The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

9 April 2006

And I don't even have a hagiograph

I had actually already attended one ad hoc class on Web pages (let's not call it "design") in the spring of 1996 when I got the ridiculous idea that I ought to have a site of my own, inasmuch as I knew a handful of tags and my ISP of the moment was willing to allow me a whole megabyte of space. In a matter of hours, I ground out half a dozen pages and an index linking to them all, plus some homemade graphics which made them look, well, so 1996. Add to this a semi-cute counter, and suddenly I had a Web Presence.

A decade later, I've piled up 171 megabytes of stuff, the counter has gone into seven digits, and said Web Presence has had a wholly-unexpected effect: it's picked up regular readers. Last week I asked those readers to come up with some thoughts on the matter, and here's some of what I got.

Mike Pechar writes:

There is a scene in one of the early James Bond movies(I forget which one) where James is facing death on a platform which is slowly being lowered into a pond full of alligators. It's a drawn-out anxious moment accompanied by suspenseful music as the platform inches downward into the water. Bond, always the hero, extricates himself by racing to safety on the backs of the alligators. Each step touches a different alligator just long enough to move forward. It's a surprising and amusing scene and no alligators get hurt.

That's Dustbury — racing on the backs of alligators and, by the way, older than Google.

As an old fan of Activision's Pitfall, I know from dancing across alligators, or maybe it was crocodiles. (And it was Live and Let Die.)

Winston Rand notes:

Just when I think I've got you figgered out, you prove me wrong. To this day, I would not know whether to tag you as liberal, progressive, conservative, whatever ... so I don't.

[The site is] nice and clean. I like it. Wish I was enough of an html jockey to do mine as well. One thing that does not detract by its absence, but might enhance if present — use an occasional graphic, photo, or whatever, to break up the text. The bird gets boring after a while, but also provides a comfort level of stability, a benchmark, and a "yeah, I know where I am now" response.

[The Vent] may be unique with you. I have not seen it anywhere else. Tremendous idea. I vowed that I would read all of them.

So far as I know, two people have read all of them. I really ought to redo the interface so that you can go through them sequentially, but that's 480 pages to recode, each one manually. (No templates, folks; remember, this started in '96.)

I've had some sort of bird on the front page almost since Day One; I have about a dozen versions in the archives, and a few more I've played with but never actually used. Once I had a bird button made up to identify myself to a visiting reader who had just flown into town. Worked stunningly well.

Jennifer sent this:

What impresses me the most is the finesse and balance you bring to bear, day in and day out. Your posts are always so well-written. Your humor alternates flawlessly between the appropriately wry and the bone dry, and you offer little glimmers of insight into your personality in nearly every entry. You manage to educate and edify without patronizing, which is a rare talent indeed.

I, for one, appreciate the investment you make in sharing your well-trained eye for sussing out the genuine golden nuggets: from the educational and informative to the mundane and interesting, touching every inch of the spectrum in between along the way.

I figure, if I can find something interesting in the mundane (or, 24 hours later, the tuesdane), maybe it's not as mundane as I thought it was in the first place. Few of us find our lives to be one breathtaking thrill after another; if I wrote only about things that really, truly excited me, I might never have filled up that original megabyte.

And Michael Bates contends:

Dustbury is the epitome of a blog — links to an eclectic mix of web content, each accompanied by a well-selected excerpt that entices the reader to click through, followed by a pithy observation, and topped with a clever play on words. Even the category names are inspired. By comparison, other blogs are mere shadows on the wall of a cave.

I am, of course, grateful for the kind words, and somewhat surprised that they were as kind as they are: at the very least, I expected at least a smattering of "I will eat dirt rather than bookmark this," from my original Feedback Form.

There is one new feature for the new decade. You've seen its ancestor before: a "linkblog" which collects items that aren't going to be given a whole post. 3WC imposes a new structure on the linkblog: it provides, for each news item or whatever, a three-word comment and no more. (Hence the name.) These will accumulate on the left side of the index page at indefinite intervals.

To all of you, thanks for coming, and remember: if you don't like what you read, your next visit is free.

Posted at 12:00 AM to Blogorrhea


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I'm lucky enough to catch the live show from time to time ...

Posted by: Mel at 9:49 PM on 9 April 2006

Kudos, Charles -- one full decade under your belt, and many more to come. I'm honored to be on your blogroll, and even more that I've actually had the pleasure of dining with you.

*Go Charles!*

Posted by: david at 9:53 PM on 9 April 2006

How the heck did I ever get on that blogroll, anyway?

Posted by: McGehee at 8:16 AM on 10 April 2006