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Reflecting on the past decade, 7.6 years of which I have spent checking E2 nearly daily, I can imagine life without it, though I cannot easily break myself of the habit. My life before E2 is in that fog of sometime back then, when things were not like they are now. We are all different as time forces us to be.

Back then I was younger and married. My children all lived at home.

In many ways I used E2 to chronicle the emotional disaster in my life. Consequently I found support. I made friends, at least one of which is now among the best I have, lifelong. Were it not for E2 I would have not found certain publishers and supporters for my writing. I would have written much less, and been much less confident about it.

While I personally miss the company of many of the former denizens of this site, I can't say that the current group is any more or less talented or interesting. I do not pine for the lore of E2 - the scandal of Butterfinger McFlurry, or the legal threats of the SEF team that scattered in fury after raising the bar triggered a revolution.

As we move into yet another decade, we question : what will be the space for E2 on the digital game board? It lacks the bandwidth and coloration of the Facebooks and Blogspots and the cultural impact of the Second Lifes or the challenge of Warcraft.

It's sort of like the newspaper that gets dropped on my driveway every day. It gets thinner and thinner. Lots of days we don't even take off the rubber band, because we've already been force fed the contents by cable news talking heads and regular iPhone updates.

The digital age doesn't mean we don't like libraries. It doesn't mean we don't want to hold something electrically inert to glean information. But we should stop kidding ourselves about the universal significance of things we hold important. My girlfriend is a journalist. She is out of work. She says she doesn't want to live in a world without newspapers. These personal facts do not boost the subscriber base of the San Jose Mercury News or the New York Times print edition.

Dare I say, the time will come when we will have a world without the daily news distributed on low-grade paper.

Our parents and grandparents bemoaned change. Plutarch quotes the same of the Caesars.

But the rate of change now, exceeds that of any prior generation. So even in our lifetimes the change that was thrust upon us that we grew to love is now superseded, and then that superseding change itself surpassed, over and over.

In my own lifetime I have seen computers shrink from the size of small homes, to the size of a toaster, to the size of a playing card. Pocket-based computing is the stuff of science fiction of the 80's, when I was in college.

What then is the future for E2?

I predict that E2, as we currently know it, is a cultural anomaly that has passed its peak. It exists now, primarily through the good graces of the University of Michigan and Professor Lampe. When he moves on to other academic pursuits, the disks may spin down and the database will be forgotten in a box somewhere in the home office that remains of Blockstackers.

We will miss it because we were here and it used to be us.

I, for one, find an entire joyous and often painful segment of my past logged here. I can't write as much now as I used to. But I feel a part of the history of this ethereal, ephemeral part of the digital record. Some day it will be gone.

Perhaps it's because I realize now more than ever, as I get older, that I'm not destined to breathe forever, either. Some day I will be gone.

But the digital irrelevance of E2 does not undermine its inherent value. There is the need in many of us to write and be heard. Moreso than aimless blogging. Today, anyone can write and be read by hundreds. What is needed is to write and be appreciated.

E2 has been one of the greatest gifts to me as a writer. I have received here some remarkable validation. Perhaps one of the greatest is this: a couple months ago I received an e-mail from a physician who had been working with Doctors Without Borders in Africa. She told me that in her darkest times, when the suffering and misery she confronted was overwhelming, that she would make her way into town for respite. There she would visit an internet cafe, come here to E2, and among many things, read my work.

Now that she was back from her tour, she thanked me for it. It helped her find reason to continue.

I realized then, as I do now, that it is possible that all the inner yearning I have had to write for the sum and total of my years could have been entirely for the purpose of helping that physician in Africa so she could help others. If so, I am happy for what E2 has enabled.

You see, I need never write another word.

I hate anniversaries, birthdays, religious feasts, and (most of all) Hallmark holidays. It's also been ten years today since Nate and Co. flipped the switch that made Everything become Everything2 and I'm probably expected, due to my present standing, to say something about it that befits the momentous nature of the occasion. Well, sure enough, devoted functionary of the Great Mother Site that I am, I spent several days pondering this epic (and I mean EPIC) decaversarial ed log. Then I figured that y'all have heard enough from me over the last year so I'd like to leave centre stage for others, especially other staff members in this same space, and be brief by my loquacious standards.

I find myself in a position of leadership, which I've admitted I was not accustomed to--I always thought of myself as a good lieutenant rather than the boss--but which I hope I continue to grow into, for the benefit of the site and for the life lesson it contains. I suppose part of that lesson is stepping up and showing yourself on the balcony, even if means you feel a bit lame and get the idea that you ought to be delivering something akin to Urbi et Orbi.

After ten years we still have a major question of identity and it seems to be central to our identity that we cannot collectively answer the basic question: What is E2? I'm not going to answer that question today because E2 does not like being told what it is and what it is not. Hell, we can't even agree whether this ten-year landmark ought to be a celebration or a funeral. All I can say is that E2 is something that is a bit bigger than the sum of its users and contributors. I consider it a privilege to have spent the past eight and a half years in the company of the hundreds or thousands of brilliant minds and special people, including some who are precious to me on a very personal level, that form this site's collective nous and expression.

So we continue to follow our unique path as we have done since the site's inception. It may appear as an aimless meandering but, if you'll pardon me the departure from the rational and a diversion into the philosophical or even metaphysical, there is a reason--as someone recently postulated--a telos, though perhaps I'd phrase it more as a skopos. Whatever the case and whatever the reason, we shall proceed on our continuing mission to boldly split infinitives and go where no site has gone before. If you ask me to tell you where exactly it is that no site has gone before, all I can tell you is hell if I know, we haven't been there yet.

