CNUK was born in late 1997, long before Creative Commons or the ideas of free culture were born. It was the personal website of Matt Lee, titled unsurprisingly enough ‘Matt’s website’ and it lived somewhere on Tripod, and then a week later on Geocities – neither of the URLs work now, because I’ve forgotten them. The content, much like the HTML sucked – what little content there was comprised almost exclusively of short little silly pages I created because there didn’t seem to be anyone around with a site like mine, there didn’t seem to be anyone talking about the things I was talking about:- Amstrad CPC computers, Lee and Herring (the British Comedy Duo), The A-Team and Slow Worms. Of course, nowadays, we have Wikipedia for such content, but back then there was none of it, really.
In 1997, I met Nick Hancock – he had more hair back then, a pony tail in fact, as his mothballed website from back then reveals. Nick and I eventually collaborated to produce Matt and Nick’s Comedy Net – a website with big asparations and little in the way of design or concept, it was all made in a demo version of Front Page 98 and the graphics were made with a freebie of Corel Xara found on a coverdisk. It moved to its new home at comedynet.inuk.com and eventually went ‘legit’ with it’s own domain name – comedy-net.co.uk (we’ve still got these domains by the way, we’re just getting back to using them) – the website became Comedy Net UK and we even found ourselves getting voted 3rd Best Comedy Site by Internet Monthly magazine. We celebrated, albeit a month early, with our friend Ruaidhri (who we call Clive) and notions of film began to come to mind.
Of Chloe and Clive and Kate, of course
In mid 1999, I began writing scripts for my film, Clive Pigeon Spotting – it was to be a romantic comedy, written by a boy (I was only just 18) who knew very little of comedy and nothing about romance. It didn’t do that well, but Clive and Chloe (and later Kate) blessed me with their presence each and every Saturday afternoon for a while, in the local cinema bar as I presented another hastily-printed-at-8am-at-work script in a fat Manilla envelope over a Smirnoff Mule or 20. Time passed. Kate vanished. Clive began concentrating on university and Chloe has aspirations of her own – a series of spoof pornos, with titles like Dawson’s Crotch. Eventually, I moved out of my family home, into my own flat and began a grassroots comedy site for the local area. Nick was in Australia, and the whole film thing eventually vanished from my mind. Comedy Net UK disappeared and up came comedynetuk.com which survived about 4 years in various incarnations whilst never truly managing to have any content. Some of the people I’d worked with on various comedynetuk.com projects are now doing things behind the scenes at CNUK, but overall it wasn’t ever really what it could have been. CNUK Media Foundation was born out of a sense of needing to do something right for culture, after reading Free Culture and taking an interest in EFF, FSF, Downhill Battle, Adbusters and Creative Commons.
The mission is community
The mission of CNUK, I believe, is one of community. Creating a community around the ideals of several likeminded projects and giving people a platform to contribute.
I hope you like it as much as I’m liking it