A brief history of Speculative Vision

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A brief history of Speculative Vision

Post by The Master »

Some people have asked recently about how old the site is so I thought I'd give people a brief overview of how we came to be.


In the early 1990's I was working a job that had me traveling extensively. Staying in hotels was pretty boring, and the Internet as consumer product was still new so CompuServe account in hand I started browsing the Internet instead of watching TV (yay for company laptops!). After a while I became interested in how the pages were created and wanted to try it for myself. I dropped CompuServe and signed up with a large ISP that had national access numbers and provided me with some web hosting space.

Like most folks my first site was just a personal homepage. This was where I learned how to code basic HTML, and to this day I still do a lot of coding by hand in text editors. Not to toot my own horn too loudly, but I became so skilled at hand coding with browser compatibility in mind I was a moderator and HTML guru in residence for several years at Virtual Promote/JimWorld, one of the most prominent and high traffic webmaster/web promotion sites on the web.

As is typical on a personal page I had a page of links. Because of my love for SF&F the majority of the links were genre related, and over time the number grew to the point that I had to categorize them into sections. Really, this was my "online bookmark collection", the way I used to visit the sites I liked no matter where I was. A little later on I started to display some artworks I found on the web, always with the artist's permission of course.

One day it dawned on me that I was getting traffic on my home page. Examining my logs I discovered that I was getting a significant number of visitors to both the art and my bookmark collection. I was both stunned and pleased and decided that I should do something more formal with them since people were looking at them.

Much of the existing "this is my homepage" crap was scrapped and in 1996 the site officially became:

Speculative Vision: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Resource Network

At that time the vast majority of visitors were there for the links, which is why I used that rather cumbersome name. I maintained every one of those links by hand...hundreds of links in dozens of categories complete with my own personal descriptions of what you would find when you went there. The new design was an instant hit, receiving mention on several fan sites driving the traffic up.

I also began working on formalizing the art gallery, but like the links network its design was uniquely set up to be more promotional for the artists than it was "site content". A couple of images only, with a link to their own site so they could receive traffic from those that liked what they saw. As it expanded the art gallery took off in its own right and was soon responsible for just as much traffic as the link directory, and most sites began to mention the art gallery as a primary reason to visit.

For a while I offered a site award (The Visionary Award) that people could apply for. Winners received a special icon and top of section listing in the resource network. The award was dropped a couple of years later because those types of award programs fell out of favor.

I also had one of the largest collections of SF&F themed midi music files. I was forced to remove them when the music Nazi's came rampaging across the web demanding massive fees for fans to hear some blips and beeps that sounded like favorite theme songs :( .

The Interactive Story was added, as was the game arcade. Both have proved popular enough additions, with the story in particular being quite well visited even to this day (The Adventures of Jerod has over 1800 chapters).

The Interactive Movies were added much later via a syndication deal and are now being removed because that syndication is no longer offered.

The poll and news wire were added but I have neglected them horribly :oops: . Their fate is now in debate as I redesign the site.

Eventually in this process I registered the domain name speculativevision.com and formally changed the name to just Speculative Vision, using the resource network name only for that portion of the site. With the domain registration came a new design and new site sections...this is the design you are all familiar with and is still on the static portions of the site awaiting a face lift.

I tried out several forums, eventually deciding on the Discus forum (the one you were using all this time) because of its sub-category features, which at the time was pretty unique for a forum. I did not have access to a mysql database from my host and Discus didn't use a database so this worked out well...of course this bit me in the butt now that I changed software and had no way to convert our existing data! The forums formally opened on Sep 03, 1998, with the posting of a couple of my own poems. They weren't an overnight success by any means, but we had posts trickle in and over time I was fortunate to gain not only a great community of frequent posters, but some fantastic moderators (who here doesn't know that Bmat is a goddess?). When I switched to this new software the old forums occupied over 250mb of hosting space and over 50,000 posts (noting that we made several aggressive prunings over time when I had storage space issues).

On August 14, 2000, Science Fiction Weekly, the Scifi Channel's online magazine, featured Speculative Vision as its Site of Week on Scifi.com. Yes, it did make me feel quite godly thanks for asking :D

Traffic on the site has fluctuated over time as it tends to do. Interestingly enough although the reason for visits (i.e. which parts of the site gets the most traffic) has changed the overall traffic has been relatively consistent. For those that care about such things in 2004 we averaged approximately 20,000 unique visits a month generating 1,750,000 hits to our server. We currently serve approximately 140,000 page views, requiring 6GB in monthly bandwidth.

