July 6, 2001 3:16 PM   Subscribe

Disassembled. Assembler.org ("making art with machine code") is no more. Quoth the Zeldman: "Lately we feel like Smokey the Bear - and the forest fires are winning."
posted by fraying (74 comments total)
For those of you who missed Assembler in its prime, we turn to the ever-helpful Googe cache.
posted by fraying at 3:18 PM on July 6, 2001

a shame. assembler was a great example of what was possible with plain old javascript. i understand his decision to take down the site so as not to suggest he actually maintains it, but i don't agree with the decision. in my mind there's no reason that it could not have been left frozen in time, but i'm not the author.
posted by moz at 3:24 PM on July 6, 2001

I am very tired of this kind of cowardice. To put it bluntly, I am tired of designers who do awesome, amazing work on the web just quitting. I am tired of them complaining about commercialism (no, I am not speaking of Brent here) or just the sheer amount of dreck and crap and then TAKING DOWN their good, decent work because they're "done", leaving us with no measure or gauge of what this medium can really allow you to do.

I know this isn't terribly coherent, but I'm pissed. I'm pissed because I've seen so many dramatic exits, and huge emotional outpourings and then six months or a year go by, and they're back, and they expect you to forget the way they insulted your loyalty to their work the last time they left.

I understand the impulse to do this - like many web designers, I loved the medium so fucking much that I began to do it professionally. And we all know how that ends up.

I understand how hard it is to create something magnificent and having places like Metafilter or other public forums rip it to shreds ignorantly, without understanding the intent behind it. I know why someone would want to do this, to leave and try not to look back.

But frankly, I want to see more people fighting FOR the web. I want to see more "designers" learning to fucking program, or do something beyond the K10k-style design crap. I want to see more people who know what this medium can do, who can create beautiful things just with code, or with video, or sound, or any of the hundred mediums that the web has become a vehicle for. Brent could do that, and now he is removing his work entirely from public view, so that there is one less example of a truly good website out there for people to learn from.

I can't tell you how bad of an idea I think this is. And don't tell me about "Oh, well, it's HIS work, he can do what he wants with it." Yes, he can. And if it were me, I would respect my audience more. If I were an author and was published at age twenty, I wouldn't hunt down every person who bought my book five years later so I could take their copies because I had moved beyond that stage of my work. "Oh, this is juvenilia, it's not my style anymore so I don't want it out there". You simply can't do that.

I know that I haven't published anything online in a very, very long time. But everything I ever have published is archived, online, and available for public viewing. Why? Because there are a handful of people out there who were inspired by my work, and I owe a very deep dept of gratitude to them for giving me the confidence to continue.

I think that artists on the web have made one fatal error when it comes to publishing their work online. They forget that their audience is no longer an abstract - once you publish online your work DEPENDS on that audience to be complete. That is what interactive means. And when you have the hubris or cojones or whatever to remove that from the "public conscious" you're defeating the purpose of ever having done the work in the first place.
posted by annathea at 3:54 PM on July 6, 2001

This actually scares me a lot more than when a dotcom crashes. Talented, interesting people talking about leaving the web is not news, but when they actually do it, it's another matter.
posted by FPN at 3:58 PM on July 6, 2001

Brent is truly a genius, it's shame that he is closing all his sites. Both Assembler.org and VitaFlo will be missed.
posted by riffola at 3:58 PM on July 6, 2001

Annathea: He owes us nothing. I learned some neat DHTML programming algorithms and browser tricks while it was running, now it's gone, something will take its place.

Honestly, I can never understand how visitors to websites think the people who run it owe them something. Unless you paid Brent for a years worth of DHTML and design, I can't see why you should be the least bit pissed, or resort to calling someone a 'coward' because they're bored with something.

And I think there's a big difference between selling someone a book and making a free website for people to look at. I think your logic is flawed.
posted by perplexed at 4:27 PM on July 6, 2001

The artists are egocentric, not the patrons.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 4:34 PM on July 6, 2001

You missed the point entirely. Obviously he owes us nothing, except perhaps the grace to not return a few months' from now with a new website. My "beef" is with the sudden exit, or the need to eradicate years of work from the public space - while it may just simply be a fresh start for Brent, most other web types who do the same thing do it for drama and attention, and this is what I am pissed about.

There are a lot of huge flaws with the book analogy I made - but the point still stands. I don't care if Brent worked on his website for free (and most people with that degree of talent still get something out of these sites careerwise. I speak from experience) - he got a lot from his audience as well. Sometimes good, probably very frequently bad, but the thing with the web is, your audience isn't a far-away, ephemeral idea anymore. You are publishing things because you want the feedback, you want the instant connection of putting something up and having your inbox flooded with emails saying "You inspired me" or "You suck".

And rather than getting defensive and putting words in my mouth (I didn't call him a coward, I said I don't like this brand of cowardice - I have nothing for or against Brent Gustafson, I simply used his exit to vent about this type of situation in general), think about why you publish torrez.org. Would you continue doing it if no one ever visited or commented or collaborated with you? If so, then you should publish a book and leave the web alone, because you don't know half the things you could be doing with it.
posted by annathea at 4:40 PM on July 6, 2001

Most people have to spend money to keep their website up. Even more when it's very popular. I'd bet, more often than not, it's a matter of finances, not histrionics.
posted by crunchland at 4:49 PM on July 6, 2001

oh that's just crappy.

i'm sorry it's down.

i hope one day he finds the inspiration he gave to others.
posted by jcterminal at 4:50 PM on July 6, 2001

annathea: Would you continue doing it if no one ever visited or commented or collaborated with you? If so, then you should publish a book and leave the web alone, because you don't know half the things you could be doing with it.


so a website is only as valuable as its visitors, or the email it generates?
posted by rebeccablood at 4:51 PM on July 6, 2001

I'd say that's a big fat yes. Without an audience, does the work exist? And can artists allow for the kind of intimacy that the web breeds between artists and audience?

My point, rebecca, was not that you're in it for the email, but that you're obviously not in it for the money so you want to do it to inspire people, or be inspired, or make connections, or share something. Otherwise, why put it on the web at all? And a site like torrez.org, which is what I was referring to, would be very well suited to a book format, so it made a good example. If perplexed were a flash designer or did something that depended on programming or something that only the web medium could offer, I wouldn't have said that in the first place.
posted by annathea at 4:56 PM on July 6, 2001

And, since I know someone will take my last post out of context, I should clarify that I think torrez.org is a great site, and should stay on the web. But for the sake of argument, ok?
posted by annathea at 4:59 PM on July 6, 2001

Crunchland - you made the first point that I hadn't considered. Of course it costs money to keep a website up - taking it down when you're finished with it does make sense, in that context.

