Station Identification: Whatever
You are now visiting “Whatever.” It is a site written by John Scalzi with occasional contributions from Athena Scalzi. It has been in existence since 1998. It is as a consequence one of the longest-running personal sites on the Web. It is generally updated daily. It is about whatever the two of them feel like writing on.
A Brief History of Whatever
“Whatever” began on September 13, 1998. Scalzi, who had previously been a professional newspaper and online columnist, began the site to stay sharp in the column writing format, and took specific inspiration from columnist James Lileks’ Web site, The Bleat. Rather than to focus the writing on one specific topic, Scalzi chose to write on any subject that was of interest to him that day. Topics from the first week of Whatever included Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, the death of CNN journalist John Holliman, invoicing clients, walking the dog, the Netscape Web browser and a sexual affair involving the politician Henry Hyde. Whatever has continued without permanent interruption since that date, with the format being primarily (but not always) daily updates from Scalzi.
Whatever is one of the most visited personal sites on the Web, with 8.1 million views recorded by WordPress’ statistics suite in 2012 (see here regarding tracking site visitorship). Writing from the site has been compiled into five books, one of which, Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever 1998 – 2008 (Subterranean Press, Tor Books), earned the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Related Book. Individual blog entries are occasionally reprinted by newspapers, magazines and online sites, including the Chicago Tribune, the Dayton Daily News, CNN Money and 1Up.com.
In December 2002, Scalzi serialized his science fiction novel Old Man’s War on Whatever; it was subsequently published by Tor Books in 2005 and later nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel. In September 2006, Scalzi taped bacon to his cat and published the picture on Whatever, causing an Internet sensation; “Bacon Cat” has subsequently been featured in articles from the New York Times and the Washington Post and cited by Salon and Mental Floss as the genesis of the Internet’s obsession with bacon.
In August 2020, John was joined on Whatever by Athena Scalzi, his daughter, who came on as an editor and writer. In August 2021, Athena stepped away to focus on classes and became an occasional contributor.
From September 1998 through February of 2003, Whatever was published via “hand-rolled” html templates. The majority of the writing from this time is no longer directly available on the site. In March 2003, Scalzi switched to the Movable Type blogging software, which allowed for archiving and commenting. In October 2007, Scalzi switched to the WordPress blogging software. Since October 2008, Whatever has been hosted by WordPress.com, which he recommends.
About John Scalzi
John Scalzi has been writing professionally since 1991, first as a film critic and general columnist for the Fresno Bee newspaper (where his reviews and columns were nationally syndicated), then as America Online’s in-house writer and editor, and since 1998 as a full-time freelance writer. Scalzi is best known as a writer of science fiction, with several novels in the genre published since 2005, including Redshirts, the 2013 winner of the Hugo Award for best novel. He also frequently writes non-fiction. A full book-format bibliography is here.
Scalzi is also a consultant on writing, editing and marketing. Clients (directly or in association with marketing companies) have included The Walt Disney Company, AOL, Oppenheimer Funds, US Trust, Zagat and Network Solutions. Scalzi also served as the Creative Consultant on the television show Stargate: Universe and wrote a column on science fiction film for the FilmCritic.com site. He also wrote the video game Midnight Star, and the accompanying graphic novel, Midnight Rises. His work has been featured on the Netflix television series Love, Death and Robots.
A California native, Scalzi attended the Webb Schools of California and the University of Chicago, and lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter and an assortment of pets. A full biography is here.
As John Scalzi writes about what he wants, when he wants, however he wants (as does Athena Scalzi), there is a reasonably good chance that at some point what he writes on Whatever may upset, offend or annoy you. The longer you read the site, the more likely this becomes.
Additionally, Whatever allows readers to comment, but expects and requires a high level of intelligence and socialization from commenters.
For this reason, Scalzi has created a site disclaimer and comment policy. He encourages everyone to read it. Comment moderation here operates on its principles.