Metafilter book May 18, 2006 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Is someone going to write a book about Metafilter? I would read it, maybe.
posted by airguitar to MetaFilter-Related at 9:13 AM (89 comments total)

There seem to have been definite eras and events that stood out or marked transition. The early, early posts where it's just Matt weblogging by himself on his community weblog. Then the first influx seems to have been of the original bloggers and everyone was figuring out, "What's a weblog? What are the rules? How do we discuss this?" Where did it go from there? Why are some people still here? Why have some left? What happened? It seems like it might be a good story.

The second part of the question is, in the event that someone does write a book, would the "All posts are © their original authors" caveat prevent them from quoting comments without getting permission from each author?
posted by airguitar at 9:13 AM on May 18, 2006


somebody wrote a dissertation about mefi, look it up in metatalk
posted by matteo at 9:25 AM on May 18, 2006


Matt's written books on blogging; just not on MeFi itself.

And as you said, the majority of the visual content does not belong to any one person. I love MeFi but I don't think there's enough about it outside of the posts to merit filling an entire book. It's a great graf or two in the history of online communication, but I don't think I'm going to read "Chapter One: the skies were cloudy that brisk morning when young Matthew chose to discuss a site about putting cats on computer scanners...."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:26 AM on May 18, 2006


Writing a book about a website would be like taking a horse and buggy to a car show. Or maybe it would be like driving a car to a horse and buggy museum. No that is not what it would be like. It would be like telegraphing somebody about the telephone. Maybe. It would be like something, and it would be dumb. I think.
posted by ND¢ at 9:37 AM on May 18, 2006


Right? Because books are dumb, I gotcha. eBooks even, fuck em all. Stories? Also gay.

thread
dissertation
posted by airguitar at 9:46 AM on May 18, 2006


Writing a book about a website would be like painting a portrait of a photographer. Which someone's probably done, just to be, you know, clever.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:48 AM on May 18, 2006


It would be like something, and it would be dumb. I think.

Perhaps the specific paper form is on its way out but narrative will never be outdated.
posted by vacapinta at 9:48 AM on May 18, 2006


Wait. I know what it would be like. It would be like this: there is an old Victorian mansion, and a lawn in front of it. You are out on the lawn playing that futuristic football game that all the characters in "Starship Troopers" play in the beginning of the movie (except Doogie Howser), but instead of finishing the game, you go inside the Victorian mansion where the people inside are playing whatever games people played in the 1860's, bumpershoots or tiddlywickle or whatever, and you play that game with the old timey looking people in the mansion, and through that game you were to communicate to the old people some semblance of what the futuristic football game that you were just playing was like. But you can't explain a futuristic football game through tiddlywickle now can you? That is what it would be like.
posted by ND¢ at 9:53 AM on May 18, 2006


Someone should put all those interesting chatfilter ask mefi posts into a book form and sell with the title Porn Found In The Woods and other great MetaFilter Stories.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:54 AM on May 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


But there is no story of MetaFilter worth telling. Matt started a website, and a lot of people came and said a lot of things. There are doubtless dozens of possible dissertations to be done investigating particular aspects of the place and its quarrelsome crew, but I don't know who would want to read a "book about MetaFilter" rather than just spending time at the site itself.
posted by languagehat at 9:56 AM on May 18, 2006


Um, yeah, except for the Porn Found In The Woods book. That would sell.
posted by languagehat at 9:56 AM on May 18, 2006


Yeah, I don't see a book. A magazine article sure. Maybe a book chapter for a work about web communities or the somesuch. But a book? Nup. Boring as batshit.
posted by peacay at 9:56 AM on May 18, 2006


I'd read it too. Hell, I'd love to write it (or write it collaboratively). Possible "angles"...

1. Metafilter as a case study in online communities. Cover the genesis of the site, the evolution, key moments/threads, the technical and design elements that make the site work, the challenges of moderating the site, the spinoffs, success/failures/accolades, the future of the community...

2. The social aspects of Metafilter. Some history, evolution, a stronger focus on the key moments and threads, member profiles (maybe just the most prolific, maybe a cross section of certain member "types", maybe just a random sampling), an analysis/discussion of the most commonly discussed topics across all shades of Mefi, the spinoffs, jargon/"customs"/etiquette, meetups (complete with one of those full color mid-sections of daShiv & co's photos (w/ approval, naturally)...

3. Both 1 & 2.

And obviously there's more there. I'm not sure if you could do it without a lot of buy-in from the members, but I think it could be cool. And there would be an issue with it being stale the day it hit the shelves... although there are tons of books in that category being printed and purchased all the time.

