A place to post short written things? May 25, 2003 9:56 PM   Subscribe

This thread makes it apparent that there a lot of creative writers in the mefite community. Perhaps a place, similar to Mefi Music, for users to post their short stories, plays, and poems?
posted by adrober to Feature Requests at 9:56 PM (39 comments total)

Interesting idea. I might toss one on the fire if this were instituted.
posted by UKnowForKids at 10:41 PM on May 25, 2003

Pleeeeease Matt.

P.S. Can we have a pool Matt?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:46 PM on May 25, 2003

Oh yeah, I should have added that this is an awesome idea.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:47 PM on May 25, 2003

Sounds like the projects list.

Also...just curious and honestly not trying to snark (though it might come naturally)...but how does a thread about books you've hated mean that there are a lot of creative writers?
posted by Vidiot at 11:22 PM on May 25, 2003

Why limit it to just songs and writings, or anything at all? In a perfect MeFi world, I think it should be possible to share media of pretty much any sort. Apologies if I seem to be harping on this a bit (1,2), and of course this kind of talk pretty much overlooks the issues of actual implementation.

(I can't recall receiving more than one or two e-mails from the projects list in my several months of subscription. Have I screwed up somewhere, or does nobody know about it?)
posted by tss at 11:30 PM on May 25, 2003

It takes 5 minutes and zero dollars to set up a rudimentary personal website via Pitas or the like, upon which you can write anything, and Mathowie kindly lets us link to them from our profile pages.

I think his work might be done, here.
posted by dong_resin at 11:32 PM on May 25, 2003

Vidiot: a lot of the posters in the thread (or, at least a few) mentioned that they were writers.
And I think a centralized place, much like mefi music, where you can click on a users name and read stuff they've written would be cool. I'd definitely contribute.
OH, and it would probably be much easier to maintain than the music site since there's no mp3s involved, just text.
posted by adrober at 11:42 PM on May 25, 2003

I, personally, would love that.

AfterDinner is pretty awesome, but... somehow lacking. Perhaps it's too much like attending a weekend writing workshop and not enough like showing a written piece to your friends.

So... dong_resin, it sounds like you want people to just post their text elsewhere and keep updated links on their profile pages..? Wouldn't I have to cycle through everyone's profile pages constantly to know when someone posted something new?
posted by scarabic at 12:01 AM on May 26, 2003

What I want, scarabic, is to live in a place where I can watch toddlers have a knife fight in a steel cage without getting the cops involved.
I'm thinking New Hampshire is my best bet.
posted by dong_resin at 1:05 AM on May 26, 2003

it would probably be much easier to maintain than the music site since there's no mp3s involved, just text.

Which, as dong_resin pointed out, is exactly why we don't have to rely on Matt doing it for us. Uploading text-based web pages is hardly difficult; I'm told it even predates weblogs. Any one of us could do it.

Setting up a music server is (1) nontrivial and (2) enough of a novelty to be worth doing. Setting up a site for our creative writing would, without some form of editorial control (read: more work for someone), be the web equivalent of a vanity press. It'd be great for those whose work is kept there, but its benefits to MetaFilter, as site or as brand, are dubious. It's not like there is a shortage of creative writing on the web -- a shortage of good writing, maybe, but I don't think this would help.

Besides, I'm still waiting for post/discussion ratings to be implemented. I want my Whuffie, damn it. Matt should be slaving away, unappreciated, on that.
posted by mcwetboy at 1:53 AM on May 26, 2003

It takes 5 minutes and zero dollars to set up a rudimentary personal website via Pitas or the like, upon which you can write anything, and Mathowie kindly lets us link to them from our profile pages.

Or, more succinctly : "Get your own weblog, fuckwit."

Joke, joke. I don't really think any of you are fuckwits...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:03 AM on May 26, 2003

I think we should just take over the internet and get it over with.
posted by konolia at 6:09 AM on May 26, 2003

you mean, we haven't already?
posted by crunchland at 6:40 AM on May 26, 2003

mcwetboy: It'd be great for those whose work is kept there, but its benefits to MetaFilter, as site or as brand, are dubious.

