Inksmith Explained

I don’t want to say much about what we have planned because (to be honest) it’s still in the planning stages (so that answers everyone’s first question), however due to some confusion around the place, I think it’s prudent to address a couple of points and issues regarding InkSmith. Some common rumors making the mill.

  1. First of all we’re not an blogging network. Most of the people on that list are already part of a very good network already so that’s not what this site is about.
  2. No we’re not a boy band (although Erik looks like he belongs in one).
  3. Can’t be called the Sinister Six, as we’ve already added Erik Sagen and Shawn Grimes to the InkSmith team.
  4. Inksmith will not be a Web 2.0 company offering some really cool service with random javascript actions. It’s what you make of it.

Just so that we’re clear. It’s going to be a site focused on the blogger. It’s that simple a concept. This effectively explains why we’ve put our faces on there. What’s important here is not the site or the program running the site. It’s the person behind it. It’s the online blogging community. The plan is to take this virtual playground that we’re all in and making it slightly less electronic. Instill a bit of personality into it. I’m not interested in speaking with SpankMonkey and his ilk. Give me your name dammit, otherwise I’m not really interested in hearing what you have to say. It’s about making the blogging community less hostile to people.

Blogging has introduced me to a slew of people from around the globe, all with similar interests to me, all completely different to each other. People I would never have had a chance to talk to, I now consider my friends. There’s a barrier out there that many people don’t see. Inksmith hopefully will be a step to overcoming that barrier. Will it work? I’m trying very hard not to hype this thing up because it seems net users revel in failure, but I’m optimistic, then again I’m a natural optimist so maybe that’s just something I would say.

Just so as to discard another pre-conception, this isn’t an exclusive club. It’s got a small group of people that are going to build the framework that will hopefully benefit people but make no mistake, the true stars of the site will be the blogging community, both by being a part of the site and providing content for the site itself. So go over to the site and sign up for the newsletter.

Remember that you are an InkSmith.


  1. You know, I’m sure the handle/real name thing has been done to death, but if you’re going to mock my handle (”SpankMonkey LOL!!1″) then I’m going to take the time to explain why I use a handle. As has been discussed elsewhere, real life offers secret, private and public speech whereas the internet only offers two of those things. Using a handle allows me to reclaim what the internet takes away. I can speak my mind without having to worry that everything I say is being stored in one location (a google search for my name) for anyone in the future to look up and read. Obviously, as famously documented by Penny Arcade, there’s potential for this to be abused, but you know, I’m aware of the potential for anonymity to be abused and try to act responsibly with it.

    Sometimes I like being able to open my mouth without thinking about the prospect that what I say will be recallable under Google for the rest of my life, readable by anyone and everyone. I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that I should be happy to put my name to everything I say. Every other system of life functions this way (people saying things “off the record”, etc) and when it’s not abused, it works. It only really seems to be blogging where people have got hung up on this whole real name thing.

    It makes talking on the web more accessible for me. Ironic, since that seems to be exactly what you’re talking about.

    I can understand where you’re coming from. People form impressions of others based on all sorts of things, and a stupid name like SpiderMonkey seems childish to plenty of folk. But I thought the whole ‘blogging revolution’ was that it wasn’t who you were, it was what you had to say that mattered.

    1 SpiderMonkey
    Quote | 15/11/2005
  2. I should really remember to close my tags too. :)
    (If you feel like correcting it for me, please close it after “Arcade”.)

    2 SpiderMonkey
    Quote | 15/11/2005
  3. So what.. now we’re the “Elite 8″ or something?

    3 Bryan Veloso
    Quote | 15/11/2005
  4. Geeky Backstreet Boys? I’ll be a groupie!

    This sounds like it could be fun! Tons of great people involved. I can’t wait to see what ya’ll are doing :)

    4 Jennifer
    Quote | 15/11/2005
  5. Sounds interesting. Looking forward to seeing what comes out of this.

    5 Yannick
    Quote | 15/11/2005
  6. @SP - There are two philosophies at work here. One that you adhere to and one that bloggers I’d like to talk to on a regular basis adhere to.

    Therefore I can tell you that Inksmith isn’t going to be something you’ll enjoy or be able to use and contribute to because of your philosophy. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong (well I think it’s wrong but that’s my opinion and I’m trying to do something about it), just that it is what it is.

    Also I can’t really call you a blogger as you don’t seem to have one. Any reason you’re hiding that? If so what’s the point of going onto the net, might as well write it all in a book or something?

