🔊🌐 🔊 MetaFilter Events: How it went in 2022, plus 2 standalone events March 29, 2023 2:52 AM   Subscribe

MetaFilter Events is back for a while to bring you two free standalone events featuring two significant figures from the Web’s early days: Ryan North (webcomic creator, known for his work with Dinosaur Comics and Marvel Comics), and Drew Curtis (founder of Fark). Take a break from your work week, and come reminisce and revisit the early days of the Internet. Join us as we ask some early Web movers and shakers about their experiences, how they made what they did, how they rose to prominence, what they’re doing now, and where the Web is going from here.

While originally part of a longer series we planned on Web 1.0 (aka the early internet), we hope you’ll enjoy these two free sessions as they are, until MetaFilter Events next returns for its remaining half-season. These two sessions take place on Wednesday (29 March, 7 PM EST) and Friday (31 March, 7 PM EST).

Session recordings for both events will be available to all ticketholders- so while we’d encourage you to attend in person if you can, you’ll still be able to catch up on things if you're unavailable for these session times or located in another timezone.
💥 A Q&A with Ryan North, Webcomic Maker
29 March 2023 | 7:00 PM - 8:15 PM EST
Discussion with Ryan North facilitated by John Harris

Ryan North is here to A your Qs! If only there were a better way to put that, but sadly, there is not. Ryan's been a webcomic maker since 2003 with Dinosaur Comics - www.qwantz.com - and most recently he's writing the Fantastic Four for Marvel. He's written bestselling nonfiction guides to time travel and world domination too, but then one time he got stuck in a hole with his dog, so let's keep our expectations for how clever he is moderated here.

Recording will be available to all ticketholders.

About the Speakers
Ryan North's recent work includes the non-fiction books How To Take Over The World and How To Invent Everything, the semi-fictional graphic novel adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, and the so-far-fictional Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series for Marvel. He's a multiple New York Times bestseller whose work has been translated into 16 different languages so far, and as a linguist, he's very happy about that. He lives in Toronto, where he once messed up walking his dog so badly it made the news.


John Harris, a.k.a. JHarris, Rodneylives and Milen, writes about video games on the blog Set Side B, and for ebooks at rodneylives.itch.io. They used to write the column @Play for GameSetWatch long ago, and a bunch of other tiny things. They wrote the longest post in Metafilter history, for whatever that's worth. On Mastodon, they're @rodneylives@mefi.social. John has a MA in English Literature from Georgia Southern University.


🗞️A Q&A with Drew Curtis, Founder and Maintainer of Fark
31 March 2023 | 7:00 PM - 8:15 PM EST
Discussion with Drew Curtis facilitated by John Harris

Fark is a couple of years older than MetaFilter, and has a fairly different, more rancorous culture. (It has been described as “rowdy.”) While it was something of a bad boy of the early Web, its rowdyness would be far surpassed by sites like Something Awful, 4chan, and worse. Meanwhile Fark has continued being itself all this time, posting community-submitted links and offering entertaining commentary on them with a fair dose of editorial selection for 24 years. We’ll talk with Drew about a variety of topics related to Fark and the Web.

Recording will be available to all ticketholders.

About the Speakers
Drew Curtis, as the founder, sole owner, and CEO of Fark.com (an Internet news aggregator), is in a very unique position where digital media is concerned. For the past 19 years, he has watched as media evolved from an industry that eschewed and dismissed the digital realm to an industry very much aware that their future depends on it. With over 2000 news items a day submitted by a pool of over one million users, there's very little that happens in the world that doesn't pass across Drew's desk, all thanks to the advances in digital media. Drew has presented at SXSW, Poynter Institute and TED, and Fark has been featured in Jeopardy categories twice. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Drew refocused all his energy on Fark.com, where it remains to this day. He is currently working on possibly the next big idea in social media.


John Harris, a.k.a. JHarris, Rodneylives and Milen, writes about video games on the blog Set Side B, and for ebooks at rodneylives.itch.io. They used to write the column @Play for GameSetWatch long ago, and a bunch of other tiny things. They wrote the longest post in Metafilter history, for whatever that's worth. On Mastodon, they're @rodneylives@mefi.social. John has a MA in English Literature from Georgia Southern University.

