panama_joe (panama_joe) wrote,


I started reading Metafilter some time in 2004.  I think I followed a link to it from Condor's now-defunct blog.  I liked it a lot because it reminded me of my BBSing days.  At the time, you couldn't make an account on Metafilter, which sucked.  Also, the site went down a lot.  But I still read the site and the comments, because it was interesting, and I dunno, I guess I was bored at work.

Come November that year, signups opened, and I got one of the first few accounts.  19K.  Booyah!  (do people even say that anymore?)  At some point I changed my name, for no good reason, really.  I guess that would have been a great time to pick a name that didn't indicate a hairstyle that I would later shed, but alas, road not traveled.

What ensued was about 6 years of more-or-less constant posting, only broken by a 2-month hiatus following a disastrous Metatalk incident.  (these are our modern-day scars; where once we sported raised white fleshghosts, now we show striations in post history)  The final tally : 2948 comments on Metafilter proper, 1352 on Metatalk, and 780 on AskMetafilter.  (i don't count my posts, because most of them sucked)  Wow.  5080 comments.  I wasn't prepared to see that number.

Some of those were one-liners.  Some longer than a page.  But I think a sensible estimate would be about 1000 pages of text : the length of a couple novels.

This is crazy to me, and painful to think about.  I mean, on the one hand, it's great : Metafilter got me to start writing again.  There was a time when I thought I would become a writer, but after some early promise, the drugs killed my creative aspirations, and I locked in for a life of writing code, not words.  Metafilter got me to write again, and that was great!  I've become a much better writer, although in a somewhat limited fashion.  (my writing tends to be either too formal or too snarky, and god do I suck at writing emails.  i don't know if I'll ever be able to write a novel, in spite of my ever-growing bookshelf)  But the bottom line -- all that time, all that writing, all those words.  All for someone else's thing.

Metafilter is very much someone else's thing.  Yes, you could fill me up with a bunch of metaphorical hogwash about "the community," but really, Metafilter is the property of three well-loved, yet very mortal, very human people.  Metafilter is their thing.  Their creation.  And even though it is up to the "community" to create content for free (or in exchange for "favorites"), this content is not the property of the users, except in the most technical of senses. 

So yes, there are issues of actual ownership that I object to.  The fact that anything said on Metafilter will be there until the end of time -- owing to site policy, and also to the merciless way in which the Internet propagates self-incrimination.  But really, that's not the main issue.

The main issue is that all my writing on Metafilter, all of it, is for Somebody Else's Thing.  Okay, fine, you want to buy into the "community" thing?  Fine, then let's just say that it's Everybody Else's Thing.  Which is to say, it is not My Thing.  I cannot add up all the hours I spent writing on Metafilter and point to some accomplishment, point to it and say, "this is my thing."  I mean, for one thing, I'd first have to explain what exactly Metafilter is.  And then I'd have to somehow make the case that I've actually produced something of value, or produced anything really.  My contributions to Metafilter were momentary, ephemeral : a fart in the wind. 

So that's where this blog comes in.  This blog is My Thing.  This is something I am producing.  This is something I can point to and say, "I did this, this is mine."  Yes, another fart in the windstorm, but this is my fart.  Mine.  My own. 

So I'm going to write a lot of stuff here.  There will be no rhyme or reason to it.  Some things will be one-line updates.  Some things will be long, opinionated diatribes.  Sometimes I may just tell stories.  I'll probably start out using Metafilter as a muse, along with the other sites that I read.  The idea will be : when I read something somewhere, I'll write about it here instead of commenting on it someplace else.  The hope is that, as I get in the habit of writing things for myself, this blog will be less a running commentary about things that are happening elsewhere, and more an individual dialog with the world that will maybe lead to other, more interesting writing projects.

Not terrifically original, but hey, it's a start.  And at least it's not Metafilter.

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.