Given our COVENTRY focus this month, it seemed appropriate that we spotlight the Phish.net. Here are the thoughts of co-webmaster Rob Johnson…
Perhaps the longest running Phish web site, Phish.Net began in early 1990 in
the form of a small email alias/distribution list formed by Matt Laurence.
As interest in the band grew so did the email list, which by this time had
grown such that it was necessary to collect messages and send them out
together in daily-or-so batches, known at the time as the Phish Digest. In
March 1992 came the formation of rec.music.phish, an unmoderated usenet
newsgroup dedicated to the band which in its original form, mirrored the
contents of the Phish Digest. The original Phish Digest came to an end in
1995, though rec.music.phish has thrived and currently exists to this day.
In the time since, there have also been a number of mailing lists hosted by
the Phish.Net to serve different interests. These have included Rosemary’s
Digest and Benjy’s Digest, a pair of mailing lists offering filtered content
from rec.music.phish, moderated by Rosemary Dean McKintosh and Benjy
Eisen respectively, Phish-News, and the current Phish Digest, another list offering
Filtered content from a number of moderators rather than by individuals. Also of
note, offering Phish discussion in more specific areas are the Phish-Women’s
list and Digiphish.
Even the initial email network provided a cadre of online fans among whom a
small culture began to take shape by the fall of 1990. Throughout, several
resources had been created which served (and still do) as collective memory
and guidance. The first Helping Phriendly Book emerged in mid-1991, and the
first FAQ Phile was posted 11/19/91, by Lee Silverman. These early resources
were passed via email (first manually, then automatically), then available
for download via gopher and ftp, and finally (?) via the World Wide Web.
During the early years these resources were housed at Brown University by
Lee Silverman, first on the Brown Mainframe; then to fringe.cis.brown.edu, a
Unix machine; then to a NeXt workstation. On April 3, 1994, Lee Silverman
proposed to the Phish.Net community that money was pooled by Phish.Netters
from all over the globe to buy a machine to house the Phish.Net archives and
through which to route the community’s messaging; the NetSpace machine
debuted June 8, 1994.
Once NetSpace was established, Lee Silverman and Ben Tanen turned their
attention to the creation and maintenance of the Phish.Net web site while
Keith Martin, Michael Weitzman, and Dan Shoop took the Helping Phriendly
Book from ASCII to HTML and Ellis Godard did the same for the FAQ. After a
number of months, the Phish.Net web site was turned over to Rosemary
Dean McKintosh, who had proven herself through her work on Rosemary’s
Digest. After a few years, Rosemary stepped down and turned the web site
over to a pair of co-webmasters in early 1997, Eddie Dinel and Rob Johnson.
After Eddie stepped down to focus on other interests, Dan Hantman was
recruited as co-webmaster in addition to maintaining the Helping Phriendly
Book. Currently, Phish.Net is maintained by a triumvirate of co-webmasters
consisting of Ellis Godard, Dan Hantman and Rob Johnson with the assistance
of a number of volunteers.
Though the time of Phish as a band is drawing to a close, through
collaboration with the Mockingbird Foundation, it is our intention that
Phish.Net will continue in its goal to provide accurate information
regarding the individual members of Phish and their future endeavors in
addition to providing discussion and other services to the Phish Community.