Happy 20th birthday, Slashdot!

Slashdot is celebrating its 20th birthday.

Today we’re marking Slashdot’s 20th birthday. 20 years is a long time on the internet. Many websites have come and gone over that time, and many that stuck around haven’t had any interest in preserving their older content. Fortunately, as Slashdot approaches its 163,000th story, we’ve managed to keep track of almost all our old postings – all but the first 2^10, or so. In addition to that, we’ve held onto user comments, the lifeblood of the site, from 1999 onward.

20 years is indeed a long time, and especially so on the Internet.  It’s pretty much impossible to imagine the Web without social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Without YouTube.  With no Wikipedia.  Without Gmail.  Heck, without even so much as Google search.  Well, it was around, but not many people knew about it yet.  Blogs weren’t invented yet.  Web 2.0 was years away.  There were no RSS feeds yet.  Heck, many people who can’t imagine their lives without the Internet today weren’t even born yet!

I was introduced to Slashdot back in 1997 or 1998 by my good friend and mentor – Vladimir Ivaschenko (aka hazard).  I think it was on the same day as he told me about Freshmeat.net, later re-branded as Freecode.com, the best resource at the time to find and learn about Linux applications (to which I haven’t been in years), and Linux Weekly News, which I am still a frequent reader of.

I’ve been reading Slashdot since then myself, and I have recommended it to every IT professional and technology enthusiast without exception.  IT industry in general, the Web, and the Open Source movement wouldn’t have been the same without Slashdot.  And neither would I.

I have learned a lot about a lot from Slashdot – new companies, new technologies, new ideas, different perspectives, influential people, and more.  I’ve linked to Slashdot posts and comments from this blog more times than I can remember.  (Google Search estimates 1,060 pages linking from this blog to Slashdot since I started posting here 17 years ago).

If I had to pick a single my most memorable moment about Slashdot, that would be without the doubt September 11, 2001.  I wasn’t anywhere near the United States that day, but it wasn’t about the USA.  The whole world has changed that day.  Nobody knew what was going on.  Everything just stopped, or slowed down to a crawl.  Everybody was trying to understand, or at least find more information about what happened.  All the news sites – from the major ones, like CNN, to the small local newspapers – were dead under the traffic spike.   Slashdot was pretty much the only one that could cope.  It was slow, but it was there.  Countless people in the comments were sharing bits and pieces of information.  People were sharing photos and videos and redistributing them across a number of FTP sites.

At the time I was working at PrimeTel.  There were quite a few people and everyone was desperate to know more.  I remember downloading the pictures at turtle crawling speeds, and sending them off to a huge TV I had next to my desk (I was working on project involving video walls and a network of window displays).  A crowd of people from the office were just standing nearby, staring at the TV with planes exploding into the towers, towers collapsing one by one, and all the havoc and rescue efforts afterwords.  This was something… A decade and a half later, I still get shivers remembering that day.

This was the most powerful moment.  But there were many more.  There were numerous times when I started researching something just because of a story or a comment posted on the site.  There were a few times when I changed my opinion after an insightful comment.  And there were plenty of moments when I burst into uncontrollable laughter.  Oh you guys in the comments, you are something!

I’d like to thank everybody who contributed to Slashdot in these last 20 years and who made it possible, and who kept it alive and kicking.  You rock!  Here’s to the next 20 years and more stories and insightful, interesting, and funny comments – Cheers!


Happy birthday, Slashdot!

Slashdot, probably the most well-known technology news website, is celebrating its 15th birthday.  I can’t say that I’ve been reading it for 15 years (yet), but I’m pretty close.  If I remember correctly, Vladimir showed it to me some time back in 1998-1999.  I’ve followed it since.

Even today, with all the multitude of tech blogs and news outlets, Slashdot is still important to me.  While you can get the same kind of news elsewhere, the discussions are still the reason to go back.  Some are funny, some are obligatory, but mostly are insightful comments that show the original article’s problem  space from different perspectives.

Happy birthday, Slashdot!

Digg.com sold to Betaworks

Catching up with Slashdot today, I read about Digg.com being sold to Betaworks:

The once popular social news website Digg.com, which received $45 million in funding, is being sold to to Betaworks for $500,000. From the article: ‘Betaworks is acquiring the Digg brand, website, and technology, but not its employees. Digg will be folded into News.me, Betaworks’ social news aggregator. This is not the outcome people expected for Digg. In 2008, Google was reportedly set to buy it for $200 million.

This brings back a lot of memories.  Back when Digg.com started, it became a “big thing” almost instantly.  There was plenty of hype around it, and many people went as far as predicting the death of Slashdot.  Digg was supposed to be some sort of new and better Slashdot.  But when I tried using Digg.com, I immediately thought that that was not the case.

The two sites are very different.   One of the most obvious difference is that Slashdot is more focused on the technology, and Digg covers pretty much everything and anything.   But that wasn’t the most important difference for me.  The most important for me was that Slashdot seems to be focused around discussions and commentary, while Digg.com was just a delivery system for the news articles.  And even back then there were numerous resources where you could find news.  Finding the news hasn’t been the problem for years.  But finding good commentary and discussions has always been.  And still is.

Slashdot comments were and still are its greatest value.  Digg had discussions as well, but somehow they weren’t as valuable.  And if I think about it for a second, for me personally, the greatest value of Digg was not the actual site Digg.com, but the Diggnation show.  Which, once again, provided commentary and discussions of the top stories from Digg.com.  Too bad that is discontinued now as well.

Ultimate geek respect for Adrian Hands

Here is something that touched and moved every geek out there:

Adrian Hands was suffering from ALS and had lost motor skills when he used his legs to type in Morse code and fix a 9-year-old bug in Gnome. The patch was submitted three days before he passed away.

I think the following comment does the best job expressing the feeling:

There are so many who benefit from the community, and so relatively few who give back. So many people claim some excuse to not contribute anything to anybody without getting paid. Then there’s this guy. I am honored to have shared a planet with him.


On psychological trauma via a content filtering job

There is a rather serious article on Slashdot about unprepared minds being traumatized when working as a content moderator.  There are a lot of sick people around, when they fancy their fancies, any sane person should be as far as possible.  But that understanding is always easy coming.  As it is often said: “Some things cannot be unseen”, and you should think carefully before agreeing to see such things.

On a lighter note, with a subject like this, Slashdot is pretty much guaranteed to have some funny comments.  Here is one that made me smile:

The problem is that most 20 year old kids don’t really know how sensitive they are to things like this until they’re repeatedly exposed to them, by which point much of the damage has already been done. Luckily for me, I was exposed to the Internet and all of the nastiness on it when I was only 13, and I’ve managed to get by with no ill effects at all except for the occasional extended blackout followed by a dead hooker in my bed. Some more sensitive people might really lose their minds, though.