My Internet: Annie Rauwerda
The Depths of Wikipedia creator grew up on Snapchat and Vine.
Every week, we quiz a “very online” person for their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.
Today we welcome Annie Rauwerda, a writer, Wikipedia editor, and the creator of Depths of Wikipedia, a delightful chronicle of spicy responses to ransomware attacks and photo captions like, “A healthy cow lying on her side is not immobilized; she can rise whenever she chooses.” She recently wrote about Russians downloading Wikipedia before it is banned, and publishes her newsletter, LOL (lots of links), twice a month. (You can also find her on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, or see her live at one of three Depths of Wikipedia events happening this month.)
Annie made Vines on her iPod touch in middle school, disdains the Buzzfeed millennial vibes of emojis, and finds so much joy online it’s ridiculous. —Nick
EMBEDDED: What types of videos do you watch on YouTube?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: Math explainers, geography explainers, history explainers, chess explainers, and the 2008 video my dad made of my 9th birthday party.
EMBEDDED: What do you use Instagram for?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: I go Instagram to see what my Close Friends are up to and to message people. My feed is devolving into a cesspool of shitty videos and annoying ads but Instagram messenger rocks, especially since I’m abroad right now.
EMBEDDED: Do you tweet? Why?
EMBEDDED: Have you ever had a post go viral? What was that experience like?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: Most days of the week, I have a post that gets more than 100,000 likes on one platform or another, so my baseline for post-viral-tweet-euphoria is pretty high! I would need to spur a multi-platform meme or get RTed by a Kardashian or something.
EMBEDDED: Who’s the coolest person who follows you?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: Hm, probably John Mayer or Grimes or Neil Gaiman. It’s kind of hard to keep track.
EMBEDDED: Who’s someone more people should follow?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: Off the top of my head, I’d recommend following Harry Hill (funny Instagram guy!), Molly White (crypto bro’s worst nightmare!), @tonyhawktruther (silly tweeter from Ohio), @willystaley (silly Tweeter from New York), Jake Eberts (Wikipedia editor who got a bunch of media attention for purposefully getting dysentery for some medical trial). None of these people are that underground.
EMBEDDED: Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: Probably Martha Stewart. The other day she posted a tribute to her six pet peacocks who were brutally murdered by coyotes—with the sultry “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye playing in the background. She does something like this like once a week.
EMBEDDED: Where do you tend to get your news?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: I listen to The Daily most mornings and I subscribe to a few newsy email newsletters. I send local Michigan news back and forth with my dad all day. And I’m on Twitter and Reddit.
EMBEDDED: What does “cancel culture” mean to you?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: I think that a lot of people are overwhelmed and completely paralyzed by issues like climate change and social inequality and pouncing on Twitter’s scapegoat of the day is a great way to signal to yourself and others that You Care. And it’s so fun. Engaging in some righteous cyberbullying feels awesome. But it’s bad. The instant you start getting mad at someone on the internet, you should probably ask yourself if it’s one of those “touch grass” moments.
EMBEDDED: Do you subscribe to any Substacks or other independent newsletters? What are your favorites?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: Yes! I subscribe to a few dozen—so many that my inbox is barely usable. My favorite is Today in Tabs. I also like Recommendo, Links I would Gchat you, Embedded, and Luke Winkie’s. I also like personal newsletters from people I don’t know very well. Three years ago I casually dated a guy who recommended his friend Ian McKnight’s Substack and I’ve been a silent, loyal subscriber since then. It’s a nice window into a stranger’s soul. Do you ever walk through a city and wish you could open up the building Richard Scarry-style and see exactly what everyone is thinking about?
EMBEDDED: Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: I like most NPR podcasts. I also like Maintenance Phase and You’re Wrong About and Reply All (rest in peace) and the Jamie Loftus Extended Universe and El Pais news podcasts in Spanish, which I listen to so that I don’t completely lose my ability to understand Spanish.
