tsn8: About the Looking Glass

It’s been a long time…

For some, it’s been more than a decade. For others, it was never really gone. A lot has changed since the first launch of the social network now known as “the-spot.net,” and even more has changed when compared to its predecessor “etbustudents.cc”.


In fact, the whole purpose of internet itself has changed. We’ve gone from the dawn of personal blogs like Xanga and Livejournal, to the dominance of the microblog like Twitter and Facebook. We’ve lived the craze of Instant Messaging, to the necessity of Mobile Messaging. And we’ve gone from the disbelief that someone has internet on their phone, to the disbelief that anyone could live without it.

A year in the making

The idea to rebuild the site started gestating in March 2014. The site was outdated, and the My Spot page was mostly made up of broken links to things or services that didn’t exist anymore. And the logo throughout the site didn’t match the logo on the splash page.

The "Sneak Peak" screenshot - even has my old logo

The “Sneak Peak” screenshot – even has my old logo

So I decided to give the site a facelift – nothing more. That is why if you look back through this blog’s archives, you’ll see the first mention of a design sneak peak. Unfortunately, the effort tapered off a month or so later without a clear purpose or direction. The idea was to just update all the existing UI code with some of the skills learned on the job since the last refresh, and to use some of the technology that had matured since then. Without a reason, or a goal, or even an audience – what was the point?

One evening, down memory lane

It wasn’t until December, the 2nd actually, that a question was posed during a job interview. A question I hadn’t been asked before, but to which I already knew the answer.

Interviewer: What was your biggest challenge?


Me: My social network website. Not because it was technically difficult – it wasn’t – but because it forced me to evaluate and change who I was, the views I held, and my reaction to them in so many ways, and at such an early age.

In my head while answering the question, lots of difficult things came to mind about how to implement certain things. But there was no reason to explain what was technically difficult about the site, it was irrelevant. It was the larger benefit the site brought that was important. It was the social aspect, the purpose of the site to begin with…the desire to bring different types of people together to have discussions that normally would never have the opportunity to take place. It was to create a social network, in a time when they did not exist.

It was that evening that I decided to take a look through the site, with the new perspective on how I changed from it all, to see if any of it was noticeable to the person I am today. As I read through the journals, threads, forum games, introductions, and conversations I realized so many things that were going on in my head at the time, but with the knowledge of their outcome.

I was looking back through time at, yet unable to change, the activities of a 20-something. I was reading the thoughts, the emotions, the masking of emotions, and the failures to mask. It was clear that I was an arrogant jerk for most of it, and that I was depressed at a point, and that I was a different person altogether these days. It was like peering through a mirror that shows you how things were, not as they are perceived to be.

That is when the motivation for the-spot.net reboot took hold.

A four month push

I talked to several people about the idea of being able to look back on who you were 10 years ago, to realize how far you’d come in life, and everyone loved the idea. The old founders were wanting to see the site in the middle of discussion, and the people who had never been on the site lamented their inability to do it. So that settled it – there was an idea that people could get behind, with 100% confidence in the pitch.

I set a goal to reboot the site by the end of December, to mark the 2015 year, as I usually did with a new version. That didn’t make it.

Updating the site was "merely a setback"

Updating the site was “merely a setback”

I then set the goal to finish by the end of January to mark the decade anniversary of 10 years of content since the Great Crash of 2004. But January 12th, I updated the site’s code to phpbb 3.1.2 and that wiped all the work I had done on tsn8, and I lost compatibility for everything that was done for tsnX. I had to start over completely  – just as I had to for tsn7 in 2006.

So I settled on releasing it on the anniversary of the-spot.net‘s original domain name purchase: April 14th. And that is why this post is published on this day. If you’re already registered on the site, you should have gotten an email to your registered account announcing the new features. If that email is no longer valid, head on over to the tsn8 welcome thread in the forums!

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