As I re-adjust to writing at Folded Space once more, I’m struggling to know what qualifies as “worth sharing” and what doesn’t.
In the olden days, I’d simply sit down and jot a note about whatever was going on in my life — or whatever silly things was tickling my brain at the moment.
But during nearly 20 years of writing at Get Rich Slowly, I became much more selective about what I published. I spent much longer on the articles I wrote, and I carefully considered what was worth sharing. (I never actually published about half the stuff I finished. And I only finished about half of the articles I started.)
Obviously, I’ve been erring on the side of “share longer, more interesting things” here. But a part of me hates this. It’s putting a filter on myself.
So, I’m going to make an effort to share a lot of little stuff for a while. I’m not sure how successful I’ll be, but I’m going to try. And I’m starting right now! I’m going to share one of my favorite websites.
The internet community I’ve been a member of longest is MetaFilter. I joined the site on 09 August 2002 (although I had been reading it since it started), and I’ve been mostly active ever since.
MetaFilter is a “community weblog”. Think of it as a proto-Reddit. There are no sub-sites for different topics (although there are broader divisions I’ll explain in a moment); everything is posted to the main “stream”. Comments aren’t threaded, but you can “favorite” the stuff you like most. It’s all very very 1999, and to me that’s a lot of the appeal. It’s lo-fi and I love it.
MetaFilter has a handful of subsections.
- There’s a Projects subsite where users can share the cool things they’re working on. (It’s also where I first announced Get Rich Slowly!)
- There’s a seldom-used Jobs section where mefites can hire other mefites to work for them.
- There’s a Music section for creators to post their songs.
- There’s a fairly active section called FanFare where mefites geek out about their favorite media.
- Best of all, there’s a section called Ask MetaFilter where you can recruit the “hivemind” to help solve your problems. Or to comment on them, anyhow.
In recent years, the main MetaFilter site — “the blue” — has become increasingly politicized. Posts and conversations are decidedly left-leaning. Opposing viewpoints are not tolerated. I happen to lean left myself, but I find MetaFilter currently to be a dogmatic echo chamber that’s sort of a parody of modern self-congratulatory liberalism. I read it less and less with each passing month.
But AskMetafilter? AskMetafilter remains great. Sure, the userbase is the same as the main site (so there’s plenty of politicalization that occurs), but AskMe is still largely a gorgeous, chaotic mess of questions and answers about all sorts of stuff. It’s a pleasure to peruse.
(As an aside, AskMetafilter is the source of one of my favorite mental frameworks: Ask Culture vs. Guess Culture. It’s a way of looking at how people relate to each other and why sometimes conflicts arise. I come from a “Guess Culture” family where we don’t explicitly ask for what we want. This causes me no end of headaches.)
Here are some examples of recent AskMe questions I found interesting:
- How do I handle a romantic connection with somebody ten years younger than me?
- What songs sound like the 1990s felt?
- What are your life-changing laundry tips?
- What books broke your brain?
- I’m 34, female, and feel like I’m a decade behind in life. How do I deal with this?
- How can I cope with feeling lonely in the evening?
But here’s the real reason I’m writing about AskMetafilter today.
The Best of Ask MetaFilter
This morning, I found myself scrolling through the site’s all-time most popular questions. While the vast majority of questions at AskMe get maybe ten to twenty responses (and a handful of “likes”), these questions have hundreds of answers and, in some cases, thousands of likes. This list is going to give me reading material for the next couple of nights. And it’s going to give you reading material for the next hour or so haha.
Here are some gems:
- Should I pay to replace a rude guest’s shawl? [Trust me: Reading this question and its responses are worth your time. People are strange.]
- A party guest destroyed my gift. Party foul or reason for jihad?
- What purchase was worth every penny?
- What experience mostly shaped who you are?
- Did my boyfriend just get married?
- How do I go barefoot at work without detection?
Those are just a few examples. There are many more.
Ask MetaFilter is my favorite website, and it has been for a long time. Something about it has a perfect balance for me. There’s enough new stuff (maybe 20 posts a day?) without being overwhelming. The questions and answers are diverse and interesting. People are genuinely trying to be helpful. The quality of responses is far superior to the stupid shit I see on Reddit. And so on. For nearly two decades, Ask MetaFilter has been a daily read for me.
The Lo-Fi Web
Anyhow, here’s my MetaFilter profile (which could use some updating!). Here are my AskMe questions and my AskMe answers. Really, though, I think you get a good glimpse into my interests by looking at the posts and comments from others that I’ve favorited over time.
Related: As time goes by, I find myself drawn more and more to what I call “the lo-fi web”. MetaFilter is an example of this. I’ll certainly write more about the lo-fi web in the future. (I just excised three tangential paragraphs about it from this post!) If you’re interested in the meantime, check out two articles: “The Small Web Is Beautiful” and “The Lo-Fi Manifesto”. Neither of these perfectly encapsulate what I mean by the lo-fi web, but they both come close. I’ve just ordered (but have not yet read) Cory Doctorow’s new book, The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation, which promises to explore similar ideas.