So Open it Hurts.
July 29, 2008 5:06 AM   Subscribe

So Open it Hurts. Web 2.0 visionaries Tara Hunt and Chris Messina blogged and twittered about their romance to all of geekdom as if it were one of their utopian open-source projects. Sharing their breakup has been a lot harder. posted by chunking express (53 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
15 pages? seriously? and who would've thought a romance between 2 egocentric people, trying to become their own 'web reality show', would not of lasted. shocking.
posted by Mach5 at 5:18 AM on July 29, 2008


Page 15: “I think it’s good for us in the world that we live in today to know that we are all human. It’s a world of humans, and Chris and Tara know how to express it.”

Because you know you're going to be back here wanting your 10 minutes back.
posted by JaredSeth at 5:24 AM on July 29, 2008


From page 3: "A mere six days later, the same weekend that Foo Camp (for Friends of O’Reilly) was getting underway in Sonoma County, BarCamp (the name is based on a joke that’s comprehensible only if you speak hackerese) made its debut in Palo Alto." (emphasis mine)

Is it bad that I have lost some respect for this woman over mis-attribution of one of the most famous military acronyms of all time? I'm a hacker in military uniform, and that jabs at both sides.
posted by mystyk at 5:24 AM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is pretty interesting. I couldn't read all 15 (!!) pages of the first article, but Tara's response is as admirably candid as one could hope.

I remember a few months ago I decided to start using Facebook more for professional reasons, so I twiddled with my profile settings and so forth. I was dissatisfied by the options for "relationship status" so I just restored that area to default.

That week I got concerned phone calls or emails from six different people, because FB had reported to them that I was newly single, complete with little breaky-heart symbol. I had no idea that anyone even paid attention to that stuff. I can only imagine what it's like to live out a whole relationship where all participants are flexing their grip on these social apps.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 5:28 AM on July 29, 2008


Like many of her friends, Hunt holds two fundamental beliefs about the real and virtual worlds. The first is that “social networking” without actual social contact is sterile and alienating.

Actual social contact can be pretty sterile and alienating too as she has no doubt now learned.
posted by three blind mice at 5:30 AM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


An unexamined life might not be worth living. But it sure is a hell of a lot less annoying.
posted by spoobnooble at 5:32 AM on July 29, 2008 [25 favorites]


“I rejected the way that school was done,” he recalls. “In class, we did rote exercises. I thought, ‘All of these problems have been solved before; why not work on things that enrich the world?’” He was artistic, with an innate grasp of all things tech—“I had no fear of destroying computers and putting them back together again, much to my parents’ chagrin”

Oh Fuck. The cringe factor here is off the charts.

Self-absorbed motives aside, it's disturbing to see open source and other hacker ethics become a sort of cargo cult, as this story exemplifies. Openness for it's own sake is being applied without pausing to come up with a justification. These things, this mindset, have developed enough of a cachet to develop a "scene" and with it, scenesters. Look at BoingBoing or Make Magazine for perfect examples of people fetishizing simulacra of hackerly activies... I mean really, how much crap do we need to stuff LEDs in to? Food Hacking, seriously? At The Last Hope there was even a talk about sex entitled "Hacking Pleasure".
posted by phrontist at 5:33 AM on July 29, 2008 [11 favorites]


I was dissatisfied by the options for "relationship status" so I just restored that area to default.

That the default relationship setting in Facebook is "newly single" says alot about what Facebook is really all about.
posted by three blind mice at 5:36 AM on July 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


it's disturbing to see open source and other hacker ethics become a sort of cargo cult

For any idea anybody has ever had, there are dozens of people that misunderstand, misapply or misuse it. And for every person who understands, correctly applies or usefully uses the idea, there are dozens who think they haven't.

I wouldn't say that Make fetishizes simulacra of hackerly activities. They fetishize actual hackerly activities, at least most of the time. A lot of the projects are lame or pointless or redundant (relative to a particular reader). But they are genuine. (A few "solder this kit together" or "download apps A, B and C, link the outputs and inputs and you are done" projects are definitely simulacra but are in the minority).

I don't know anything about the food hacking site, but I don't really see the objection other than the overuse of the word "hacking". What's wrong with recontextualizing food preparation as an engineering activity? To you it might look like a man with a hammer seeing everything as a nail. But if they develop new techniques or foods or even just have fun what is the real harm?

Where do you think all the various kitchen tools came from, if not "food hacking" of ages past? Vacuum sealed, pasteurized cans with specialized openers aren't found in nature, you know.
posted by DU at 5:51 AM on July 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Wait, there are people other than me?
posted by tommasz at 5:56 AM on July 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


DU: Right on all counts, though I still disagree about Make (maybe I need to pickup the actual magazine again some time).