EMBEDDED: Have you ever been heavily into Snapchat? Around what age?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: I’m 22 right now and I spent my high school years illuminated by the yellow screen. I’d wake up, watch the Cosmo story, and then get ready for high school. But then, around the time Kylie Jenner sent the stock price tumbling because of a tweet, I stopped using it. Now that Madame Jenner has publicly lambasted the Instagram update, I’m wondering how long it’ll last. The power she holds!
EMBEDDED: Are you nostalgic for Vine or Tumblr? Why?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: I used to make Vines on my iPod touch in middle school and I would have risked it all for any of the MAGCON boys but particularly Cameron Dallas. I used Tumblr in high school but not obsessively—probably not enough to characterize myself as a “Tumblr girl.” My best friend Hajin was on Tumblr and I’d scroll almost every day to see what she was up to. I don’t know if I’m allowed to discuss uncouth desires in a public newsletter so that’s all I’ll say about my time on Tumblr.
EMBEDDED: Are you in any groups on Reddit, Slack, Discord, or Facebook? What’s the most useful or entertaining one?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: I have a few walled-off communities that I love. I’m in a Twitter group chat that someone called “roon” made for all his friends. I’m in a bazillion Discords. Communities are more fun when you’re an active participant, and private groups invite conversation from people who might otherwise be silent scrollers.
EMBEDDED: Are you playing any games right now?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: Chess.com
EMBEDDED: What purpose do you see in NFTs?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: Ugh I miss the days when NFTs were Nice Fucking Tits instead of a digital certificate to the worst art you’ve ever seen in your life. In college I studied neuroscience and I’d get a jumpscare when we talked about NFTs (neurofibrullary tangles). I feel strongly aligned with the open source movement and a lot of Web3 discourse co-ops the language of early internet pioneers (like “decentralized”) but ultimately seems to build a capitalist hellscape while burning the planet to a crisp.
EMBEDDED: Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: No, I find them inconvenient, but it’s okay if other people use them (I’m just happy people want to talk to me)
EMBEDDED: What’s your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: Emojis have Buzzfeed millennial vibes 🤣🤣 and I don’t usually use them very much 🤧 but I do sometimes use 🥺 (“pleading face emoji”) to signal emotion. 🤣
EMBEDDED: Do you pay for a music streaming service, and if so, which one? When was the last time you bought a music download or vinyl record, CD, or tape?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: I first got Spotify in 2013 and shared an account with my high school ex-boyfriend. These days, I’m using the same account (with my ex-boyfriend’s username) but it’s a Spotify family plan with my extended family. It makes me chuckle whenever I log in. I think the last time I paid for an iTunes mp3 was 2015. It was the Shawn Mendes album Handwritten. I have never bought a record, CD, or tape.
EMBEDDED: What’s your favorite non-social media app?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: Wikipedia. Also, I go on Omegle a lot.
EMBEDDED: What’s the most basic internet thing that you love?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: There are so many developers who make beautiful things that are ad-free, cookie-free, and free. I started being friends with Max Bittker after I saw he made the sublime “New New York Times” bot on Twitter and he opened my eyes to the wonderful world of indie games and tech vegans. Spend a few minutes making a virtual aquarium. Make Fridge Poems! Get an AI-generated “Am I the Asshole” answers! Browse one man’s startlingly thorough catalog of bread tags.
EMBEDDED: Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What’s a recent thing you’ve bought or sold?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: I don’t have a ton of disposable income right now so I haven’t been buying physical items unless I really need them. A few months ago I bought a Wikireader on eBay.
EMBEDDED: Have you recently read an article, book, or social media post about the internet that you’ve found particularly insightful?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: I liked Andrew Lih’s 2009 book The Wikipedia Revolution. I liked Walter Isaacson’s book The Innovators. I liked Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror. I liked Lurking by Joanne McNeil.
EMBEDDED: What’s the last thing that brought you joy online?
ANNIE RAUWERDA: I find so much joy online it’s ridiculous. I find joy online all the time. I found joy online two minutes ago when I saw that there’s a palindromic approximation for pi. The fraction 666/212 is approximately pi. How neat! I also found joy online when I posted on my story “does anyone have an apartment in Berlin where I can stay for a month?” and I found a cool apartment where I stayed for a month.