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richardhenry's avatar

Where did Fluther come from?

Asked by richardhenry (12651points) March 26th, 2008

Please tell me more about the founders of this website, their previous projects (if any), inspiration and future plans. Fluther is awesome.

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22 Answers

kevbo's avatar

Click About, What is Fluther?, and Blog at the bottom of any Fluther page for most of the answers to this question.

Yes, it is awesome.

delirium's avatar

This is what you go in chat for. He’ll tell you live.

richardhenry's avatar

@kevbo: Thanks, but the only reference to the people that actually made this site in the about is “so we made it easier”. I already know what Fluther is, this is more that I want to have a bit of history about the people that made it.

@delirium: I already spoke to them earlier about a couple things, but thought it would be more fun to ask in a question format, since, that’s what Fluther loves doing best, and since it’s a question. :)

I do hope one of them takes the time to answer this.

richardhenry's avatar

Sure, but have you guys ever done anything web-related before this (even failed attempts)? Where have you worked? How did you come up with the idea, and what drove you to carry through with it? .etc

It would just be cool to know, it’s fine if you can’t be bothered answering such nonsense :)

ben's avatar

That is quite a question, richardhenry. I’ll do my best to summarize Fluther’s origins without going into my entire life story, but here’s a quick timeline:

* 1999; Andrew and I meet in college at Brown University, immediately become great friends.

* 2000: We take a class together called “Truth in Beauty in Art and Science” and decide to collaborate on the final project together. We make this video, and have the first of many creative and exciting collaborations.

* 2000–2003: We continue to work on many projects together (mostly in the computer science department). One highlight was Calliope, a dynamic language visualizer. Basically it animated the emotional content in text based on a set of rules. So as you were chatting you could get a winamp-style visualization of how you were feeling. It rocked, though is now sadly lost to antiquity.

* 2003–2005: Upon graduating, Andrew and I go different ways. Andrew decides to pursue acting and goes to ACT, while I work at MIT Lincoln Laboratory doing research. Andrew keeps up his programming chops by working at Laszlo Systems.

* Thanksgiving 2004: I wake up one morning knowing, with total clarity, that I need to quit my job and move to San Francisco to start a company.

* 2005–2006: I move out West and reconnect with Andrew (just as friends—he’s in grad school for acting). We have a blast, but I’m having trouble starting a company (I know nothing about the web or business), so I also get a job at Laszlo Systems, based on Andrew’s glowing praise.

* Early 2006: Andrew, seeing me still seeking a business partner, decides to take the leap with me (yay). He willl still act and move to LA, but we’re convinced that together we can pull it off. Soon after, I take the plunge and quit my job. We stay up late over many nights developing my once loose idea of Fluther into a real vision.

* Summer 2006: After finishing our first downloaded version of Fluther (at the time called “aphid”), we decide maybe it should be a website instead.

* Fall 2006: With very little experience, Andrew and I complete the alpha version of Fluther. It doesn’t run well in IE. For many months, gailcalled (my aunt), is single-handedly keeping it afloat.

* 2007: We hire Mark Bixby to help us redesign the site based on what we’ve learned (lots), and start growing from there. I meet Erik, who later will become employee #1.

* 2007–2008: I suppose the rest is history…

To really answer your question, we had inspiration from working together on previous creative projects, but we really didn’t know what we were doing when we started. It was all trial by fire. We just had a vision (lots more to come for you all, just you wait…), and a lot of persistence.

richardhenry's avatar

This should be in the about! My favourite part is “I wake up one morning knowing, with total clarity, that I need to quit my job.” All the best stuff happens that way.

andrew's avatar

What Ben doesn’t mention is that I had been pressuring him to move to San Francisco for over a year, and what he doesn’t know was that as soon as he announced that he was moving, I knew I would work with him.

We knew we would run a startup together since we first collaborated.

Ben also doesn’t mention that our first collaboration, Chorus, lead to us presenting to the Brown Corporation, speaking on panels during parents weekend, and directly led to my honors thesis, my first installation, and ultimately my reason for staying in technology.

So I really owe everything to him.

sferik's avatar

I vividly remember meeting Ben in 2007. Our paths first crossed on a ski trip in Tahoe. After a few hours of talking to him, I knew that we’d become close friends.

I told him about a small project I had just finished, a web gamed called WordBreaker, and he told me all about Fluther. I became a big user of the site immediately. This was back in the days of Fluther 1.0, before the Bixby redesign. It took another year before Ben and Andrew roped me in to work for the company. Andrew and I have still never met in person, but we video-conference almost every day, and I feel like we’re close friends as well. He’s my personal fashion consultant.

richardhenry's avatar

@andrew: Chorus — now that animation is pretty great. I love the concept, and the bulb switching out for the sun is pretty powerful. What’s the soundtrack? It’s perfectly timed.

Trustinglife's avatar

This is fascinating. So fun to learn the history of your connections.

Incidentally, is this normal for Andrew, Ben, and Erik all to be up this late, um, working? :)

sferik's avatar

@Trustinglife more normal than we’d like to admit. Andrew, in particular, is the night owl among us.

kevbo's avatar

@richardhenry- great question. I (and my assumptions) stand corrected.

@sferik- a curse on you for Wordbreaker! ;-)

andrew's avatar

@richardhenry: It’s Arvo Pärt. Yeah, the music makes it.

I think the goal of the project was to show the relationship between physics and beauty.

ben's avatar

If I recall correctly, the assignment was “to make an art project inspired by quantum theory.”

andrew's avatar

@ben: Yes. This is true.

And I believe that the collaboration went something like this:

ben (after class): Andrew! We have to work together on the final project! I have this great idea! You see a man playing a violin in a house and you zoom in through the window and you see all the atoms vibrating, like Newton’s Music of The Spheres! Everything is related!
andrew: Well, I think that’s a little ambitious. What if we scaled back, focused on what each part means, and string everything together? Let me draw some storyboards…
ben: Yeah! Let’s do it!
2 days of 18 hour days of making models in 3DS max
ben’s roommate: Hey! I just downloaded the Pamela Anderson video!
3 days of 18 hour days of timing shots to the music
andrew: No! We can’t do that camera shot! It breaks the 180° rule!
ben: You’re a fool!
andrew: You’re a fool!
finishing 10 minutes before the deadline

Michael's avatar

Just to round out the picture, here is another example of Ben’s early work:

This is from Ben’s affiliation with a certain college sketch comedy group that has never (much to my dismay) updated its website to take down old pictures of past members.

bulbatron9's avatar

Chorus was great, and then I saw The abomination within, and had tears coming out of my eyes! Do you guys have anymore videos on YouTube?

andrew's avatar

@bulbatron: Here, here and here.

Trustinglife's avatar

@andrew, that first video especially was really interesting. Very creative. Well-shot.
And a bit disturbing!

bulbatron9's avatar

What the FRAK! Andrew, you never told me!

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@ben- re: One highlight was Calliope, a dynamic language visualizer. Basically it animated the emotional content in text based on a set of rules. So as you were chatting you could get a winamp-style visualization of how you were feeling. It rocked, though is now sadly lost to antiquity.

This sounds incredible

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