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COMMUNET Home

COMMUNET Home

COMMUNET  October 1996, Week 4

COMMUNET October 1996, Week 4

Subject:

Dynamics of List

From:

Michael Schuyler <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 23 Oct 1996 10:02:52 -0700 (PDT)

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (87 lines)

I haven't subscribed to this list for very long, it's true. I tried about
a year ago and quit, but as time heals wounds, I forgot why I did. With
the volume of listserv traffic and all, I thought I probably was just
cutting down on messages.

But I was wrong (again!) I tried again because of the demise of nptn and
my desire to commune (sorry!) with like minded people who were in the
trenches trying to figure out community networking and survive at the same
time. Given the idealism we all must have shared starting into this
endeavor, I think it is fair to say we may have encountered more obstacles
than we expected. Some have been from outside, but most have been
internal.

I try to run what I call a community network with 40 phone lines, 2500
logins a day, 3/4 million messages a month, 16,000 registered users and
who knows how many anonymous, accessible from every public library catalog
in the county. I know I've been lucky. I don't have to grapple with all
the special interests and agendas which seem to pervade this medium. The
public library just kind of does it as an extension of "As an advocate for
its customers Kitsap Regional Library provides and promotes access to
information for the citizens of Kitsap County." For us, that includes free
e-mail for anyone who asks--still kind of rare.

Some days I don't know why I did this, why I advocated it. It's kind of
like I'm in the middle of this raging river being dragged downstream where
I get up and say, "I think we should go this way!" Uh huh.

My problems include:

1) How do we encourage non-profits to keep information on either our
gopher (easy) or our Web site (hard) and keep it updated when some of them
are more computer-phobic than your worst nightmare?

2) How do we grapple with the pornography issue as we move to a GUI
interface and not sacrifice our principles of open access for all to
anything? It's the sacred trust mantle of public libraries opposed to
community standards of those who pay the bills.

3) How do we run a traditional library with its adherents holding onto
books with religious fanaticism and still accommodate emerging
technology and the high cost of bandwidth knowinf if we don't, we become
irrelevant and die?

4) How do we keep these SUN Sparc things running well enough to keep up
with the message traffic (see above)?

5) How can we accommodate volunteers into the organization well enough so
that it is a win-win situation for all of us rather than a drag on
resources?

6) How do we support the public with a wide range of knowledge, from "Why
don't you have slip/ppp?" to "What's that funny sound when I call the
dial-in number?" and "What's software?"

That's just a small sampling. They represent real-world issues we grapple
with every day. And there's one last one:

7) How do we reconcile the quest for civilized discussion via the Internet
when so many discussion forums turn out to be a cacophonous blend of ego,
questionable facts, and flame fests of absolutely no use to us?

It would appear, although thus is anecdotal, that the medium is not living
up to its promise. Far from bringing like-minded people together, the
Internet brings cats and dogs together in the same box so they can fight
more easily. As a "great equalizer" the Internet places studied
scholarship on the same level as tetesterone-crazed bravado not backed by
any brain cells, sort of like Federal Reserve Notes without the backing of
gold in Fort Knox. It is difficult to understand why any sane person is
willing to waste any significant time with this glorified chat room. If
this is what "community networking" promises for the future, then its
demise is assured. I submit that the way to earen respect in the greater
community is to do it the old fashioned way: Earn it.

This list, over the last few weeks, has NOT BEEN HELPFUL. It's a loser
list. I'm reminded of the aphorism: Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
But first, grow up.

      o o o o o o o . . . _~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~\_ _/~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~\_
    o _____ | Kitsap Regional | | LinkNet Support |
  .][__n_n_|DD[ ====_____ | Library | | 'least we try! |
 >(________|__|_[_________]_|______________________|_|____________________|_
 _/oo OOOOO oo` ooo ooo 'o^o^o o^o^o` 'o^o o^o`
============================================================================
Support: (360) 405-9131 Fax:(360) 405-9128 [log in to unmask]
Michael Schuyler: Voice:(360) 405-9139 [log in to unmask]

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