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{ personal log }

one nomination can ruin your whole day

Have you heard? {fray} has been nominated for a Webby Award in two categories: personal and community.

And I'm happy about that. Or, at least, I will be, once the cacophony dies down.


I have a feeling the next few weeks are going to be a doozy.

Already there are a lot of people coming out to complain. The Webbies aren't global enough. The Webbies are bad. {fray} isn't a community. {fray} isn't a personal site.


Let me tell you a story.

I started {fray} in 1996, before the first Webby Awards. The first year they took place in bar somewhere in San Francisco. I didn't go, but I heard it was a hell of a party. And Bianca's Smut Shack won, so I figured they had some idea of what they were doing.

In early 1998, Lance had this idea for an academy of the web over nachos and margaritas one night. We wanted to have an award that meant something. Back then, the idea was Cool Site of the Year done right.

Lance had won that year and it felt hollow to him. I won the next year, and it was a magnificent moment for me, but only because I was rebelling against the atrociousness of the awards. The ironic thing is, I don't know if they're even holding the Cool Site awards anymore.

We sputtered along for a while, debating about how to do the academy right. Then Tiffany Schlain decided she wanted to have an academy. And the rest is history.

I always wondered, in my more paranoid moments, if I'd been blacklisted from the Webbies for that brief moment of competition. Because in five years, not one of my projects was ever nominated for a Webby.

Until now.

I admit, I wanted this. After I attended last year and clapped and screamed for Halcyon as he won, I thought: "This is it. This is the Big One. They've done it. For better or worse, they've created the Oscars of the web."

Are the Webbies perfect? Of course not. I take exception to the idea of celebrity judges in an academy that's supposed to be by and for the creators of the web. I don't like some of their categories. But who am I to quibble? It's their show.

So I ponied up the bucks to submit {fray}. And even I didn't know where to put it. Art? Community? Personal? The point of {fray} is that it's a blend of all three. I picked one at random, and truth be told, I don't even remember which it was.

And when the nominations were announced, I was actually, briefly, almost, happy. But I didn't know what I was in for. I didn't know that when you're up for an award, the critics come out like cockroaches in a dark kitchen.

So let's cut the crap and flip on the lights, shall we?

Is the {fray} a personal site? That depends. If "personal" means "about a person," then no, of course not. But {fray} is very personal, meaning: the content is intimate and about real people. The goal of the site is to create an intimate environment for personal stories.

And the {fray} is personal as in: non-corporate and non-sponsored. As in: the product of one person's passion (with a lot of help from the community, of course). And, frankly, I take it real personal when people badmouth the site.

All I know is, it sure is personal to me.

Is the {fray} a community site? That depends. If you think a community site is something that has to look like the Well or Slashdot, then no. If you're looking for long lists of scrolling threads, you won't find that there.

But community on the web, as I write in the book, is an intensely personal thing. Community takes many forms, and some of them don't look like threaded discussion at all.

A community site is a place that gives people the tools they need to form intimate relationships over time. {fray} uses personal stories to create that connection. And that connection is real. We even make it real several times a year with live events.

Is it a community? Well, like I said. That's personal. Only you can make that decision. All I ask is that you remain open to the possibility that a community site doesn't have to look like a "community site."

All I know is, it feels like a community to me.

No matter what you think, you'll be able to voice your opinion in the People's Voice Awards. Voting begins on Monday and continues until July 4. The awards show takes place on July 18, 2001.

Until then, if you don't mind, I'm going to just put my head down and hope the next few weeks aren't as hard as the last few days.

{ 2:23am }



» Derek, to me, regardless of what category (fray) is put into, it's worthy of recognition. I've been visiting and loving (fray) since its inception, and it has always come across as intimately personal while at the same time an embracing community.

The critics should keep their heads down. You deserve to hold yours high.

(fray) has got my vote in People's Voice!

And thanks, Derek, for helping to make the Web something special.

Andrew Brodie  { 4.27.01 @ 4:42am }

» People who do nothing have the time to criticize. They spend their time theorizing about this and that, ripping other people's work apart. The funny thing is that I can almost bet that a lot of them don't have 'personal' or 'community' sites. They haven't spent late night hours manipulating code to get things just right. They haven't been in the trenches. They're like politicians who send young men out to war and sit back on their fat a** .

