Couple of months ago, we rounded the corner into year three without Favrd. I still miss it. Favstar serves part of its former purpose now, but only the uglier, vainer part. The better part — the community — is mostly absent.
Favrd gained a vibrant community pretty much accidentally, which is notable because that’s hard to do even on purpose. Things tend to spring up these days, spend years and minor fortunes building a community, then turn on that community and ransom it because oh yeah we were supposed to be making money, weren’t we. Other things exploit social psychology to steal your life from you in momentary increments, selling your partial attention to an advertiser while you click on pictures of carrots. But Dean Allen just built a room, put things in it that interested him, and invited people in to look at them. They brought their own things to look at, and before long it was a party.
Every so often I load up the old Favrd home page just for the hell of it. I did that last night, and something in Dean’s farewell note struck me: “Sites like this one now serve mainly as fuel for emotional up-fuckedness in the guise of a game.” You see, Mr. Allen’s room also had mirrors in it, and lots of people were showing up just to preen. They would stare at themselves for hours, and — if you’ll allow me to switch metaphors somewhat ungracefully — reload their mirrors over and over, clicking on carrots, ignoring everyone else at the party.
Dean believed he had made Farmville by accident, so he shut it down.
For a man of his talents, it wouldn’t have taken much effort or imagination to monetize this accidental community. But for a man of his character, profiting from the encouragement of what he saw as an emotional bad habit was unacceptable.
We need more folks like Dean.