🔊 What's MetaFilter Events? For those that missed our previous events last year (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4): MetaFilter Events began as an initiative under MetaFilter’s 2022 Fundraising Drive, and hopes to continue in 2023. Our online events series features sessions across a fascinating range of topics, themes and perspectives - from Mefites and friends-of-Mefites that have generously volunteered to speak and/or teach on these subjects. (Here is a complete list of past MetaFilter Events.) We offered a mix of free and paid events last year - and plan to keep doing so this year.
Both our upcoming events this week are free - get your tickets here!

While both upcoming events are free this time, our bundled passes and gift cards are fun ways to get more value out of past and future paid events while supporting the site. We’ve also had a community ticket-gifting pool, creating ways for MeFites to sign up for the chance to receive a randomly-sponsored ticket to a paid event of their choice, or sponsor fellow Mefites to attend paid events they choose. This community ticket-gifting pool will continue for the next half-season when it returns. Tickets giving you access to recordings of previous events are still available as well.

🔊 If you can’t make it for the event you want, recordings will be available to all ticketholders for both events. Register a ticket so you don’t miss out: we’ll send you access to the recording after the event.
(That said, it’s a lot more enjoyable attending these sessions live (and for some sessions a very different interactive, participatory experience) - so if you can be there, join us!)
Also! If you missed a session and didn’t get a ticket for it, you can still get the recording by registering a ticket, even after the event has passed.

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📽️ Reviewing MetaFilter Events from the past year: How did it go in 2022?

2022 saw MetaFilter Events take place during MetaFilter’s Fundraising Drive, from 22 November to 18 December. The Events grossed $4,980 in funds raised between 22 November to 16 December, and have grossed $5146.87 to date (as ticket/pass/recording purchases have continued after the fundraising drive).

34 events were organized in total during this half-season (24 paid events, 10 free events), and as of 31 January, 46 bundled passes had been sold and 233 single-event tickets registered. Each event saw an average of 52.9 registered ticketholders.
In all, about 35.5 hours of recorded content was created, covering a broad range of topics from AI “text-to-image” artwork, to linguistics, sustainability in design engineering, horror fiction, the gamification of everyday life, legal challenges to redistricting in the USA, big tech content moderation policies, historical research strategies and much more.

We heard about the digital side of the Russian war in Ukraine through the eyes and personal experience of a Ukrainian journalist, gained a better understanding of the situation in Iran from an Iranian-American, and learnt how technology is shaping book censorship from a YA author experiencing this firsthand. There were workshops ranging from business plan-building to creative doodling. And there were sessions that were simply for us - our MetaFilter community - where we got to chat with some of the people helping to keep MetaFilter running behind-the-scenes (Jessamyn, the moderators, the Steering Committee), enjoy some talented performances from fellow MeFites, and partake in a MetaFilter Trivia Night.

(A full list of our past events is here, and you can still purchase ticket access to event recordings if you’d like to check out these sessions.)

This was all made possible through the incredible contributions from our speakers across those 4 weeks:

Week 1: Amina Omari, jeremias
Week 2: yankeefog, Medieval Maven, cupcakeninja, Mo Nickels, Stephanie Moon, Trish Salerno, headspace, Samantha Bagood and Kyla Zhao
Week 3: Duy Huynh, jenettsilver, cupcakeninja, Chris Gray, Annette Koh, travelingthyme, Wali Khan, Amanda Bligh, Brooke Brod, Maurreen Skowran, adrianhon, Kaitlin Costello, Emily Weerts and CollectiveMind
Week 4: jessamyn, the SC, jacquilynne (SC), Chris Gray, loup, restless_nomad, valforov, brainwane, Reeya Banerjee, CollectiveMind

Of all those that filled out the anonymous feedback forms,
  • 100% rated the events they attended as Good to Excellent, and 98.5% rated the speakers' knowledge as Good to Excellent, with 95.6% rating the speakers' knowledge as Excellent.

  • 100% rated the speakers' presentation skills as Good to Excellent,

  • 94.3% said the events exceeded their expectations, and 96.9% said they would likely recommend the events to their friends.
  • Here’s what some participants said about MetaFilter Events, in their own words:
  • “I'm so glad you're doing these events! It's the second one I've been to, and both have felt like an hour's worth of "flagged as fantastic" content.“

  • “Events is a great idea, more community-feels”

  • “Seeing some of the people behind it makes it feel more real. It's cool to put faces and voices to the names. I think mefi events like this should definitely be a regular thing going forward”

  • “Thanks so much for pulling this together! II feel like it really helps build community.“

  • And here’s what some participants had to say about each week’s sessions:
    Week 1
    📝 How To Build A Business Plan
  • ““Discussing the detailed parts of the lean business plan was really easy to follow.”
    “It was well organized and very informational while still feeling casual and friendly, which is not easy to do! A truly gifted presenter. “



  • 👾 A General Introduction to AI "Text-to-Image" Artwork
  • “The discussion about the ethical considerations was the most interesting to me.”
    “Great presentation, covered a lot of information quickly!”


