Perhaps the best thing I can do to explain my involvement with this site is to provide the entry I wrote for the very last ET newsletter in 2007, shortly before the genesis of ETWiki.
From: Daniel Kirkdorffer
Date: 15th February 2007
Title: One Final Elephant Talk Posting
Back in the spring of 1995 my brother emailed me ET digest #175, a special issue containing the full transcript of an online Q&A with Robert Fripp on Compuserve.
I was, to say the least, enthralled.
Like many, I had been a lonely King Crimson fan for many years. I had long given in to the reality that while I myself liked this band, I wasn't likely going to find anyone else who did. So I enjoyed their music in obscurity and learned never to bother trying to convert others it.
And then ET happened to me.
You see I kind of lost my mind - but in a geeky good way. At first I got this crazy idea to index every digest by topic and by contributor. And once I'd done that through 200 issues plus, I suggested to Toby that I could help him spruce up the ET Web site. Toby, no fool, was happy to offload that task on to someone else.
So I got busy and made some initial, albeit cheezy adjustments, trying to update the site. For a fascinating trip down ET Web memory lane take a look at this page and select May 14, 1997 to get a glimpse of things from almost 10 years ago. Amazingly, many of the pages at the archive.org site actually work. Initially the ET Web site was hosted on Toby's university servers, but I soon also added a subset version that was hosted on my AOL Web account. The Web was a slow beast in those days and transatlantic traffic could be sluggish at dial-up speeds.
In 1997 it was clear we needed a better hosting arrangement and we established the elephant-talk.com domain name. You can see the early versions here. By that time most of the sections at the site now were pretty much established and my job was one of trying to keep the content growing and fresh. I always felt I was merely a facilitator, as the content came from all of you, the ET readers. My role was simply to try and get it up online and make it easy to find.
Like the digest, ET Web had its hay day during the band's most active time in the late 90's and earlier this decade. In recent years it has fallen into decline as my own energies have been directed elsewhere, and interest in the site has dwindled, although fifteen hundred folks still visit every day, which is nothing to sneeze at. As I look at it now, I see a lot of things that need to be fixed and updated, not the least of which are the dead links and inactive features. Since the site will live on beyond the digest, the need to spruce things up will not go away, so hopefully, from time to time I will be able to nibble away at the backlog. If you've submitted content lately, my apologies for not acting on it yet. Patience, they say, is a virtue.
At the same time, ET Web has always been best at being an archive of non-multimedia content. These days sites like Krimson News, The FraKctured Zone, and Planet Crimson have all become great active online communities of a kind the ET digest once was. The official DGMLive.com site is a King Crimson fan's wet dream, providing access to high quality audio files for hundreds of shows. The days of the lonely King Crimson enthusiast have hopefully long since past.
When I began working on ET Web I knew very little about the Web world, but working on the site offered me an opportunity to learn and provided me with terrific experience in Web development. I will always be glad I took the plunge and got involved in this.
I also got the chance to make contact with band members, meeting all of the Double Trio band, and of course Robert Fripp. Ten years ago, some may recall that ET Web used to act as a portal for merchandise sold by Possible Productions (which eventually morphed into the Inner Knot Web shop of today). Toby and I considered a more formal arrangement that would have had us working on the creation of a Web shop or site for Robert Fripp and Toby approached him about it. That never materialized, and instead DGM Web Mark I was created with the help of a third party design team.
Within short order I could see DGM needed some assistance maintaining what had been created for them, and I offered my help. I think I did so a couple of times, and one day I got a "be careful what you wish for" phone call from Robert saying they wanted to take me up on my offer. So in January 1999 I was invited down to Los Angeles to meet with Robert after the band's Deja VROOOM release event. It was a fascinating moment to sit with a small group of reporters and the band as we watched parts of the DVD in its full audio glory for the first time. I couldn't help but observe the enrapt attention of Bill Bruford and Pat Mastelotto when they switched to the drum kit video angles and highlighted the drumming audio. A fan event followed for "autography" and I made sure I got my poster signed by all. It turned out to be the last public appearance by that version of the band.
