Reaching Out

A mixture of idle time marooned at home and my day job having taken me away from hands-on tech a long time ago has resulted in me prodding at the old shared server I’ve shepherded for a little over 20 years, now. A bunch of people once used it - fewer still do. You might think of it as being a bit like a tilde community. While it used to be more convenient to have it running from someone’s machine room (i’m not even sure exactly where, now) that’s no longer true, and I’ve worked out that I can support the few services it still needs to provide from my house, on a Raspberry Pi 4 with a USB SSD attached to it. In some ways it’ll serve more as an archive of old things more than anything else, really. In the process of sorting out a migration plan (something I’d had to do many times before, as we moved from machine to machine) I wondered if I wasn’t alone in looking back on those earlier days, wondering how we got to a year like 2020.

an early ’00s newspaper article about us

I’ve reached out to my old peers - most of us relentless journallers & bloggers back in the early ’00s - to ask not just “are you still using anything on this server?” but also “how are you going?” I’ve been pretty awful at actively keeping up with folk, instead relying on the passive nature of seeing updates floating past in the mix of news from the doom-scrolling apps that vacuum our time. Many of us moved away from Melbourne. One or two I never met in person, even. Some folk I’m almost too frightened to reach out to, but I’ll find a way. I’ll see how we go for responses, and hopefully one or two of them might write something we can publish for the archive, as it were.

What did I get out of running that host for all those years? Mostly I just wanted to feel useful, and I felt useful helping folk out, helping them say something no matter how small, and helping them connect with others in those earlier, potential-rich days of the Internet. In return, I received plenty of system admin practice that fed my day job (and vice-versa). I’m curious to hear from the others now - what did they get from it?

More soon, I hope.