    In general (and honestly this isn’t aimed at you since you seem relatively balanced) to me people who have a handle are effectively hiding so that they can act online in ways they just wouldn’t offline, if that’s what you want the web to be, and what you use blogging for, then again I say this I have no TIME for that sort of thing (just to understand not having any time for someone is effectively the worst insult I can give someone).

    6 Khaled
    Quote | 15/11/2005
  7. Sweeeeeeeet. Looks like fun!

    7 Craig Hartel
    Quote | 15/11/2005
  8. No, I have a blog. You are right that it would be very strange of me to be here, if I didn’t. But what I’m trying to achieve by keeping an alias would be rather defeated by tying that alias to my real identity, by linking to my blog.

    It isn’t a matter of hiding. Posting on the internet under your real name is the equivalent of potentially talking to everyone, with a huge megaphone, in a speech that echoes for ever. That makes me feel like I’m dressed up in my best suit giving a speech to all my elderly relatives and my boss and all the people who are most easily offended in my life. If I use a handle, then it merely gives me the opportunity to talk like I would at the pub on a Friday night. (Preferably I can say that without opening myself up to the obvious “but people get drunk and say the dumbest things in the pub!” lines, since people do much the same on their blogs.)

    I long ago gave up any belief that anybody could change anyone else’s opinion on anything on the internet. After all, a cynic would say that blogs are a way of giving everyone a megaphone and a castle and trying to conduct arguments that way. All a bit medieval for my tastes.

    I don’t imagine you’re going to change your mind the slightest bit based on this conversation, but I guess I’m posting in the idle hope that it registers with someone. Why? I found it puzzling that you went to such lengths as to say “we’re not hostile”, while being very hostile (thanks for letting me know that, in case I didn’t have the brain capacity to understand you, your last sentence was a serious insult), and “we’re not elitest”, while being very elitist. “We’re not sexist”, while telling us that you are very happy to discriminate against them based on very judgmental and inaccurate personal biases.

    8 SpiderMonkey
    Quote | 15/11/2005
  9. Heh, dammit I still say it’s a boyband! I dare you to release a podcast version of some sugar sweet ballad ;)

    Seriously, hope it goes well for you anyway.

    9 gpshewan
    Quote | 15/11/2005
  10. I hope it works Khaled, something like this is overdue.
    My only suggestion is to bring some variety and women in on the action from the beginning so as to build something not only useful to designers (all those current ugly mugs) but everyone else as well.

    10 Craig
    Quote | 15/11/2005
  11. There is only so much of “handle”s that one can take - which is why I decided to drop my entirely, and use my real, first name, even on IRC.

    11 Carthik
    Quote | 15/11/2005
  12. Originally I wasn’t going to even bother responding to your original message since you don’t want to do me the courtesy of providing a link to your blog or your name, I did respond since I thought, ‘well that’s why the comments are open’. However I honestly can’t afford you the time to respond properly.

    See all you’ve said there to me is noise, and honestly I’ve no desire to continue this conversations since from your very first post of Michael’s blog you’ve been on the attack. Therefore this is the only response you shall get from me. Thanks for you opinion, thanks for stopping by.

    @Craig - Dude this is well up your alley, we’ll be talking soon.

    @Carthik - I’m with you there buddy :).

    12 Khaled
    Quote | 16/11/2005
  13. You know, even though you aren’t listening, there is one basic point that I don’t think I’ve made yet, but that I want to make. You are right when you say there are two different philosophies at work here. There’s “my opinion is right, I don’t want to consider someone else’s” and there’s “I’m happy to listen to what people have to say and give it reasonable thought”.

    If your attitude is that you want to make blogging less hostile, why am I a threat to you, rather than a potential part of your audience - someone that you want to coax out of their shell and into the real-name-using part of blogging world that you enjoy? Carthik suggests that sooner or later people decide handles are worthless, you seem to think that’s a good thing, so why the prejudice? Why a negative stance when you could choose a positive one?

    “from your very first post of Michaelâ��s blog youâ��ve been on the attack.” My very first post was a joke about how serious your pictures looked. Like the four or five other jokes on the same subject (only they posted under names that you could believe were their real names). Michael seemed to find it funny. It was only your irrational point of view that read aggression into what I was saying (and regrettably brought aggression to the table). My second post was a reasonable request for information.

    I find it genuinely disappointing that you seem to lack the ability to step back to consider and evaluate the validity of your own assertions, rather than wilfully ignore and misinterpret what I’m saying. Are you sure this Inksmith project is really right for you? There seems to be a genuine disjoint between what you say and what you really mean.

    And yes, pleasure to stop by, shame things ended in the gutter.

