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Here I Am v. Here is What I Think
Mar 11, 1996 :: Michael Sippey

A couple of weeks ago I had an interesting email land in my inbox. It was from an obvious reader, though he didn't really identify himself as such. He just dove right into the topic at hand...

as each of us develops and leaves a trail of ideas on this net it amazes me how quickly it is becoming less the self-indulgent "here I am" and more the "here is what I think." that and commerce - the ads proliferate.

At first, I was flattered. "Finally," I thought. "Stating the Obvious has found a kindred soul... One who sees my weekly musings as a light in the darkness, guiding him away from the unwashed, self-indulgent masses." Well, maybe that's going a bit far. Maybe I was just happy to be thought of as one in a "trail of ideas."

But then something hit me. Why the hell is here I am considered to be more self-indulgent than here is what I think? And when it's so damn easy to publish on the web, and considering that hardly anyone out there is operating under an editor's benevolent knife, is there really a difference between here I am and this is what I think?

I've been reading a good deal of here I am type sites lately. Maybe it's just because the "trail of ideas" can be completely mind-numbing; opinion after opinion after opinion. It's the here I am sites that leave more than a trail of ideas -- they're proof that there is a trail of people out there behind the addresses. Not to mention lots of personal dirt to satisfy any voyeur's cravings...

  • Justin Hall turned links from the underground into www.links.net, the home page of which is a daily free form poem on the state of his life at Swarthmore College. Right now, Justin seems to be enduring a spring break trip to Florida. But the writing continues unabated, with stories of night time on the Daytona strip.

  • Greg Knauss lives his "other" life in Los Angeles, punctuated by the occasional email message, each one beginning with the casual "so..." As in, "So Larry and Heather gave Joanne and I a breadmaker..." or "So there's this billboard along the 405..." or "So Joanne and I are in Vegas on New Year's Eve..."
  • Mark Thomas (a self-described man of action) continues his writings on New York miscellany. Amongst stories of mis-dialed phone numbers, dreams of job rejections, and auditioning pianos, there are receipts. Dozens of them. For groceries, records, pet supplies, soap and depression medication.
  • Rebecca Eisenberg writes her daily journal about not much in particular, save 2 a.m. sessions on IRC and nights spent at the Paradise Lounge in San Francisco. But you've got to admire someone with their own FAQ, where they answer the question "so, do you sleep?" with "not much. do you?"

There's a site, though, that continues to confound. And that, of course, is Suck. Joey Annuff and Carl Steadman seem to live simultaneously at the two extremes of here I am!!! and this is what I think.

Most pieces, like the their rants recounting their visit to the TEDSell conference, or the Media and Democracy Congress screams nothing more than "we were there! You weren't!"

Pure here I am.

Occasionally they'll pull off a piece like "The Bookmark Less Travelled," which bemoaned bookmark management software, since it encourages web surfers that are "always traveling, never arriving." Or "TV by the Blind," which nailed every corporate web effort to the wall.

Pure this is what I think.

Maybe that tension is the point. Maybe they are just playing with the nature of the web, playing with the tension between the frivolity of personal journals and the self-righteous seriousness of brainstorms.

Eh, maybe not. But if they are, they've got their work cut out for them. When Suck sold out to HotWired, Brock Meeks called them the "ombudsmen with Attitude." Note the capital A. From what it looks like, they're going to use their new found HotWired resources (read "money") to expand their site. A rant-a-day is one thing. A full fledged site which continues to straddle the line between pure ombudsmen and pure attitude is another.

Not to mention what the nature of "proliferating ads" (as my friendly correspondent put it) will do to them.

 

 

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