(And ND-cent just wrote the foreward, so we've got that going for us. )
posted by 27 at 9:56 AM on May 18, 2006


How the hell am I gonna scream at the people in the book? Maybe a bunch of empty back pages (like when video game makers fool you into thinking they've provided a decent manual but the last half is empty*) wherein I could write nastygrams and attach them via footnotes in the original text.

*Here I express my eternal gratitude for reams of entirely too small lined paper that can only be written upon in marker. Which my left-handed right-handed writing style smudges. I'd have been happier to find an upside-down Spanish-language version of the manual. How do those people read like that?
posted by yerfatma at 10:01 AM on May 18, 2006


There should be a coffee table book with nothing but screencaps of the front pages of different websites. I mean, I wouldn't ever buy it... but I would be comforted knowing that it existed.
posted by Jart at 10:03 AM on May 18, 2006


thread
dissertation


Just as an FYI, I didn't do a dissertation or thesis about MeFi. It was a term paper for an ecommunities class. MeFi was really interesting to observe because it doesn't have a lot of strictly outlined rules (unlike other communities). There are social standards that prevent abuse and encourage participation.

I believe someone else was doing a master's thesis about MeFi. I think it was a study of social capital on MeFi.
posted by nalihasan at 10:04 AM on May 18, 2006


Here's the thread about Quartermass' MA thesis.
posted by nalihasan at 10:08 AM on May 18, 2006


Quartermass did the thesis.

i'm still working on the album
posted by cortex at 10:09 AM on May 18, 2006


27, you forgot the "LJ MeFi slashfic" angle.
posted by antifreez_ at 10:10 AM on May 18, 2006


I was saving that for Volume II.
posted by 27 at 10:16 AM on May 18, 2006


But there is no story of MetaFilter worth telling.

It might be tough to draw out one cohesive long story - but there are definitely a bunch of short stories worth telling: The earliest members, the unique and influential culture spawned here (didnt someone write a book about The Well?), stories uncovered here, prolific portuguese authors, How ideas travel on the Web (along with sites like BoingBoing, weblogs, LJ, etc.), issues of online identity (dhoyt...etc.), metafilter as curiosity cabinet and, many others.
posted by vacapinta at 10:17 AM on May 18, 2006


it would be a picture book, right?

an elephant-shitting picture book.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 10:29 AM on May 18, 2006


We should just do an art-installation in SoHo featuring all the various mefi-related projects. I'm thinking of doing a performance art piece where I dress up like a Jew and stomp on the World Trade Center (just to freak stenseng out).
posted by tweak at 10:34 AM on May 18, 2006


title:
The Precious Jewel of Culture That Is This Internet Site I Go To

New edition features comprehensive appendix of transient in-jokes. Humor not guaranteed.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:40 AM on May 18, 2006


How could the book possibly convey the profound emptiness experienced upon finding MeFi, revelling in threads upon threads, realizing you belong here and then finding out that registration is CLOSED? The years spent crafting FPPs in your head that will never be seen by anyone? The excitement of running into a MeFite on another site because you feel like you know them already? Or the down on your knees, Halleluia chorus inspiring, whip out your credit card moment of sheer joy upon discovering that yes, you CAN get a MeFi account at long last?

An 80's movie-style montage, maybe, but a book? Never.
posted by Biblio at 10:42 AM on May 18, 2006


there are definitely a bunch of short stories worth telling

Oh, the stories we could tell, Ricardo, should the fancy take us... the characters we have known here, all gnarly and well-seasoned... the deadly vamps, the buxom drunks, the gamine trouser-pullers...the secret wimps, the folderol addicts, the bejeweled marxist fops... where, no, when do we start? We can make a killing here, carissimo! We're talking "Mandingo" money!

But what would be the perfect title for a bodice-ripping novel about Metafilter? And the perfect blurb? Anybody? Suggestions would be much appreciated and acknowledged in the final draft, though no payment should be expected.

*feverously emails vacapinta, spilling cachaça and waving large advance in the air*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:43 AM on May 18, 2006 [2 favorites]


How could the book possibly convey the profound emptiness ... [of] finding out that registration is CLOSED?

The book will have a generous margin for notes, but the pen it comes with will be glued shut.
posted by cortex at 10:52 AM on May 18, 2006


Hi, Miguel!
posted by cortex at 10:52 AM on May 18, 2006


But what would be the perfect title for a bodice-ripping novel about Metafilter?

My vote is for a scroll wheel/slider filled with all the "Metafilter:" taglines found on Mefi. Let the customer decide.
posted by 27 at 10:55 AM on May 18, 2006


Hi Miguel!