Thanks, I hadn't thought of that.
posted by annathea at 5:00 PM on July 6, 2001

If perplexed were a flash designer or did something that depended on programming or something that only the web medium could offer, I wouldn't have said that in the first place.

You've got to be fucking kidding me. You're going to say that the guy who invented and built FilePile doesn't know how to use the medium?

Please, please... learn before you speak.
posted by anildash at 5:16 PM on July 6, 2001

On the web, artists get to choose what to do with their art. Period.

It would be different for a collaborative/community site. Once you invite others to contribute content (MeFi, for example), they own part of the product. You owe it to them to archive their work.

But if your site is solely a product of your vision, and your vision changes, you get to decide what to do with it. And flushing it down the drain is one viable option.

And while you may feel a connection to an artist's work, don't start thinking that they owe you anything. It's you who owes them.

Of course I wish Brent would leave Assembler up in an archived state. But the decision to do that is his to make, not mine, and not yours. Give the guy a little respect - he did this all for free, remember?
posted by fraying at 5:19 PM on July 6, 2001

Otherwise, why put it on the web at all?

In my opinion, the email, visitors and feedback is the added plus of publishing your own content on the web.

I don't want to create in a vacuum so I post to my site.

I'm humbled that I have readers yet I write for myself. It's really a symbiotic sort of relationship, though. I hopefully give people a couple minutes of some sort of entertainment. In return, the audience gives me the motivation to be disciplined enough to write something on a daily basis.

Annathea, I understand your frustration. Taking down all traces of one's work is a drastic step. But, if Brent really wants to make the break, that's what he believes he needs to do.

But your affirmative response to Rebecca's question : so a website is only as valuable as its visitors, or the email it generates? seems to reduce the value of personal expression via the web to a popularity contest.

And that's not what the web is about.


Or, rather, that's not what it should be about.
posted by mgtrott at 5:23 PM on July 6, 2001

Actually, no, it costs nothing to keep a Web site online. Not with the dozens of free hosting sites out there. Yes, it does cost an hour's worth of work or so to move it to another server, but to say it has to cost money to keep a Web site running is just ignorance.

There's no reason, technically, that a site needs to be removed from the Web. But there are many personal reasons why one might want to remove a site. I don't know whether anyone can debate whether a personal reason is ever valid or not. That is and will always be a subjective opinion.
posted by yarf at 5:23 PM on July 6, 2001

2 things: annathea - i'm missing something. you say "...he owes us nothing, except perhaps the grace to not return a few months' from now with a new website." huh? if he won't keep this single project going, he shouldn't put anything else up either? ever? i don't think this is that kind of playground.

and yarf? it can cost quite a bit of money to keep a site online. been following the nosepilot saga?
posted by judith at 5:37 PM on July 6, 2001

The web is both hot and cold.

While it's selfish of the audience to demand anything from the web designer, it's also selfish of the web designer to demand anything from the audience. The web designer has every right to pull down a site, or kill it, or change it dramatically. The audience has every right to complain, suggest, comment, complain, or navelgaze. This despite the fact that in most cases, the web designer is paying for the cost of hosting and is, in theory, the person in charge.

Can web hosts be free? Not really. GeoCities is a grand illusion; it costs money to run (surprise!) but instead of heaping it on the designer/author, it's heaped on the visitor - the visitor foots the bill through ads. These things are generally run by businesses, and businesses are in this to make money. That's all.

annathea, given that you're a web designer yourself I can't help but wonder where your book analogy came from. Books aren't the web. Books are static. Books can be revised, but there is also a very different distribution channel for books, coupled with the fundamental differences in the mediums.

If the web is a popularity contest, then the majority of us should just stop now.
posted by hijinx at 5:46 PM on July 6, 2001

Annathea: "I am very tired of this kind of cowardice."

I assumed that meant you thought he was being a coward.

In my opinion Brent is showing a lot of courage. If this is what makes him happy, knowing full well that people are going to email him nasty letters and post things on bulletin board systems about how he's a jerk, then I think he's shown a lot of courage in doing what was right for Brent.

If I'm ever in his shoes I hope I can do what makes me happy. Regardless of who thinks I owe them something.
posted by perplexed at 5:48 PM on July 6, 2001

Damn - I'm leaving, so I don't have time to make a proper response to all these posts, but anildash - please. I was making a specific reference to torrez.org not being programming heavy - meaning, it could translate well to books. How the hell does that imply that perplexed doesn't know how to use the medium? I wasn't talking about filepile, and I certainly wasn't talking about programming skills.

As for Brent not coming back with a new site - I simply meant that he should only make a grand exit if he means it - otherwise call it a hiatus. Or a permanent hiatus. I have been a big fan of vitaflo for years, so I'd love it if he kept publishing. It's kind of why I'm so militantly upset about his leaving (or the manner in which he's leaving) in the first place.

And lastly (while my compatriots stand at the door tapping their feet impatiently) - when I say that a web piece needs an audience, it's basically analogous to asking "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one's around to hear it, did it make a sound?"

So, if an artist paints something, hides it in a trunk, and no one ever sees it - is it important outside of the life of that specific artist? If I build a website, and no one sees it, is it really there? How would you know? That's all. Silly pseudo-philosophy, I guess, but I truly believe that my own work online is only as important as the response I get from people. I didn't feel that way when I first started, but once someone told me I inspired them to create something on their own, my own work took on a deeper meaning and resonance to me - it was no longer a lark, it became something important.

Okay, I'll be back to finish responding after dinner - thanks guys.
posted by annathea at 6:32 PM on July 6, 2001

I agree, tentatively, with Annathea. But it's not a matter of cowardice in my opinion, or a lack of respect for Brent's marvelous work, it's merely my own attempt to express the following sentiment:

He made something beautiful and then hid it so no one could ever see it again, and no one new could discover it.

It's his right, sure. But it makes me sad. And it makes me disappointed. Art is what makes the world so fine, what raises humanity out of the dust. When a piece of magic is shrouded - worse, by the person who crafted it - the world loses some of its glow. Had I never seen Assembler.org, I would have been a lesser human because of it. I would have been diminished. As an artist, you do have a responsibility to your Art: the duty to let it affect, inspire, and, sometimes, offend.

