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Middle Ages [it's all mine now?]

I was bought up in a small township in Eltham (Leslie Townsend Hope's also) in South London, now live in The-Garden-of-Kent aerial during the fifties Elvis was beginning to make a noise and ....in contempt of court

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Joy says there are no girl scouts : well this is the source of the above jpeg and the party animal Ana Marie Cox of Gawker's - Wonkette says at HotWired Vitual Communities: Is the Well dry? Are there good reasons to dial in to an online community? Or are they, as Ana Marie Cox believes, about as exciting as "a fractious PTA meeting?" Start the debate in Threads....and her reply..Many proponents of virtual communities see the growth of online forums like The Well and Echo as proof of J. C. R. Licklider's prediction: "Life will be happier for the online individual because the people with whom one interacts most strongly will be selected more by commonality of interests and goals than by accidents of proximity."

While I'd never argue about the relative "happiness" of online groups versus the gang at the corner bar, I do question the idea that increased happiness is, in fact, a worthwhile goal for a community. Gathering together on the basis of interests seems to me the worst kind of closed mindedness, a sure path to contentedness and stasis. Such coalitions will never have the vitality and accidental genius engendered by the random collision of souls at the corner bar.

I see the expansion of online forums as a kind of White Flight to the ideological and taste-preference suburbs. This is not to say that participants in those forums have suburban taste preferences, but that they are cementing themselves inside preplanned and somewhat sterile environs; the "conflicts" that arise in them have all the drama and risk of a fractious PTA meeting.

Still, what drives people away from "real" communities is not the physical or ideological riskiness of face-to-face interaction, but rather the risk one takes in believing worthwhile conversations can be had at all. Finding a good conversation among people with whom all you share is an "accident of proximity" is difficult - it requires hard work on behalf of both parties - whereas striking up a conversation with those who have already defined themselves like you is like sliding into a warm bath.

Now, warm baths are great, but I wouldn't want to live there.

So are we still victims of those circumstances : idea conjered via online.wsj.com and blogosphereradio made a valid source by Scobleizer Microsoft Geek..don't know an Apple Mac junkies other than Joy Larkin who is the bee's knees - yet?