Long time no see. Any chance of you dropping by McMenamins Market St. Pub in downtown Portland, Oregon around 5:30 tomorrow?
posted by timeistight at 10:59 AM on May 18, 2006


Well, you can always try this title generator.

Personally, I like "MetaFilter: The Throbbing Cowboy."
posted by Biblio at 11:31 AM on May 18, 2006


Call it "Notch on the Bedpost: The Unauthorized Story of Bucket and the Metafilter Six Girl Lick."
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 11:52 AM on May 18, 2006


Call me eddydamascene.
posted by eddydamascene at 12:02 PM on May 18, 2006


For some reason, I find myself thinking of that scene at the end of the second series of I'm Alan Partridge, where he goes to the paper plant to watch pallet after pallet of his autobiography being pulped.

I have no idea why this scene is in my mind as I read this thread. None at all.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:16 PM on May 18, 2006


Miguel,

I'll be at the Bairro Alto the week of June 11-17 -just in time to see Portugal beat Angola; too early to see Mexico beat Portugal.

If you have some time, we could sketch out a draft nearby, over a whisky sour.
posted by vacapinta at 12:17 PM on May 18, 2006


adjectives. lots of them.
posted by clavdivs at 12:26 PM on May 18, 2006


Ricardo,

Óptimo! If Portugal being beaten by Mexico is what it takes to get you here, so be it - don't worry, I'll make the necessary calls tonight. Hey, for another whisky sour I'll arrange Iran for you as well.

Email follows!

Long time no see. Any chance of you dropping by McMenamins Market St. Pub in downtown Portland, Oregon around 5:30 tomorrow?

Why must you torment me, Arthur? :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:44 PM on May 18, 2006


Miguel! clavdivs!

*weeps with nostalgic joy, is annoyed at self for diluting drink*

Say, how did you know I was a folderol addict?
posted by languagehat at 12:54 PM on May 18, 2006


just buy a plane ticket, miguel

do it

you can get here in plenty of time

posted by cortex at 12:54 PM on May 18, 2006


Migs can make it a two-fer!

(Except, of course, that he is DEAD to me.)
posted by ColdChef at 1:01 PM on May 18, 2006


Someone should put all those interesting chatfilter ask mefi posts into a book form and sell with the title Porn Found In The Woods and other great MetaFilter Stories.

I'd totally buy that book.
posted by ColdChef at 1:02 PM on May 18, 2006


In my never-to-see-the-light-of-day 2005 NANOWRIMO novel, this thread is a whole chapter.
posted by ColdChef at 1:20 PM on May 18, 2006


It's like an angel walks among us.
posted by drezdn at 1:35 PM on May 18, 2006


Can't we plant a tree or something instead ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:59 PM on May 18, 2006


LJ MeFi slashfic

(This really deserves a better treatment, but...)

jenleigh strode up to hall of robots wearing nothing but a light coat of oil and a smile.

"Show me your sockpuppet."

jenleigh grinned, feeling hall of robots's arms circle her waist as highsignal's hands grasped her shoulders. dhoyt entered the room and stood still, shocked. Soon, though, he too warmed to the idea...

"Fantastic post," was all she was able to say before the flamefest got underway.
posted by cog_nate at 2:11 PM on May 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


"Fantastic post"

Ha!
posted by cortex at 2:14 PM on May 18, 2006


ColdChef writes "this thread is a whole chapter."

I missed that the first time around, that is awesome.
posted by Mitheral at 2:44 PM on May 18, 2006


So Dhoyt made love to himself?
posted by drezdn at 2:50 PM on May 18, 2006


Wheres Marquis btw ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:39 PM on May 18, 2006


Does dhoyt ever eat his own semen after making love to himself?
posted by sveskemus at 3:43 PM on May 18, 2006


Sounds like a really boring book.
posted by cellphone at 4:06 PM on May 18, 2006


A book about MeFi (the blue) would be really boring, but a book about resolved AskMe questions, like the one about the house in Vienna (I forgot the details) would be somewhat readable, if it was done right.
posted by easternblot at 4:53 PM on May 18, 2006


But there is no story of MetaFilter worth telling. Matt started a website, and a lot of people came and said a lot of things.

languagehat, I disagree. As someone who is writing a dissertation on a website (not MeFi), their is a huge story behind the who, the how, the motivation behind, and the effect on a community when it is started by an individual or group of individuals. And the day-to-day can never be sufficiently condensed in a way which would make members entirely happy, but there are indeed eras to websites like MetaFilter, and a great deal we can learn from the evolution of online communities. Hanging Out in the Virtual Pub by Lori Kendall is a great example of a large study done on a MUD, and turned into a book.
posted by oflinkey at 5:01 PM on May 18, 2006


"there is a huge story". Sorry.
posted by oflinkey at 5:02 PM on May 18, 2006


"Say, how did you know I was a folderol addict?"