As for hosting- I think we all know that there are dozens (if not hundreds) of patrons who would willingly have archived Assembler.
posted by Marquis at 6:34 PM on July 6, 2001

Actually, no, it costs nothing to keep a Web site online. Not with the dozens of free hosting sites out there.

I've never heard of a free hosting site that offered a cgi directory or a database backend, or that didn't insert some kind of advertising into your pages.

I can't think of a web project I've ever done that would make sense on a free hosting site.

posted by Mars Saxman at 8:51 PM on July 6, 2001

So, a Nodeville homesteader is leaving 'cause he doesn't dig Nodeville anymore, and all the other Nodevillians are getting vaporous...oh my...

"Nodeville must be important and relevant and interesting - I live here!"

What a squeak.

If you can't empathize with Brent, then you are not listening. I completely understand him. Completely. There's a lot of tarnish on the trophy, and the plastic underneath is showing through.

If you are relying on the Otherworld's lofty evaluation of the web's importance to sustain your own investment in it, then you are Humpty Dumpty.
posted by Opus Dark at 8:54 PM on July 6, 2001

"Actually, no, it costs nothing to keep a Web site online. Not with the dozens of free hosting sites out there."

not true. someone, somewhere, has to pay.

and when it comes to hosting, you get what you pay for.
posted by jcterminal at 9:08 PM on July 6, 2001

Well, I am sure the guy will be missed - but here is the crucial point.

For every talented person who is pissed and leaving, other talented people are comming onto the web all the time.

It's not like these guys were the sole repositiories of talent or skill. The webb will not die without them.

So, sorry to see him go... but no, the web is not dying without the ones who leave.
posted by soulhuntre at 9:49 PM on July 6, 2001

You are publishing things because you want the feedback, you want the instant connection of putting something up and having your inbox flooded with emails saying "You inspired me" or "You suck".

Wow. That's news to me - and also a very unfair generalisation. Did you ever stop to consider that some people are using the web as their own personal canvas - a blank sheet on which they can express their personality, their feelings, their thoughts & ideas without having to worry about how other people will react? That the transient nature of the web, the ability to remove things without a trace, are actually what drew some of these people to the net in the first place?

Some people strut their stuff online, and crave the feedback & "fame" you're talking about - but I'm pretty sure that there are just as many others that have completely different reasons for online publishing, a lot of designers / writers / whatever that couldn't care less about feedback from others.

once you publish online your work DEPENDS on that audience to be complete.

No. Just as you can write a piece of music that was meant for you and you only, you can create a site that doesn't in any way require (or want) audience participation. I find it extremely sad that you believe that your personal online work is only as important as the feedback you get from people - but fortunately not all of us feel that way, and I for one applaud Brent for shutting down his site when he got tired of it. It's sad to see Assembler go, because it was a great resource, but ultimately I don't believe that you have any right whatsoever to accuse him of cowardice, make decisions as to when he should come back online (if ever), or critize him for taking this step.

It's about bloody time that people wake up and realize that just because they frequent a website, learn from a website, or feel "connected" to a website, doesn't mean that they suddenly have any sort of say in what happens with this aforementioned site (unless the creator specifically requests audience participation - like Mefi).

And that goes double for non-profit blood, sweat and tears-sites like Assembler. We should be thanking Brent for all the hard work he's put into his sites over the years - not whining about what he supposedly "owes" us.
posted by mschmidt at 10:40 PM on July 6, 2001

bravo mike! i've been sitting here, trying to find an appropriate response not knowing where to begin. i couldn't have said it any better myself.
posted by heather at 10:47 PM on July 6, 2001

I think you're missing the point, mschmidt.

My qualm is not a frustration about lack of control over the proceedings, nor about something I liked now being taken away from me. It's about the dignity of what was crafted, and the way that there is a loss when it goes away.

It's not about having a right to a site, or to demand someone's work. It's about someone's work having importance - significance - and it being deprived of the chance to Affect.

I don't feel the same way about most web journals. If they go offline, so be it. Art, however - which shapes and changes its viewer - makes the world richer, as I said, and it is a cryin' shame when such treasures are taken away.

Most would agree that great Art, when destroyed, is worth mourning for, and that great Art is worth preserving. It's not that Magritte owes you something, but rather that Ceci n'est pas une pipe has something to offer the world. It would be a travesty to lose it.
posted by Marquis at 12:16 AM on July 7, 2001

I think Brent says it clearly in his VitaFlo V7 about page. (Easily accessed, if you had V7 bookmarked)

"Vitaflo is a playground. A personal design playground where anything and everything could appear. There is no set content, no set timeline, and no set goals. Think of it as the old retro "personal homepage" idea, updated for the 21st century. Or just think of it as a place with unique stuff. I'll let you pick. ;)"

So if he wants to pick his ball and go home, I think instead of whining about not being able to play with it, we ought to thank him for the time he let us play.
posted by riffola at 12:44 AM on July 7, 2001

I totally agree that Brent has the right to do whatever he wants to with his site.

I also think that Assembler was a revolutionary site. I think it is good to preserve revolutionary things.

Just as society preserves fine art, music, and culture, should we not try to preserve pieces of web history.

I'm not trying to be specific to assembler here but using it as an example.

Ten or Twenty years from now we'll be thinking back on the sites we enjoyed when we were younger. It would be nice to have more than just memories.

thoughts anyone?
posted by futureproof at 1:02 AM on July 7, 2001

jd salinger is very protective of his work, no movies, no comments acknowledged, because of the strong feelings toward it.

i sent an e-mail to vitaflo when the latest version was out sort of expressing my appreciation for that version, i felt his frustration; but the minimal work's presence, served as a foil to all the self conscious over-designing rampant. i rarely, almost never, compliment a site, partly because no one gives two shits what i think. but for this, i did. so i must say i am pretty pissed that all that is gone.

however, he, of all the people who did this, never told you what to do like so many others. so even if i am pissed that he abandoned ship, i won't pontificate.
posted by elle at 3:20 AM on July 7, 2001

jd salinger is very protective of his work, no movies, no comments acknowledged, because of the strong feelings toward it.

i sent an e-mail to vitaflo when the latest version was out sort of expressing my appreciation for that version, i felt his frustration; but the minimal work's presence, served as a foil to all the self conscious over-designing rampant. i rarely, almost never, compliment a site, partly because no one gives two shits what i think. but for this, i did. so i must say i am pretty pissed that all that is gone.

however, he, of all the people who did this, never told you what to do like so many others. so even if i am pissed, i won't pontificate.
posted by elle at 3:21 AM on July 7, 2001

Just as you can write a piece of music that was meant for you and you only, you can create a site that doesn't in any way require (or want) audience participation.

