Sit back, gentle noders
, and allow me to tell you the origins
of E2. It seems to me that people are often interested in the history
of this space, and though it lies in bits and pieces across the nodegel
, it has not really been explicitly described. I feel qualified to write some of this, though I would encourage early users to message me with corrections.
In the beginning was nate and his friend cmdrtaco. These two worthies were sitting in their home one evening and talking about the interesting development of The All-Music Guide. Nate and Taco, both interested to various extents in the Open Source Movement, wondered about the possibilities of creating a user-generated database that would act like an encyclopedia.
Nate had helped cmdrtaco develop Slashdot, so using many of the lessons from the process, he developed the original Everything. This first site was quite different than what is currently available. Every node allowed only two writeups, and each writeup was limited to 512 characters. There was no chatterbox, nor even a way to know who was on in the very early days. Some things were very much the same, like the person, place, thing and idea framework, voting, and linking. Everything was still not a BBS. The earliest nodes include Brian Eno, Heineken, and MR T ATE MY BALLS.
With the rapid growth of Slashdot, nate took time away from developing Everything in order to help make the primary site more sophisticated. E1 was frozen in time for some while, with only small improvements, like the ability to delete nodes, and a basic finger.
After Slashdot was sold to Andover, more time and resources were available to spend on Everything. Nate hired dem bones as a content manager, some more programming help, and put a concerted effort into implementing the system improvements we had all discussed for so long.
In these halcyon days of the Internet boom, Blockstackers obviously hoped to repeat its Slashdot success by commercializing Everything. First the software had to be updated, and the E1 community had to be moved to the upgraded platform.
E2 was "born" near November 11th, 1999. We count November 13th as the E2 birthday, since that is the day all of the E1 nodes were ported to the new site, forever stamping them with the 11/13 mark of Cain. As the capabilities of the site grew, so did the user base, and soon a vibrant community was adding to the database. With dem bones setting a tone for quality writing, the actual content of the site continued to grow more complex and sophisticated.
At the height of the effort, BSI employed seven people working in various capacities on the Everything Engine, from site management to technical writing. Various moneymaking schemes were tried, including selling banner ads, services, and licenses. Unfortunately, the major effort to sell either views on E2, or the software behind this community occurred during the deflation of the Internet boom, and interest in new ventures had decreased greatly.
Everyone working on E2 lost their jobs, though many of us still volunteer our time because we respect this community and the people in it. BSI still foots the bandwidth bill. There is still some hope for making money on either the software that supports this site, or our expertise in creating spaces like this, but for now we are all engaged in other pursuits while we wait for a more adventurous spirit to grab the market.
The site has exceeded and strayed from our initial expectations in many ways. Those of us who still have our hands on the plug have turned over the maintenance and development of the site to users, and are delighted by what has been happening. The organic growth of the content and the social mechanisms of the site are vastly different from what we would have pictured three years ago.
With size and complexity come many new types of challenges and triumphs. The expulsion of DMan, the illness of sensei, the marriage of Dizzy and Katyana (both a challenge and a triumph), the passing of Hermetic and countless meetings, traumas, joys, and tribulations have all shown that this is not a virtual community. It's simply a community.