This is a profile I did for my writing class on Matt Haughey.  He’s the webmaster of MetaFilter and the author of a couple of web books.  The assignment didn’t turn out exactly as I expected, because I did not choose a true direction to follow in the profile before I sent Matt the interview questions.  However, I cobbled together a pretty decent paper, I think.
Write a profile of a personality - actor, writer, politician - with some social relevance.  Make the profile entertaining.  Do not write a biography.

Even though you are conversing directly with him, you can’t tell if Matthew Haughey is sitting behind his office desk in San Francisco, or if he is in a hotel for work in New York or Austin.  Across the interstitial two to 2000 miles, you don’t even hear his voice; but his message comes through crystal clear:  The public now plays a larger role in the way news around the world is written and received.

Blogging, a popular new method of publishing on the web via a web log, or "blog", gives internet users the ability to create original, usually personal content rather than simply consuming it.  In creating a web log, a person might add an entry to his web page, similar to a daily journal, but include links to other relevant web sites.  Matt Haughey was one of the original Pyra Labs developers for, a popular online tool that allows common internet users to easily create their own web logs.

As the co-author of We Blog: Publishing online with web logs, a book about the evolution and how-to of blog writing, Haughey shows his expertise with this emerging medium of communication.  A graduate of University of California Riverside with a master’s degree in environmental science, one might not at first imagine Haughey a paramount figure in the evolution of the web.  However, since his graduation from UC Riverside, Haughey has served as the technical editor of four web development books, and has participated in the writing of two web-related publications.  Many sites on the topic of blogging cite his books and web pages as references, and manage to secure quotes from Haughey to enhance their credibility.  But it is his work with his MetaFilter site that exhibits his personal success.

MetaFilter, a community blog, boasts a membership of over 15,000 registered users.  Each month, members post between 500 and 800 news stories from a combination of traditional national and international news sources, along with tabloid-style suppliers and personal web sites.  Typically, the audience of these postings ranges from a few hundred with special interests to a fully global audience.  Members have posted articles with topics of diverse range, from one entitled "Flapping in the breeze", concerning movies of naked skydivers, to "Re-thinking the Iraq/al-Quaeda connection", discussing the intelligence community reaction to Secretary of State Powell’s United Nations address.  Many of the postings concern hot-button political issues, infractions of outdated blue laws, and outbreaks of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll - all tinted from the perspective of average Joe sitting in the glow of his home computer monitor.

"In the early days of the internet, many people became creators, but after 1998 or so, the internet started becoming sort of like television, and most people became passive consumers of content. I hope that weblogs have shifted that back to turning the internet into a creative outlet," Haughey aspires.  Today’s television network perspective of world events only provides a complete view when coupled with commentary provided by the network of personal web sites and blogs worldwide.  Writers from many news sources, including The New York Times and political magazine National Review, have started blogs of their own to supplement the traditional news that they report.

The power of MetaFilter’s community was never more evident than during the events of September 11.  As events unfolded, internet users had difficulty obtaining the information that might help quell their uncertainty.  MetaFilter not only provided an outlet of links to uncongested news sources, but allowed users to comment on that news and provide many personal perspectives on these events.  In one terrifying month, comments left by members wanting to distribute more information soared from around 9,000 to over 20,000.

Haughey remains humble concerning the popularity of his free service, in spite of its success, "Six months after it launched it was only getting 100 page views a day, while now the average is over 50,000."  Today, it is not uncommon to find over 200 responses added to MetaFilter articles per day.

MetaFilter is not the only showing of Matt Haughey’s success.  On January 6, 2003, announced user registration in excess of 1 million.  Through the logs of personal and newsworthy events made possible by the Blogger software, internet users worldwide can provide and obtain fresh perspectives on local culture, international news, and sundry topics.

"I'm pretty connected to the world, as I'm constantly taking in news from all points on the globe," says Haughey.  The sense that communication in his world takes place behind a keyboard flows from his words.  Web logs provide him even more access to personal interests than ever before.  "I can go to my old coworker's site to see the latest pictures of his new daughter [and] I can read my uncle's weblog to see what he is up to these days," he explains of his connectivity.

In spite of all of the information available to him via the internet, Haughey admits that it has not yet fulfilled its full potential.  He believes that the promise of the internet and web logs to make accessible the whole of human experience may yet be attainable.  "It's a lofty goal, and I think we can come close to it eventually."