Umm...not to nitpick, but why not just throw such a site on your local hard drive? Why bother putting it online? The only obvious answer is that although authors/designers/whatever may not "care" about an audience in a sense, they obviously put things online because they have some notion of wanting to share their work.


I think we all somewhat can see what annathea is getting at...even if we don't particularly like her way of expressing it. To me, it seems like the old "you're either part of the problem, or part of the solution"... and annathea seems to feel as if a talented person has become part of the problem by removing himself in the way in which he chose to.

I think it's a phenomenon which displays the still relative infancy of the web... in most other mediums, arguably in which we usually pay for things, we seem to expect that creators keep at it. We don't like it when musicians suddenly decide to quit making music...or we don't like it when our favorite TV series gets cancelled. On the web though, content and art are free, and quite often the product of only one person's efforts...hence the frequent dissappearance of some of our favorite sites.

Most decent folks can respect personal choices and motivations... we just haven't learned that they affect the web differently than other media.
posted by canoeguide at 3:21 AM on July 7, 2001

Umm...not to nitpick, but why not just throw such a site on your local hard drive? Why bother putting it online?

Not to imply anything regarding Brent's decision, but just because one starts with a particular reason in mind doesn't mean one sticks with it forever. Maybe at one time, a person does crave feedback, wants a few people to see, but after a while, that need disappears or mutates.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 5:08 AM on July 7, 2001

Visual people tend to be motivated internally. Before the web, visual artists were more often seen (as in their work) than heard and nobody thought that was odd. Nowadays it seems like personal expression has some kind of price associated with it. Why do people need to explain themselves or their motivation? Simply because we now have the channel to do so? The web is not performance art for everyone...

futureproof has a point...the desecration of the almighty bookmark and the preservation of Internet history are an issue in a general sense.

More here or here on that tangent.
posted by webchick at 7:19 AM on July 7, 2001

>Nowadays it seems like personal expression
>has some kind of price associated with it.

Make that "has some kind of NEW price associated with it."

Artistic angst has always been the cost of creativity...it seems the trend now is one is expected to explain themselves or keep producing (generally through maintaining and updating a site).

Remember...assembler was a piece of art as well as an open source code repository. One must maintain a code base...
posted by webchick at 7:25 AM on July 7, 2001

you know, rimbaud quit writing when he was 21.

if you wanted no one, ever, to see something, obviously you wouldn't put it on the web; but it doesn't follow that everything is put on the web because the author craves a wide audience, or any audience. my site started on a local drive as a repository for my bookmarks. when I began working in two offices, I put it online so that I could always have the home page I wanted. I started the weblog at the same time to see if I would enjoy doing it. and so it goes....
posted by rebeccablood at 11:41 AM on July 7, 2001

Again, I don't have time to make a proper response, but my point was less "I do work online because I want an audience" and more "Suddenly my work is inspiring people to send their own work to me, to collaborate, to tell me their stories" - and that is different. When I put things online, it is always completely personal, and sometimes very private. Not until someone actively seeks me out to tell me they found it and it did something for them do I consider what it might do for the people viewing it. However, the reason I'm posting it online in the first place is because I know that there is a possibility that someone WILL find it, and it will resonate with them. Otherwise, I'd just leave it in my notebook and have done with it.

Had I known what kind of response my comments would have gotten here, I certainly would have taken greater care to watch what I was saying and state it carefully, rather than hastily writing a diatribe. I think Marquis said exactly what I wanted to say - "He made something beautiful and then hid it so no one could ever see it again, and no one new could discover it." I, unfortunately, used Brent's exit as a chance to bitch publicly about this phenomena in general. I certainly don't think Brent is a coward, and I shouldn't have said anything that could have led to that conclusion. I can imagine how hard this is for him.

As for web audiences expecting something from the site creator - mschmidt and perplexed, two people who both run community sites, are really the only ones who expressed what I consider to be the standard view for site authors - that audiences need to stop acting as though they deserve something from a creator. I can completely understand this, I've dealt with it myself. Community site authors have it worse than anyone, as their audience EXPECTS them to do what they suggest. However - I think web authors have
developed a certain disdain for their audiences, specifically because of the intimacy this medium breeds.

And do I think my work is only as good as the feedback I get? No, and that wasn't what I was trying to say (though I see how I could have stated it more clearly.) I think that once I receive feedback, once I am told that someone felt this way when they saw something I'd built, or that they felt another way, it deepens my own understanding of what I'd done. It gives me a hundred new pairs of eyes through which I can view my own creations, and I think that is a beautiful thing. I think my relationship with the people who enjoy the work I do is rather intimate, in the sense that they have opened up to me and told me about some of the beautiful things they feel - and I like that. I think it is a great honor.

"once you publish online your work DEPENDS on that audience to be complete."

I still stand by this, 100%. Not for any other medium but the web does this ring true. I could say that without an audience to turn the pages of your book, your book isn't complete, but I don't agree with that. The web, however, is not static. I need people to click, or to enter their words or ideas to make a site complete. I think that a lot of this statement comes from the fact that the current iteration of my site is mood based, and that people have to select which mood they are in to see anything at all. It's also highly personalised, and the site sincerely relies on the audience in order to do anything whatsoever. It is the least personal thing I have ever posted, and also the most, as it is wholly saturated with the way I see things when I feel peaceful, or nostalgic. So yes, I think the definition of interactivity is that you enter into a relationship with your audience more intimate than your relationship with the person who read your book or saw your painting. They can't change that book or painting once it's done. They can't do anything except perhaps tell you how it made them feel. On the web, they can change it entirely. They can make something new out of your work, and this is why I think web authors should recognize this and respect the people who are helping that work take on life. ESPECIALLY those who are running community sites.

