An Open Letter to the developers of E2
In reaction to the ‘E2 Community Development Newsletter, Summer 2007’
Which includes some blathering on, and some ideas.
A GTKY Introduction
Several years ago I stumbled upon E2 while working a graveyard shift job in a bank building. It quickly drew my attention, and easily invited and welcomed my participation. I liked the idea of ‘we want to know about everything, you write it, we’ll read it, we’ll link to it, we’ll be inspired to add to what you know with what we know.’ And, just as quickly, I came to care about this place.
I’ve spent time as a Content Editor, I’ve indexed Editor Logs, trawled down and tried to establish what Editors like, given input on thousands of writeups, proofread even more, and read and upvoted even more. I’ve linked and linked and randomly hopped through the nodegel to discover… well, just about everything.
I’ve met noders on both sides of the pond, drank, laughed, schemed, argued and celebrated with them.
And I’ve been there throughout various philosophical ideas about the direction E2 was going. From Explicate your Lyrics to Raising the Bar. From Every Writeup Is Sacred to GTKY Go Home!. From Let’s put on a musical in the barn! to miss pelling the mormon. From a tribal gathering to a slow but steady flickering out.
When I first had a look at the proposals for a whiz-bang-comment-on-everything/add-a-farting-sound/drop-in-a-dancing-hamster-video/add-a-smilie Everything2 Bonanza… I shrugged, muttered to myself a bit, then went back to reading stuff.
When the promised mid-october curtains-drawn-here’s-yer-hootenanny-buttons-pressing-thrilling-E2-of-the-web-point-deux-generation arrived and passed… I had a look again.
And screamed and ran away.
My fervid rant begins
See, I like E2, but I don’t think it is behind the ‘times’. Many of us Noded for the Ages, and that’s the hope we had for E2. That it would keep on standing, keep on being there, keep being available, keep inspiring us, keep having its surprises. More people writing more great stuff is good. More people discovering this to enjoy and contribute to it is good…
But, E2 isn’t clean. E2 is messy. Fled users have left unfinished projects. Other users have decided to take their contributions away, even if there is an impact on other writeups in a node, or linked to their writeup. And the admin cleaning up after them have done it halfheartedly… or not at all. They haven’t Edited for the Ages. Guest users find nodes with writeups referring to other writeups which no longer exist, causing it to lose its context. Active users are given no warning that a writeup linked to theirs, or that they link to significantly, is about to be removed. (this could be partially fixed if --like when Cool Man Eddie informs us of a node bookmarked that we have a wu in—EDB informs us that a node we have a wu in has had a deletion take place)
There are far too many new users who try out one or two writeups, mostly taking the piss, fail and leave.
When a new thing is introduced, it is not fully realised. For example, now, woowoo, I can type a writeup as a dream. I can go back and reset various writeups to something that fits these new categories. But, what if I want to see the last 100 posted writeups of dreams? What if I wanted to multiply reset a number of writeups to a certain category? Linking up a writeup makes sense, because, well, it links, it connects, it enhances. Categorising a writeup does not make sense unless you can link and list them. Adding various writeup types just seems like a poor man’s version of tagging. (we already have tags. They are called softlinks. ). If we were able to search for writeups by type, then nodelets could be created to just show wus for that type. For example, if I want to be informed of all new events announced, a nodelet shows them. Or if I wanted to see all new writeups but not dreams…all the elements and tools are in place for this, just not implemented.
All of this is why, to me, certain aspects of proposed twiddling and multimedia extravaganza would be more useful if they were separate from the main body of E2. In an extra bit of E2. Called, say, EverythingExtra, or even… Community2!
XFN relationship types... ‘registries’... writeup comments... adding pics/music/vids, and yards of ‘behavioral standards’…. Wow, it seems like at whatever campfire the powers that be were sitting around they were all thinking in the back of their head that they wished they had broadband coverage to get back online onto Twitter/del.icio.us/Facebook/Livejournal/Myspace/Slashdot. And this trickled into causing a mass group psychosis of snagging this and that from social networking sites and throwing it into E2. (next new feature: Oblique Strategies Scrabble!)
Writing is the meat of E2, linking is the spice. Can’t we stick with that?
How it could work…
It could still work, all these knobs and whistles… if the knobs and whistles are mainly for another section of E2, and users are able to define softlinks for individual w/u.
An argument for an Everything Extra
In Everything Extra Everyone would have an Everything Extra Scratch pad and an EE ‘home page’; various usergroups and certain users would also have the same for their subject matter. They write up and markup something and submit it to their home page. Admin/Gods/peers of experience level see the submissions and comment/ching/promote it to the main page. A number of people do this and there you go, there’s your printable/internet promoteable Everything Product.
For example, let’s say I think I can enhance Twilight Zone: The Movie. I import my writeup to my EE scratch pad, and add the storyboard pictures I asked a friend to sketch up. I embed video of Fair Use clips from the film. I submit it to my EE home page, and other users can comment on it. (I would anticipate comments like ‘wow, great story, I could have messaged this to you, but I’m writing this down so you can comment back thank you in full public’ and ‘This is an outrage! More children should be sacrificed to the Great Gods of film… etc etc’) But wait, riverrun has started a collection of enhanced movie related writeups, and pulls the writeup to his EE zine page. He enhances the writeup even further with an audio version read by his mate ‘movie trailer voice guy’.. Movie geeks check it out, some go further and delve into the actual e2 and think to themselves…’hey, there’s lots of movies I can write about… I could review the new zombie flick, I could tell people about the last drive-in theatre in my state, I could write about my attempts to create stop-motion popsicle stick films… I could…’
An argument for author defined softlinks for their own writeups (not nodes):
These are our tags. This is the place authors can direct people outside of e2, or to a related quest, or to an enhanced writeup, or to a User’s zine, and to other writeups, nodes and nodeshells.
Please stop me from screaming.
Think about the impact of changes.
Think about ten years from now.
And remember what brought you here in the first place, what made you care about it.