How long has "Project Sifter" existed?

We ran the first ad in the San Diego Reader in May '96. That prompted over fifty responses (which in turn prompted this form letter ). Since then, we've run the ad in the UCSD Guardian the Santa Cruz Metro, and the New York Village Voice, posted fliers around the UCSD, Stanford (Palo Alto), and MIT (Boston) campuses and other random places, and so on...

How many of you are there? What are your demographics?

There are over 399 people (and growing) if you count all the lurkers (as of December, 2006), more like 50 to 180 people in each regional area who actually show up once in a while, with maybe 10 to 25 showing up on any particular occasion; and probably under a dozen who actually make the effort to place invitations (hint hint :).

Most of us live in San Diego county or the San Fransisco Bay Area (including Santa Cruz), with growing numbers scattered about the rest of the planet as well including a rapidly growing Boston contingent. Ages range from late teens to in the 50's, with the median in the mid 20's.

The fact that you have a name and a mailing list imply that you are an organization, and not just a group of friends. Organizations are generally formed around a set of shared goals (to make money, to promote a certain idea, to play music, etc.). What are yours?

Nothing more than is stated in #1. We each have our own projects, hobbies, and goals, and we're all of the mind that having good friends to share them with is an added value. Rather than selecting by common interests -- i.e., by looking for other musicians, avid skiers, or whatever -- we're selecting by common philosophical grounds, as presented in the ad. Anybody can learn to ski. Being honest with reality, on the other hand, is a hard thing for people to get back once they've lost it. And most people, in this day and age, have lost it. So to speak... :)

Our attitude is: you can't teach someone to be honest at heart. They either are, or aren't. Some of us aren't quite as pessimistic as I am, but, by and large, we don't bother trying to convert (rescue) people.

That's different than saying we don't teach each other plenty! We're all objective and honest to begin with, so we make good students and teachers both. Convincing a rational person that they're wrong is much easier than convincing an irrational person to be rational.

What do you "meet" about?

We don't meet about anything in particular, most of the time. (Sometimes we might go to a cog sci or a philosophy lecture together and then eat lunch and discuss it afterward. But those are the more topic-specifc gatherings. We also just play.) Sometimes one of us will have some others over for dinner. Sometimes some of us get together and go skiing. Sometimes we stay up late arguing about the fate of the world. You know. We're friends. We're not a club. We're not trying to start one. We're just looking to know more people like us. We have something good, and we say: "Hey, where do we get more of that?"

In practical terms, someone will occasionally organize some sort of random gettogether (dinner, BBQ, movie, concert, whatever) and whoever wants to shows up, and we hang out, talk, eat -- you know, all that mammalian stuff. No big deal. But it gives people a chance to meet each other, make friends, and whatnot. As a group, we don't do that much exciting except enjoying the occasional casual gettogethers, but lots of friendships have been made (and continue to be) and there's no way to tally all that comes of that.

There is a lesson in this: If you sit on the sidelines waiting for something really exciting, you'll probably never see it. You gotta invest a little time and energy to find the people you like and want to hang out with (the ad is a great filter, but it's not that great!) and then, like all of life, you gotta figure out what to do with them.

You all seem to be in San Diego. I'd love to come to a frisbee game, but alas I live in Moscow [Paris, Orlando, Anchorage, Athens, etc]. So I guess I'll never be able to meet sifters in person.

Not true! I (Carolyn) answered the questionnaire personally, just so you know who I am, not to indicate where you have to go to get a good conversation or chaotic sporting event. There are sifters all over the world. Project Sifter's primary goal is to supply an online venue to find and meet with interesting people who live near you. We also travel quite a bit, so look for announcements of wandering sifters.

What now?

That's as much up to you as to us. Sifter is a focal point for a pretty select group of people, i.e., you. Think about it--hundreds of people read that ad and replied anyway. I find that downright amazing.

Read on...

How do we contact each other, etc..

For now, just email me via the form below if you're interested.

Haven't you answered enough questions yet? Geeze.

I hope so!

But now, I have some questions for you. It would help me out a lot to know a little about you. This will be emailed to me and a backup human (Brandyn), and to Al, sifter's automated webmaster. Look for a reply from al at sifter.org and/or from me (addy below). Only the first three fields are technically required by the form, but please tell us enough so we have some idea of whether sifter's for you or not. [For reference, I've given my answers in square brackets below.]

What's your name?

First name is fine.

[Carolyn: Carolyn Ray]

Name: 

Email address?

Please add mine to your spam filter if necessary to make sure I can reply.

[Carolyn: carolyn at supersaturated dot com]

Email: 

What do you do -- work/school and hobbies? Or, more generally, who are you? What tickles your fancy? What do you like about yourself? What sorts of things do you appreciate in others? What do you want?

[Carolyn: I am a programmer, and I have a Ph.D. in Philosophy, specializing in epistemology, metaphysics, and logic. I do independent research on artificial intelligence, and I have an exotic horticulture business that supports me and my research. Frisbee is one of my passions. You'll see my Splendid Frisbee invitations weekly, if you decide sifter people would be fun to hang with.]

Say as much or as little as you want here.

How old are you?

Approximations are fine for those of you like me who can't remember for sure. I'm just trying to form a demographic profile.

[Carolyn: I'm 44]

Age: 

What area do you live in? (And, how far can you travel to meet up w/us?)

[Carolyn: I live in Pacific Beach (San Diego), in the bay.]

Location: 

Are you interested in meeting in person?

Obviously, we have no expectations. Show up in your torns and tattereds, or your favorite tie and bunny slippers. Lurk or bring a soap box. Be sociable and drink smoothies with us, or be a prude and abstain. We don't care. We're deep. :)

[Carolyn: I am, of course.]

Real world? 

How did you find us in the first place?

(If it was on the internet, how specifically?)

Anything else you'd like to say...