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Welcome! You're looking at an archived Snarkmarket entry. We've got a fresh look—and more new ideas every day—on the front page.

November 3, 2008

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A Concise History of the Future

On the occasion of Snarkmarket’s fifth year

On November 3, 2003, Robin posted Snarkmarket’s first post. Two-thousand, two-hundred and seven posts later (excluding the 103 unpublished drafts), here we are.

We intend to mark the occasion by finally migrating this blog from a dusty old Movable Type installation to a sleek new Wordpress install, so pardon our dust over the next couple of weeks as we make that transition. And since it’s always wise to do a CMS transition and redesign at the same time (ha), we’d welcome your feedback on our imminent new look as well.

But most importantly, we want to extend a warm welcome and happiest of birthday wishes to a third Snarkmaster, for whom this is less a promotion than merely an official acknowledgment of his contributions: Mr. Timothy Carmody.

Lightly-edited sentimental ruminations posted over Google Chat (concerning Snarkmarket, blogging, time, destiny and all that) can be found in the extended entry.

Thank you again for reading, and most of all, for sharing your thoughts. To the next five years, and beyond.

— gChat conversation. 1:49pm PT, 11/3/08. —

Matt: heh. who’s going to post the announcement? joint authorship? transcript of gChat?
Robin: see now you just made me all nervous about my gchatting.
like, now it has to be smart.
reminds me of when we started —
and i felt like every post had to be this gem —
Matt: aww. five years ago.
i remember those days.
Robin: a well-thought out nugget of bloggy exposition.
Matt: now we churn ‘em out. you at the rate of approx. one per diem. me at the rate of approx. one per annum.
Tim: I used to have a rule, that I would never just link to stuff. I always had to comment just as much.
That’s why in my first year, I had about fifteen posts.
Robin: a blog is like an article of clothing. a weird one, like a futuristic pointy hat or silver pants.
you don’t know how to wear it at first…
but then you break it in — you get comfortable with it
Tim: but suddenly you go to a party where everyone’s rocking it
and you say… oh, that’s how you do it
Matt: when we started, I just thought it would be a good way to keep in touch w/ Robin. which it has been. but it ended up much awesomer, which was a plus.
Robin: well i credit snarkmarket to essentially changing my trajectory in journalism entirely.
because, almost overnight,
it was so much more FUN than writing normal articles,
and getting feedback in the normal way.
which is to say, not at all.
your party metaphor applies here, tim.
Tim: Snarkmarket easily made me much more interested in, um, now than I ever would have been.
Reminds me of the Nietzsche quote — the trouble with scholars is that by thinking backward, eventually you believe backward too.
Robin: mmm i like that!
Tim: SM has helped me orient my thinking forward.
Robin: a blog — and all the things that surround & support it, like a well-stocked rss reader, and commenters — are an anchor to the present
sometimes to a fault
but even so
Tim: The real trouble is thinking that backwards is the last forwards
like, the real break is the printing press
or the french revolution
or the advent of the computer
some epoch-making change that fixes everything forever
so you don’t see how things are changing now
Matt: it took me a moment to process “backwards is the last forwards.”
Tim: thinking backwards to find beginnings
rather than closures or ruptures
Matt: I eventually got it. I like it.
Tim: which in a way is a blinder to optimism
Matt: I’m going to toss that at a curmudgeonly academic one of these days.
Robin: honestly we’ve waited too long to refresh/reboot/rethink snarkmarket —
partly as a result of, you know, having jobs and lives and things —
but at its ideal it is changing a lot more frequently, a lot more fluidly.
so we should think of this evolution not as an epoch-maker
but the first beat in a new, faster tempo
Matt: amen.
Tim: right, throwing the finish line ahead so you can run past it
Matt: the other day, I was thinking about how I’ve never kept a diary. and there was a moment of regret - all those thoughts and memories that have just been scattered to the ages.
but then I remembered Snarkmarket. which is the oddest type of diary. ‘cause it’s not about me, but it’s about how I view the world.
Robin: yes! actually matt, you just linked to an old 2006 post of mine today —
and i clicked over and went: “wait… who wrote this?”
it struck me in the best possible way
Tim: a diary of public preoccupations
So, like, what are the big moments in SM history?
It seems like Robin targeting Al Gore TV is a big one
EPIC is undoubtedly a big one
which, in a way, is more consequential.
Matt: I remember four years ago, a while after Dean’s Presidential candidacy went up in flames, when I posted about a story I intended to report in ten years. (when his records from office in VT would be made public.)
Robin: love that. i feel that we must endeavor to make snarkmarket a reliable repository for ten-year ideas.
Matt: Snarkmarket seemed the most enduring document in which to declare that intent. there was no better way to send a message to myself in 10 years.
Robin: we’re halfway there already which isn’t bad.
i love that!
Matt: i know!
Tim: Those Postal Service songs just sound better and better.
Robin: so what you’re saying is,
this thing which is such a great anchor to the present,
is also an incredible channel to the past AND the future
Matt: yes!
Robin: (although it does make me think we need a better archive view…)
(like, tags anybody?)
Matt: hahaha. when we move to Wordpress, all this shall be possible.
Matt: yes, let’s talk about the distended Society/Culture category for a moment.
Tim: You won’t believe the shit we’ve got.
Robin: hahahahahahaha
Tim: Aw man… I have a tag “The Polis” which gobbled up like half my site.
Because it was anything about politics, cities, history, society, ancient culture
Robin: if we fed all of the society/culture entries into some sort of AI-bot
i think we’d have ourselves a philosopher king
Matt: if our category were a tag cloud, Society/Culture and Briefly Noted would be 50px, and everything else would be 4px.
Robin: hahahahahaha
okay i have to go work on election stuff now.
at current.
where i work.
Tim: for mccain.
Robin: and posted about on snarkmarket
IN 2003
Matt: very first post!
Robin: nutso
Matt: blogging = destiny.
Robin: welcome to the snarkmatrix officially, tim
Tim: thanks kids.
Matt: yes, we are very glad to have you.
Tim: good to be aboard this leaky rocketship into the future.
Matt: should i edit this at all, or should we just let it rip?
Robin: hahaha, i can imagine a few edits that would be kindnesses to our readers
but it’s up to you
Tim: Some kind of frame, maybe.
If it’s a time capsule, you’ve got to explain to the future what the thing is.
Matt: eh, the real fun will be in the comments, I expect.
as always.
Robin: as always.