    13 SpiderMonkey
    Quote | 16/11/2005
  14. Fuck it, lets have a good old fashioned flame war :) since you and I both know this is what it’s going to turn into.

    I’m completely calm when writing this, honestly I haven’t got any hostile feeling towards you, it’s just that your first comment kind of rubbed me the wrong way as if we owed you something.

    Having gone and read the guff on Broken Kode about what you guys are aiming for with this, can I ask: when you say “coming soon”

    Now I know the problem with comments and whatnot is that they sometimes come across in a bad way, so if I miss understood you and you were meaning it to be in a funny way then sorry about that.

    When I realised that I couldn’t actually read YOUR guff, I thought, ok so they guy’s a snipper. He comes in acts like an idiot, in a manner he wouldn’t do if he was actually sitting in front of me. That’s not what this is about. That’s not what I’m about.

    You’re not a threat. Why would I feel threatened by you? What exactly do you as Spidermonkey represent to me? Well you’re a person (male of female) who has decided that they want to use the net in a particular way. I on the other hand as many thousands of other have decided to use it in a different way.

    Those thousands deserve a place where they can be around people of the same mentality. It’s really very simple. Am I hostile to people that are adamant on using handles?

    I guess I am because I have understood that the virtues of doing this far outweigh the alternative that you have currently chosen. By being open about what I do and who I am I’ve learnt to trust and work with soo many people on the internet. It’s opened a whole new layer to me, which effectively is the real reason I’m doing this particular project.

    Listen you’re new to Broken Kode so I doubt you know how much I value friendships both online and offline since in many cases one does eventually translate to the other. By hiding (that it what you’re doing by your very own description) behind a handle you’re effectively telling me that you’re not interested in meeting me on level ground. This gives you special rights of abuse you might not sling my way, this happens all the time.

    Without you knowing what we’re going to be doing for Inksmith how can you possibly know whether or not you’ll be able to contribute?

    Unfortunately I can definitely tell you that you won’t be able to contribute because of how we’re going to building things. Saying more would be I won’t say any more.

    This is meant to be less hostile for people that want more from the blogging community. If that exludes the 5% that hide behind handles and not really want anyone to read their blogs, then I’m sorry but that’s not know this is aimed at. Hopefully by seeing what happens those people will see the virtue of changing. Ok let me pose you a question.

    If you see a really active community that’s been building and the website is a community effort with people, real people adding to it and learning from each other and meeting each other and working with each other, would you want to join? Now let’s say that in order to join you need to give your real name? Not your details so that they can be sold to some marketing rubbish but your name and a link back to your blog. Something that is used every day by people around you and something that effectively is what this site is going to be centered around?

    If that’s a hostile manner of setting up a community website, shit man I’m at a loss for words then. Like I said this is about people. Not about ‘internet-people’. There are plenty of places for ‘internet-people’ to interact and talk as if they’d be doing so down the pub. This won’t be one of them.

    Ok enough tom foolery, I think I’ve got my points across. I’m not trying to change people’s way through words. I’m trying to change it through actions.

    14 Khaled
    Quote | 16/11/2005
  15. whoa.. SHH :)

    Sometimes it is better to just let it go than let yourself get worked up over things. I’m sure he wouldn’t bother coming back and posting comments if you didn’t respond.

    15 kristin
    Quote | 16/11/2005
  16. This looks to be an interesting idea; I’ll be keeping an eye on it! You’ve picked great people to initially participate so far :).

    16 Aubrey
    Quote | 16/11/2005
  17. @Kristin - Funnily enough it helped me hone in completely as to who this is actually aimed at/for. It’s the longest comment I’ve ever written and don’t plan on writing another one like it for a very long time, but I always answer anyone that posts on BK, and I’ve thankfully never had to delete a comment, even though I did get close here, but I’m glad I didn’t.

    17 Khaled
    Quote | 16/11/2005
  18. I’m not really interested in a flame war. My tone has only degraded because when you say things like “See all youâ��ve said there to me is noise”, that reads to me as you saying “I’m going to put my fingers in my ears now, shout lalala loudly and wait until you go away”. I didn’t think our discussion was that childish and trivial, at least at the outset (leaving your original cheapshot ‘SpankMonkey’ aside).

    Regarding my second comment, yes I can see that saying “guff” might have come across as aggressive. This is what I mean when I like to be able to talk without worrying that someone will come along and misinterpret the tone of what I’ve said and then judge the real me on that basis. Yes perhaps I could have chosen a better word, but if I’d really wanted to be negative, it wouldn’t have been that hard to throw in a cheapshot about people overhyping and underdelivering things on the internet. But I didn’t think that, so I didn’t say it.

