The creator of the Heavenly Creatures Frequently
Asked Questions Website, Adam Abrams, wishes to say:
"A PhD thesis comparison
(to the HC FAQ) may be more apt than you think, for I believe John Porter,
who wrote the original FAQ, was an academic in Berkeley, California.
His email address was from a University of California at Berkeley domain.
I know little about him, but here's the basic outline of what happened:
In 1995, I was still in the
throes of my obsession with HC when I came in contact with Porter through
email. It must have been on a movie newsgroup or something since
I had no Website yet. He was working up a FAQ on Heavenly Creatures
- and I gladly shared some observations of mine with him. We went
back and forth, comparing notes, and finally the document was ready - he
posted it to the newsgroup. It was a revelation! I devoured
the whole thing in one long late-night reading session and revelled in
all the background info about my favourite film. There were still
some major gaps in it though. Some months later, Porter corrected
this with a major revision of the FAQ. Even more info and commentary.
Around this time I was starting
to get interested in this whole "web page" phenomenon. I wanted to
build one of my own. But what to use as my topic? I was reading
the HC FAQ and noticing all the cross-references (i.e. "see secton 4.6.1
for further analysis"). The idea of simply hyper-linking all those
references was enough to convince me that I should "web-ify" the document.
Porter gave his OK and I jumped on the task.
I had HC FAQ on the brain.
Late nights of editing the long document and breaking it into segments,
then adding HTML code. All, I might add, in a text editor, at least
at first. Later I used a shareware HTML coding program, but it was
quite basic and a far cry from today's robust site management tools.
I built this site with my bare hands!
I still remember the evening
I was ready to upload my site. Believe it or not, I hadn't yet checked
to see if there was anything similar out there. So I was shocked
to discover Bryan Woodworth's "HC Rocked My World!" site. My first
reaction was frankly, disappointment that I wasn't first! But I soon
realized that Bryan's site complemented mine - it was more of an appreciation
and not a compendium of facts. Soon I was in regular contact with
Bryan, and was one of the first members of the HC mailing list - which
he set up.
Meanwhile, John Porter had
not been heard from in a while. In fact, I could no longer track
him down at all! His email no longer worked and I ceased to hear
from him. I'd embellished his work with photo galleries, sound clips,
a news page, etc., but his writing was still the core of my site.
I only recall one brief contact from him after that, then nothing.
I even called a John Porter listed in the Berkeley phone book and left
a message, but never heard anything back.
Until this point, I'd felt
like any changes to the FAQ should be cleared with the author, but at this
point I took custodianship of it and considered it my responsibility.
I made additional corrections to errors of fact as they were pointed out
to me over time by email correspondents, but at this point it's basically
a finished document.
I never did hear back from
Mr. Porter. But I'd say your PhD guess is probably spot-on - besides
the clue from his email address, his whole approach as well as his writing
style is that of an informed academic with a lot of experience in research
and writing under his belt. I am certainly grateful to him for his
efforts without which my HC site would have been but a pale shadow of the
fact-filled reference it is now."
Interview with Adam Abrams