Whoa. Couchsurfing is dead. | Friday, June 30th, 2006

Just got an email from Casey Fenton about how the entire Couch Surfing project just collapsed because of IT problems. First, a hard drive crash, and second, backup failure.

I used the CouchSurfing project to meet some great folks both here in Montreal and during my travels abroad. Recently, during a conference, I was able to stay in Saint-Louis for a couple days thanks to a great family (and now friends) I met on the site. I've helped out and showed around several visitors to my fair city, one in particular who I consider myself incredibly lucky to have met (you know who you are)! :p

Can you grow emotionally attached to a social network? If Flickr went down tomorrow, I wouldn't bat an eyelid. If, all of a sudden, all of these "Blurb 2.0" applications went up in flames, I'd shrug and get back to my work. But CouchSurfing was something different. Casey's brainchild, it was a way to try and make the world a smaller place for those who can't or don't really want to travel and stay in big hotels. I'm genuinely sad about this right now.

An example I often give of the world I'd like to live in is one where "anyone can go anywhere regardless of anything". I'd like to live in a place where a kid in Nairobi can wake up one morning and decide that he wants to visit Brazil today. Obviously we're a long way from that - the market economy doesn't plan for equity. CouchSurfing was a big, big step in the right direction, and we're worse off without it.

I'd like to thank Casey, the entire CS team, and everyone who every registered on the site for being part of that rare something on the web that goes further than generating revenue and profiting off of our content. CS was the real deal - a "web community" - that I've so far never found (or wanted to find) anywhere else.

Goodnight, CouchSurfing. Here's to your spirit sparking up more bright flames to make the world a better place. Now, I'm going to have a drink.

Dear CouchSurfers,

Two days ago CouchSurfing experienced what
could be described as the perfect storm. The database administrators we
hired made two critical mistakes. First, we had a major, avoidable hard
drive crash. Secondly, the incremental back-ups weren't executed in the
correct manner, and twelve of our most important data files didn't
survive.

I have been working non-stop trying to
repair the data, but as difficult as it is for me to say, it has become
clear that certain essential pieces are not recoverable. This crash
happened at a particularly vulnerable time, in a transition between two
back-up methods. If the crash had happened a week ago, or next week, we
would have had a different outcome.

It is with a heavy heart that I face the
truth of this situation. CouchSurfing as we knew it doesn't exist
anymore. We've had an amazing two and a half years.

Members write "CouchSurfing has changed my
life" and I know what they mean, it has certainly changed mine and I am
eternally grateful.

My vision transformed. CouchSurfing was
born out of a dream I had to meet the most interesting people in world
and experience their cultures, and it grew into a living, thriving
family of almost a hundred thousand. This community has blossomed in
beautiful ways I hadn't even anticipated. It was no longer about what I
got to experience, but rather, what genuine, heartfelt good this
community can offer the world. We have all opened not only our homes,
but also our hearts, our lives. In sharing important moments, deep and
meaningful connections have crossed oceans, continents and cultures. I
saw in CS, in you, the power to change not only they way we
travel, but change the world itself. Thank you, CouchSurfers. You have
shown me more than I could have even known. Your generosity and spirit
is a gift to humanity.

I have devoted the last three years of my
life to CouchSurfing. I have literally poured every cent I have into
the site. I've sacrificed my health, my time, and my own ability to
travel and meet people. In many ways I've put my life and wanderlust on
hold to build this network. I'm not complaining; it's been a fantastic
ride. As devastating as it is to consider, it looks like the ride is
over.

Life is continuously changing, evolving,
dying and being reborn. After a fire, the earth is replenished; after a
storm, the air is cleared. It feels to me like this loss of
CouchSurfing is how it's meant to be. This crash is like a sign from
the universe. Too many random factors aligned to make it as damaging as
it is, and though I've tried everything I can and engaged the best and
brightest database managers, there's just no way to get it back. In
many respects it's heartbreaking, but at the same time, what we've
built together is not dead, it lives on in each of us. It lives in the
connections we've fostered and the culture we've created. I want us all
to take this CouchSurfing spirit and continue the mission out in the
world. We've all experienced this common vision and the potential it
has to transform the way people relate to each other. Now it is time
for all of us to not bury the dream, but rather nurture it's growth in
our own ways, in new explorations and ventures. We all own a piece of
the CouchSurfing flame, it's up to us to keep the fire going and light
the world. So let's do it, let's light the world! What will you do with
your flame?


Goodnight, CouchSurfing. May our flames burn bright.

I love you,

Casey

If you wish to send your thoughts, encouragement or positive messages, contact us at shunyata@couchsurfing.com


Going to the AMC | Thursday, June 8th, 2006

June 23rd - 25th is the 2006 Allied Media Conference in Bowling Green, Ohio. I'll be giving a workshop on Independent media publishing.

Basically, I'll cover setting up a CMS (drupal, natch) to allow for self-hosting of video posts, podcasts and blog entries. There's something very disturbing about the false "communities" springing up everywhere on the web, and I'm not sure I want to see what happens once we're all dependent on them.

Anyhow, I'm going to open up with a brief overview about some of the video and podcasting projects I'm working on at the moment, and start off slowly showing the main drupal install process and the required modules needed to get the show on the road.

Speaking about roads, I'll be driving there, leaving early Thursday morning and getting there at night. If anyone on my route (Montreal, Toronto, Windsor, Detroit) wants to come along, by all means let me know. I've posted a ride offer on the AMC rideboard.

I've never been to a media conference, so I don't really know what to expect. I hope I'm able to help someone at my workshop (hopefully there will be someone there besides me...) get started with their own video or podcasting site.

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