    Of course you don’t feel ‘threatened’ by anyone sat at a keyboard, that would be dumb. However, I can’t help but feel that your attitude is that:
    1) People who use their real names start in good standing with you and would have to work to get into negative standing. People who don’t, start in negative standing and have to work to get into good.
    2) These two groups of people are mutually exclusive and irreconcilable.
    and I wanted to address that, since:
    1) It doesn’t really seem particularly fair, and it seems shortsighted because, as I have argued, part of your target audience for this project is people who are currently using handles but could be won over to the real-name-world. They are just as ready to take the plunge into the real-name-blogging world as people who don’t like handles. As I’ve been trying to point out, both feel the same hostility that you want to help overcome.
    2) The perception seems to be fairly widespread in the ‘blogosphere’. As evidenced by what seems to be kristin’s implicit assumption above me that I am trolling rather than attempting to have a reasonably intelligent discussion.

    I do like the sound of your idea. Of all of the people in those comments, I was one of few who bothered to seek out more information and then come back and request yet more information. When I feel I have something well thought through to contribute, I do sometimes post comments with my real name. I’ve even done so on blogs by Inksmith members. I keep a blog with my real name. I think very seriously about how to make sure my contribution can contribute signal rather than noise when doing so.

    I look forward to doing the same on this Inksmith place and hope that while you build it, you will keep people like me in mind in a way that fits in with your beliefs.

    18 SpiderMonkey
    Quote | 16/11/2005
  19. To opine in regards to using monikers versus a real name, I’m thinking that the people who are taken most seriously and are considered to be the high-profile bloggers are all using their names.

    Regardless, I really like the last line of your post, Khaled…”Remember that you are an Inksmith”. That is so cool for you to say. I know that human nature drives us towards wanting to belong, and with that single sentence, you brought all of us into the fold. That’s class.

    19 Craig Hartel
    Quote | 17/11/2005
  20. Thanks Craig, you get it completely. That’s exactly the feeling I am trying to get through. The site will live and die by the contributors and the community. I’ve got to make some badges :)

    20 Khaled
    Quote | 17/11/2005
  21. I am interested in this Inksmith thing, hopefully it will turn out to be different than other network ideas that’s going on the web.

    To me, I was thinking something like a good-posts aggregator. It collects all the quality and interesting blog posts to feature on the site. But again, such standard is subjective as well, maybe something like Digg.

    21 AsceticMonk
    Quote | 17/11/2005
  22. Let me just jump right out and say that I am an incredible hypocrite when it comes to handles vs. real names. I hate handles. Now that you are probably questioning my sanity, let me explain.

    Again, I hate handles. I despise them. I desire nothing more than to tear away the shroud of anonymity that has been cast amongst the internet by these so-called digital names. Yet, I realize that some desire that anonymity. In fact, some may require that anonymity.

    I do not require the anonymity of my handle (MacManX), but I feel as if I cannot survive without it. I began my career with MacManX. Before “James Huff”, there was “MacManX”. MacManX made a name for itself, and James had nothing to do with it. In fact, I doubt that Chris would have recognized me from our days on the Mac Browser Board if it weren’t for my handle. The internet is full of Jameses.

    According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, James has been the 15th most popular male baby name over the past 20 years. What can I do to separate myself from the the rest of the bloggers who are know as “James”? I need my handle, and I wish that I had a unique name, like “Khaled” or “Angsuman”.

    Then again, Chris, Craig, and Owen don’t get it any easier than I do.

    Again, I hate handles. If you’re on my blogroll, you probably don’t have a handle. As some of you may know, I prefer to link to other bloggers by first name only (first and last if I need to distinguish between two similar first names). I want to know those on my blogroll by their first name, and I want everyone to know me by my first name, but I can’t leave my handle.

    Am I am Inksmith? Probably not, and that’s the challenge that I find myself facing these days. I needed my handle to get me as far as I am, but I will need to leave it behind if I want to go any further. I just can’t bring myself to let go of it right now.

    Am I am Inksmith? I may never be an Inksmith, though I do dream of being one. Being an Inksmith is not about belonging to a club or network. It’s about being a special human being. It’s about putting a name behind the blog, and a face behind that name. MacManX will never be an Inksmith, but some day, James may be.

    Sorry about filling up your comments with this.

    22 James (aka MacManX)
    Quote | 18/11/2005
  23. I agree with James on the handle discussion. For things like roleplaying I must use my handles (mainly original characters) but on my blog I use my real name. As for my general internet handle, I actually have three different handles so that when people refer to me I know exactly where they know me from.

