Today is my fourth E2 'birthday'.

Lots of things have changed over the last four years that no one could have predicted. Douglas Adams is no longer with us, for one. Nor are Spike Milligan, Thora Hird or The Queen Mother (OK, so the odds on those were shorter). Sega and Nintendo are working together. Concorde is grounded. Windows is stable. We've almost run out of cod, permanently. Some buildings got blown up (I forget the date). The United States has become a plutocracy, although, fantastically improbably, many of the public have been distracted from this through the ridiculously simple tactic of appealing to a concept as meaningless and archaic as 'patriotism'. Most new cars are the size of small bungalows and about as safe as early jet aircraft prototypes.

It doesn't feel like four years. Although I'm not sure of this, I think that I first visited Everything (One) when it was linked to from a story on Slashdot announcing Douglas Adams' H2G2 project. (Looking back through the /. archives, it appears this story was run on the 28th of April, 1999. So either I tried to figure out Everything for two weeks before registering - unlikely - or there was some margin for error when Everything1 users account details were transfered to Everything2.)

The first few months were spent blindly stumbling through the (largely) unmoderated, catboxless wilderness that was Everything1. As more features were added, slowly (oh ever so slowly) I started to take a more serious interest in the project. But it wasn't a 'community' yet.

It was over a year after first joining that I attended the first UK noder gathering. Some of the people who attended have since fled, some have fled and come back, one has even (mostly) fled and emigrated to the US (was it something we said?) but on balance, most of those people are still involved with Everything2 as a writing project and/or as a community, along with many other reckless people since.

Then came a long period when I spent an enormous amount of votes and only sporadically wrote anything interesting. I then graduated from university and spent a year as a technological leper in Penarth (which, I hear, has finally been deemed 'worthy' of having their telephone exchange upgraded to ADSL a few weeks ago). Forced into a crappy job by well-meaning but stupid parents, I started to visit E2 more frequently at lunch times and evenings. It was at this time that I really got into Dem Bones' bad books through extensive rants against the gun lobby, although thankfully the whole sorry episode is now largely deleted. (If only the same editorial rigour could be exercised on the topic of American imperialism, but that's another story.)

Almost exactly a year ago, I returned to London, and after a number of weeks wrangling with BT to give me broadband and making up for lost time by downloading everything, ever (and also getting involved in a website that managed to put the smallest amount of content in front of the largest number of games industry insiders in the history of the interweb), I rediscovered E2 once again. There was a lot of talk about a bar being raised, which I was able to largely ignore (the prospect of rewriting 1,500-odd writeups as I had then being rather a daunting one).

I finally bit the bullet and began to observe the new standard of work on Everything2 last December, in the wake of the accurately-titled 2002 end-of-year bash. I remembered that I could, if I got down to it, write something longer than 200 words, of interest to people who are not already intimately familiar with the subject and without using the word 'fuck' every third sentence. (I once tried to up it to every other sentence, but nowadays I generally leave that kind of thing to the homenodes of frustrated high-school students.)

So in a way, I'm only just starting out on Everything2. Here's to many more years of elaborate jargon and poorly organised drinking sessions. It's been very interesting.