Web-Based Chalkboard Launched

Today, The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression launched their on-line simulation of their planned free speech monument. Though it’s not finished, strictly-speaking, the Progress apparently decided that it was, given that they carried a story today (credited to “Staff”) announcing it. The on-line chalkboard was created by me for the TJ Center, with the generous support of George Loper.

15 Responses to “Web-Based Chalkboard Launched”


  • I like it! But I noticed that once you post or edit a comment, there’s no link to get back to the board. (Yeah, I know how to use the Back button; I’m just lazy. :-) )

  • Waldo,

    You say it’s been launched but it’s not finished. Isn’t that a bit of an oxymoron? If it isn’t finished why was it launched? It’s finished enough to be getting posts and then having them deleted as people “express” themselves. Anyway, will you tell us what is it about the on-line simulation that isn’t finished?

    Kevin Cox

  • The parts that aren’t finished are details that most users would never notice. Technical backgroundy type things. (Though one that FDR, who posted above, did notice. :)

  • I hope one of those “Technical backgroundy type things” is a link from the TJ Center’s main page to the on-line chalkboard. I can’t find one now, nor can I find a link from the Center’s main page to the description of the actual chalkboard/monument. Is there a link that I can’t find?

    Kevin Cox

  • I can’t find one now, nor can I find a link from the Center’s main page to the description of the actual chalkboard/monument. Is there a link that I can’t find?

    I’m sorry, but I can’t say — I have nothing to do with the TJ Center’s site. All that I did was make the chalkboard. The Progress story came as a complete surprise, so I expect that there’s still some catch-up to be done.

  • There is a link now.

    Kevin Cox

  • Fine job Waldo, as always.

    Gripe: on a real chalkboard you can see what’s been erased. And alterations leave evidence in the form of changed handwriting. But not on an e-board.

    That “change whatever you want” feature is not a good idea–especially if you are going to say the messages are copyrighted to the writer. Any change becomes a copyright infringement.

  • Fine job Waldo, as always.

    Thank you!

    Gripe: on a real chalkboard you can see what’s been erased. And alterations leave evidence in the form of changed handwriting. But not on an e-board.

    Yes, I perceive several minor shortcomings of this nature that are without solution in an on-line simulation. Another limitation is that on a physical chalkboard, when somebody is writing on it, you can observe them to be doing so. Last night, somebody erased all of the comments and said that they would continue to do so, because they were fundamentally opposed to the concept of free expression in this manner. A subsequent comment pointed out that this individual was likely far too cowardly to routinely perform such an action with the physical chalkboard. Which I happen to agree with, but there is simply no on-line simulation of a physical presence, so that is probably without a solution.

    Fortunately, the benefits of this simulation far outweigh the drawbacks, at least in my mind. Thus far I’ve not only learned some really interesting things about how people behave and work together in anonymity, but about how I behave in anonymity. Turns out I’m mischevious. :) I certainly hope that this experiment will prove to be an adequate preview of how the physical chalkboard will work, and what sort of a culture will form around it.

    I cannot speak to the legalities of your latter comment, regarding copyright — I’m just the programmer. :)

  • >> because they were fundamentally opposed to the

    >> concept of free expression in this manner.

    um… what?

  • um… what?

    Yeah, that’s pretty much what I thought. Weird, huh?

  • I’ve been browsing through the on-line simulation for the last few days, and I think there’s at least one aspect of the “real” chalkboard that is not being accurately simulated — that of brevity. Most of you probably haven’t done much chalk writing since grade school, but writing anything over a sentence or two is pretty much a pain in the ass (especially if you know someone can come up and erase your ruminations as soon as you leave). For example, the whole North/South/litter screed currently occupying around 700 words up at the simulation would probably be condensed into the following exchange on a real chalkboard:

    “Litter SUCKS!”

    “Northerners SUCK!”

    “No, you suck!”

    “You’re wrong”!

    “I wasn’t talking to you!”

    $#&% you!!

  • here here!

  • PUNCHLiNE magazine (http://www.punchlinemag.com) from Richmond has what they Nonsense Classifieds on their website. You can’t erase but anyone can post, and the postings make it into the weekly print version as well…

  • Where’s the board? Did everyonejust get bored with the board?

  • Did everyonejust get bored with the board?

    Yes, it’s a very accurate simulation. ;)

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