  • Week 2
    📗 How Picture Books Work
  • ““Wonderful speaker! Extremely interesting background, considerations, facets to picture books that I'd never known about - very informative, valuable, multidimensional and profound and presented in a way that was very engaging and easy to understand.”

  • “The presentation was well organized, appropriate for the time frame, and flowed really well. Great enthusiasm from the speaker. All of the information was interesting. …Well done, thank you!“


  • 🙊 Let's Ban a Book: How Technology Has Reshaped the Battle for the Book's Soul
  • "I loved the examples at different levels of the challenges authors are facing with banning. The emphasis on doing your part to stop book banners from serving on school boards, right up to the federal level where we have to be vigilant in electing book supporters at the federal level, it really was enlightening."


  • 👻 Author Reading: "The Haunted Object"
  • ”What a treat to be read to at home! Great reading of a great story.”


  • 🎭 Shakespeare Performance in the US
  • “I really enjoyed talking about the history of Shakespeare plays in reference to the common person”


  • ⚡ How to Write Books that Resonate AND Sell
  • "I loved that it was a small group and that Sam wanted to interact with us."


  • 👻 The Ghost in the Bookstore: The Rise, Fall, and Rise of U.S. Horror Fiction
  • “I enjoyed the overview of the US horror market of the past 50 years in particular. The relatively short length made it a nice break in my day.”

  • ”I enjoyed hearing about the history of the genre and the major publishers. I could have enjoyably sat through a longer discussion and I think the presenter could have easily done it!!! He was very comfortable and knowledgeable in the subject.”

  • ”I felt more comfortable commenting and asking questions than I usually do at similar online talks, maybe because of my long connection to the Metafilter community.”


  • 🍻 Bourbon 101: The History of Bourbon and a Guided Tasting
  • ”[I most liked] the interactive portions."


  • 😎 Writing Fast and Dirty: How I Wrote and Sold My Debut Novel to Penguin Random House as a College Student
  • "I thought her presentation was well organized and very relatable."

  • "It was great to hear somebody being so honest and upfront about their process and the road to publication."


  • 📻 Language and Linguistics Smack Talk and Back Talk with Grant Barrett of "A Way with Words"
  • ”Fantastic session”...““Definitely worth the ticket price!!”... “…we got to pepper him with our language questions and get an immediate expert answer!”

  • “I loved that we got so much individual feedback from Grant. It was like we were all in a living room together.“

  • “Glad I attended. He's very good.”
  • Week 3
    🇮🇷 What's Going On in Iran: An Iranian-American's Perspective on the Current State of Iran
  • ”Great explanation of the history of the issue, and how it culminated.”


  • 📜 Threads of History: Historical Research for the Writer and Reader
  • “It was so useful to see some research tools used in context. Really fantastic, super informative talk.“


  • 🖍️ Let's Draw Together, MetaFilter!
  • "The presenter was knowledgable and engaging. I believe she had fun - and we had fun! Good prompts, great instructions. I would love to do this soon again!"


  • 🏠 “Housing Is a Supply and Demand Issue...” And Other Policy Myths
  • "Covered topic well. Also glad the speaker is putting up the slides for later."

  • ”Data rich. Lots of sources.”


  • 🎮 A Conversation about The Gamification of Everything with Adrian Hon
  • “Great conversation. Good dialogue. Interactive.”

  • “[This event is] the second one I've been to, and both have felt like an hour's worth of "flagged as fantastic" content.”

  • Week 4
    🧭 Meet Jessamyn, MetaFilter’s New Owner
  • ”I'm enjoying seeing the faces of some other MeFItes! I appreciate the history/how we got here set up to where we are now.”

  • “Stoked to hear that we are moving from owner hobbysite to community model. Great news.”

  • “I appreciate having a chance to get together this way, learn more about what’s going on at MF, and be able to ask questions. Thank you!”

  • ”I'm a quiet member, but I am pleased to be part of an internet community with a history, willingness to adapt, and a view to move forward.”

