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Noise to Signal: A Brief Retrospective

Posted 4th August 2013

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In September 2005, me and a group of friends set up a site called Noise to Signal. Its initial inspiration was pretty much “Ganymede & Titan, but talking about other media things other than Red Dwarf“. We had so many plans for it. It was going to “rock”, as I believe the kids all say.

In December 2009, it closed. And once it closed, I never got round to converting it to a static website, as I’m a lazy shit. Eventually the inevitable happened: a couple of months ago, I got a complaint from my hosting company that someone had hacked it and was using it to send spam emails, so I was forced to take it offline. Today – after some appropriate nudging – I finally got round to fixing it, and the site is now back online.

Of all the projects I’ve been involved in, Noise to Signal is the one which always makes me feel a little sad. The site never reached its true potential. There were some great writers, posting some brilliant articles – and after shaky start and an early revamp, the design of the site really worked well. (I’m especially proud of that final design, now preserved as the archive.) But the site never quite… flew.

The question is why, of course, and I can only speak for myself. I came to the conclusion that the problem with NTS was that the remit was just too wide, and the tone inconsistent. By trying to cover everything, we ended up covering nothing well – there was very little consistency in the output. This would have been mitigated somewhat if we’d had a large quantity of output, but apart from a few busy months, we never quite reached critical mass. (I take a large amount of responsibility for that, especially in the site’s later years – I just plain didn’t write enough, and often didn’t write what I promised.)

Ganymede & Titan always had a tone. NTS never quite found one.

To be brutally honest, despite my regrets about NTS, I’m far happier doing my own site now. Dirty Feed is far less ambitious than Noise to Signal ever was, and is never updated enough, but it certainly is more consistent in tone. And whilst I wouldn’t want to overstate the amount of drama behind-the-scenes on NTS – though there was a particularly thrilling midnight change of server and account block – there was inevitably some, and it could grow tiring. I like having to answer to nobody but myself.

Occasionally, one of us has the idea to do something with the site again – most recently, I brought up the idea of resurrecting the site as a group podcast. But every time, we realise we don’t have enough time to do the site justice. And the part of the spirit of the site lives on, as individual projects: here on Dirty Feed, on Seb and James’s Alternate Cover, on Tanya’s Gypsy Creams, on Phil’s Noiseless Chatter, and on Unlimited Rice Pudding.

I’m proud of the archive we left behind. It’s not all gold, but there’s some lovely stuff buried away in there. So if you get the time, have a peek through the site’s archives – and the final article, The Best of NTS, has links to some of the stuff we were happiest with.

Maybe it never worked quite the way we wanted it to. But I hope we left something behind that was worthwhile.

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Philip on 23 September 2013 @ 10pm

For what it’s worth it always makes me a little sad too. But when it was great, it really was great.

On Noise to Signal | Noiseless Chatter on 3 October 2013 @ 2pm

[…] on his own excellent blog, John Hoare recently wrote up this piece about Noise to […]