Six years ago today, I started Tabulas. It's so odd, because I own almost nothing in my life as old as Tabulas.

It's so odd.

Six years of planning, designing, scripting, building, hacking, maintaining, and supporting Tabulas. Given how much of a non-committal person I am, it's an impressive feat that I've kept it up for six years, all by myself.

Tabulas has meant a lot to me because of what it represented and how it shaped who I became. It's been the common thread in my life since college ... and all the changes I made to become who I am today, that project played a huge role (Tabulas also epitomizes my shortcomings as well). I know it sounds vaguely pathetic to try to find metaphors for my life in a website project, but I have poured a lot of my ideas and time into this project.

I started Tabulas while I was still in school. My then-girlfriend went to study abroad in Australia, so I had a lot of free time. All my friends were using Xanga at the time, and I knew I could do a better job. In a typical show of overconfident male bravado, I decided it'd only take me a week or two to build a better Xanga/Livejournal. And here I sit six years later :)

Without Tabulas, I would have never taught myself scripting. Without that, I would have never gotten a job at MindTouch. I'm honestly not sure what I would have done - I might have been a miserable chemist/economist/med student right now. While Tabulas isn't a smashing success (it was never meant to be a commercially viable product, just something I shared with the world), I can still point to it and say, "Hey, my early twenties weren't wasted." (MindTouch is what I'm incredibly proud of in my mid-twenties).

There's so much I still want to do with Tabulas. To see random strangers post replies to my Tabulas birthday post is encouraging - people still find vaue in it.

I can honestly say that I never found as close of a sense of community of strangers than I did in the early days of Tabulas. The most random people got to be friends, and it was really cool and exciting. It's sad that six years later, community software still cannot achieve this goal (Facebook doesn't count - it is meant as a method of keeping in touch, not for discovering new and exciting people).

Mark Cuban recently wrote about how the Internet is dead: "My point is that the internet is a stable platform. Its a utility. Its evolved to the point where you can count on it and develop applications for it without much fear that its going to change." I can understand the sentiments, but I still see huge ways that the Internet is simply failing to help people connect (Twitter, interestingly enough, becomes less useful as its networks grow larger - consider it the reverse of the network effect).

Statements like these make me want to work on Tabulas again, to start bringing back a real sense of fun and excitement back to connecting with people. (Not that I have any revolutionary ideas - I'm sure all my ideas have already been well-executed).

The Internet is powered by writing. As much as video and audio are important, fundamentally, writing drives the quality of the web. And the problem with writing is that we all want validation of our ideas. And existing blogging tools (WordPress, etc.) do NOT facilitate this. How many times have we written something fun, and then watch it get ignored by the void? How many people have their own WordPress blog, but no communities around it?

I am not an interesting person, nor am I particularly a good writer. But I get more feedback on my posts than other people with stand-alone sites. This is because of the community that I'm plugged into, and the repartees (through comments) that keep people interested.

While blogging isn't even remotely a good medium for conversation and discussion, it's (sadly) still the best medium for it on the net. It reflects pretty poorly on existing projects like WordPress and LJ when a site like Twitter can come and "replace" conversations on blogging like that. Sad, indeed. 

If I weren't so constantly drained from MindTouch, I might try to kick-start Tabulas again. Maybe I'll shelve some of my recent new hobbies to focus on Tabulas for a couple of weekends.

Here are some responses from Tabulas users:

Posted by roy on March 16, 2009 at 10:17 PM in Personal, Tabulas | 7 Comments

Related Entries

Want to comment with Tabulas?. Please login.

Comment posted on April 3rd, 2009 at 07:27 AM
I'm terribly utterly late... I missed wishing a Happy Birthday to Tabulas.

I've been distracted by one of these stand-alone WordPress blog I started a year ago. I started to draw again and I needed an isolated place to do so. Something not in a community. Some place where I could exhibit my weak realizations with the choice of releasing the location to the unknown... or not. It worked. It forced me to draw more, I got slightly better, I've started to advertise to my family and friends... And a year later, I have regular readers (some I don't even know) and I'm listed in a referential site.


I opened my blog here on Tabulas in 2003 and since then, not any other bloging platform never tempted me. When I decided to give a shot to the whole blog thing, I did not even tried Xanga or Livejournal. They did not appeal me. Tabulas seemed a more friendly/cozy place at the time and I made my first steps into bloging here. So I'm quite attached to Tabulas. I guess knowing the person who initiated the thing makes a lot to the sentimentalism.

Well, even though I don't blog here much (I'm losing my English really fast), I'm still happy to know it's there along with bits of my life. So big thank you from this little country in Europe and keep it up for a long, long, long time! You never know... I'm might come back for good!

Wow... That was long. :|
Comment posted on March 22nd, 2009 at 08:26 AM
Yay, Tabby !
Comment posted on March 18th, 2009 at 10:01 PM
I always liked Tabulas the most. I caught on during a big boom of people. It's died down some, but It'll still always have a special place where Xanga and the others can never live.
Comment posted on March 18th, 2009 at 10:57 AM
Belated Happy Birthday to Tabulas! :D
Congrats, Roy!
Comment posted on March 17th, 2009 at 12:20 PM
thats awesome congrats! =D
Comment posted on March 17th, 2009 at 10:40 AM

pc1oad1etter (guest)

Comment posted on March 17th, 2009 at 07:09 AM