  • ”Love it, this is my community and I can’t imagine life without it.”


  • ⎈ Meet MetaFilter’s Steering Committee
  • “It was really nice to see the faces of the SC members and hear them talk. It's clear you guys bring so much value to the site.”

  • It was great to see and hear from the SC. I appreciate their hard work in keeping this valuable community going. It was interesting to hear a bit about what being on the SC might be like.


  • 👣 MetaFilter Moderation: Past, Present, and the Path Forward
  • "loup and restless_nomad are both so passionate about MeFi and about community building and it was great to see"

  • To all our speakers, thank you. MetaFilter Events was made possible through your contributions and your generosity. For an events series originally put together on very short notice within a limited timeframe, it was amazing to see all that MeFites could do and be and offer in terms of insight, knowledge and perspectives. We are so grateful.
    A big thank you, too, to all who supported the Events by attending, registering tickets, and spreading the word across your networks. So many sessions were made all the more fascinating by thoughtful questions and discussions from our event participants - the kind of discussions that are so quintessentially MetaFilter.
    Thank you, too, to JHarris (SC) who helped with hosting events, and tavegyl (SC) who helped manage the community-sponsored ticket pool.
    Every bit of support made a difference towards MetaFilter Events’ success - not just in the funds raised, but also the perspectives shared, and community fostered.

    When we started MetaFilter Events, we hoped to build an “online event” version of what MetaFilter is and offers, as a hub of insightful, generous and thought-provoking discussion. Seeing this actually take shape across November and December was humbling, inspiring and motivating. At its core, Events has been about MetaFilter’s community: a reflection of our community’s hive mind, the wide range of perspectives among us and curiosity to learn more - and another way of simply bringing our community together, making MetaFilter feel a little bit more like our internet home.


    📽️ Looking forward: What we hope to bring you in 2023

    More interesting, thought-provoking sessions across a variety of subjects and perspectives
    While we’ve returned with two standalone events for now, we hope to eventually return with the next half-season of events, again covering a wide range of topics and interests: from neurodiversity to games, medical science, film theory, astronautics, professional skills workshops and much more. We also hope to bring you a series on the early Internet (Web 1.0) (consider these upcoming two events a sample of what’s to come!).

    If you’re keen on presenting or sharing any interesting topics or skills for future MeFi events, let us know! We’d love to bring your perspective and insight to our online events.

    A quick note on scheduling:
    There’s been interest in finding out when the next half-season of events will start, and we know that some of our publicity materials previously announced the next half-season starting this March, with this week’s events meant to kick off the next half-season and full slate of events. We’d like to clarify that we’ve had to put future events on hold, and will have more information on this shortly. We do hope to be able to bring you the next half-season eventually, and ask for your patience and understanding during this time.
    (We are also in the process of updating our previous publicity materials and ticketing platforms to reflect this recent development - please bear with us as we make these changes.)



    Beyond our core goal of continuing to hold events featuring thoughtful, genuine discussions across a wide range of topics and perspectives, we hope to grow and expand Events in more ways this year (click toggle to expand):
    Reaching more groups that would contribute and benefit from our community
    Student/College Groups: Last year’s events saw some organic interest from various student/college groups, and we had a number of college students sign up to join MetaFilter as a result of their awareness / attendance of Events. We’re hoping to explore more formalized ways of encouraging student/college groups/organizations to join Events (and MetaFilter) - for example, through group/student discounts and student affiliate networks.

    LMIC Participation: In keeping with MetaFilter’s presence and identity as a global internet community, with members from all over the world, we’d like to see how we might help facilitate discounts and ticket access for LMIC (low to middle income countries) residents. As the internet has changed over the decades since MetaFilter first began, so too have the demographics of internet communities and internet users, including MetaFilter (January 2023 saw the US, UK, Canada and India as the top 4 countries driving traffic to MetaFilter).

