Finding something else on which to chew: Meatspaces creator Edna Piranha hands off gif chat project

Portland is pretty in tune with the experimental uses of technology. It’s our hobbyist culture. We like to muck with stuff. And technology, for many of us, is just another brush with which to paint. Which is what I found so compelling about Meatspaces, a chat environment created by Portland’s Edna Piranha, that mixes in short form gifs snapped by your laptop camera.

I’ve never been a participant in Meatspaces. But I’ve lurked since shortly after it was launched. Rapidly clicking to deny the site permission access to my camera. Mostly to just see what was happening. And who was there. And how creatively they were using the platform. Suffice it to say, it has been fascinating to watch the community grow. And change. Sometimes organically. And sometimes virally.

But consistently interesting. Or interestingly, I guess. I mean, “interestingly” is an adverb modifying… Ahem. I digress.

You really can’t describe what Meatspaces is. Well maybe you can. But I can’t. So you just kind of have to see it.

And you’ll either get it or you won’t.

But my post here isn’t about Meatspaces. It’s about Edna Piranha, who spends her days—and likely many nights—as a Mozilla engineer. Who not only created the open source project, but who has been building and caring for and feeding and nurturing the Meatspaces community along.

She recently announced that, after a year of effort, she’s stepping away from the project. Handing it off to other dedicated Meatspacers to run.

Sometimes it’s tempting to hold onto something for fear of people forgetting who you are. Sometimes it’s tempting to try and make one little change in the system to see if people can understand what my consciousness is trying to share. Sometimes that hits a limit and it’s time to move on to new experiments and ways of understanding how we can connect humans together through technology.

A part of me feels torn about letting go of the main responsibilities of the project but I am still a part of the community. But a big part of me is always needing to explore and find even more obscure, weird, crazy ways to understand how we understand each other.

The same way I can’t describe Meatspaces, I can’t really put into words how much respect and admiration I have for her decision and her reasoning. But most of all, I simply can’t wait to see what Edna Piranha does next.

To see it in action, visit Meatspaces. For more on the project, visit Meatspaces on Github. For more on this decision, read Edna Piranha’s post.