It's the "community" part of "community weblog," as I see it. I'd love to have a place to read what other Metafilterians are writing (outside of User X's latest opus on Iraq); clicking on 17,000+ userpages or creating an outside site that would probably not get the same participation level as a Metafilter-hosted site doesn't seem like an efficient or useful way to do that. As for the "vanity press" aspect, I dunno. I would hate anything that made this place more LiveJournal-ish ("Man, check out this poem I just wrote. It really expresses my inner torment.") or a warehouse of fanfic. That would be my major reservation.
posted by UKnowForKids at 8:53 AM on May 26, 2003

There are pluses and minuses to this. A couple of points:

1. What a writer really needs is a few intelligent friends or peers who can be trusted to give honest feedback and criticism. 17,000 people with access to a writer's drafts may not even bother to give feedback, and the feedback may not be helpful when it exists.

2. Giving 17,000 people access to a short-story, whether they read it or not, could be construed by publishers as giving away first publishing rights for a magazine or competition (depending upon how cool the publisher or competition judges want to be).

3. While Metafilter is a huge pool of largely untapped talent, I don't think anyone is trawling that pool to tap that talent. But don't get me wrong, it might be fun to share writing, just like it's fun to listen to songs on Musicfilter. Heck, I pull out Sgt Serenity's stuff and listen to it on a regular basis.
posted by Shane at 9:44 AM on May 26, 2003

I don't really think any of you are fuckwits...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:03 AM PST on May 26

i am *crushed*.
posted by quonsar at 9:51 AM on May 26, 2003

I posted an entire play here once.
posted by feelinglistless at 10:31 AM on May 26, 2003

what tss said. convergence, people!

(and i think it's mainly that no-one is sending stuff to the projects list)

somehing like a wiki, but with protected areas (for works that aren't communal collaborations), support for different data formats (text, images, etc) and a registration system to keep the riff-raff out (and for accountability).

that's all easy, but what happens when somone posts a successful film that eats bandwidth? i guess you need to force the use of some kind of distributed distribution system (bit torrent?). who's gonna host it? who would pay?
posted by andrew cooke at 11:54 AM on May 26, 2003

I don't understand why this concept is so difficult to grasp. Yes, it's trivial for an individual to set up a blog and post text documents.

No, it's not trivial to maintain a collaborative blog, potentially one with lots of traffic and community features, even perhaps some workshop tools.

Moreover, this particular community of people has some interest in doing this thing together, so why not build it out from the MeFi user database? Aggregating that was the least trivial feat of all.
posted by scarabic at 12:43 PM on May 26, 2003

Rather than hosting the whole thing centrally, would it be more feasible to create a directory of sorts, where logged-in members could submit links to material that they have created? I guess there would have to be some sort of searching/sorting mechanism, which means work for someone to develop and maintain the list, but the actual content would be the responsibility of the creator. Issues such as link-rot would need to be resolved, also.

This would allow users to present creative works of all types without having the bandwidth go through the roof and the server die a gasping death because someone puts a 90 minute video up and 17,000 people (and all their friends) watch it every day for a week.
posted by dg at 2:56 PM on May 26, 2003

dg, one naive and ambitious member could load up a server with one of the *Filter packages and throw it open for membership. Semi-dragging the MeFi brand... Just to state the obvious.
posted by billsaysthis at 9:23 PM on May 26, 2003

billsaythis: Not until that naive and ambitious member can think of a good *filter name for the project.
posted by ?! at 11:48 PM on May 26, 2003

Vanityfilter ... (j/k)
posted by walrus at 3:02 AM on May 27, 2003

walrus: let's see who snaps up that domain...
posted by ?! at 4:45 AM on May 27, 2003

CreativeFilter, SandboxFilter, PatOnTheBackFilter, BSTFilter (because don't you just want to stroke my ego into an even more insane size?)...
posted by billsaysthis at 11:37 AM on May 27, 2003

nobody really likes poetry.
posted by angry modem at 3:13 PM on May 27, 2003

indeed, nobody really likes

Back on topic, what dg said. Or, what mathowie said. I just don't think the e-mail list does it for most people.
posted by tss at 6:31 PM on May 27, 2003

nobody really likes angry modem.