Mschmidt, without people seeing K10k and sending you their links and their ideas for new issues, would you still have been publishing five to ten new links every single day and a new issue every week for two years? That is a monumental task for three people. I can't think of a site that needs it audience MORE than K10k, because you built that site to rely on being seen and having people share new ideas with you. So don't take on the role of self-righteous artist, I'm sure you've done lots of lovely web work that no one has ever seen. I sure as hell have - I must have no less than fifty complete iterations of my various sites on my harddrive, that have been viewed by no eyes other than my own. But these aren't the things I've done that are important to me. I know that it's just me, that art is highly subjective and everyone approaches it differently, but I wish that you would remember the important things your audience does for you instead of all the dickheads who write in to tell you what they expect from you.

Obviously K10k has become easy to criticise for people - I myself said something in a post above that I completely regret, because when I said it I was forgetting about the very real people who create the site and have done brilliant work. It has become so big that it can be used as blanket to cover every other site of that ilk, the kind of site that is design oriented, pixel-perfect and usually looking somehow like K10k. So obviously I can see why you and Toke and Per would be sick to death of unwarranted, offhand criticism from people who don't take a second to think about the impoartance of what you have done, just as I think you can see why I would be against web authors not giving their audience credit for their influence on what they create, how important it is.
posted by annathea at 12:44 PM on July 7, 2001

annathea: "once you publish online your work DEPENDS on that audience to be complete." I still stand by this, 100%.

I'm sorry, but this is a very....well, self-centered point of view.

is a piece of music complete once it's written on a piece of paper, even if an orchestra never performs it? is a play complete once it's written down, never to be performed? an art installation is complete, even if no one ever walks through it? a dance is complete once choreographed, even if no dancer ever goes through the movements?

are any of these things complete unless someone, somewhere, sees them? is a book or story complete if no one ever reads it? a painting?

it's unbelievably naive to imagine that an audience is necessary only to the web.

on the other hand, I think you can make a perfectly cogent argument that those works are complete once set down somewhere, even if not performed or viewed or read. but that argument would apply equally, then, to anything that appears on the web.

if beethoven's ninth symphony was complete in spite of the fact that he never heard it; if my screenplay is complete in spite of never being filmed; if a book is complete despite never being read by anyone; then a website that requires that any visitor "choose their mood" before they can enter is complete as well, whether anyone ever sees it or not.
posted by rebeccablood at 1:23 PM on July 7, 2001

One view of the web is that it's a playground for anyone who wants to play. You are free to create, free to remove what you have created. That's a perfectly valid view of the medium.

Another view—and perhaps a more profound one—is that the web is the beginning of an interconnected, permanent archive of human thought and feeling. From that point of view, everything that goes up on our shared canvas should stay up as long as possible — ideally, forever (though realistically when you die, you stop paying hosting fees and your site dies with you).

On USENET and at W3C, you can still find archived conversations between Hakon Lee, Jeff Veen, David Siegel et al about what CSS should be and how it should work. Those archived conversations are important for anyone who wants to understand the roots of our present web technology.

I'm glad Matt archives Metafilter. I'm sorry Josh Davis discards old Dreamless conversations to make room for new ones, though it's Josh's site and he can do as he likes. When my Mom died, friends paid their respects in a forum at Dreamless that is now gone forever. It's as if her tombstone had been knocked down to make way for a shopping mall.

That is how some of us feel about losing Brent's sites, though we respect him and he can certainly do whatever he needs to do.

I strongly doubt that this was about hosting fees. I would gladly have hosted Assembler, and I'm sure that Webcore Labs, Great Jones Street, or Kia.net (among others) would have done the same. I believe it was about life changes, and the desire to move on. Still, Assembler was a great site and its passing is not trivial.

Expanding beyond this particular site:

My book came out 15 May—less than two months ago—and already, several of the major indie sites it discusses have gone belly-up. The rapid loss of so many sites makes me wonder about the future of independent design and content on the web, and also makes me wonder what the hell the web is, anyway, and why I have invested so much energy in something as transient as an ice cube.
posted by Zeldman at 1:32 PM on July 7, 2001

zeldman: so it perhaps part of the web is more like a performance piece, and less like a book.
posted by rebeccablood at 1:34 PM on July 7, 2001

something as transient as an ice cube.

The web is digital. It's made up of bits that depend purely on the presence or absence of energy to provide any meaning whatsoever. The web is transient and, for that matter, tangential. That is both its boon and our bane.

Get it, get over it, and get on.
posted by dchase at 1:52 PM on July 7, 2001

rebecca + dchase:

yes. on the other hand, every comment here is permalinked. so if in two weeks webchick wants to point readers to what rebeccablood said about the demise of assembler, she can do that. and that is a good thing.

every comment at my daily report is now permalinked, so if someone finds something i've said useful, they can always find it again. and that "permanence - at least for now" is a good feature of the web, as well as an interesting tension built into the web.

and that good feature (and that interesting tension) disappear when sites go offline.

one more note. when A List Apart went offline last week, i got letters requesting that i send zipped folders of specific ALA articles, mainly on CSS and the DOM. that is because ALA is a useful resource for some people and they actually depend on it to get their work done.

personally, knowing that some people feel that way about it, i would think long and hard before ever considering removing the site from the web. frankly i don't think i COULD remove the site from the web short of unforeseen personal catastrophe. but then i don't see the web as random bits and bytes. i see it as a way that people can share knowledge, experience, and beauty.
posted by Zeldman at 2:27 PM on July 7, 2001

are we talking communal or personal sites? i wouldn't hesitate to pull down something that was mine alone, but something that is communal, which relies or has relied upon the effort(s) of many, is a different matter altogether.

somehow, i think the two have gotten mixed up in this conversation. we're talking about an individual who removed a personal site. we're not talking about sites like k10k, MetaFilter or A List Apart.
posted by heather at 4:14 PM on July 7, 2001

What she said!

Big Z, when it comes to ALA, you have an obligation to those who have contributed their words and energy (both the article contributors and the forum participants). I know you know this, btw, I'm just making a point.

I feel an obligation to the people who make {fray} happen - the writers, artists, and story posters. If I ever tire of the site (God forbid), I'd like to find a person, or a group of people, to give the site to. The only mandate would be: stay true to the idea of personal storytelling, and pass the site along to someone else when you're done.

That's the way the alternative newspaper I worked on in college worked - and they're now in their eleventh year. Anyone running a collaborative non commercial site should consider adopting this idea. It's powerful because it makes the site bigger than any one person - it becomes owned by its community.

But if it's a personal site, made by one artist for their own personal reasons (like Assembler), that's entirely different. Brent doesn't owe anything to anybody. He chose to take his marbles and go home. And good for him.