By the foot-pedal operated chromed syringes everywhere, of course.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:27 PM on May 18, 2006


Are you taking the piss? Even as a longtime devotee of the old 'Filter, I'd rather boil my cock in gravy than read a book about the place. Unless it was written in the style of a hamfisted Mills & Boon romance:

Mathowie, blushing at the memory of his first clumsy attempts to rouse his beloved from her slumber clattered his nimble fingers across the keyboard, pausing to savour each and every letter of the URL, half-wishing that it contained the letters 'F' and 'J' so that he might feel the sweet, sweet nubs left on those keys by the manufacturer for the benefit of the blind: c... a... t... s... c... a... n...

'Does anyone read the posts down here?', phooey gasped.


And so on.

Right? Because books are dumb, I gotcha. eBooks even, fuck em all. Stories? Also gay.

Goodness me.

posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:43 PM CET on May 18 [+fave] [!]

Goodness me, in a very different sense to the above.
posted by jack_mo at 6:32 PM on May 18, 2006


On postview: oops, missed cog_nate's comment. As you were.
posted by jack_mo at 6:34 PM on May 18, 2006


so, vacapinta == miguel == clavdivs.

i always suspected as much.

oh, and StrasbourgSecaucus: the elephant - it's pissing.

that elephant immediately became famous, and i became irrevocably associated with it, after i posted it one time in some horrid thread, i think the one that accused mefi of being a caucasian club. i have hauled out the elephant perhaps thrice since, usually in response to references to it. i find it odd that people these days write as if the pissing elephant were the only post i ever made, or that i have habitually posted it all over the site. the elephant, after all, was simply a pissing elephant, while this was a damned work of art. perhaps the book could examine this phenomenon?
posted by quonsar at 7:18 PM on May 18, 2006


Last year at Burning Man I sat down with a copy of a book someone wrote about Burning Man. Lest you think it was some kind of soul-searching tome of pretension: no! it was a murder mystery merely SET at Burning Man. Mind you, it was a well-fleshed out setting and a lot of the trademarks of the culture permeated the book. But all it was, in the end, was a pat mystery novel.

That kind of thing, steeped in MeFi culture, would be awesome.

WHO KILLED MATHOWIE??????????
posted by scarabic at 7:21 PM on May 18, 2006


WHO KILLED MATHOWIE??????????

the gardener, in the bathroom, with a bucket.
posted by quonsar at 7:28 PM on May 18, 2006


vacapinta == miguel == clavdivs.

Y'know, I was just thinking "hey, what're the odds?" upon seeing Miguel and clavdivs show up at the same time, and that notion fleetingly occurred to me. But I quashed it immediately and thought no further of it, until you had to go and underline it. Thanks a lot.

Fortunately, I happen to know that that post was not actually written by Miguel, but by Carlos Quevedo.
posted by soyjoy at 7:33 PM on May 18, 2006


Miguel!

You old scamp...my evil twin-where have you been???????
posted by konolia at 7:46 PM on May 18, 2006


What we need to have is an anthropological examination of Metafilter's ancient history. The era before 14,000 BSR (Before Signups Reopened). Tales of when the gods (Kottke, Zeldman) walk among us as men. The legend of Bunnyfire, the casting of Evanizer into hell, and the crucifixion (and resurection) of Stephen Den Beste. The days when men were men, and making single-link posts to amusing websites about scanning cats was completely acceptable. The time before... the fall.
posted by Jimbob at 8:54 PM on May 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Tales of when the gods (Kottke, Zeldman) walk among us as men. The legend of Bunnyfire

Zeldman made all of 300 comments, bunnyfire events were pitiful and would be best forgotten. That's the problem. To make the book interesting you'd have to make it based on a true story. The actual story would be a snoozer for all except those involved.
posted by justgary at 9:13 PM on May 18, 2006


Hey guys, remember the time we put the horse in the dean's office?

No?

Come on! It's never too early to start embellishing!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:38 PM on May 18, 2006


I think we ought to stick to songs. cortex is going to be on the pop charts with that matthewchen thing, just wait.
posted by danb at 10:14 PM on May 18, 2006


If I wrote a book on metafilter, I would call it "fetamilfer" Because that just sounds funny.