While the traffic numbers here aren't mind blowing by a long shot, I feel remarkably fortunate to have had my silly little "how do I kill time in that hotel" website not just become fairly popular, but also to have it remain so for almost 9 years now.

I humbly thank you all from the bottom of my heart for gracing my efforts with your continued visits and active participation. I am so lucky to be able to host your discussions, and look forward to doing so for many more years to come.

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Post by Bmat »

Thank you for the history, Master! And thank you for the new site!

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Post by Manji »

Well, for all it's worth this is by far my favorite spot on the entirety of the World Wide Web. So, thank you for giving me a place to hang out when nothing is on TV and I want to discuss writing when my IRL friends aren't up for it.

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Post by Aslan »

Thanks for the history lesson. Very cool. 8)
Okay, more like "very nerdy," but that suits me just fine. Hooray for geeks!
I look forward to all the upcoming changes. Again, much thanks to our gracious host and generous moderators.

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Post by Ariel »

Thanks so much for the interesting history lesson.I always wondered about the earlier days and how it all got started.Thanks
also to the moderators who are doing a wonderful job here!

Oh and Thanks for my flower smiley!! :flower: and the cat :cat: and...the others!!

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Post by Neurolanis »

Thanks for the history indeed! I had no idea that there was so much of a history to it.

Speculative Vision, like I've said before, is the only site I go to (besides yahoo and hotmail of course.) I loved this site from the start. Text-based, easy on the eyes (the new site is even easier), and it had (and has) so many interesting people on it. Some nice, some very intelligent, some very artisy ... a great blend!

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Post by Caboose »

Hello i am new here i appreciate your work on this website

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Post by aldan »

Oh, Neuro, you forgot one of the major groups of members... sarcastic posters.
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and to appear stupid than
to open it and remove all doubt."
---Mark Twain

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Post by Alaskamatt17 »

Hey, Master, it's cool that you're around more often and you're making these changes. I don't know why, but I never seemed to see you posting anywhere on the old forums.
After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well.
-Albert Einstein

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Post by Dragonfleet »

Hehe, I had a hunch that SF had quite a history behind it. ^^ 9 years? *whistles* I was attracted to this site because of it's clean layout and the interesting people who frequent it.

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Post by Nautilus »

Wow---new format! :shock:

This could take some getting used to but a very spiffy, shiny look.

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Post by LightBrigade »

Well, your story seems to hold potential for a good future, there is time sequence, the ground work is done all so properly, existing planning guarantees advance, and what seals it is the obvious effort to make all possible editing, any time need calls. Oh, experience shows, although in certain parts one would feel you still have much more to do - that your characters, sorry, members have still even more to do, nevertheless.

A remarkable story, proving its worth of the factual progress it has known so far. Moreover, you have received even a public favourable review from well-established authority - at Scifi.com/SF Weekly/Channel.

Just one point here, gods are not omnipotent really in our days - depends on the tools they have access to and how much they have to decide on their own while communication is not extremely frequent, so even gods sometimes need a helping hand - I see that part is improving dramatically, I do admit!

I am sure you would forget to mention that part of the success in the history we observe is the remarkable tolerance now, admirable endurance then, you and your associates have displayed with the various demands you have met along this effort.

One should not to forget, on the other hand, that in these nearly fifteen years, the challenges of the times have been considerable as technology has been dashing ahead. It takes a young spirit to prove worth it.

I suspect you still wonder about every time someone has come forth to cry out "unfair!", but even if you have not always been as right as you later may wish to have been, nobody is perfect. Good will is what matters. The only person who makes no mistake is the one who does nothing at all.

The role of each character, sorry, member taking part in the effort is of significant importance. If one has any respect at all for oneself and what one takes part in, one must see whatever is done in the story will not mar the effort, taking into consideration the effort the creator of the (hi)story deposits in practice every single day.

So, dear member The Master, that must round it up regarding how you have fleshed your story characters and all that. What? ... what? What? This is a story submission for critique, is it not? No?!!!

*feels subtle vibrations of banning underfoot*
When people agree with me, I always feel that I must be wrong. -- Oscar Wilde --

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