They were his marbles.
posted by fraying at 4:24 PM on July 7, 2001

i've been doing this for just over a year now - independent content - and that makes me an infant. i've been working on this medium for 4, just indieing one.

each month i try and make speechtherapy better than it was before, and that's tough. as any of you have with your own work, i've logged countless hours doing something for free that at work i wouldn't think about doing without pay. it's because you love it. sometimes you fall out of love with it.

i'm just now coming out of two years of depression. along the way there were times i had to close speechtherapy - get my head together. i'd either fallen out of love with it, or i just needed room to breath. your work becomes a part of you, if you love it, and sometimes that means walking away. we feel "fairness" is a word applicable only to relationships that are working, yet sometimes to be completely fair to yourself and what you love, you have to walk away. it's just that simple.

it's a matter of knowing yourself enough to know when, and being able to finalize on a decision you know may inconvenience or even hurt others.
posted by sixandone at 4:31 PM on July 7, 2001

Zeldman, you're wholly right (surprise surprise).

I'll say it again: the world is diminished when Art is removed from its view. That is why this action - and similar departures - is a sad one, and why I cannot wholly condone (although I can accept) Brent's choice. When you compose a glorious piece of music, you do indeed have a duty - not to let others hear the piece, but a duty to the music to let it sing.

Does this resonate with anyone? Or am I an ideological loon?
posted by Marquis at 5:00 PM on July 7, 2001

fraying said...
>I'd like to find a person, or a group of people,
>to give the site to. The only mandate would be:
>stay true to the idea of personal storytelling...

Issues of relinquishing control (be it editorial, administrative, etc.) is such a scary prospect. How hard it is to entrust your creation, your "baby" into the hands of "strangers"...even when you are so certain you've found the right ones. As someone else stated in this thread, needs (as well as original visions and good intentions) disappear and mutate...

The real issue here, IMHO, is where do our perceived personal obligations end (and begin) as people who care about the current state of the Web.

As always, there are no absolute truths.
posted by webchick at 5:11 PM on July 7, 2001

But are you guys making the mistake we (society) tends to make with other art? Bemoaning the loss of the old and familiar without looking at what's fresh and new because "they don't make 'em like they used to"?
posted by owillis at 9:04 PM on July 7, 2001

Derek, you're totally right that something that a person created should be within their own personal realm to do with as they wish.

However, Zeldman's points about contribution are as valid.

How about when one person's contribution, simply because of the the skill, quality, beauty, or insight of what they've done will not be recreated (easily? within any standard amount of time? or ever?).

Maybe it's a bit over the top, but look at pennicilin - while discovered by some French student (Ernest Duchesne), but doesn't become general knowledge until 40 years later because the knowledge was hidden.

Someone with a skill may, in fact, have an obligation to make sure their skill provide some contribution. Now, that is a bit more tenuos... but now someone with a skill that has worked toward promoting that skill; displaying it (for whatever reason.. who knows why we actually all participate here.. but even those of us who know no one will come to our sites push and push and create)...

But here is someone who displays and excedes most knowledge that exists.. do you just shut it down, extinguish it because it is a single person's perogative?

Sure, it belongs to that one person, but now where are the lines cross to creating an obligation, morally, to those left behind. We're not talking right or wrong..because in right or wrong.. Brent would be totally vindicated.. he has every right to retire, to obliterate everything he has on the net into nothingness..

When you talk of contribution and collective knowledge, however.. loosing something like assembler and related sites is a travesty and loss of critical knowledge which happen every day because people either underestimate their own talent, or don't actually understand what is actually the reason why this medium has so much power.
posted by rich at 9:11 PM on July 7, 2001

every comment here is permalinked

Permalink? Every link here is 200 only as long as Matt Haughey, Jason Levine, or whoever is storing the bits or controlling the name servers cares it to be. At some point, every link will be 404'd. Think about it.... How much of the web from 1993 can still referenced?

No, this doesn't mean that the content will be lost for ever. This thread, currently residing at the address http://www.metafilter.com/comments.mefi/8843 could be archived in some digital form. It could be archived on acid-free paper. It could be etched in stone. But it well not be accessible at the address http://www.metafilter.com/comments.mefi/8843 forever.

I truly admire those who put what they feel as useful on the web. I hope that people find what information I put on my website informative and useful. I have the utmost respect for those who, as I do, try to make their information as accessible as possible.

But, no matter how hard you may try, everything you see on the web today will, at some point, be gone. That's the nature of technology. That's the nature of art. That's the nature of life. We're just visiting. We're just browsing. It sucks when someone pulls something valuable away from us. But that's just how it is. Things are created, and things die. We can carry a torn black ribbon in our pocket, but we can't bring what we treasured back.

i see it as a way that people can share knowledge, experience, and beauty

I see it that way too. But I also recognize that knowledge, experience, and beauty are transient. All exist only within action, and only through action do they exist. Outside of action, everything is just, well, data. If people still act on what they've learned from assembler, has knowledge been lost? Has beauty been lost? Has anything other than data been lost?

The absence of stasis is what makes the web beautiful. To fully experience the beauty my advice remains the same (and I don't mean it in a snarky way): Get it, get over it, and get on with it.
posted by dchase at 10:25 PM on July 7, 2001

Although I know it wasn't his point, Jeffrey has caused me to consider the purity of art that is ice sculpture (actually, he made me want to do tiny paintings on ice cubes, but ice sculpture seemed more accessible).

I don't know that the beauty of Assembler is it's lack of stasis, but I do fully support Brent's decision to control his own work. That's what it all comes down to, right? It was his work. To the extent that people are inspired to create something wonderful, they still have Assembler in here. *tap* *tap*
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 11:03 PM on July 7, 2001

For some reason... I keep thinking of a rather cliche song by "Kansas"...

In an earlier post, I attempted to make the point that the web is not other media, and indeed it isn't... but it does share the same lack of permanence. Everything comes and goes, so to speak... yeah, so maybe Shakespeare was a genius, maybe Chopin was too...but you just have to accept that somewhere, sometime, there were equal or greater geniuses that have long been forgotten, no doubt.

That's just the way life is. I think we all struggle with change, and often in different ways. When something we love becomes something different, we often long for the "good ol' days"... when someone we love ceases to live, we mourn ...and on a lesser note, when good sites disappear, we want them back. On some level, we all struggle with the acceptance of change... which is necessary for growth.