Derek, (fray) was my inspiration to get a personal site going. I don't have it fully completed but I can say for sure that it was the beginning of something grand in my life. I've learned so much about the generosity and kindness of 'strangers.' If all goes as planned I hope to attend one of the (fray) days.

Thank you for everything that you've done. You've also got my vote.

– Del  { 4.27.01 @ 6:46am }

» Derek,

Don't let the bastards get you down...Fray is worthy of recognition of any kind in any category.

And to the critics... "Phhhbbbttt!" :P

roe  { 4.27.01 @ 8:51am }

» A personal site doesn't have to include the word "I," "me" or "mine" to be personal...and concepts like online community defy definition.

Keep the faith and keep on rockin' :-)

webchick  { 4.27.01 @ 9:29am }

» (I wrote this wonderful response, forgot my email address, and it removed what I said. Great. I'll try again)

Since I'm reading, responding and living on the web, more or less, you know that I am alive and part of the web community. Places like (fray) and WaSP, for example, are challenging the way that we think about what the Internet is.

I've been involved with groups, such as, that have tossed around the idea of doing a web-awards type thing. Notice how we're not doing it anymore.

(fray) is nominated in a group that also nominates "Government & Law" and "Finance" sites.

Maybe the Net is too big for the Webbies?

Take heart, though. I know that when you win, you'll flip-off and be flipped-off by all the appropriate parties.

I live on the Web. I breathe the Web. Do we really need to cheapen it with awards? We all know what's good.

Do you need the promotion? I doubt it. I heard about (fray) long before I first visited. Having a conversation over know the drill.

So what are you doing it for? I've always respected what you do. Not gonna stop now. I just can't imagine why it's important... you *know* we all respect you.

And after all is said and done, the (fray) will still be what it is.

Stephen  { 4.27.01 @ 11:28am }

» (fray) is a great personal site, a great community site, and it's inspired thousands and thousands of people, including me. reading (fray) helped me write better, design better, and most importantly think harder about what the web can be. i'm grateful that the site exists and very, very happy to see it getting recognition from the "academy." keep up the good work.

apartness  { 4.27.01 @ 2:34pm }

» I'll echo Mr. Z's comment above (as if I could do anything but). The Fray has been a guiding light to me in terms of the creativity, intimacy, and connection I would like to bring to my own site over time. It bears on every screen the personality & values of its founder and the writers & designers that have created it. No, it's not a diary or a blog. But I felt more community running through my veins at Fray Day 4 than I've felt in years, and that counts. Embracing, even if only for 5 minutes, the story of anyone with guts enough to sign up counts. And spending the energy, design muscle, and hosting fees for almost 5 years to keep Fray free to tell stories counts. Whether Fray wins or not, it has become one of the standards of excellence on the Web, and personally, I think that counts a lot more than a Webby.

Carol  { 4.27.01 @ 9:03pm }

» (fray). It's been personal for me since I first stumbled onto it. As for community, the events are a given. But when I realized that each and every person out there could contribute /their/ stories, that was a huge, warm realization of community to me. That made me /feel/ the community.

And it's beautiful. Page by page, persistantly through each story, it's awesome for the senses.

(fray) /is/ personal, art & community all rolled into one. It's something that I've actively concidered through my years of reading it, how seamlessly and skillfully it blends those things. Not to mention a wealth of inspiration. I, among so very many others, have been endlessly inspired by (fray).

I was giddy when I heard the Webby news. And now, as the critics roll out onto the carpet, I feel a little attacked too. I think, 'How /could/ they?!' and 'Have they ever /embraced/ (fray)?!'

Through all the effort into making (fray) personal for you, you've made it personal for /us/. And that's one awesome way to build community.

anathea  { 4.28.01 @ 9:55am }

» One more thing....

dmp  { 5.3.01 @ 11:52am }

» I can't believe people don't see the community and personal aspects of the fray. The stories are *very* personal. And it's open for many to contribute.

