Waxy.org Turns 20

Hard to believe, but I started blogging 20 years ago today with this short post.

In my first ten years of writing, I published 415 posts and over 13,000 links. And in the last ten years, I published 136 posts and a little over 5,000 links, a pretty big drop from the ten years before.

There are some pretty obvious reasons why my posting slowed since 2012:

  • XOXO started that year, which became a big creative outlet for me, as well as a big time sink.
  • My long-form writing shifted elsewhere, with my column in WIRED and as a member of The Message publication on Medium, while short-form writing continued to land on Twitter.
  • I became more focused on quality than quantity, with a higher bar for what made it here.
  • I was less motivated to invest time in writing, in part because fewer people were reading.

I still enjoy writing though, and have no intention of stopping any time soon.

Ten years ago, I wrote a roundup of my favorite posts from my first decade of blogging, and I thought I’d do the same thing for 2012-2021. If you missed them the first time around, I hope you check them out this time. Looking back on the last ten years, I’m proud of so many of these pieces.


2012

Introducing Playfic. Announcing the launch of Playfic, a tool for writing and sharing Inform 7 interactive fiction games in the browser. Nearly 3,000 games have been published so far, I rounded up some highlights in 2013. (These days, I’d recommend using Borogove.)

The Perpetual, Invisible Window Into Your Gmail Inbox. I wrote about Unroll.me and similar apps that were quietly requesting access to all your email, an issue that exploded five years later when it was revealed they were selling user info to Uber, among others.

YouTube’s Content ID Disputes Are Judged by the Accuser. Raising awareness of YouTube’s end-run around the DMCA, which continues to be an issue today.

A Patent Lie: How Yahoo Weaponized My Work. This article blew up pretty big, in which I talk about how tech corporations encourage developers to patent their work, ostensibly for defensive purposes, only to find them used in litigation to stop innovation, popularizing the term “weaponized patents” in the process.

Instagram’s Buyout: How Does It Measure Up? Crunching the numbers on Instagram’s billion-dollar sale to Facebook against other notable acquisitions to see how it measured up. Instagram made $26 billion in ad revenue last year, more than Facebook itself, so a pretty smart deal.

Criminal Creativity: Untangling Cover Song Licensing on YouTube. Trying to unravel the surprisingly complicated question of whether a cover song uploaded to YouTube is infringement or not.

Introducing XOXO. Launched on Kickstarter, sold every ticket in 50 hours.

The Unified Theory of XOXO. Once the dust settled from the first XOXO, I wrote about what we were trying to do and the decisions we made — all of which are still part of the festival today.

2013

Aaron. Remembering Aaron Swartz.

The New Prohibition. Occasionally, my posts end up turning into conference talks, like in this Creative Mornings presentation.

The Death of Upcoming.org. I found out Yahoo was shutting down Upcoming like everyone else, with 11 days’ notice. With Archive Team’s help, we were able to collectively archive the vast majority of the site, allowing me to later restore nearly every event to its original URL.

Remembering XOXO 2013. Where we started really figuring things out.

Screens on Screen. A huge dump of fake computer screens in movies, and the projects that popped up around it.

GoldieBlox and the Three MCs. Copyright and fair use analysis of a repurposed parody of the Beastie Boys’ “Girls” for a toy commercial.

2014

Ellen DeGeneres’ “Walter Mitty” Screener Leaks Online. I was the first to report on this screener linked to a celebrity, which got coverage in Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, and many more.

‘JIF’ Is the Format. ‘GIF’ Is the Culture. Steve Wilhite may have designed the GIF format, but the looping animated GIF was a product of the web, invented eight years later.

72 Hours of #Gamergate. Analyzing over 316,000 tweets that mentioned #Gamergate to spot trends and visualize the network, including clear evidence that most supporters were using newly-created accounts.

Diary of a Corporate Sellout. A personal post about the risks that come from selling your startup when it’s also an online community. “When you sell the house, you’re not just selling a house. You’re selling everyone inside.”

How to Flawlessly Predict Anything on the Internet. I still love this post, explaining how a classic confidence scam could be adopted to social media with convincing results.

Playing With My Son. One of my all-time favorites, the story of playing videogame history with my son in (roughly) chronological order. I repurposed this one for a talk at Gel 2015, with my son in the front row.

2015

Pirating the 2015 Oscars: HD Edition. An interesting shift in screener leaks: pirates didn’t want them anymore because DVDs were increasingly considered poor-quality. “Pirates are now watching films at higher quality than the industry insiders voting on them.”

