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2004 in retrospect
[12/31/2004]

More thoughts on Chat
[01/21/2003]

Thoughts on Chat
[08/17/2002]

A new issue, and some updates
[07/02/2002]

About Dimensions
[12/22/2001]

September 15, 2001
[09/15/2001]

Attack on America
[09/11/2001]

The start of a new millennium
[01/01/2000]

The editor looks back on the year that was
[12/31/98]

Æon/Shardco acquires BBW Magazine
[12/18/98]

Important info about shopping cart orders
[11/30/98]

We're Back!
[10/19/98]

Update on the new server...
[07/23/98]

Waiting for the May issue of Dimensions?
[05/21/98]

The Editor on the Year That Was
[01/01/98]

A Celebration Of Self Acceptance Or Vanity?
[Dani Osborne, 09/29/97]

Incomplete image download problem
[07/07/97]

Publisher's Statement about the merge
[06/16/97]

Dimensions Online and bbwqt.com merge
[Dani Osborne, 06/12/97]

Inside Dimensions Online...
[05/08/97]

Miss Universe controversy
[01/29/97]

Editor's Corner
12/31/2004
Thoughts at the end of another year

When I was chairman of the board of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) for all those many years, I usually summarized my thoughts and sent a New Year's Message to my board, the chapter leaders and key volunteers. It summarized what'd been happening, what I thought about it, and what I felt we should do next. If you look at this Editor's Corner section of Dimensions, you'll see that I continued this tradition with New Year's messages to the Dimensions community. I haven't really been doing it so much lately. Too much other stuff going on, and for years now we've had the bulletin boards and chat rooms to talk real-time instead of writing special addresses. However, today I want to talk a bit about things, and where I think we stand, plus some general thoughts and observations on this last day of the year 2004.

Dimensions itself has both changed and it's remained the same. Changed in the sense that for several years now Dimensions has been a website and a community of like-minded souls, a haven if you will, rather than just a print magazine. There were times when my life and schedule pretty much centered around getting another 64-page issue of Dimensions Magazine out every other month, and we did a surprising 89 of them over the years. I don't think there are many special interest publications that last that long and create that many full-blown glossy issues (well, the first 25 were smaller and not that glossy).

Yet, at some point things changed. The internet and the web came along, Dimensions Online became one of the very early websites. I think we first went online in 1994 when few people even knew what the web was. For many years the site and the magazine co-existed, but by then I was an independent business man and publisher and no longer had a nice corporate salary to support things. So more and more of my time was taken up by my technical magazines, and when it looked like it was being closed down for good, we took on BBW Magazine as well (a costly half-million dollar mistake that, however, I would gladly make again). It's been much too long since we've done a print issue of Dimensions. Gradually, Dimensions has morphed into being a community with many discussion boards and a very lively chat system. We still report on news, still add to our massive library of fat fiction story that likely has no equal anywhere. We still add things to the site every now and then, but mostly the site has taken on a life by itself, and most contributions come from you, the people of this Dimensions community, and not from me. I just provide the venue, and occasionally make a few decisions.

Exactly a year ago I wasn't in a very good space. The internet and web tidal wave made print publishing ever more difficult and things looked dismal for my ventures. I knew I had to make some major business rearrangement, stuff that I should have done a long time ago. Resources were extremely scarce and at the end of the year 2003 I had to lay off people and really didn't know what would happen next. Fortunately, a friend and colleague of many years had by then just returned to California, and that gave me some hope.

The beginning of 2004 was truly horrific. My 25 year involvement with NAAFA, most in the organization's leadership, turned very painful and came to a colossally hurtful and disappointing end. I felt lied to, stabbed in the back, abused, slandered and assaulted, but decided to take the high road and refrain from public comment.

Yet, it was the end of a quarter of a century of complete dedication to a cause that I deeply believe in, and still believe in. The original mission of NAAFA remains as valid as it was back in 1969 when a man to whom I still look up to founded it in New York. At times I still look back and fondly remember what all we accomplished over the years, all the good stuff that we made happen on my watch. After I implemented my plan NAAFA had over 5,000 paying members and a database of 25,000 affiliated parties. We were a force to be reckoned with. And a family that included everyone, the young, the old, women, men, FAs, supporters, everyone.

I look at the many filing cabinets full of documents and reports and minutes, and wonder if I should hold on to them. I look at the Lifetime Achievement Award I was given in the summer of 1999, with the glowing words of thanks and praise for my work, and it brings up feelings of anger, cynicism, and bitter-sweet memories.

That era of my life is over now, completely over and gone. I don't regret all the time and money I spent, but I know it's in the past now. I know that even under the best of circumstances I'd think twice about ever again involving myself in something with such monumental emotional, physical, and financial drain. I also met some truly mean people, mean perhaps because they were damaged people, but evil still. And that I do not wish to encounter again, not even at the cost of the 98% of the experiences that were good, and the many, many, many terrific people I met. The final cost was too great. The final affronts were too awful. But enough of that.

Interestingly, as if fate decided to give me a break, it was all uphill from those very hard first few months of 2004. I tore down my old publishing business model and totally restructured my companies. I found a new business partner and that turned out exceedingly well. The core group of people I had assembled over the years was still there, and together we worked harder than ever on new projects. We had fun again, finally, and there were good rewards. I hope it will continue.

As for Dimensions itself, I really have had much less time for it over the past two years than ever before. Not in the sense that I forget about it or no longer care or neglect it totally. I still read the boards and make sure everything runs. I still update things here and there, I am still in contacts with people who help me with the site, and I still make sure the servers run okay. The latter, as many of you know, has been (or was, touch wood) a drag for a long time. Over the past 2-1/2 years we've had more hardware trouble than ever before. In 2002 and 2003 there often didn't seem a week when something didn't break down, and we just couldn't find the source of the problems. It was as if the machines were jinxed. We replaced absolutely everything, sometimes several times over, and the problems continued.