There, that was easy enough.

Seriously though, I've thought about doing something like this off and on, for collaborative criticism purposes. If anyone is really interested in starting something off, I'll help or get involved to an extent. I don't know if it needs to be part of metafilter, though I see no reason for not announcing it on mefi projects and getting a text ad. It will kick off if enough people get interested, somewhat like this place. And what dg said again.
posted by walrus at 2:08 AM on May 28, 2003

walrus has taught in the past me not to diss poetry thoughtlessly, and I have taken the lesson to heart. For this, I thank the great tuskéd beastie.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:29 AM on May 28, 2003

Well anyone can diss anything they dislike within reason, but to say that nobody likes it is a readily falsifiable statement and I'm tired, to be honest, of the ease with which people will discount something about which I may indeed be the only person who does care, even if I'm not very good at it and can't currently find any inspiration to write any. To be fair, I should shut up now. But thanks for sticking up for me anyway stav. I'll just get my coat ...
posted by walrus at 4:19 AM on May 28, 2003

Poetry kicks ass.
posted by Shane at 5:31 AM on May 28, 2003

Getting back on topic a little more ... I'd like to see something which was actually constructive along these lines, not just a "look what I did"-filter. I've been wondering for a while why art(s) can't work in an open-source way. In fact, if one uses certain creative commons licensing, that seems to be a natural extension. Creating a work of art should be more like starting a conversation, and using the internet we might be able to build a tool which would allow that in real-time, in a way that hasn't really been possible before ...

I like andrew cooke's ideas about wiki-like features, but I can't quite see how that would work out with multimedia stuff, or offsite hosting. It would be good for collaboritive writing, certainly.
posted by walrus at 5:34 AM on May 28, 2003

Walrus, just curious, but how many really good creative works can you name that were created by committee? The only space I can think of that even tries is recent (last 10-15 years) in Hollywood, movies and TV, and aside from The Simpsons I'm not sure it really has ever worked.
posted by billsaysthis at 4:52 PM on May 28, 2003

A camel ?
posted by Fat Buddha at 5:41 PM on May 28, 2003

walrus, I've oft thought of developing a site like that with a writing bent. I've got several ideas: sections for writing exercises (i.e. focusing on dialogue or iambic pentameter), "published" work, workshopping, and then collaborative work of any of the above. I'd be interested to know what ideas you have.
posted by pedantic at 9:04 PM on May 28, 2003

billsaysthis: I'm thinking Bloomsbury group on wireless. To be fair, I can think of plenty of groups like that who've worked collaboratively, but not so many who've produced well-known collaborative works. At least not outside music or theatre (which were both around for a little while before Hollywood, btw). But just because it hasn't been tried, etc. Anyway, it may be something with which to blank out the mindless tedium of my endless, unvarying days. But, to reverse the question slightly, can you honestly say that you see no potential in the way that mefi works, or exquisite corpse, or even fark photoshop (bless it's rotten socks)? If I start talking about open-source software, then that's certainly something that almost no-one in the software industry would have predicted success in, before it just started happening a few years ago. Now firms like IBM are apparently thinking about how they can start using open-source methods in-house, in order to increase productivity. It's the "many eyes" phenomenon that makes it an efficient way to develop software. My basic crux is that paradigms change, and the internet is certainly capable of enabling communication at a distance in new and interesting ways. So I'm thinking it's worth a try.

pedantic: I've been thinking more along the lines of how to enable it than what specifically we would want to do. I was thinking for a long time that something like mefi is the simplest way it could work ... the collaboration can take place within threads, or by linking offsite, or more probably a natural mixture of both. If the site is licensed on one of the share-alike CC licenses, and stipulates that works linked to offsite are similarly licensed, then it's all good. I think logins would also have to be required.

