Andrew, that MTV-2 site is beautiful, and interesting as well. I can't believe how far Flash animations have come in the past two years.

Check out Nosepilot, if you haven't seen it already. It's the antithesis of the M2 site: 2 dimensional, warm-and-cushy-feeling, and inspiringly non-linear. With incredible visuals. These sort of sites make me want to drop design, drawing and painting altogether. I'll never create things so beautiful.

I'm imagining a new portal built with this kind of 3d technology... a system of communities organized geographically, in virtual space. You could explore a collection of web sites physically, visually. Add Digiscents (computer smell technology) , that "feeling mouse", nice audio and video, and you've got a multimedia website going on that I can check out as I pass by. You could walk (through a "private" community of weblogs, for example) the way you stroll through a hallyway in a 3D video game, passing by sweet-smelling, sweet-sounding websites lining the walls like paintings. Or not like paintings at all.

Really, I want the web to be more like Microsoft Bob.

Text will be around for a while. But more options, different sorts of portals and approaches and ways to organize and group and explore things are going to develop, and I'm glad. It'll be harder to unplug sometimes, but that's okay. I still like walking outside.
by Ryan Gantz on 2/28/2001 04:18:54 PM | bang on |

How far are we from my dream of a tactile web? An internet that you dig through in three dimensions, uncovering the information you want by ever-deepening levels? After all, breakthroughs have been made in using brain waves to control cursor movement on screen, and it's a technology that is already affordably available. Combine that with the new award-winning "feeling mouse", and we are ready to move beyond simple 3-D flash sites.

And are there inherent drawbacks to these technologies? People unable to unplug, or suffused with a movie-level god complex? Probably.

But that is what I want the web to be, a sea of information that I literally can grasp, move around, and swim through. What do you want the internet to be?
by andrew wollman on 2/27/2001 01:14:13 PM | bang on |

I have always believed that words are nothing without intent, and granted in the absence of inflection on the internet, it may be hard to determine whether our use of "gangbang" refers to rape, or to gang warfare, or any other potentially offensive concept. I think after reading one or two posts it should be obvious that our intent simply was "a gang of contributors banging on keyboards." But, in the end, I don't give much of a fuck if you're offended by our site's title, sounds like your problem not mine.
by andrew wollman on 2/27/2001 12:00:17 AM | bang on |

I don't know -- I think that some words and phrases are inherently offensive, at least at any given point in time. however, I do not think gangbang is one of them. (and alison, I get lots of gangbang referrals too -- I think once I had "pachyderm gangbang" show up in my logs, which was perplexing to say the least.) clearly different words mean different things to different people; that's one of the funny things about them. for all their dictionary definitions, there is nothing especially constant about words. their pronunciation, connotation, and meaning are left to the people who use them.

there is one particular phrase that bothers me, though I keep my mouth shut about it since I fear I am, indeed, being too politically correct. still: how on earth did "nazi" become a casual noun? we have points nazis at trivia games, fitness nazis on sports teams, even fun nazis at parties. seriously. what is that?

as for gangbang and being blackmarked, I suppose I am perfectly willing to let people have their opinions. what-fucking-ever. (on the other hand, if the system is truly rotten to the core, I say plant another one.)
by rabi on 2/25/2001 11:03:42 PM | bang on |

Now that is some sad, hilarious irony. Or, perhaps it's an even sadder commentary on how hard it is to stand up for your convictions in this world. When all the media are corrupt, there is no place for a sincere voice to be heard... or something to that effect. If that's the case, I say pragmatism dictates that you use all of the media, corrupt or no, to get your message out there. It's sort of like Moby putting his songs in commercials, and then using the proceeds to fund environmental groups. Ethically ambiguous, yes, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and get your hands dirty to get some good done. If the system is rotten to the core, you might as well fight it from within and do what good you can I suppose.

And now for something completely different... what really alarms me about the whole political correctness thing is the censorship aspect, and the fact that it can evolve into intolerance in the name of tolerance(like the "blackmarking" of people and so on). I don't like to be told that I can't say anything I wish, just because it might offend someone else. Nearly everything we say is going to offend someone out there. If we follow their non-offensiveness rules, we can never really say anything of import. Our ideas and passions are watered down into so much timid verbal waffling and hiding.

I think that political correctness is by nature a self-defeating enterprise. It teaches that if we ignore the darkness, it will go away. It's dedicated to fighting the symptoms of our social diseases, but never seeking a cure. And if we succeed in suppressing all of the symptoms, all of a sudden we are faced with a disease that we can't see. It's still there, and as dangerous as ever, but we don't have any way to positively identify it, so we can safely ignore it and pretend it has been cured. Until it suddenly relapses down the road and kills us in our sleep, that is.

