01 January, 2006

First Steps

I made this post on Thu May 20, 1999 10:54am:

Subject: Goodbye Piccadilly...

On the way into work this morning, the following thoughts occurred to me;

1. For a 6-year-old child on his first visit to London, Piccadilly Circus is an enormous disappointment, being entirely unconnected to, say, Billy Smart's Circus. In a similar but altogether more disorientating way, see Oxford Circus with its multiple exits to nowhere.

2. Piccadilly Circus Underground Station has the permanent aroma of "Tramp" - by this I mean sour-milk-and-piss-stained vagrant as opposed to Louise off of TV's Eastenders. This is a smell that lingers in every railway & underground station,
car park, public lift and Gents in the British Isles. While on my recent business trip to L.A. I was surprised to discover that the above sensations are not a universal constant, as the gents and lifts in the L.A. Conference centre smelt merely of bleach and the car park smelt unsurprisingly of gasoline.

Just to keep you all updated, I am still jetlagged.

On 7 July, I signed up to a new website called h2g2, which Douglas Adams had created as a real-life version of the Guide mentioned in his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books. My first entry seems to have been inspired by this post to the group, if the original draft is anything to go by.

That was my first contact with that website - and my last for a long time. Back then, they were still struggling to work out how to cope with submissions and it took them almost exactly a year to publish the Edited version of the entry as part of the Guide. By that time, a few people had managed to get themselves added as credited Researchers - something we probably wouldn't allow now.

My next post to the site was this one, announcing my arrival as a member of the in-house staff. By then, the site had been bought up by the BBC. When I'd mentioned at the interview that I was already a registered researcher who'd contributed an entry to the Guide it took them by surprise, especially as I'd left it until after they'd explained the site to me. But the fact that I'd been there at the very start has helped me in situations where people like to moan about the site being 'not as good as it was in the beginning'. Utter rubbish - I was there and it was no-where near as good. We can get an entry from first submission to final publication in a fortnight now - largely thanks to the network of volunteers who put loads of effort into getting entries as good as they can be. It works so much better than just poor Mark Moxon (the first site editor) being overawed by the volume of work mounting up in his in-tray.

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