The next day I met with Robert and Amy Worthington (now Priore) in his hotel room, and we talked about how to evolve DGM Web, which led to my volunteering to be the DGM Guestbook moderator so that it could be revived. As I was headed to the airport, and he needed transportation, I gave Robert a ride. As we talked in the car I couldn't help but think how pissed off all King Crimson fans would be with me if I got into an accident on those LA freeways with Robert as my passenger! Fortunately the ride was smooth, and Robert dubbed me a "hero". Aw shucks!
Yet, my DGM Web work was a job. I made sure they paid me for my time so that they always recognized the value and cost involved in maintaining a Web site, although the time I spent moderating the Guestbook I did for free. It was an honor and a pleasure to help the DGM team out, and I thank them and Robert for the opportunity. However, ET Web has always been for all involved a labor of love.
Along the way I found I needed help and so I farmed out responsibilities for various sections to others. Our ET Web Credits section still tries to lists all those who helped in various ways, and I want to mention some of them here, in no particular order, in this final digest:
- Jeff Duke Jr., who runs Krimson News and helped make it possible for me to embed news items from that site within ET Web.
- Claas Kazzer, who created the Exposure pages.
- Kathy Ottersten, who helped maintain the Tour Dates pages.
- John Relph, who created the script that Toby used to create each ET digest, and who created and still maintains the incredibly detailed and complete Discography pages.
- Tim Ryan, who created the ET Logos.
- The late Steven Sthole who was our last FAQmaster, updating it to where it pretty much is today, and Craig Dickson who preceded him in the role and got it started.
- Mike Stok, who provided help with Perl when I needed it and maintains his invaluable Crimso Archives. Mike, think about it - this will be the last digest you'll need to archive! How will you ever cope?
- Matt Walsh, who worked on the ET Tribute project (remember that?)
- Nadim Haque, who took over as Webmaster for a couple of years when I'd become burnt out by all this.
- Michael Wyzard, who put together a page detailing all of Robert Fripp's postings to ET.
ET Web was truly a collaborative effort and there were others I didn't list who helped as well. You know who you are, and I thank you. Mike Stok and John Relph have been quiet contributors, always there, always reliable, always keeping their side of things up to date, and that kind of long term commitment is next to amazing to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
But my biggest thanks go out to Toby Howard and Mike Dickson.
Mike took over distribution from Ken Bibb back in 1996, and has been a pleasure to collaborate with. Mike has helped us get through many a day. Even when he was up against yet another digest mailing problem, he never ceased to attack the issues with gusto and good scathing Scottish humor. Almost 1000 of these suckers were sent out by Mike and we couldn't have gone this long without him.
As for Toby, what can I say. Ever respected as the soul of Discipline, and then ET, Toby's moderation style has always been perfect. Never heavy handed, always respected, always there. The one month I filled in gave me a taste of what Toby does and how easy it is to over moderate. Like Mike, Toby has been a pleasure to "work" with on ET, and his trust in my handling of the Web site helped give me the freedom I needed to make choices on my own about how it evolved from early on. As I mentioned before, ET Web opened up a lot of doors for me I would never have come across, and as a fan, put me in a position few of us here have had to get to meet the people in the band, and those that support the band so they can do what they do, and so we can listen to it in crystal clarity on the latest releases.
Thanks to you both!
I should note, that with no more ET digests to moderate, I'm going to have to find ways to make sure these guys have something to do with ET Web. There are still Gigmaster and FAQmaster openings available guys that I think you would be perfect for!
Finally, I want to thank my brother, David, for sending me ET #175. That's how this all began for me, and had he not done so it may have been years before I discovered that I wasn't all alone in my enthusiasm for King Crimson after all.
Alright, enough of me blathering on and on, the burning question that's on all our minds is when we'll next hear new King Crimson music? Whenever it is hopefully we'll have something worthwhile at ET Web about it for you to read.
Keep us bookmarked!