Given the choice, I'd rather be able to see my enemies. Godhatesfags.com and their ilk are disgusting and cruel and I hate to see things like that in this world. However, I'd rather know what I'm up against as a liberal, tolerant person than to be walking around amongst people harboring all manner of secret hates and prejudices just waiting to bubble over into violence and oppression when the time is ripe.

"The only way to fight bad ideas is with better ideas." I forget who said that, but it seems to ring true in this case. Right now I don't know what those better ideas are, but I'd like to do my part in my life to work toward finding out. I do know that at very least, the suppression of words and ideas in the name of propriety and uneasy "tolerance" is not going to help me achieve that goal.
by Jared Dunn on 2/25/2001 09:04:39 PM | bang on |

hey, wow, we've touched on something like this before. and for the record, i agree with you. i don't think that words are inherently offensive (though i get a lot of search strings for the word "gangbang" in my referrer logs, and i hardly think they're looking for intelligent, albeit sporadic, discussion). we're not advocating anything remotely related to what our title might suggest to the inobservant observer.

i agree also with the statement that things can indeed be too politically correct.  if political correctness spreads its fingers out to everything, we'll begin to live in stark cold fear of saying anything that will offend someone. eventually no one will say anything at all.

and jared, your mention of joseph mccarthy was dead-on, i thought, especially in light of her use of the word "blackmarked" with reference to the other five of you. is it time to call out elia kazan so he can name the names of everyone we've ever linked?

also, if kate intends to adhere to her own policy of not visiting domains with /gangbang/ subdirectories, she can't possibly in good conscience run her yahoo e-group, either, because of this, which is about actual gangbangs.

addendum: if we're all to be "blackmarked," then why did she link gangbang and each of our individual pages from her own site? it seems counterproductive.

by alison headley on 2/25/2001 07:30:33 PM | bang on |

Ok, so here's something unusual from the referrer logs... Someone on yahoogroups is quite miffed about our choice of "gangbang" as our moniker. My question is, should they be?

I would venture to guess no, on the grounds that words alone are not inherently offensive. It's the context in which they are used, the shades of meaning, and so on which confer such values on our words. For example, by itself, "fuck" is a fairly neutral word, but "fuck you" might be offensive. Unless, of course, it's said in a playful manner between friends, or as an exclamation of incredulity, or any number of other uses, which only further serve to illustrate my point. In our case, I think it would be fairly obvious to anyone who bothers to read the content that the name is wholly in jest. But, does that matter? Are there some things you just don't joke about? Once again, I tend to think not, but, maybe I'm wrong here. What do you guys think... are there words and thoughts and so on which are simply by their very nature offensive and unpalatable, or does it all depend on context, intent, emotion, and other such grey areas?
by Jared Dunn on 2/25/2001 01:12:25 AM | bang on |

well damn. this is all spiffy now!
by rabi on 2/20/2001 10:50:17 PM | bang on |

I agree that it's a desire for shared experience that keeps me reading personal writing on the web. And I think that the desire for shared experience fuels most of my friendships with people I know who aren't on the web. I only have a couple of friends who live near me in this podunk town, and I can only get up to Boston to see my extended crew every couple of weeks. Sometimes I feel closer to the people I read than I do to people that I've known for years. Perhaps that's part of the process of meditaded self-voyeurism: I can read the words on a site and fill in the spaces between posts with my onw thoughts and my own problems until I seem to have more in common with someone casually writing faraway than I do with an old friend.

Nothing replaces a good real-world friend, of course. But it's comforting to feel connected both to specific writers and to the large, vague, semi-cohesive community of weblogging commonalities that we've all become a part of. Full of fresh ideas, humorous anecdotes, subtle observations and sincere insights. My daily trials, phone calls and dinner conversations aren't always full of those things. But when they are, I have a narrative instinct and a desire to share that pushes me to write it all down. And sure, I'm usually two weeks behind in writing it all down, but that's better than when I wrote nothing at all.

I'm connected to the web, to friends strewn about the country, to family, to constructive projects and constructive people at work. But lately I've been feeling the urge to get involved with some kind of a local community, something tangible. I've helped out with Habitat for Humanity a few times, which was very satisfying: when it's all over you've built a HOUSE. And I've thought of returning to Boy Scouts as a Scout leader. Something more educational-oriented, perhaps. I'm experiencing a post-college desire to Give Back, and I think it may require more than reading and writing. It may require Responsibility and Actual Work, and I think I'm ready for that. I'm just not sure where or when to start. Is anyone else feelin' me on this?
by Ryan Gantz on 2/19/2001 03:40:43 PM | bang on |

Yeah, I don't like to think too much about the public aspect either. Although, it doesn't bother me much in the end. After all, I'm ultimately in control of what I reveal, and, I don't really feel like I have much of anything to hide anyway. Yeah, I'm screwed up, but so is everyone else, each of us in our own special, idiosyncratic little ways. That's what makes people so fascinating and special, after all.