In the end, the only thing that really remains, is human perception, emotion...memories, and the growth that comes from them.

This is why interaction is a vital part of MOST things on the independent business-model-lacking web... because in the end, it's only the interactions....the perception...the emotions...and the memories that will remain. So I remove some site I created... does that change the ways it may have influenced others? ...does that change the ways it may have influenced myself? ...the emotions it may have fostered?

I don't need email feedback to interact... each hit is interaction. THAT is why we create things and share them with the world via the Internet.

Otherwise, htaccess and/or a good robots.txt file are in order.

(feeling ideological tonight...)
posted by canoeguide at 12:10 AM on July 8, 2001

Whoah, easy on the "self-righteous artist"-talk, annathea - I purposely refrained from mentioning K10k in my original post because I didn't want the site dragged into this discussion. K10k wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for the audience - I'm in complete agreement with you there - but that has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion.

I've done tons of "hidden" stuff - behind the scenes work on my personal sites, presents for friends and family, little bits and pieces that might be called art (if they were viewed in the right light, under a moonlit sky, through rose-tinted glasses) - and almost all of this has been placed online. Why? Because it's a very convenient medium - and I'm much more into digital work than scribbling things down in a journal or notebook.

But even though most of these things could be found by you if you searched hard enough, it still doesn't give you any right to tell me what I should do with these pieces, whether I should keep them online, or any other such nonsense. You may think that they're works of art, worthy of being preserved for future generations (you may also think they're crap, but for arguments sake let's pretend otherwise), but ultimately I, as the sole creator, have the final say.

Like Heather says, Assembler was never a community site - there was no audience participation involved - it was Brent's personal site. And I stand by my original comment which states that this is not the time or place for critizing, but rather for saying a sad goodbye and wishing him all the best in the future.
posted by mschmidt at 2:16 AM on July 8, 2001

I'd like to come back to the distinction between "personal" site and "community" site, as there seems to be a perceived difference in the "responsibility" of a web author/artist towards his/her audience in the two cases.

My point is: to what extent is any site a "community" site, in some way? Sure, there are sites like MeFi, dreamless, k10k (or even waferbaby) who rely on the regular participation (contents-wise) of community members. But thinking of it, is it necessary that the members of the classroom get a chance to scribble on the blackboard to feel like a community?

I think that a personal site which inspires people, creates "talk" about it, generates feedback and communication with the author/artist can be said to have gathered a "community" around it. Am I completely off-mark here?

As much as I respect the right of anybody who puts something online to pull it down without a day's notice, I do think there is a certain lack of respect for one's audience in doing so - particularly if that "something" was seen as a valuable resource, an inspiring work, a piece of art.

One can take it down, but the audience has the right to feel disrespected.
posted by Tara at 2:26 AM on July 8, 2001

I have mixed feelings on this but disrespected?

We may have the right to feel disappointed (I know I do) but surely not disrespected...
posted by sticky at 4:10 AM on July 8, 2001

disrespected? i understand, but there's something of it that smacks of the unfortuante sense of self-entitlement that i feel has pervaded the web over the years. some people (and i'm not thinking of any one person or persons in particular) expect an awful lot without giving much in return.
posted by heather at 8:03 AM on July 8, 2001

I agree. It's not a matter of disrespect, nor am I arguing that Brent doesn't have the right to do whatever he pleases. Mschmidt, you make a very good point about private work, and the right to take it away. The same goes for public work - the artist always has the right to do whatever he/she pleases with it.

Nevertheless, I think it sad and terrible when this happens: when marvellous things are obliterated.
posted by Marquis at 9:28 AM on July 8, 2001

Oh, and don't kid yourself - the Web isn't the first transient art-form. Literature, music, visual arts, dance (especially), all these things disappear - just on a different time-scale.
posted by Marquis at 10:06 AM on July 8, 2001

I think that the original intent of the thread -- that so many sites that enter the web superficially screaming "look at me" exit quite similarly -- is an important one (It's sort of like living in New York City).

However, I can't help but remember that episode of the Simpsons in which Comic Book Guy complains about the "worst episode ever" of Itchy and Scratchy. Bart wonders how this could be possible. After all, Itchy and Scratchy have given Comic Book Guy so much. If anything, Bart asserts, "you owe them."

I'd say some more smart stuff, now about the most fulfilling aspect of "art" being the personal journey/learning experience of introspection --> creation, but I gotta get back to work.
posted by jaysoucy at 4:07 PM on July 8, 2001

Looking wider than the web for a moment:

Recently, I've been doing a lot of thinking about taking things for granted. About the age-old paradox of not knowing what you've got until it's gone. I feel that this may apply here.

On Tuesday of this week, my grandmother's funeral will take place. There will be lots of people there saying how marvellous she was and how much they miss her, and then laying flowers on her grave. I was determined not to fall into this category, so I told her how I felt before she passed away. I also gave her flowers while she could still enjoy them.

For something so synthetic, the web is incredibly organic. The continuing and relentless cycle of birth and death as an essential part of what it is. But with all aspects of life, we all can be guilty of taking things for granted. Celebrate it while it's there - don't mourn it when it's gone.
posted by momorgan at 4:22 PM on July 8, 2001

One thing I've been pondering lately is my own mortality (passing 40 does that to you.)

Recently, a large part of my life has been devoted to a website. What happens when I can no longer maintain it? Or when my life changes in some way that reduces, or eliminates, the time I spend each day doing creative stuff?

momorgan's comments about the cycle of birth and death are not limited to the content; they also apply to the people who produce it.
posted by Chief Typist at 7:06 PM on July 8, 2001

I don't know if this has already been said (too much for me to read right now)... but I'd just like to throw in my three cents:

1) Like everything else on the web, it depends on the site's content, audience, purpose, etc. Personal journals can come and go. But for a site like Assembler.org (which sounds like, from what I've read here and I think I visited it once) which are more informational (this is what you can do with JavaScript) then personal (this is my cat Fluffy), sites like these don't "owe" their audience, but they should have "respect" for their audience and not pull everything down.

2) Informational sites (like Assembler.org(?)--this is what you can do with JavaScript) should not disappear from the web. Even if the author wishes to forget their web-past and erase all traces of it, such helpful sites should at least (and the author would be very courteous to the community that befriended the author) pass the site on to a friend-of-the-web (any one here or elsewhere who enjoyed the site) who would like to offer up their web-space to archive the site (with removal of the author's name and all likenesses if that's what the author wants).

