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What's In a Website?

By Rob Theriaque
August 13, 2003

What’s in a website?

The origins of this website go back quite a few years, even before a few of the key players had met, let alone become the friends they are today. The days of the old Whiteboards are long gone; grey-street.org has come and departed, as have a plethora of websites each of the staff has been involved in, directly or indirectly, for years. What stands before you now is the culmination of years of experience, knowledge, ideas, talents, time, money…

What can be done from the administrative side of a website only goes so far. An arrow is useless in flight if it is untargeted- a community such as this is useless without the interaction of great people. This site offers an unprecedented number of features, both in terms of the Dave Matthews Band community, and fan music sites in general. The one we have very little control over, the community, is quite possibly the best of the lot, however.

When this site started, nobody on the staff would have foreseen the possibility of the trip from which I just returned. It is certainly not unprecedented for members of a website to gather for a show, but the way in which this happened, the steps it took for this to happen, certainly are unique.

It is easy to forget at times that behind each username, there’s a unique individual pecking away at his or her keyboard. Some people say, “It’s just a message board.” It truly is not- it’s a meeting place, a place to exchange information, ideas, opinions, hopes, get advice… One particular user wanted nothing more than to see the band that had inspired this site. However, it was unlikely the band would be touring in Uruguay in the near future. How to fix this?

I was approached by a member who wanted to help make this dream come true. Not having a lot of time at my disposal, I gave this “April” some instruction of some sort and wished her well, and put it on the am.org back burner. I’ve had some experience with raising money on this website… It’s difficult enough to pay a month’s hosting bill, let alone a plane ticket from New York to New Jersey, through website fundraising.

Needless to say, however, the plan succeeded. April, Kenny, Marcelo, and friends beat back more obstacles and trials than I have time or space to mention here. Dates were set, tickets purchased, and what was once an idea tossed around started to become a reality.

Throughout this process, friendships began to form. Why not make this a bigger gathering? More plane tickets were purchased (and if anybody from airlines is reading this, we poor people would love a belated discount!), more plans made, and air mattresses inflated. The Colorado Crew was born. Kenny and April, from Colorado Springs, are owed a million thanks for their warm home (more figurative than literal- heat waves are not their responsibility). Other ants included Rob from Utah, Jamie from “Missippi,” myself from New Hampshire, and Debbie from Denver (Ha, she could drive). This was all organized around and for Marcelo, who traveled an impressive 9000 miles from his home in Uruguay.

As a vacation, this would have been a great time. As a gathering of a website, this was an unbelievable experience for all. Never once did any of the staff of this website foresee such a gathering from around the US, and the Americas. We appeared on a radio show, where Marc played guitar and sang in front of a live radio audience (Thanks to Casey and Coffee for this opportunity and for welcoming our website so warmly!), we met Mr. Boyd Tinsley, and, of course, took Marcelo to his first Dave Matthews Band show. I had the honor of “sitting” next to him, and never before have I had such a pleasure at a show. The crew continued along without me to the Gorge for a true American road trip, camping overnight at one of the most beautiful venues in the United States. The friendships made during this time will last a lifetime. Plans are already in the mix for another gathering next year.

This is what a community is all about- meeting people, making friendships, and sharing great experiences. This scope is simply far beyond anything I had imagined. I look forward to doing this again, hopefully with some new faces.

Thanks to all who have helped make this site all that it is. We are truly a living, breathing community. Matt, Jake, James, Mike, Shawn, Joe and I are proud of what we have done here, but you are the ones making it more than a collection of PHP, mySQL, and vBulletin.

The views and comments expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of antsmarching.org.


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