The WebElf Report

So long, and thanks for all the fish: An Anglican website opens a window (pun intended)
January 8, 2008, 11:13 pm
Filed under: CaNN Commentary

We Were Bored…

In The Beginning..
We were bored. I was sitting at my desk in the largest Seminary in Canada in one of the most beautiful cities in Canada talking to my good friend Father Binky and we were bored. That’s really how it all began, way back (in techno-terms) in 2003.

A quick search of domain databases revealed that was available for purchase (15 Canuck Bucks), so purchase we did, and over the next several days the idea grew into what became the largest central repository of Anglican writers in the world. To this day, it holds that record, I believe. (And don’t believe anything that Greg Griffith tells you, because he’s just jealous that we were better than him.)

The vision was for a ‘place to go’; a central location for all Anglicans to meet, exchange ideas, have arguments, air grievances, pontificate and piss and moan. To our honest surprise it took off. Now, at this time there was really only one other major player in the Anglican online world of a name that shall not be named.

The Evil Master Plan

We managed to, in short order, provide a place for people to go looking for balanced, fair reporting on what the story was in the Communion, be it good or bad. Soon after going live we had managed to attract some of the finest bloggers the Anglican world had ever (perhaps would ever) see. Kendall Harmon, Leander Harding, Al Kimel, Todd Granger, Karen Boyle to name but a few. This stable of intrepid writers churned out mile after mile of thought-provoking posts that challenged us both to think clearly and to be better followers of our Lord.

Pretty soon the idea began to grow. We began hosting parishes, dioceses and in some cases whole provinces of the Anglican Communion. By the end of 2005, with money dwindling and donations lacking we were fearful that the project would have to be closed. Not only were costs spiraling out of control, but it was proving too big for just one person to manage.

We prayed and the Lord intervened.

Growing Pains

A faithful Anglican ministry stepped in, took us under their wings, provided us shelter from the financial storm and put us back on our feet. And on it went, and we grew and we grew and we grew. The seed that had been planted on a boring mid-summer day in Toronto had become a bounteous crop.

Before too long, though, we had outgrown the already costly machinery on which we were hosted and had to open a second server. What had started as an idea had turned into a full-time job. But, once again, on we pressed with the firm belief that what we were doing was changing the face of how Anglicans thought about their church and themselves.

The First Stealth-Nuke

Then came the crash. It was bound to happen sooner or later and happen it did. A hacker who has since been traced to an Anglican office took us out for several days. With the generous help of a few godly programmers throughout the world we picked ourselves up, brushed off the dirt and we were back online. And prosper in the faith we did. Before too long, other excellent online ministries were starting up; Stand Firm in Faith (Greg Griffith), Anglican Mainstream (Peter Ould & Chris Sugden), Parish Alive (The Prayer Book Society of Canada), et al.

The idea that had begun in a small office had spread to others and indeed empowered others to stand up and be counted. No wonder the Church Machine began to notice.

For the two men that had played a part in this revolution, though, things began to take a toll. Health and finances both suffered under the burden of carrying on such a project.

Nuked Deep, Long, And Nasty

In November of 2007, still running strong after over four years in service, it hit again, and this time they knew what they were looking for.

A malicious hacker had gained root access (to this day we still don’t know how) to the main CaNNet server and wiped out both the live production server and the off-site backups. With the main server administrator still recovering from a devastating illness and finances running low, there was little strength left to draw upon other than to consider the possibility that we may need to shut down. The bottom had fallen out. Congratulations whoever you are, you won this one.

Working with backups that had been preserved from mid-summer, we began the slow, arduous task of rebuilding what we could. Unfortunately, sometimes even the best and most well-intentioned efforts just aren’t enough and in mid-December, following much prayer and consideration, the decision was made.

It’s been a long time coming and there was a lot of soul-searching in between. New friends were made, regretfully some old friends were lost, but at the end of the day we could still stand with dignity and say ‘we did it with God’s help.’

First Things First

So first, an apology. I would like to personally apologize to anyone that has been hurt or wronged as a result of this great misfortune. My recovery from the summer illness has been ongoing and indeed will likely carry on for some time and in the midst of dealing with that and the task of having to rebuild the countless hours of work of so many good people, much was lost and most of it wasn’t even data.

Second, a thank you. To Father Binky, for being a stalwart supporter in prayer, conversation and scotch. To Karen Boyle, our prayer warrior and friend. To Kendall Harmon, for trusting us to host him. To Greg Griffith, for being a friend who made me laugh more often than not and for showing us all how to do it with excellence and grace. To Peter Ould, for being – well – so very English. To Fr. Al Kimel, for teaching me (perhaps all of us) for what it means to be Catholic. To my wife Sarah, for having the strength of conviction to encourage me to press on and being a real, present and patient help through last summer. And penultimately, to our numerous faithful donors for standing by us through thick and thin. Finally, though I’m sure many have been left out, to David Virtue, for reminding us how not to do it (come on, I can’t get all mushy on you good folks!)

Waiting Upon The Lord

As for where this puts us now, only time will tell. CaNNet is slowly being revisioned under the guidance of a handful of bishops and Primates. Where this will take us, we’re not really sure, yet. But one thing is certain, we’re not going anywhere. A new day is dawning in Anglicanism and we’re so there.

To that little person who presumed to take us out of commission: I said earlier that you had won. Call it a bit of hyperbole, and oh, do watch your step.

“I was going to say I wished we’d never come. But I don’t, I don’t, I don’t. Even if we are killed. I’d rather be killed fighting for Narnia than grow old and stupid at home, and perhaps go about in a bath-chair and then die in the end just the same.”

“The Dream has ended, this is the morning…”

C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Comments gladly accepted.

Michael Daley


15 Comments so far
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[…] So long, and thanks for all the fish: An Anglican website opens a window (pun intended) […]

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You’ve certainly got to be doing something right to attract that kind of attention. Looking forward to the new, improved with added vitamins CaNNet v2…

Comment by Peter

I doubt that it’s consolation, but you are in good company. An Anglican in the Vancouver area, who was on the board of a ministry to those with same sex attraction disorder, had his computer badly disabled back when things were brewing up in that area. He recovered, but it took a lot of tie and effort.

But no one, I suspect, ever doubted that what we have here are a group of people as firmly committed to the idea that the end justifies the means as they are to sacred sodomy.

Still, good has a curious way of winning out, so there’s every reason for hope.

Comment by gerryhunter

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