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Barry Crimmins

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political satirist Barry Crimmins

Whacking the Wiki Weasel Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Whacking the Wiki Weasel

Exterior photograph of website developer's motives.

There's nothing that brings the "small" out of a small town boy more than other small town people. I was sent an e-mail about a link to a piece I wrote about the Clintons' first visit to my hometown, Skaneateles, NY. In the Boston Phoenix essay, I document the then-president's 1999 vacation to the Eastern Gateway to the Finger Lakes. The link was in the Skaneateles Talk blog run by a guy named Cary Briel. For some reason he chose to link to this piece but then linked to my entire site with the warning: Barrys website here (if youre as bored by his work as I am zzzz.).

This begs a question, Mr. Briel: if I'm so boring, why are you linking to anything I've written? Anyway, this is where I become what I resist and let the small come out in me. People like Briel who can't take substantive issue with someone reach for a quick and dismissive term with which to dispose of the threatening person. And so I'm boring. So boring that there's no need to support his statement with reason, unless you consider "....zzzz....." a compelling and influential use of punctuation marks and consonants.

So, in full petty mode, I decided to investigate this arbiter of all that's interesting. It turns out he's a website developer -- in other words he makes websites for people and businesses. I'm sure they are anything but boring! He's also generously started a site called Skaneateles Wiki. According to the site, "The Skaneateles Wiki is a non-profit, community Wiki effort, intending to create an online reference that includes all things Skaneateles."

And what's the first thing this altruist web developer does with his non-profit creation? He follows the path of all great philanthropists and announces on his business website that Briel Computer & Network has launched SkaneatelesWiki.org, a non-profit, community Wiki project intended to catalog all things related to Skaneateles, NY. Briel is currently in the process of adding all  the businesses in the village of Skaneateles to the Wiki, including exterior photographs. The Skaneateles Wiki is intended to compliment SkaneatelesTalk.com, a community blog website recently launched by Briel.

Wow, devoting bandwith on his commercial site for the promotion of this community project!
What a selfless individual! When he could be busily trying to market his own Skaneateles-based web development firm that's in the business of attracting businesses to hire him to create websites for them, he's instead selflessly going around and creating an on-line tribute to every business in the town where he's set up shop. Quite frankly, I am humbled by such largesse. This guy could be visiting each of these businesses to sell them on what he could do for them on the web. Instead he visits all these businesses to include them in a free online directory. This man is a saint, a never boring, never ham-handed saint! Let's hope some of those businesses are smart enough to put Mr. Briel to work for them!

I felt compelled to dash off a missive to express my gratitude to Mr. Briel.

Mr. Briel, Boring, huh? Usually I'm annoying enough not to be considered boring. Apparently I've gone soft. I'll work harder to entertain you. Stay tuned and thanks for the articulate criticism.

And keep up the fine work! That wiki Skaneatles thing is like walking through a living Yellow Pages!

Barry Crimmins


Now contrary to some assumptions, I do not despise my hometown. While I'm discouraged by how it's been rendered almost unrecognizable by developers, I still love it. I'm a local kid who proudly wore the blue and gold of the Skaneateles Lakers on the football and baseball fields. I began my writing career as an adolescent journalist for the Skaneateles Press. I learned to love nature and care about the environment on the pastoral land surrounding the beautiful lake. I made the only lifelong friendships I'll ever have in that town -- and plenty of them.

Had I not grown up in Skaneateles and passed through coincidentally, I'd probably rave about it. So there are plenty of great people there and plenty of them are new to the area. If I were truly local and petty I'd call out Briel for questioning a "legacy" but that would be crap. One of the great things about Skaneateles is the outsiders it attracts. They have been elsewhere and know of life beyond the isolated Central New York community. Meeting these people as a kid made me want to travel and see how I'd do in a world that was bigger than the Onondaga County Southern Division, in which I competed in interscholastic sports. I did just that and have grown to appreciate so much about this world  that I'd have never known had I remained in that beautiful little town.

For instance; I learned that although I have differences with people, I have things in common with them, as well. Mr Briel has some links on his site to the works of another Skaneateles resident, Kihm Winship. I couldn't agree more with the idea that Mr Winship should be shared. Kihm is also a relative newcomer to the town. He brought with him diplomatic skills that allow him to blend in and interact with some rather short-sighted people, while keeping his own line of vision as broad as the curvature of the earth.

Sometimes that vision focuses on something as mundane yet awful as litter. His
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Litter in Skaneatles blog is a droll broadside at our over-packaged and far less disposable than advertised society. In it he details the litter he's been picking up during his years in Skaneateles. This is a typical entry: Its always a comfort to see litterers who have been taking care of themselves. Together on the grass: an empty SoBe LIFE WATER Pomegranate   Cherry bottle which once held 250% of the minimum daily requirement of vitamin C, as well as vitamins B and E, next to an empty torn bag that yielded FAT FREE Welchs Fruit Snacks Strawberry Made with REAL FRUIT containing 100% of the minimum daily requirement of vitamin C. Talk about a litterer fairly bursting with energy and robust good health.

All that and he quotes Gandhi, too!

Winship is an editor and writer. His interests include (in no particular order) Skaneateles history, music, literature, dogs and beer. He has a site that includes his longer pieces of writing called Faithful Reader. And then a site dedicated to what's of current interest to him called Read, Seen, Heard.

Perhaps he will add to his list of accomplishments and negotiate a non-aggression pact between the humanitarian Briel and the tedious Crimmins.

updated: 14 years ago