But if they develop new techniques or foods or even just have fun what is the real harm?

Sure, no harm, I'm just lamenting what I see as people missing the point, and the linguistic outgrowth of that.
posted by phrontist at 5:56 AM on July 29, 2008


Is it bad that I have lost some respect for this woman over mis-attribution of one of the most famous military acronyms of all time?

It's not really clear how much of the early history of Foobar was influenced by FUBAR, but they are definitely two different terms that have had different histories since then. The use of foo and bar as two separate variable names has been a common hacker idiom since the sixties, and in modern use has nothing to do with the meaning of the similar military term.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:01 AM on July 29, 2008 [8 favorites]


The Make blog is a little different than the magazine. So is Weekend Projects.

...people missing the point...

If being able to "hack" your own devices and systems (whether manufactured or natural) isn't the point of Open Source, I'd like to know what is.
posted by DU at 6:01 AM on July 29, 2008


> I can only imagine what it's like to live out a whole relationship where all participants are flexing their grip on these social apps.

I thank God that I was in high school and university before Facebook or any of the other social networking sites came into existence. Dating and all of that was stressful enough without the added pressure of everyone putting everything online for all to see.

Damn kids, get off my virtual lawn!
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:02 AM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


It would be refreshing if this were open-objective, rather than open-internal-self-rationalization. I might bother to read a perceptive humorist's take on their breakup.
posted by anthill at 6:02 AM on July 29, 2008


DU: Sorry, I'm not being clear (I've been awake a really long time, so I'm kind of fuzzy at the moment). When I say people are missing the point, I didn't mean to say that everything in Make was a good example of that, though some things are.
posted by phrontist at 6:05 AM on July 29, 2008


I wouldn't say that Make fetishizes simulacra of hackerly activities.

Not exactly. It's the boy-zone version of the many publications, like Martha Stewart, Better Homes and Gardens, Gormet, etc, that are collectively known in the industry as Dream Books.

Nobody, least of all the editors and writers, expect that their readers will attempt any of this, but for the time they spend reading it they can imagine that they will.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:20 AM on July 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Facebook's default option is not 'newly single', but 'single'. When you adjust your profile to this status, it comes up as news on other people's feeds 'NH is now single', or if you simply remove the information and leave it blank, it sends out a news item saying 'NH is no longer $whatever the status was before he removed it'. You can avoid this by adjusting a couple of the privacy settings to say 'do not create news items when I remove information from my profile' or something like that. (I think there is one specifically be about relationship status.)
posted by jacalata at 6:23 AM on July 29, 2008


Yeah, foo/bar isn't military, but it's not "hacker" either, except for very lame values of "hacker." But I guess saying "the name is based on a joke that’s comprehensible only if you've taken an introductory programming class" doesn't have quite the same cachet.

In my universe this kind of writing occupies a new box at the very bottom of the Geek Hierarchy -- because even erotic, furry, Mary Sue Star Trek fanfic is somehow less masturbatory, and is probably more entertaining.
posted by bjrubble at 6:25 AM on July 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nobody, least of all the editors and writers, expect that [Make's] readers will attempt any of this...

Uhh...I've done many of the projects in Make, or used materials, techniques and inspirations from them to do my own projects.

If I may self-link to illustrate my point:

- binary clock based on ideas from their (many) LED cube projects (ironically, not on their binary clocks)
- Several other Arduino projects, a tool I'd never have known about or been able to use if not for Make
- Stirling engine not based at all on Make's. However, I was planning to do theirs and then later realized I actually wanted different specs, so I started from scratch on my own.
posted by DU at 6:34 AM on July 29, 2008


There's a young (she's still in her teens, he's in his 20s) couple on flickr that is playing out their entire courtship for all through images-- from noticing each other online, photoshopping images that include them both, to the recent set where they meet for the first time (no joke--they even took/posted a shot of themselves together at the airport, hastily posed with fancy lighting in a bathroom).

