Monday, 1 January 2001

A brief history of the SA4QE website

The SA4QE website was first launched in autumn 2002 (some months after the first actual SA4QE) by Kraken member Gombert Yawncher as a very basic collection of HTML pages designed in Microsoft Word, uploaded via Terrapin FTP and hosted on thoughtcat.com.

Originally there was one static page per contributor, or 'participant' as they were known in those days, and the main navigation was solely by the participants' names.

Updating the site annually on an old PC with not enough memory and a crap graphics card atop a wobbly plain-deal table in a draughty kitchen in Twickenham, Gombert later progressed (marginally) to Microsoft FrontPage and used frames for some years before discovering in 2007 the more elegant format of dynamic web templates.

While updating the site for 2008, Gombert discovered he didn't really understand how dynamic web templates worked, and the site nearly exploded. Resorting to desperate measures and flying in the face of all current advice on web design and accessibility, Gombert reverted to frames. Realising the gravity of the situation, in 2009 he moved everything over to Blogger where it now displays the large and complex content in a much cleaner and more user-friendly Web 2.0 format. How does the new website work?

Home page updates

On most annual updates to the original site, Gombert created a new home page for the site. These are reproduced below. (Note: if you find some images are too wide for your display, on a Windows PC right-click on the image and select 'view'. Alternatively you can find most images on the SA4QE and Thoughtcat Flickr streams where you can view them in their original size.)

2002/03 - Original home page



Four Photoshopped variations on the SA4QE logo (originally, a photo of a sheet of yellow paper on a platform at Elephant & Castle underground station, London).

2004 - 3 a.m. clocks collage




Where I am at three o’clock in the morning – and by now every hour is three o’clock in the morning – there are no digressions, it’s all one thing.
- The Medusa Frequency

Sandra Smith put together this collage of photos, each taken by an SA4QE participant at three o'clock in the morning in their local time. The collage was reproduced on the Kraken's birthday card to Russell Hoban that year. Olaf Schneider added ticking sound effects for the web version.


August 2004 - Memorial to Judy Tihany




Judy Tihany, one of the first participants in SA4QE on its inception in 2002, passed away on 26 August 2004. Earlier that year as part of SA4QE 2004 she had dropped the above quote in Sydney, Australia.

2005 - Russell Hoban's own 4qation






Invited to participate in SA4QE 2005 himself, Russell Hoban's choice was an extract not from one of his own books but this quote, from the novelist he calls "the master":

"Yes! Very funny this terrible thing is. A man that is born falls into a dream like a man who falls into the sea. If he tries to climb out into the air as inexperienced people endeavour to do, he drowns - nicht wahr? ... No! I tell you! The way is to the destructive element submit yourself, and with the exertions of your hands and feet in the water make the deep, deep sea keep you up. So if you ask me--how to be? ... I will tell you! For that, too, there is only one way. In the destructive element immerse."

-
Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim


2006 - Liverpool lionmouth



To access the site, visitors clicked on the lion's mouth in this photo by Jane Clare of her 2005 Liverpool 4qation.

2007 - Yellow Paper collage


A collage of photos of various 4qations submitted by SA4QE participants.

2008 - The Dream of the Kraken



The mighty Olaf Schneider excelled himself with this beautiful animation of a sonar scanner revealing the text of Russell Hoban's poem The Dream of The Kraken (from his 1997 collection The Last of the Wallendas) as it swept the ocean floor. As if that weren't enough, the imagery was accompanied by an exclusive recording of Russell Hoban himself reciting the poem from the depths of his workroom at three o'clock in the morning. The original animation can now be found on Olaf's site and on YouTube.

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