    I never really liked handles in the first place, which is why my “main” handles include my real name. I have been known as “SaraP” in the past and I am currently known as “siliconsara”. That way, I have the best of both worlds.

    I try to use handles as an advantage when it comes to conversing with people online. If I meet someone with a handle I always use it when refering to them, even when I am speaking to them. After we talk for a while they start to trust me and they eventually give me their real name. That is telling me that they want to know me on a more personal level and when they give me their real name that is telling me that they want to shed that anonymity and just be themself. I cherish that trust because we live in a very untrustworthy world today and being able to trust another person is a great feeling.

    As for this inksmith project, I really cannot make a comment on it since it seems that it is not operational at this time. Right now it does look like a club to me from the design of the frontpage. But that is just by first glance, so I will hold my tongue for now.

    23 Sara
    Quote | 18/11/2005
  24. That’s a really good post James. You had me going there for a while because I really see you as one of the more active people on the web forums. You’re right there is a certain amount of recognition due to your handle, and uniqueness in a problem, which might be solved by full name and sometimes like in Chris’s case even middle name as well? I know hardly ideal but it works.

    Sara, it IS a CLUB. Hopefully one of the bigger ones on the web when it’s launched. The only catch is that it’s open to EVERYONE. The holder page is just meant to give you an idea about where we’re going. Who’s the star of the show here? Not the site. That’s the secondary part. It’s the people surrounding the site that’s important. The people behind the site. The community. That’s where the ‘design’ (and I use that word in the loosest possible way) of the holder was brought about.

    24 Khaled
    Quote | 18/11/2005
  25. What I meant was “exclusive”. Sometimes when I type I forget a few words here and there. I was referring to your last paragraph of your post. No need to use uppercase letters, sir. ^_~

    But what I am curious about is how this place will function. How will members be able to contribute to whatever the mainset of inksmith is? Is it going to just be a RSS feed depot? Or is it going to have a forum? Articles on certain subjects? If you already answered this somewhere, please direct me to a link.

    25 Sara
    Quote | 19/11/2005
  26. “But what I am curious about is how this place will function. How will members be able to contribute to whatever the mainset of inksmith is? Is it going to just be a RSS feed depot? Or is it going to have a forum? Articles on certain subjects? If you already answered this somewhere, please direct me to a link.”

    Sara, I’ve provided a bit more information on what Inksmith is on
    on my site but in short, the answer is yes, no, yes and yes:)

    26 If Else
    Quote | 19/11/2005
  27. Thank you. Now that I know more about it, it seems like a nice idea. I’ll be sure to watch for it when it opens. _

    27 Sara
    Quote | 19/11/2005
  28. Looks like a fun group. :)
    This sounds Lovely.
    Can’t wait to see what you guys and gals are up to.

    Don’t keep us waiting for long.

    28 Indranil
    Quote | 20/11/2005
  29. omg, thats it

    29 Pinotte
    Quote | 21/11/2005
  30. I’m late to the party, but it looks like fun.

    I see you’re all a pretty technical bunch — not one technical goober in the mix. I want to join anyway.

    Maybe I could sign on as the token techno noob. You know, like an affirmative action sort of thing.

    30 Bonnie
    Quote | 21/11/2005
  31. Your name is just a handle given to you by your parents and anthestry (and I suppose Napoleon too*)

    You could get a unique one like Khaled Abou Alfa or a pretty generic one like James.

    You could also invent a moniker yourself and use that to identify yourself.

    You could get a unique one like AkaXakA, or a pretty generic one like Dominat0r 13.

    You could use the moniker for your opinions in comments or as a name for your journal.

    You could have a name like ‘Broken Kode’ or Avalonstar, Mezzoblue or ‘Binary Bonsai’. Or heck, Candy.

    Some of us need it to be unique, some need it to be able to publish on a public forum without fear.

    You don’t know if the journal you’re reading really is by ‘John Malone’. In reality it might be written by ‘Tony Vincietti’, or even a group of people. Until there’s some ID system, or if people upload photo’s of their passports, people will be anonymous anyway.

    That said, there will always be fuckwads spouting their opinion on something they don’t know terribly much about. They do tend to ‘hide’ behind wierd-ass monikers, sure.

    I see my moniker more as a brand than anything else. It’s for that reason that I’ve published my portfolio and journal under that name.

    What’s wrong with branding yourself?

    • Given that he made surnames manditory
    31 James AkaXakA
    Quote | 23/11/2005

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