At some point we took some drastic action and it's been much better since. It's still not an ideal situation as for the past year or so Dimensions has been severely bandwidth-limited. I truly have no idea why this is. Our offices are in the same building as an Internet Service Provider and we have direct lines. And Dimensions isn't even a very picture-intensive site. Yet, we're constantly maxed out and the ISP tells us that Dimensions alone takes as much bandwidth as 400 of their customer sites combined. Very strange, and frustrating to me because I do pay quite a lot for the bandwidth. I would have switched to an external co-location arrangement a long time ago, but I like the direct control over my machines, and many of the affordable co-lo places would give Dimensions a hard time even though we're hardly an "adult" site.

So, in an effort to lessen the load I shut down a few of the ancillary services, like the old UBB boards and the HTML chat. It made a bit of a difference, but not as much as I thought. And I HATE shutting down services. I much prefer adding new stuff.

I don't really know which of the many resources Dimensions offers, for free as always, are the most popular. I suppose that depends on the people who come here. In a sense, Dimensions is like a massive archive with thousands of pages and you can truly get lost in it. A lot of the content of past issues of the print magazine is online, there are those 1200 stories or so, there are the bulletin boards and their massive archives (and I haven't even hooked up all of them), numerous columns, success stories, tidbits, artwork, philosophical essays, wishful thinking, one-of-a-kind compilations, and there's the Dimensions Matching System, and there is the streaming chat.

I still haven't recovered from the massive crash that ruined the Dimensions Matching System back in August of 2002, days before it was supposed to go online as a much improved system with both a free and a premium pay component. I had spent a great deal of time customizing the code to our community's needs and desires. At some point I knew the code practically by heart and made daily changes and improvements. Then we had that major server crash and found that a software glitch had taken most of the backups with it. We eventually resurrected a lot, but the Matching System code was gone for good, and I never found the emotional strength (and time) to re-create it. So in a sense it's like an imposing monument from ancient times that people still can use and enjoy. The Matching System essentially runs itself. 2000 people are enrolled. And I think it still is probably unique in what it offers in terms of customization for the needs of FAs and fat people.

I am immensely pleased with the ongoing success of the chat system. It's been up now for 2-1/2 years. I spent almost as much time on customizing that as on the Matching System, and I also spent a considerable amount of time chatting with friends in there. I had never chatted before, but it can be so much fun.

I don't chat much anymore, but it is tremendously gratifying to see how many people meet in chat, and the amazing number of people who meet in what is just cyberspace, then meet in person, then actually start relationships and get married. Now that is in the true Dimensions spirit. Bringing two very special groups of people together, make them understand each other, talk to each other, and hopefully help making that match in heaven that is theoretically in the cards when two groups come together who are drawn together by their special circumstances, that has always been one of the cores of Dimensions' mission. Also, I've met some truly wonderful people in chat. I don't know what it is about chat, but there is often a warmth and spirit there that is not always present on the bulletin boards, a medium that by its very nature actually appeals to me more than chat. I like to think about my opinions and carefully craft them, rather than punching out words as quickly as I can, without much of a chance to check for typos and such.

By and large, I am also pleased with the Plus Size Paysite board. Veterans of the Dimensions community may remember the decision process I had to go through when the Weight Board became just a bit too flooded with thinly veiled advertising for commercial paysites. I decided to embark on an experiment. We'd have a separate board for Plus Size Paysites, but it wouldn't be just any board. In order to be able to post and promote a paysite, the posters would have to actively participate in the community and post pictures. I encouraged potential and paying customers to use the board to interact with the paysite owners, with the overall goal to make the new board sort of a clearinghouse. For that reason I also installed software that allows people to rate paysites and post their feedback. The board is fun. When the bandwidth limitations became severe, I had to remove the ability to upload pictures to the Dimensions server directly, but fortunately that wasn't much of a problem for most. Needless to say, whenever you add a new board, you sort of split traffic, and so the original Weight Board has less traffic these days, though it still is considerable.

Personally, I am in sort of a down-phase these days when it comes to posting. There's simply too much crap that is being posted anonymously. There was a time when I believed in people's inherent goodness, but apparently as soon as there is the ability to be anonymous, some folks turn to ugly ogres (no offense, Shrek). That's not overall a major problem here, but it is something that currently disillusions me. I just hate it when people are mean to one another, and I have almost no tolerance for rudeness.

So where do we go from here? Hopefully we'll go on pretty much as we have. At this point I have no grand plans to reshape Dimensions. I have always believed in the power of longevity and steadiness. Many fancy sites come and go. I'd much rather have Dimensions be a place that's always there, one that you can always recognize, one that people know and love to come to. I leave the fancy stuff to others, and I never even advertised for Dimensions anywhere else. Those who are interested in the Dimensions community will find us.

I really do want to resume print publishing. It's clear by now that while the internet and web have forever changed the way we disseminate information and find entertainment, they have not replaced print. I am a car guy and subscribe to many car magazines. Yet, I never read their stuff on their often vast websites. It's just not the same. So new issues of Dimensions the magazine are needed. I hope I'll get some help with that. The old templates are outdated, and the old general content structure as well. I've had several offers to help, and I really appreciate that, but what I really need is a true project manager, heck, in Trumpian terms An Apprentice. Someone who can pull it all together so that, in the end, it won't all fall in my lap again. It'll eventually happen I hope.

So there. Over 2000 words of contemplations. I could go on, easily. There's much that needs to be said about size acceptance, about some fatal flaws, about what Dimensions represents and needs to represent, and so on. But this is enough for now.

Happy New Year to all of you!!!!!

Conrad

Conrad H. Blickenstorfer