Obviously I think with a writing bent also, and I expect I've had similar ideas to you. I'm interested in an environment where there is a degree of creating collaborative works, but at the same time a degree of working collaboratively on individual efforts. I think having a mix of activities might help strengthen community ties and get people used to working together. I also like your idea of workshops and specific exercises. I think these different kinds of activity could be separated by category, in much the same way that metatalk is. I'd like the idea of having a "front" index as well as an index for each category, to encourage people to cross over genres. As to what the categories are, I would expect many more to evolve than you or I can think up. the important thing is probably to kick it off and see what develops.

But I don't feel it should be limited to writing. There's no reason, with offsite hosting, why we shouldn't also be able to collaborate in music, art, and even film and multimedia productions via this kind of forum, given time to find our feet as a community and come up with some ways of working together.

As I said, I've been thinking along these lines for a while, but although I'm a semi-competent installer of MT, etc, I've never really messed with databases and don't want to have to spend time learning to hack PHP or whatever, although since I work in software that's probably just laziness. I've been looking with interest at the mefi clones, but I would need something I could pull and push apart and then put back together the way I want it. I was hoping something interesting might drop out of the mojo conversation that I could crib, but it seems to have fizzled out somewhat. Short of ponying up for a metafilter installation of my very own (and I really have no clue how much that could cost) I've been a bit stumped, so I've just been sitting on the idea until this thread came along (and now you can't shut me up).

Anyway, now I'm wondering whether there's enough interest here to start up another forum for discussing the issues, and maybe eventually working up a website and giving the ideas a whirl. I have some server space, and could probably make some free time ...
posted by walrus at 3:08 AM on May 29, 2003

I've been thinking more about what we want it to do than enabling it. ;) Yeah, all told I agree that a MeFi like gig would provide ample opportunity (less structure around collaboration). I've mostly thought about writing because that is the craft I'm most familiar with. Any others would be welcome -- I really have no idea how a site would lend itself to collaborative music, etc so I'm unsure how to address it.

Having a loose form might be just the ticket.

I too have extra webspace (room for an extra domain as well) with PHP, MySQL -- enough to get a MeFi clone up if we wanted something there quickly. I haven't programmed much in PHP...although it wouldn't take me long to pick it up. Once you've seen Juan, you've seen Amal. A MeFi clone wouldn't take any more money than what I've already ponied up for my webhost. MeFi itself is another story. I don't have ColdFusion at my disposal.

I'm pretty well versed with databases so I'm less concerned with that. Viva Boyce-Codd normal form!

As far as the exercises...like I said...initially I've been thinking about having a pretty structured site (not MeFi'ish). But after a moment, MeFi would be downright kickass. To think someone starts a thread with a line saying "Last night, I" then it'd be Farkesque photoshop contest -- the MeFi haiku muse without the bunk link. Mmm. This has got me thinking and more excited about doing it than before.
posted by pedantic at 7:53 AM on May 29, 2003

the MeFi haiku muse without the bunk link

Heh. This might be some people's idea of a personal nightmare, but I would enjoy a forum for playing as well as more serious work. I cut my teeth on the net in various newsgroups and chat rooms where verbal tomfoolery was more than encouraged. The point is to have a spark and start some fire with it. The creative process needn't always be deadly earnest. But I think we would need structured exercises and endeavours too. Play is just practise.

I think we should pick a mefi clone and try out some ideas, if you're game. The name can probably come later. I swear I will have some time for this tomorrow, so perhaps you could email me later today? The address is in my profile.
posted by walrus at 1:33 AM on May 30, 2003

I cut my teeth on the net in various newsgroups and chat rooms where verbal tomfoolery was more than encouraged. The point is to have a spark and start some fire with it.

Dan (walrus), I really agree with that statement. There's no telling what will come of kicking it around in a goofy tag-team informal conversational game of HackysackWords. That's how I got started on the net, too, and I have since gone back, dug up snippets of conversations, and used them in more formal pieces.

If you can get a good-natured, non-competitive, non-egotistical bunch of writerly folks together to just PLAY, you can really get some inspiration and have some fun. PLAY is good. Very good. BUT: Cliques, agendas and egos will ruin everything. (And send me packing quick.)

Keep me posted, if you want.
posted by Shane at 7:22 AM on May 30, 2003

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