    Institutional/Corporate Groups: We’ve also had a few institutions/organizations (nonprofits, educational groups) express interest in attending some of our events as a group. We hope to establish ways to make this work this year.
    Getting appropriate partners / sponsors onboard
    Partners and sponsors could help / work with us in a number of ways: they could do cross-promotion, cover any potential speaker fees/costs, sponsor events, sponsor tickets for attendees - and more. There are many ways this could work, with an approach that both brings in a bit more income and also makes sense for MetaFilter’s community, interests and culture. We’d love to engage partners/sponsors that would be a good fit for specific themes/weeks/events, or even partners/sponsors that can genuinely contribute something meaningful to event content. We’d like to approach this with consideration and care - avoiding Pepsi-Blue type arrangements while not discounting partners/sponsors that understand our community and are able to contribute value to some events.
    Extending engagement and connection through text-based discussion spaces
    We did this in some limited formats for Events last year, but in general we hope to be more intentional about connecting the text-based discussion here with Events discussion/content. Some of our previous speakers were invited to present based on their comments/authorship of popular/interesting FPPs, and we’re hoping this can eventually go both ways - with speakers sparking FPPs and on-site discussion as well. We’d love to find ways to integrate and centralize these discussions.
    Improved online / social media marketing
    While we experimented with this more casually in 2022, we hope to be able to put more effort and strategy into online/social media marketing this year. We have an Instagram account that we update, but there’s more that can be done.
    Steadily growing our YouTube presence
    YouTube monetization is more of a longer-term thing we’re keeping in view, but beyond just monetization - we’ve found that video-based platforms can be useful in helping more people find out about MetaFilter and MetaFilter-type content. We have over 35 hours of MetaFilter video content right now, and in time we’d love to figure out ways to re-purpose this content - for example, doing shortform video edits for TikTok, Instagram and YouTube Shorts.
    (We’re still quite some distance from being able to qualify for YouTube monetization and don’t expect to get there anytime soon - but if you’d like to help us towards that, we have a channel featuring some past free events that’s collecting subscribers and watch hours.)


    🔊 For FAQs and more information on how the events work - read our very first post about Metafilter Events, or refer to our FAQ on Eventbrite . We also have a full list of past events here if you’re interested in seeing what took place last year.

    To stay updated on ticket deals and MetaFilter Events that interest you, sign up for our mailing list! (we promise not to spam - and you can unsubscribe at any time).

    If you’d like to keep supporting MetaFilter Events - besides registering tickets and attending upcoming events, you can also check out past sessions, suggest speakers/ideas, volunteer to speak, and follow us on social media (YouTube, Instagram).
    (While some free events can now be viewed on YouTube, it still helps if you register tickets for these events - it allows us to get a better idea of interest and engagement that can be quantified/translated into registered tickets, adding to concrete numbers that can be used to speak to potential sponsors and partners.)

    If you have more questions about MetaFilter Events, you can also get in touch with us at metafilter.events@gmail.com
    posted by aielen to Steering Committee at 2:52 AM (8 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

    I’m sad that Ryan North’s Q&A is in the middle of the afternoon for me when I have meetings, as I’m a pretty enormous fan (though I haven’t read Romeo and/or Juliet or all of the paths in To Be or Not To Be, so not a real fan, obvs). I’ll watch the archive of course but it’s definitely not the same.
    posted by aubilenon at 7:24 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]


    This is great! Well-written and interesting! The only thing you might want to add is a couple of clear links to register for the two new events, which I'm not seeing in this post or on the banner.
    posted by Violet Blue at 9:33 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]


    I don't know where the to-do list is kept but if you want more people visiting the youtube or the mastodon or the instagram or whatever it might be worth adding those to the metafilter about page, like how individuals link to such things from their profile pages.
    posted by aniola at 10:47 AM on March 29 [2 favorites]


    The first post at the top of the thread takes you to the EventBrite page to register.

    ...Which is where I am off to now! :7)
    posted by wenestvedt at 11:40 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]


    The Mastodon instance, mefi.social, is affiliated with, but separate from, MetaFilter - it's not official. (Mefimail me for an invite.) But! The @Metafilter account there is official, run by the mods!
    posted by Pronoiac at 2:17 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


    (Strong Bad voice) "It's over!" At least the Ryan North one is. He's so much fun to talk to and he packed the time with interesting information and stories.
    posted by JHarris at 5:41 PM on March 29 [5 favorites]


    And one bona fide scoop!

    This was really cool. I'm a fan of Ryan anyway but he's a great storyteller and the Q+A was well-paced, getting thoughtful, thorough answers to every question just within the time limit without rushing things. Definitely check it out once it's published if you couldn't see it live.
    posted by Rhaomi at 6:18 PM on March 29 [4 favorites]


    We've now finished with the second talk, with Drew Curtis. It was great! Thanks everyone for coming by.
    posted by JHarris at 9:33 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


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