3) At the very least, this should teach us what we learned in high school/college when the power went out and we lost that term paper that was almost finished... save, save, save. If you come across a site you love and enjoy, is informative and inspiring... you better make a copy of it on your hard drive, not to distribute, but to archive in case the very next day the author decides to delete it from the web entirely.

posted by joek at 7:17 PM on July 8, 2001

I would like to propose that this entire issue is being taken - and addressed - with a solemnity of tone which it hardly merits.

A web site ended. This does not qualify as a tragedy. Independent content is fab, sure - but let's put away the funereal black, eh?
posted by gsh at 7:21 AM on July 9, 2001

But, no matter how hard you may try, everything you see on the web today will, at some point, be gone. That's the nature of technology. That's the nature of art. That's the nature of life.

That's true, but the web's ability to disappear quickly is its Achilles heel. In 100 years, there will be more available from the early days of broadcast radio than from what we have created the last eight years in hypertext.

That's the biggest reason to lament the disappearance of things like Assembler. How would we feel if artists routinely destroyed their paintings after they tired of them? Though they have the right to do that, shouldn't we discourage it?

This reminds me of another problem-in-the-making: Saving your family's digital photos in a format that's guaranteed to be obsolete in 30 years. Technology is great at transitory media, but terrible at permanence.
posted by rcade at 8:39 AM on July 9, 2001

rcade said...
>That's the biggest reason to lament the disappearance
>of things like Assembler. How would we feel if artists
>routinely destroyed their paintings after they tired of
>them? Though they have the right to do that, shouldn't
>we discourage it?

I'm not sure that's too good of an idea. Yeah, assembler was art from code. Okay, a good premise, and strong in the depiction and form--we all agree on that. But allow me to play devil's advocate to what you say: if an artist creates, who is to say that an artist shouldn't destroy? Creation IS the other half of destruction, things breaking out of the skins of old things to create amazing new things. Well, if that weren't the way it should work, then who is to say who is right here? We can all bemoan the loss, but without recognizing both sides, we're lost as a community.

That being said, I would be awful if I weren't allowed to destroy some of the things I've done. Speak of art as though it were life--there are some events that I'd just as soon not think about anymore. Memories are just that, and sometimes they're just meant for one person to hold.
posted by vandoren at 11:06 AM on July 9, 2001

I understand the argument that a personal site belongs to that person, but in a sense, the web as a collective work belongs to all of us, and by removing a piece of it, this thing that belongs to all of us is diminished. I don't like to see it.

Brewster Kahle starting thinking about this problem some years ago, and then started doing something about it. The Internet Archive is kind of like Google cache writ large.

I like what Kahle wrote about why he started the archive and why it's important:

[W]ithout cultural artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures. And paradoxically, with the explosion of the Internet, we live in what Danny Hillis has referred to as our "digital dark age."

I never visited assembler.org, never even heard of it until stumbling across this thread, but I mourn its passing because with it, a little piece of civilization's memory has passed as well.
posted by geneablogy at 7:46 PM on July 9, 2001

I will miss Assembler and Vitaflo just like I miss working with Brent. The absence constitutes a loss for the medium certainly. However, I respect Brent's need to grow as an artist/coder/person. Perhaps he is not so much turning his back on his past projects as he is preparing for the next. Who knows what or when that will be, but it will be what Brent wants to do which is his only real obligation.

It is rare that the makers of history and historians are the same person. Let Brent create and let the archivists archive. If you are so bent out of shape quit moaning like a jilted lover on these pages and figure out a solution. Make him an offer to distribute or house an archive. Write a book about it, whatever, but if you try to tie an artist to his past you only convey the depth of your misunderstanding about art.

Kudos to Brent for sharing his amazing work and talent. Wish we still had you at Imaginet.
posted by Mycroft at 10:44 AM on July 10, 2001

sometimes keeping old things up can even be too painful, for whatever reason.
sometimes you want to start fresh.
sometimes you don't want your vision to be altered by the visions that belong to other people.
sometimes you don't trust people to keep your vision alive. because it was your vision, not anyone else's, and because you don't want something that you devised to become the internet equivalent of jefferson airplane/starship.
selfish? sure. but, well, tough. seriously. there has to be something said for purity of vision. and i don't think any artist has to answer to any member of the public, no matter how 'disrespected' those members might feel.
posted by maura at 2:05 PM on July 10, 2001

I find it disturbing when people start dictating what an independent creation can be, and the parameters within which it is deemed worthy to be created and or required to exist. Inevitably the path begins to narrow at some point, confining possibility, and discarding wholesale valuable realms.

I'm particularly disturbed when people are adjudged to be using the medium incompletely or inadequately for the speaker's purposes. If I do not respond to someone's e-mail, does that diminish the work? If I do not use flash, or high-end DHTML, or build an applet, is my work lesser? If I choose not to tell anyone that I've created something, is my terrific genius only instantiated when a friend mistypes a URL and happens across my creation?

Is my work lessened if 60% of the people who view it are repelled and run away in terror?

If I do not use all or most of the features of the web, is my work unworthy of the 'net? Am I truly a complete web-loser, who doesn't know half of the things I could be doing? I have a couple of mini-sites that I'm pretty sure would be tossed into the "might as well be a book!" pile of low respect. Yet, I've consciously decided not to publish them as books. I've carefully selected their forms and presentation. Why should I not have control over their lives?

Does an artist's control over his art end immediately after creation? Is modification OK? If Leonardo DaVinci wanted to paint an alien over the shoulder of the Mona Lisa, does our "better judgement" make his act a crime? When does he lose the right to own his own work? Does that come before he destroys it (after all, an alien would kill the mood of the piece, and he may not want to have his legacy be the Alien and Mona Lisa)?

What it boils down to is: Where is the line between the public good or need and the individual's ownership of his own creations?
posted by julen at 3:03 PM on July 10, 2001

Every comment here is permalinked

posted by ethmar at 3:17 PM on July 10, 2001

Brent gave the web a great gift and that doesn't entitle anybody to tell him what to. The gift has already been received and lives on beyond the closing of the website. He didn't have to share the magic with us, but did - that deserves respect. He owes us nothing.

I'll just say thanks and wish the guy well in whatever he chooses to do...
posted by jenett at 5:35 PM on July 14, 2001

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