case may be) at what you've accomplished.

I can't perfect the mountain, nor can (or would) I really hope to change much of it at all. And when viewed against the vast array of knowledge E2 will accumulate over its long and wonderful life, my impact on the knowledge base will eventually turn out to be quite minimal, regardless of how many writeups I place upon the pile.

But, by God, when it comes to the writeups I put on this mountain, I intend for them to be my very best work. Or, at least I intend for them to suck in way that appears artsy, so people still think I'm clever anyway. Just so long as my ego remains safe.

So give me a few days to tinker...and then hand me my walking stick and repelling gear, because it's a race to the top, and there's no way I'm gonna get left behind. :)