A History of Cornslaw Industries, Part 3 (Bored)

ian says howdy

A year or so into the Cornslaw experiment, it started taking off… but not how I had envisioned. I was uploading media (including, by now, all of the four releases that would become the initial Cornslaw Industries net.label releases). Britt was keeping up with his reviews. Reiter wasn’t doing so with his poems, but that’s okay. I wasn’t sure he would be the only one contributing to the “Lit” section of Cornslaw. In fact, I had moved some early scholarly work over to Cornslaw, Chris Munden was contributing, and we were thinking about what else could go there too. Not much would, but we were thinking.

I was actually getting some work — including video and audio digitization and remastering, nonlinear editing of some indie projects, and a few of my own audio/video/research projects. I had accomplished my commercial goal: Cornslaw was paying for itself. Now, it has since ceased to pay for itself (it costs me a little bit each year), but that is a story for a later time. But, at the time, I was getting enough work (research, production, etc.), that I could trace directly back to the site, that I was happy.

Cornslaw Industries was first and foremost — at least from my personal relationship with it –a sandbox for me to experiment, learn, and test ideas, coding, design, and approaches. No one was really visiting the site (aside from those I told to visit there) and I would have known how to track that anyone was going there at the time aside from placing one of those obnoxious “counters” at the bottom of a page.

At the time, still around 2004, the idea of a net label was very young. In fact, in some incarnations of Wikis related to net labels, alternative distribution, etc., Cornslaw is mentioned. That’s cool. Now, we weren’t there yet, but we were getting there. Essentially, when I had an idea, I would create a page (or a section) in which to play around with that idea. I still do this, but I did it a lot then. And I did it with static HTML programing. I worked hard to make sure design aesthetics were carried throughout the pages and sections. I created intricately mapped linked images. I designed and redesigned logos, banners, images, and layouts. I failed more than I succeeded, but (again) I learned a lot.

Some sections developed, most did not…

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 2.25.26 PM

I will eventually replace this with a screen capture that includes the banner image.

Along the way, I created a “chat” page and a PhP message board. No one ever used the chat save for one client who thought it was “so cool” that we could do business that way. It was not, and we quickly jumped off of the chat page and opted to just talk on the phone and meet in person. I would also occasionally call or email a friend to see if they were available at that very moment to sign into my chat page and chat. Most of the time, they were not.

But, that PhP board remains the catalyst for which Cornslaw truly came into being. We called it the “Board” page, its banner featured an image of Katie D, and it was just a place for us to meet online in the days before Facebook.

There are three remaining “feels” associated with this board:

  1. Nothing was archived. Everything was lost.
  2. It led to the “high traffic” that made cornslaw.com a viable purchase option for the Cayman Island company after I failed to renew my control of it.
  3. One of my best friends, who was even more active on the board than  I was, passed away soon after the board was lost. Hence, much of our virtual interaction between 2004 and 2007 was lost.

I can still remember posting on the Bored page living at 5th and Fitzwater in Philly. It is a beautifully nostalgic image tinged with Paul Simon-esque “Kodachrome” emotions. I was working in the Penn Museum Archives, teaching SAT prep classes, currently in a one year deferral of my acceptance to a doctoral program. A lot of us were in the holding pattern stage of life. The Bored membership (including bots) approached 100 at a time. Most of it was myself and a few friends from high school, most of us who still lived within an hours drive of each other, but also the beginnings of a widespread network of creative partners.

I hope to one day discover that I did archive the Bored at some point, because, sadly, I haven’t much to add content-wise. We posted some funny shit, but I can’t remember what. I do remember that I often posted videos, Photoshops, audio, etc. and I sought the approval of my friends in a semi-closed environment prior to “going public” in the months that followed.

As previously mentioned, the saddest issue remains that the “RebelIaNet” (Ian) passed away soon after I lost access to cornslaw.com and, as a result, the data for the Bored. Ian posted constantly. I don’t think he liked his job much in those days or, at least, he was afforded enough time in his job that he could post on the Bored constantly. We created “replace” code so that words Ian would use often, like his own name, were replaced with terms like “asshole.”

I would pay someone a fair amount of money to get my hands on that data.

In the next part of this whole thing, we will go into the role of 1000000 ad, the embracing of incompletion, and the wholehearted exploration and discovery of the Cornslaw Industries “back catalog.” See also part one and part two.

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