From the business as usual department:

Staff changes

Inbox: DonJaime signed up as a coder last month with an implied promise of Prussian efficiency. Kthejoker fell off the wagon and signed up again for light coding duties. Oolong knows what to do with them.

Outbox: Ancientsnow handed in her badge due to that dastardly Real Life making increasing demands on her time and energy. XWiz also tendered his resignation, which I understand is incidental to his general departure from the site rather than related to the position as such. We wish him well wherever the future takes him.

Code and feature changes

Work is being done on the chatterbox and message system. This is internally significant but may not have an immediate, visible impact. The root log will hopefully offer a more nuts-and-boltsy description of what's going on.

Homenode image privileges have been extended to users level one and above. I understand that this may perplex some of the older users, particularly those who found the image a worthy goal in striving for a higher level. This is something that Oolong and I worked on and we figured that there was no significant reason not to do so since we have the server capacity. Lower-level users' images will be smaller in size; full image privileges as we know them remain unchanged, though (as Oolong reminds me) we've tried to address the diversity in image sizes and are hopefully now scaling them to fit the homenode page better.

We have several major feature changes in the works but SOP says that we don't brag about them before they're live. Things our coders are working on in major ways include scratch pads, node heaven, homenode items, and a replacement for the nuke request node and its ilk.

Roll credits

This month I want to thank all the people who, in any way, got involved with the decennial (there, I used the correct word once in this piece), whether or not their efforts resulted in something for the public to see. Not that I would in any way belittle any of the other efforts but I have a king-sized thank you for Jet-Poop and the exceptional work he's done. He started with little more than a list of users and a vague mission. The execution and the hard work that followed is all his and was in addition to his original idea for that quest with the enormous title. If we had a giant freakin' gold medal of awesomeness, I'd make him stand up before all of you and pin it on his shirt pocket. Go ahead, blush.

I'm also very thankful to (and surprised by the number of) all those who responded to the Everything Decaversary Interviews. This was successful beyond our wildest expectations and I admit to being a bit smug about finding the right person to turn my half-baked interview idea into an unqualified coup. Critical or not, every one of these folks' experiences and opinions is worth paying attention to. It doesn't matter if some of them have clashing or ambivalent perceptions of the site's history, misgivings about its present, or bleak views of its future. I found something of value in each and every one of them and appreciate the time and effort they put into taking part.

Excelsior! And, well, happy birthday, E2.

If they won't make you captain then you sail your own ship
With your own colours tied to the mast
Setting sail for the far side of anywhere
Beyond and behind your thousand yard stare
With the sky in your eyes.

Well, "they" say a 10-year anniversary is a good time to look back, to see where you’ve been and try to see where you’re going. Tom and I celebrated our 10th year together last year by … well … me trying to remember the exact date and not succeeding! We laughed, enjoyed some happy memories of the years, but mostly congratulated ourselves on having made it that far. Many couples and organizations don’t, and sometimes if they do, they find they’ve become something quite different than what they were.

I think E2 can do all those congratulatory things, and bask in the glow of still being what it set out to be: a place for writers to write. Has it changed? Of course – there’s a thriving community now, and the noder population has settled down into a fairly committed group of talented writers that still welcomes new users. E2 still provides that place for writers and would-be writers, a place to learn to write and write well.

There have been bumps along the way; talk to anyone that’s been here a while and you’ll get your ears filled with the stories of drama, confrontation, and the like. But keep talking and you’ll hear more about the good: the friends that have been made, the nodermeets, the relationships that have happened, and the superb writeups that keep us coming back for more. Though some might differ, I think the good truly outweighs the bad.

E2 has evolved, indeed, possibly into something its creators never envisioned. I don’t know; the one time I started to discuss E2 with one of its founders, we were both too drunk to make any sense! I hope that Nate and the rest of the original gang are happy with their creation, and I suspect they are, or else they’d have thrown in the proverbial towel long ago. Maybe it’s just grown too big and too important to many of its users to let it go.

I reject the notion that E2 is somehow “past its prime”, or that other one we hear sometimes, “2001’s calling and it wants its website back”. These beliefs miss the fact that there is still a place on the Web for sites such as E2. Of course, there are flashier (pun intended) sites on the Web now … Facebook, MySpace, Digg, our parent Slashdot … and many others that I don’t know about but you might. They’re all good, in various ways, at what they do … but none of them does what E2 does. And what it is that E2 does, as opposed to other sites, is hard to define (at least for me), but anyone who’s been a writer of nodes for any length of time, and truly interacted with E2 and its community, will know what I mean.

If you don’t mind me trotting out a few hoary sentiments, let me say E2 has made a huge positive difference in my life, and yes, I had plenty of “real life” before I found E2. It has brought me friends, experiences, new ways of thinking, and the opportunity to take quick glances into the lives of other noders, people … friends … doing things and living lives that I could barely imagine. As a noder, later Content Editor, and now Admin, it has expanded my horizons and continues to do so, for which I am grateful.

So, happy birthday, Everything2; I raise my E2 coffee mug to you! May you be here in 2019 for me to make a feeble attempt at a 20-year anniversary writeup (assuming I can still read the screen at that point!). May you go on being that part of cyberspace we are pleased and proud to call our own. May you grow and evolve, never losing sight of what you are, and continue to amaze us all!

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