I can't help but wonder what a sour, peevish future breakup would generate, in terms of 'shopped daily images.
posted by availablelight at 6:41 AM on July 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, this sounds like the West Coast, geek love version of the Emily Gould/Josh Stein thing, amirite? Minus the NYT magazine rebuttal.
posted by availablelight at 7:01 AM on July 29, 2008


"Open source thinking?".............ow. ow. ow. ow. ow.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:03 AM on July 29, 2008


Can we change the title of this post to "so self-conscious it hurts?"
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:04 AM on July 29, 2008


This is why I read the comments before I read the FPP links. Thanks for the heads up!
posted by Xoebe at 7:09 AM on July 29, 2008


Why a couple of well educated thirty-somethings still desperately crave this juvenile, Breakfast Club level of attention completely baffles me.
posted by The Straightener at 7:17 AM on July 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


I can see how a web 2.0 relationship could fail. While lying on their web platform tangled in their Cascading Style Sheets, their heads were always in the tag clouds never returning their friends asynchronous javascript calls. He struggled with a sense that she was a taxonomy while she hated spending time with his folksonomy. She wanted to be driven bottom-up in a user-centric way while he was hoping for a little top-down action with controlled vocabulary. He never used SOAP and she never got to REST. She offered services while he only brought a shrink wrapped package. Ultimately, it was the long tail that turned him off. That and she told him his syndication was inadequate so he unsubscribed from her feed and she took away his API key.
posted by srboisvert at 7:19 AM on July 29, 2008 [26 favorites]


As someone who met their beloved (NortonDC) via a MeFi meetup and occasionally commented about him and the romance here (occasionally, looking back, in somewhat excrutiating detail), I've had to wonder in the past about how awkward and how horrible it would be here if things didn't work out. Who would get custody of Metafilter? Or would we both stay, and occasionally run into each other in threads?

I understand the desire for openness that Tara is talking about. As jessamyn has said elsewhere, happy people say/do weird things. I think I've been more circumspect than I used to be, and that probably makes things easier. Anyway, to me, this modern problem of managing relationships online is not really an easy one.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:21 AM on July 29, 2008


Sharing their breakup has been a lot harder.

So don't do it. Please.
posted by rhymer at 7:21 AM on July 29, 2008


Is it bad that I have lost some respect for this woman over mis-attribution of one of the most famous military acronyms of all time? I'm a hacker in military uniform, and that jabs at both sides.

That probably means you're a young hacker, blithely unaware of how far back this goes in computing.

For many many many many years, the variables in example programs have been 'foo, bar, baz, and qux' in that order. Per wikipedia, the list of metasyntactic variables is extensive and goes much further, but foo/bar/baz/qux are the ones that most folks start from. That same article claims that 'foo' appears in more than 330 separate RFCs, and 'bar' is in over 290.

The word 'foo', used as meaningless nonsense, goes back to at least 1930.

The military 'fubar', on the other hand, may not even be military; it apparently started with telephone repairmen, and was appropriated by soldiers, according to a poorly-backed Wikipedia entry.

So, yes, it's bad that you lost respect for this woman, because foo and bar are old and deep hacker traditions; the word 'foo', at least, predates WW2 by a long stretch. And 'fubar' might not even be military, depending on whether the Wiki author had his/her head on straight.

She's probably more right than you are.
posted by Malor at 7:25 AM on July 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


In better times, these people would be cannon fodder.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:26 AM on July 29, 2008


Nobody, least of all the editors and writers, expect that their readers will attempt any of this, but for the time they spend reading it they can imagine that they will.

I stopped subscribing to MAKE because it didn't describe any projects I was ever interested in actually doing. Well, there was one: a Altoids-tin headphone amp. If I didn't already have a nice headphone amp, I'd have made one of those. But I do... and when I realized that there were no other projects in the mag that I had any interest in actually doing, I stopped renewing.

So THIS part of the audience was expecting to get projects that were actually useful. I'm no longer part of that audience, however, so perhaps your assertion has some truth to it.
posted by Malor at 7:31 AM on July 29, 2008


All of the self-important navel-gazing I just read about in those links makes me want to poke my eyes out.

Did I just share too much?
posted by Benevolent Space Robot at 7:32 AM on July 29, 2008


I always thought Chris and Tara were the Web 2.0 version of Kottke and Megnut, though it would seem to be without the happy ending.
posted by shoepal at 8:30 AM on July 29, 2008


Their Altoids-tin reemvoweler comes in handy, too.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:34 AM on July 29, 2008


I stopped subscribing to MAKE because it didn't describe any projects I was ever interested in actually doing.

I almost did the same, before I changed my view of the magazine. It isn't a bunch of projects, it's a bunch of field testing of techniques, materials and tools. (Which is not their own view, given the exact specs they give for each thing, but still a useful one.)
posted by DU at 8:42 AM on July 29, 2008


"The two of them are a glorious reminder, in a profound moment of digital dislocation, of what it means to live passionately, to suffer enormous loss, and to rekindle hope IRL."

Some, not in high school, wrote this and meant it sincerely.
posted by oddman at 8:56 AM on July 29, 2008


Some, not in high school, wrote this and meant it sincerely.