Echoing other sentiments - the fray is what inspired me to learn HTML and create a webpage. It took me a while, but for the last year, because of the fray and blogger, I've been able to maintain a personal site that is my love. If it hadn't been for the fray -- no kidding -- my life would definitely be different. So whether you win or not - know that the fray makes a difference.

Good luck with the awards though. :)

melanie  { 7.2.01 @ 8:02pm }

» When I realized I had to make a site for someone important (not *me*), I started looking at what was out there.

What was out there at the time (1996) was a fair amount of competance but only the glimmer of passion. When I found sites that expressed the passion of life, I knew where to get going.

The passion was for the taking from Lance, Alex, and you, Derek.

How can anyone thank the three of you for that? Vote is all I can do right now...

– Jon Szanto  { 7.2.01 @ 11:17pm }

» I have loved the (fray) since it started. It has always been what I thought a website should be: great design, excellent layout, interesting use of web-styles and as always the outstanding content. I have turned more folks onto the (fray) than any other site on the web and always they comments come back :why aren't there more sites like this???!!

– Miles Later  { 7.3.01 @ 4:49am }

» you know, derek, way back when you started this thing, I was the editor of a little Australian print mag about the net. My deputy ed found your site, in the first week, I think, and we reviewed it... (I think you've even got our quote in your quotes file still).
In the last few years, I've now had people interview you a couple of times for different mags... and you always inspire. You have kept something here on the Web that is what I think the Web should be about in part: storytelling and community sharing. Real community. Not some empty phrase that really means "market".
And what you publish is truly personal, for every body involved. It's one of the few places online that can really really make me cry or laugh or sigh, that causes me to have intensely personal reactions and makes me want to share that with others.
There's only one other place that did that for me online: that 24 hours in Cyberspace project, that made me feel like this really was a global thing.
I've been an editor of print mags about tech for 9 years now. People constantly ask me what my favourite Web site is. I always tell them it's (the fray). Because it's real. Because it's about life. Because it's honest and painful and beautiful. Because it's what the Internet should be about: the personal and the political; the community and the individual; sharing stories.
I don't know if we Aussies are allowed to vote in your Webbies. I'm off to find out. But it doesn't matter in the long run whether you win: you won us a long time ago. You made a difference. That's huge. Well done, you.

Rosanne  { 7.3.01 @ 7:52am }

» When Halcyon won a webbie, I checked out his site...and there I found a link to the fray..I couldn't believe I had stumbled on such a place. I'm a designer so artisically it grabbed me, but it was the personal stories that held me, and ultimately moved me to tears and laughter. I consider it a community and a very personal place as well. If it hadnt had been for those Webby Awards I would have never found you..and for that I am grateful, so I voted for your site in both categories, and I wish you all the luck in the world.

– Fishy  { 7.3.01 @ 8:32am }

» I may not say anything smart like the rest of the postings, but I just wanted to tell you that I Voted! because of love.

I know very little about web-stuff. But I do know what love is all about. I love reading & understanding, learning and experiencing, giving and sharing.

I love fray then, I love fray now and I'll always love fray.

– Tiffy  { 7.4.01 @ 7:50pm }


« before     { current }     after »

{ news }
» Goodbye old friend.

» Don't miss the photos and audio from Fray Cafe 2.

» Psst. Hey kid. Wanna buy some swag?

{ me.elsewhere }
  My snail tracks on the web.
» DfC profile
» New Riders profile
» Amazon wish list
» {fray} is page
» Mirror Project pics
» FilePile profile
{ new in dfc }
  Gaming the system: How moderation tools can backfire
Sometimes all the widgets backfire, encouraging the very behavior they're designed to avert. The rules have a dangerous side-effect: they create a game.
{ new in fray }
  "I wanted to spend the 4th with someone who always knew the way back home."

Counting Flags by Kevin Smokler.
{ new in sfstories }
  the slow glimmering descent
I've been watching fireworks there for years, but last night was different. And not just because it was clear.
{ new in fray org }
  fray day 6
Fray Day 6 is coming to cities all over the world on September 14, 2002. Come tell your story.
{ see also }