Never Trust A Corporation To Do A Library’s Job. My love letter to the Internet Archive, and Google’s failure to live up to their original mission statement to organize the world’s information.

If Drake Was A Piano. My experiments with converting MP3s to MIDI and back.

2016

Remembering XOXO 2016. 2016 was a busy year, between opening and closing the XOXO Outpost (our massive workspace for indie artists), working on the Upcoming reboot, and holding the fifth year of the festival. I didn’t get a lot of writing done.

Redesigning Waxy. I did squeeze in a redesign though, and some thoughts on blogging in 2016.

Creativity in a Post-Trump America. Just not a great year.

Go to Bed.

2017

The Long Cold Winter. Announcing the closure of the Outpost and the relaunch of Upcoming.

This Must Be The /r/Place. One of my favorite projects ever, led by future Wordle creator Josh Wardle.

Closing Communities: FFFFOUND! vs MLKSHK. Two very different approaches to shutting down an online community.

Pogo’s Politics. This post about Australian remix artist Pogo still gets traffic any time his name comes up, and people become aware of his repulsive views on women. “It’s hard to truly enjoy art made by someone you can’t respect.”

The Flagpole Sitta Lip Dub Turns 10. Reminiscing about a viral trend in the mid-2000s, and the video that helped popularize it.

You Think You Know Me. Announcing my wife Ami’s first card game, which I help edit and design, now published under the moniker Pink Tiger Games. Her fourth game, Lost for Words, is coming out later this year, this one co-designed with our son, Eliot. It’s turned into a real family business!

2018

A Tribute to YouTube Annotations. Six weeks before YouTube retired its annotations feature, I collected as many notable examples as I could find. Sadly, they’re all no longer interactive.

Demi Adejuyigbe at XOXO 2018. My only post about XOXO 2018, which was more than double the size in a new venue and absolutely exhausting, but still really memorable. Lizzo played the closing party and then sang karaoke with everyone! I regret not writing more about it while it was fresh in my mind.

Why You Should Never, Ever Use Quora. The most regressive archiving policy of any online community, it’s likely to be an epic loss of collected knowledge when they eventually close down.

2019

Dad. I don’t talk about my personal life often, but I sometimes make an exception for close friends and family I’ve lost.

Suck.com, Gone for Good (For Good). It’s been returning nothing but a PHP error (with database credentials!) for over a year.

Fast and Free Music Separation with Deezer’s Machine Learning Library. A series of AI audio experiments, an area I’ve been following for some time.

Turning Photos into 2.5 Parallax Animations with Machine Learning. A good excuse for me to learn how Google Colab notebooks work.

Unraveling the Mystery of “Visit Eroda,” The Tourism Campaign For An Island That Doesn’t Exist. A delightful ARG-like campaign that I followed in real-time as it developed, and the fascinating cultural divide between Harry Styles fans and ARG fans who didn’t want to believe.

How Artists on Twitter Tricked Spammy T-Shirt Stores Into Admitting Their Automated Art Theft. I want this post on a t-shirt.

2020

Paste Parties: The Ephemeral, Chaotic Joy of Random Clipboards. How I celebrate my birthday online every year: asking everyone to tweet me their unedited clipboards.

With questionable copyright claim, Jay-Z orders deepfake audio parodies off YouTube. The legal implications of AI-generated music are complex and fascinating.

OpenAI’s Jukebox Opens the Pandora’s Box of AI-Generated Music. Two days after my Jay-Z post, OpenAI released a neural network that could generate music in the style of various artists, with 7,100 song samples.

alt.binaries.images.underwater.non-violent.moderated: a deep dive. Solving a Usenet newsgroup curiosity, over 20 years later.

The House on Blue Lick Road. 2020’s best game was a 3D real estate listing of a sprawling hoarder house. I had to know more, so I picked up the phone and called the owner.

2021

Announcing Skittish. I spent all of last year working on Skittish, a virtual event space where you navigate the world as a little animal and talk to people near you with your microphone. It evolved quickly, hosted its first public events in June, and launched in November. I’m still working on it. You should check it out.

Colin’s Bear Animation, Revisited. Digging into the genealogy of a TikTok meme that bizarrely recreated the dance from Colin’s Bear Animation video, but with no other reference to the original.

Pirating the Oscars: Pandemic Edition. The pandemic really messed with my Oscar screener charts.


And that’s pretty much up to today. Thanks for sticking around and thanks for reading. See you in ten years?

Comments

    Congratulations! I know it’s cliche but I truly can’t believe it’s been twenty years.

    Tried to find my earliest comment/mention (as Dave Bug at the time), and I think it’s February 2004, though I’d certainly been following along before then.

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