June 01, 2006

The Extremely Early Days - On To 100

Looking through the early history, Metafilter can be seen to have started off quietly. Despite the belated party in the first thread, posts to the blue have only a few (if any) comments by modern standards. It's almost quaint—it's clear, glancing through these early posts, that, Metafilter then could not have seemed at all to carry a sense of the inevitablity of it's Internet Presence that I take for granted these days. Those first few months especially: it feels like some dude's website.

Thread 25

After Thread 19, we jump to 25, a post about JenniCam. (That takes you back, innit? In 1999, we were bemoaning the tiredness of JenniCam; in 2006, we're thinking, "oh, hey, JenniCam! I remember that! Wow, yeah!" JenniCam is betamax now. Wide ties. Pet Rock.)

And what have we got in Thread 25? One comment by jjg on the day of the post. Another, a month and a half later, from CrazyUncleJoe. And then...a big jump to some latter-day OMG I CAN STILL POST comments in the style of Thread 19. Not a thread so much as a link—Metafilter as an over-implemented memepool.com.

Odd trivia: the "Older/Newer" links down at the bottom of the thread (which are by my recollection yet another added feature not present when Mefi launched—which may help explain the following) point, from threads 19 and 25 both, to non-event Thread 24, which the link text suggests had something to do with "Download[ing] Abiword". Click the link, though, and you see only this:

"No post found"

Bit of a mess in the old database, I guess.

A quick skim of early threads

Moving on. We have a post about an Apple product—something I consider a Mefi staple. The link is dead; the comments are split: 2 related comments (mathowie and poster jjg discussing the PDA? in question), and 2 others from MUD that suggest he might be discovering that threads are still open long after the fact.

Thread 27: jjg (again!) posting about a tiny webserver. One comment.

Thread 33: mathowie posts about extreeeem sports TV and gets no reply whatsover.

Thread 34: honkzilla link to The Death Clock. Sole comment: Matt making a UNIX joke.

And so on. Matt on fonts; peterme on Hello Tarot; Matt on Yahoo; Matt disses Soccer Barbie. No comments on any of those.

The trend continues as such—paging through the threads that follow, I see two things:

  1. 0-2 comments per thread

  2. usernames I don't even recognize (and a few I do)

A few other hilights from the first 100 threads:

Remember when Aerons were the new black?
Yet Another Apple Post
riffola celebrates 50
Politics come to Metafilter
Wow! 10 Megabytes!
Bashing Hipsters in 1999
Matt Thanks Kottke
Mozilla not ready for prime-time
Gitcher vintage browsers!
riffola celebrates 100

So that's the first hundred. Or, well, the first hundred, minus the couple dozen that got deleted. Between the lack of comments and the dominating presence of mathowie-as-poster, the whole venture up to this point feels pretty small-scale, pretty GYOBFW. Consider also: these threads (19 through 100) span more than a month, 7/14/99–8/26/99. These days, we see that many posts to Metafilter inside of a couple of days. Slow days.

I think it's fair to say that at this point Metafilter hadn't really started yet. The site was there, a few people were there, but it was less community weblog and more Matthew Haughey's Experiment.

I'm interested to see when that changed.


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