And, I think that maybe that's at the heart of it for me. It's the identification factor, and, as Alison said, the shared experience. I notice that I only tend to read personal sites regularly that are by people who are in a similar situation to me, IE in college or just out, trying to set about the process of making their lives. It's nice to know that there are others going through the same things, and it's enlightening and heartening to read about how they manage to get through and even triumph over the same kinds of obstacles that I'm facing.

And it's even better to see some of the amazing things that so many of my peers are capable of, and to be able to collaborate and feed off of that creative energy. I know that, for whatever reason, I've just never found any sort of artistic/intellectual community here at school that meshed well with who I am and what I care about. Luckily, I've managed to find one online instead. And it's taught me immeasurably about who I am and what I can potentially do with my own talents one day, if I ever manage to get my shit together.

In a way, it's as if I'm learning about my own life vicariously. So, maybe it's like mediated self-voyeurism, if such a thing is possible.
by Jared Dunn on 2/10/2001 10:16:42 AM | bang on |

i also would like to think that i read others for more than simple voyeurism. god forbid i should be spending hours a day on that. so if i had to pick something that i think the web community is about for me i'd have to say shared experience. i like reading about how rabi is more bogged down with studying than i am, or how andrew saw the same movie i did but thought it was actually good, or how jared has attention span problems just like i do. the nice thing about sharing your experiences online and reading about the experiences of others is that no matter how weird your evening was or how really strange a revelation you just had, you're never alone. of course, i've met three of the four of you, so perhaps that's why i don't feel alone.

the other thing that occurred to me is the fact that if someone writes about their personal life on the web for a long period of time, the extended narrative they create can become like a short story or novella to the reader. it's like reading a book that continues indefinitely, delivered in three-hundred-word burps rather than in chapters. which, if you think about the narrator as a real person, could be considered voyeurism.

i have come full circle.

by alison headley on 2/10/2001 12:07:36 AM | bang on |

well, I wouldn't say I post much in the way of doubts and fears. when I stop and think about writing on the web, it makes me incredibly uncomfortable, so I try not to think about it. the reason I do it is not because I especially like making my life public. it's because I like to write, a lot, and when I have something I know people expect to see updated every day, I find something to write about every day. I can't do that in a journal (when I get tired and frustrated it degenerates into the same thing over and over), or even in my little notebook that I carry around with me (it degerates into fragmented nonsense). and I like communicating with people; I don't have anyone walking around next to me all the time so that I can say, hey, look at that, the way the sun hits off the leaves or did you hear about that new nebula or whatever, so I do it here on the web, in a sort of delayed-response fashion. it does the job. in some ways I think the more puzzling question is not why we do this, but why we pay attention to other people doing it. I honestly think it's much more than simple voyeurism, but I can't quite put my finger on it.
by rabi on 2/7/2001 07:36:35 AM | bang on |

Ok, stuff is obviously getting really stagnant around here. We need a spark, something we all feel strongly about and can argue about. So, here's a suggestion...

All of us, to varying degrees, write very personal content for public perusal on our pages. Why do we do this? What possess us to air our most personal doubts, fears, hopes, and so forth in a public forum, where millions of strangers could potentially see it? Everyone here strikes me as quite sincere and unassuming, so I'm guessing it's not a case of looking for attention or popularity or anything obvious like that. So, what is it then? I wrote some of my preliminary thoughts here, but I'd be interested to hear further ideas and opinions from you guys as to what the meaning of all of this heartfelt public personal expression really is. So, like, discuss and such...
by Jared Dunn on 2/6/2001 04:18:02 AM | bang on |

Now I don't care too much about this so if it dies aborning, that's fine:

During the 20 minutes of live "S"NL to fill out the super-size Friends hour (vs. CBS's Survivor), one of the barely talented impressionists came on as Tom Brokaw and declared that Kucha tribe won this week's immunity challenge.

That's the most under-handed tactic I've seen since Eric Bischoff used to announce the winners of Monday Night Raw matches during WCW Nitro when the "nWo" was taking over. Maybe next week they'll anounce who gets kicked off too. Which all reveals that I know too much about television.
by andrew wollman on 2/1/2001 11:20:00 PM | bang on |

"It is better to be silent and thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."
- Mark Twain

Actually, it seems that I just don't have anything much constructive or interesting to say lately, so I'm sort of abstaining until such time as I do.
by Jared Dunn on 2/1/2001 01:54:35 PM | bang on |

what's up with all this silence? did I miss the moment when the world stopped?

what would that feel like, anyway?
by rabi on 2/1/2001 12:30:10 PM | bang on |