Posted November 3, 2008 at 1:51 | Comments (8) | Permasnark
File under: About Snarkmarket


Yay! Thanks for walking me through setting up my own blog at the same time you were setting up Snarkmarket.

I must wonder, however, why you'd switch to Wordpress with all of its security problems.

Welcome, Tim! Oh man this is gonna be good.

Tim AND tags AND a redesign AND a renewed sense of national vigor and purpose.

(I mean okay, technically that last one is not directly related to a Snarkmarket relaunch. But I'll take the correlation.)

You know, it was Matt who walked up to my desk at Poynter five years ago and said, "Hey, wanna start a blog?"

I didn't know then what it would be about, and I still don't. But man, what a good idea.

Absolutely. When we're looking back on this day from posterity, we've gotta remember the little extra-textual frissons we're all getting right now from the fact that tomorrow looks to be the culmination of one of the most historic years of our lives.

Congrats all around. Tim is a wonderful addition and I'm obviously a big fan of 10-year idea repositories.

There's a lot to be excited about in the way of national vigor and purpose. Just think about the run-up to the 2003 primaries, when this blog started. In November, it wasn't even clear that Howard Dean was going to take off, let alone fall off a few months later. One of Robin's early posts notes that the average age for the CNN debates was 61. 61!

Those young slackers (older than us) who couldn't push Dean over in Iowa became the young pros (younger than us) who took Obama to the top. And not only is there no doubt about the interest of younger people in this election, CNN pretty obviously isn't the focal point any longer. Crap, whole regimes of blogs and social networks have risen and fallen in the five years since then. Obama's got his own Facebook app, and it's a really good app! You can actually use it to register to vote and find your own polling place! Talk about convergence.

Anyways, I knock my tag "The Polis" a bit in the chat above. But I do think that along with the future, the polis -- that Greek word for "small town snarkmarket" -- is the common orientation of the now-three voices of the site.

If Matt has one foot in journalism, Robin one in television, and me, one in the academy, we all have an interest in technology, social change, and democracy. That's the marketplace of ideas we're engaging.

The last five years saw our generation entering the workplace with some knowledge and ideas about digital culture that were valuable to the folks in charge, who were still trying to sort it out. Now, we're all hurtling towards our thirties, closer and closer to being the folks in charge. It's this movement, from a misunderstood insurgency to an emerging mandate, that we have to try to understand now -- to continue to push, to criticize, to conceive, to bring into being.

We also now fully represent the West Coast, the East Coast, and the Midwest. We've got real America and fake America covered.

Congrats to Snarkmarket on 5 terrific years and making me think interesting thoughts when I would be otherwise too lazy. The addition of Tim is inspired: why much prefer having all my intellectual candy in one spot.

Congratulations all around! I hope this comes across as the great compliment that it is: this is the only blog I have never stopped checking.

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