Back in January, I somehow got to thinking of some what –; ifs in my life, including what if I'd not found h2g2, which morphed into what if h2g2 didn't exist at all? Then I started wondering who else had lives that would've been different. And then, the dangerous part –; I decided to ask1.
If h2g2 never existed...
Apart from easy things like friends I wouldn't have made (including some of my best friends that I still keep in touch with regularly to this day) I wouldn't have become invested in digital communal histories. h2g2's development has a lot of very different layers of its history, and while I wasn't quite around "from the start" I was still lucky enough to be there in its "Wild Frontier" days. Seeing it develop from a modest collection of encyclopedic entries to a thriving roleplaying community to a BBC–driven community hub for early online presence development to a BBC–abandoned entity that can re–find itself was a curious development and I think it gave me some insight into many other organizing communities online as I saw them develop. This shifting of cultures within the culture also really helped me to be aware of the risks of corporations like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and now Google before that sort of conversation was happening at a national level, and I feel like I'm a little more aware because of it. This also means that whenever I'm involved in smaller online communities, I tend to be really focused on keeping track of their history (I've got a Book Of Lore project at an MST3K site that's probably my favorite thing like that.) It's super easy to get too focused on "Back in the good old days" without keeping track of what a community needs in the here and now, and it's also way too easy for the digital villages (couldn't resist) of the world to get so focused on the now and the future that they forget their own treasured cultures.
Oh, and without h2g2 I never would've seen Blues Traveler in concert (thanks, Irv!) Maybe not a huge soul-searchy answer, but feels pretty nifty to me.
Not everyone that responded felt that h2g2 had changed anything meaningful in their lives2...
I think my life is pretty much the same as it was before I joined h2g2. if anything I grew more when Not Panicking panicked and locked me out of the site and I had to e–mail to ask why (I had violated the clause against Otherwise objectionable, and refused to promise not to second guess what they would deem objectionable. If they wouldn't spell it out in advance I would leave , and I did,
Actually if h2g2 never existed I would not have the middle name on my books "William Shagbark Hubbell" check Amazon to see which books. I remember I started as hickory and when bbc took over Peta helped me remain a part of h2g2 by authorizing my new identity "shagbark"
Knowledge and travel –; surely part of the original vision for h2g2?
If h2g2 had never existed I probably would not have researched the the background for many of my Entries that are in the Edited Guide.
Visiting London is another benefit, both my trip in 2014 and the one scheduled for this April3 with my wife.
I am not sure what would be different if h2g2 hadn't exsisted. I probably wouldn't have as many internet weirdo friends. I probably would never have dreamed of visiting London or Manchester. I wouldn't have learned that there are other people who are my kind of crazy. I wouldn't have found out that I enjoy writing or have something I helped to write published in a book. I wouldn't have found out about text based adventures (And joined In a few multi player ones)
From not much changing to everything changing...
If h2g2 would have never existed, I might never have become a writer. It was working on articles, and acting as a subeditor, for the site in the early days that led to my interest in writing and career in academia. After my BA and early h2g2 experience, I actually applied for an editing program at college. I showed up with print–outs of my hootoo articles as a writing portfolio. They told me the work was promising but most of their applicants had MAs or more industry experience. Two years later I started an MA program and one of my research interests was, and remains, the importance of online community. Without h2g2, I can’t even imagine what other paths my life might have taken.
Shortly before my self-imposed deadline, I ran around FB and posted reminders of the deadline to all the places I'd posted the appeal. This, and all the responses in the next installments, came from that...
Thank you for the nudge!
I've had a bit of time to think about things and I can safely say that if h2g2 never existed I would have been way more damaged by working with really toxic people.
Through the conversations we all shared I was nourished and educated and my confidence was being bolstered despite most people around me at work being critical or downright rude.
So it's possible that we could blame 2legs, and hootoo, for me becoming a physio.
Stay tuned for Part Six!