...and that's the saddest part of the story.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:30 AM on July 29, 2008


I've met (briefly) Chris and Tara, and found them to be very nice people. Out of respect for their privacy, I'm not going to read the article.

Yes, I'm aware of the preposterous irony of this statement.
posted by mmoncur at 9:34 AM on July 29, 2008


I stopped reading make when I discovered things like Lindsay Books and David Gingery.
posted by drezdn at 9:49 AM on July 29, 2008


As far as people discussing their relationships, while I'm sure for some people it's about attention, I think for others (possibly the majority) it's about wanting to be understood. By explaining your feelings, motivations and thinking, you hope people will finally "get" you.
posted by drezdn at 9:51 AM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I liked that one project where they showed you how to make an altoids carrying case out of an altoids tin.
posted by everichon at 10:14 AM on July 29, 2008


Sometimes I am asked to speak to aspiring playwrights. I have only one word of advice. At some time, you are going to be tempted to write about an intense relationship you had, and how hurt you were by the breakup. Don't. Relationships are like children, in that people who have them think everybody is going to find them fascinating, and they are totally wrong.

Unless you're dating, say, the Queen of England. That might be worth writing about. But, then, Arthur Miller married Marilyn Monroe, and wrote After the Fall based on that, and it is far from his best work.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:37 AM on July 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


By explaining your feelings, motivations and thinking, you hope people will finally "get" you.

I think that's a form of wanting attention. Although at face value it seems a bit more psychologically palatable, too much of it is pretty equally unattractive (and probably unhealthy too).
posted by Benevolent Space Robot at 10:44 AM on July 29, 2008


I stopped reading make when I discovered things like Lindsay Books and David Gingery.

I discovered them in the other order. Lindsay and Gingery are a bit too...old-timey and loose with the directions for a beginner. Which is not to say I haven't started Gingery's lathe. I just haven't gotten very far.
posted by DU at 11:13 AM on July 29, 2008


Why is blogging about your relationship or your breakup more characteristic of "wanting attention" than blogging about your personal reaction to the latest movie you saw or your opinions about Kosovo? Each of these is an exposure of self and an attempt to communicate with the outside world.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:29 AM on July 29, 2008


Yeah, okay. But link jacking still sucks. Tried to read the "Printer Friendly" version, but it just does some jscript fucknuttery to force me back to the link jacked shite again.

So, I'm guessing some bloggers broke up?
posted by littlerobothead at 11:31 AM on July 29, 2008


I've met (briefly) Chris and Tara, and found them to be very nice people. Out of respect for their privacy, I'm not going to read the article.

Ditto. This article is even worse when you know them.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:51 PM on July 29, 2008


"Openness for it's own sake is being applied without pausing to come up with a justification."

Like open source breasts? http://theferrett.livejournal.com/1087686.html
posted by Jacqueline at 3:32 PM on July 29, 2008


I've had to wonder in the past about how awkward and how horrible it would be here if things didn't work out. Who would get custody of Metafilter? Or would we both stay, and occasionally run into each other in threads?

I found MetaFilter through my ex-husband.

It's not much of a surprise that after he asked for a divorce, I slowly stopped posting. I started again for a while this winter, but it felt awkward. I needed more time.

And now I'm back. And it's still awkward, but something about the divorce being final makes it somehow manageable. That and I live in a different city now, so online is the only place where I run into him. And it's weird. Not weird as in "I'm bitter and when I see his name I want to throw knives at things" but weird as in "Oh yeah, I used to be married to that guy. He used to make those MeFi posts from bed sometimes and would read them to me before posting to see what I thought of them and now we're divorced and he lives with his girlfriend and two cats and hey! There's a MetaTalk post about how awesome he is!" WEIRD. (And even that sounds bitter, but it's meant to sound more surreal like a "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" kind of thing. Looking glass people with marmalade ties and what have you.)

If he were to sue for sole custody of MeFi, I'd have to grant to him, he found it first. That and I got the cat.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:35 PM on July 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


This just freaked me out. The imaginary people on the internet are married to each other out of sight of my conscious mind?!
posted by DU at 6:59 PM on July 29, 2008


Wow. Thanks for that. Sometimes the Internet makes things strange.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:04 PM on July 29, 2008


DU: Sorry, I was being a bit of a dick with my Make comment. I picked up one of my old issues the other day and was actually pretty excited that they had easy to follow instructions to something I wanted to know how to do (vacuum forming). I've been a bit frustrated by their tendancy to push stuff that they're selling on their blog though, and spend too much time on giving instructions on how to make pointless frippery.
posted by drezdn at 8:57 AM on August 1, 2008


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