Or perhaps Metafilter: Obvious tagline.
posted by delmoi at 11:52 PM on May 18, 2006


I like your style Miguel , you don't just charge back in to metafilter and rip our bodices off , you give us a wee bit of meta-foreplay - a nibble on the earlobe here , a little caress there ... till the filter is trembling in anticipation of your full entry : )
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:24 AM on May 19, 2006


But there is no story of MetaFilter worth telling. Matt started a website, and a lot of people came and said a lot of things.

That's why you need to write the story in the same style as Mixerman, linked here, all those years ago.
posted by fullysic at 2:40 AM on May 19, 2006


If you don't call it Metafilter: Unfiltered I will buy up all the copies I can find and hide them in the woods.
posted by Sparx at 3:04 AM on May 19, 2006


I'm always intruiged by cult threads and flameouts. They are shunned/deleted/edited yet how many of us enjoy these the most. I think the "oh we have to be all serious all the time" attitude accually helps this, because you aren't expecting chatfilter or anything fun or silly in the comments but when it happens it's like the floodgates have been opened.

I'd watch a documentary on banned users and flamewars.
posted by psychobum at 3:10 AM on May 19, 2006


who took the silly string?
posted by quonsar at 4:11 AM on May 19, 2006


I am not planning on writing a book or a dissertation on metafilter, but I often bring it up in doctoral seminars where issues of digital literacy, visual rhetoric, community ethos, etc. are in play. I think I might be working towards an article, but I've got to clear a few projects off my plate first.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:18 AM on May 19, 2006


I'd rather boil my cock in gravy than read a book about the place.

That would be more convincing if we didn't know that you love boiling your cock in gravy.
posted by languagehat at 5:40 AM on May 19, 2006


Jack 'Bisto' Mottram.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:59 AM on May 19, 2006


Ah, Bisto boiled cock.

languagehat, do you post on the cocksandcondiments.org forums too? How else could you have uncovered my culinary-sexual peccadilloes?! (I am so not checking to see if that domain exists, as it seems almost inevitable that there's a thriving gravy-boiler community, sub-divided into snooty gravy purists and those who are happy to dabble in the underground 'hot custard drip', 'mustard spreader' and 'Bovril atrocity' scenes.)
posted by jack_mo at 7:53 AM on May 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


All Members, Great and Whiny
The Sock Puppet Masters
MeFi Confidential
Bonfire of the Inanities
All . on the Western Front
The Newbie Always Posts Twice
The Great Snark Hunt
[This is Good] Omens


and

Further Flash Fridays
, written in a double-post modern style, natch.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:54 AM on May 19, 2006




NSFW
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:09 AM on May 19, 2006


sorry , i meant NSFJ
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:32 AM on May 19, 2006


Jesus Cock-Boiling Christ, sgt. Mustard on sausages and everything. No Bovril atrocities, thank goodness.

Someone should make an online game the object of which is to attempt to invent a paraphilia - if it hasn't yet been described online, you win a million quid. Or a t-shirt or something.
posted by jack_mo at 9:41 AM on May 19, 2006


hey LH
Q, you, you....BLORT master.
I am not Migs for he is better looking.

a book could be written but using "Metafilter" could create copyright problems. Besides why write a book about a bunch of people with screen names then use a differant title?

'Ecoscreen'
a novel by Lavoris Colgate

oh miguel, I got to meet Dennis Brutus. I do so love to "radical Poets"
(gives coldchef a blank imperial decree)
posted by clavdivs at 1:02 PM on May 19, 2006


to=the

(damn submit button)
posted by clavdivs at 1:03 PM on May 19, 2006


But there is no story of MetaFilter worth telling. Matt started a website, and a lot of people came and said a lot of things.

Sounds like the bible!
posted by zaelic at 4:07 PM on May 19, 2006


at the end matt will come again and cast all the unrighteous into the abyss. if the server stays up that long...
posted by quonsar at 7:11 PM on May 19, 2006


I've always liked the idea of a compilation of short stories all based off random AskMes. There's so much good material there -- there's a germ of a great story every day. That's why I read it so obsessively, I think.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:03 PM on May 19, 2006


at the end matt will come again and cast all the unrighteous into the abyss

he will cast us into the lake of boiling gravy.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:32 AM on May 20, 2006


a best-of/highlights/lowlights/etc book would be great--if permission could be granted from everyone who participated.
posted by amberglow at 1:05 PM on May 20, 2006


I'd read a novel based on Metafilter characters. I never read about anybody who boiled his cock in gravy, and I bet it would be interesting.
posted by theora55 at 6:30 AM on May 21, 2006


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