clustr

April 10th, 2007 | Site Update

Thanks to everyone who’s been pointing out the malfunctioning Clustrmap. I finally figured out the problem. When you reach a certain number of hits, like 583,875 or so, you have to start paying for it. I’ll get on that soon, and hopefully all our globe-spanning red dots will be restored. The map was one of many things Katie and I discussed with our web guy Gahlord at a meeting last week. We’ll be inflicting various other updates to the site soon, now that I have some time and brain cells to spare on it.

One thing I’m giving some thought to is the way the blog has turned into a de facto messageboard. A poster named Cyan pointed this out recently, and I have to say it’s a good point. I’m worried that the familiar, in-group atmosphere here might start to have an inhibiting effect on new visitors, and I’m trying to figure out ways to avoid that. Also, I can’t always keep up with everyone’s comments. And that feels problematic since I’m personally responsible for the blog in the way I wouldn’t be responsible for a messageboard.

My first thought was to actually move the discussion to a messageboard, but that seemed a bit extreme. I like the conversations that go on here—I just don’t want them to become too closed or exclusive. So Gahlord had the idea of creating “open thread” posts at regular intervals, like Daily Kos does. This would be a way of leaving a forum in place for comments and conversations that may not be strictly germane to my posts.

I know this means sacrificing some of the our lovely discursiveness. But hopefully the digressions would continue to some extent on the Open Threads. In the interest of a more focused and accessible blog, I’m going to try this. Uh…heck, let’s just start now and see what you think. It might not work at all.

PS A very belated thanks to Anna for finding the typo in episode 507.

93 Responses to “clustr”

  1. liza says:

    On sites like Daily Kos or, my personal favorite, apartmentherapy.com there are many regular daily features, correspondants and contributors. Unless you want your life to be consumed with publishing a website that’s not going to happen here. I think that your readers are kind of an anarchistic lot and will start tumbling back from “the other room” (TM Maggie). My hunch is that many of your characters would do the same. Your readers are an unruly lot of shameless hussies. That’s why you love us.

  2. Sheila says:

    I’m mostly a lurker here, but I post a lot on lower-volume blogs I read. Here, I think the longest and most interesting discussions develop organically from responses to episodes or other things you post. I’m not sure how an open thread would work, since the jumping off point for those discussions would be less clear.

    There are blogs I read that have regularly scheduled threads where people are invited to comment in a certain vein about their own lives. The episodes serve that de facto function here, I think. You might, for instance, commit to following and interacting with threads that develop from artwork you post, and just let go of the rest.

    Putting up a commenting policy to this effect could do a lot to relieve the resposibility you feel to keep up with comments. Your readers are generally pretty self-regulating–I think if you just say you’re leaving us to our own devices the rest of the time, we can handle it.

  3. ladiesbane says:

    Well, and there is also the notion of watching the movie (here) and repairing to the javashop (another blog service) for the chit-chat.

    Also: I hate to fling this rodent into the catshow, but have you considered how many hits you get compared to someone such as, say, Bret Easton Ellis? He peaked in his twenties, of course, but think of the sweet offers he received! All I’m saying is that a long-term plan for something other than your verbose fan base (myself included) should be on the agenda (i.e., how are you going to run your show when it’s far, far larger than this?)

    Prior planning prevents poor performance (but not pontificating, nor platitudes.) Cheers.

  4. Aunt Soozie says:

    I’m pleased to be included in the unruly lot of shameless hussies and curious to see what will happen next.

  5. shadocat says:

    Just an FYI: I’ve also posted this down at the “kids table”

    Alison,

    I know I will regret this in the morning, but I can’t stop myself.

    It’s your blog, and you can do what you want. If you’d rather attract new bloggers than keep the loyal regulars, I guess that’s up to you. Because that’s how this all reads to me.

    One person, who (as far as I can tell) has only posted on one day, made one suggestion, and suddenly THAT was the one that was important. The other people, who have been faithful fans for quite awhile, the ones who said, “Don’t change things”,(and the ones who probably contributed hard earned money to be a part of this thing), were discounted. Is it because we occasionally discuss trivial things, such as TV shows, or old pop singers or recipes? You know, we also discuss important matters, but evidently, not important enough.

    I like the little glimpses into your world, but once I make a comment such as “I enjoyed the bird video” (which I really did), or “I was sorry your mail got so backed up while you were on vacation” (which I really was), what else is there to say? I could make overly complimentary posts every day, but I have a feeling you wouldn’t like that. I know I wouldn’t, if I were in your shoes…

    As far as the strip is concerned, I do spend a few days discussing it each time a new one appears. But it’s hard to keep that up for two weeks. The conversation seems to naturally morph into other topics, until the next strip appears, or you post a lttle something about your experiences. Then the process begins again. And it’s a process I really enjoyed, a community of smart, funny literate people centered around a strip and an artist whose work I loved. Sometimes the conversation strayed too far afield (and I know I was one of the BIGGEST strayers). But we always managed to bring it back home again. I don’t think that’ll happen,down in the “riff-raff” room.

    Let me preface this by saying that I’m NOT saying what I’m about to say to get others to write and urge me to stay. (There–that was a mouthful.)It’s just I’m not sure I want to be a part of this anymore, if most of my conversations are going to have to take place in the blog equivalent of a “junk room” under the basement stairs.

    I’m going to have to think over this awhile–I thought we managed rather well up until now, basically self-monitoring: guess I was wrong.

  6. Pam I says:

    I have just recognised that the vague feeling now in my guts is that sub-adrenalin body reaction to realising the end of a relationship is coming. Perhaps this means the blog has become too important to me. I should stop now.

  7. meg says:

    See response in beta world, iffin you care to. Alison, do whatever works and makes sense for you.

  8. Rose says:

    I’d just like to say that as someone relatively new, I do/did not find the current format uninviting. Quite the opposite. I understand that it is probably overwhelming for you, Alison, but for me, coming to the site and seeing the structure of things here, which is so different than a regular message board, was quite refreshing and actually encouraged me to comment and participate rather than to hang back, which is, in fact, what I usually do.

    Have you considered leaving it in blog form but having threaded comments, as the do on LiveJournal blogs? I don’t know if that’s possible or at all of intrerest, but I figured I’d mention in.

    Whatever you choose to do with your site, I’ll keep coming, and I’m sure new and interesting experiences will come of it, for all of us. Just thought i’d put in my two cents.

  9. Fräulein says:

    “Contributed hard earned money to be a part of this thing…” said Shadocat. Huh? Do you mean buying the books?

    Sorry, was that inclusive enough for potential new people? I’m relatively new myself. HI! (Cheery smile)! My name is Fräulein and I wish you all a non-threatening happy day!

  10. caroline says:

    Whew! with all this discussion perhaps Alison’s next book should be Blog to Watch Out For…

  11. Chewy says:

    Are the “Dykes To Watch Out For” the ones chatting up with each other here at this blog or the ones in Alison Bechdel’s books?

  12. Ehrrin says:

    Oh my god! I just found out that Alison is going to be in Pittsburgh on Monday! I’m so excited that I almost peed. For real. I can’t wait!

  13. little gator says:

    Hello new readers and posters! Welcome to a place I enjoy!

    Question-Alison, do you handletter your strips? If so, “typo” isn’t quite the word for it. Writo?

    I have friends who use speech recognition to “write” and they have created the word “speako.”

    I can spell just fine but my typing sucks. Oddly, after a few decades of typing, I’ve started skipping letters when writing by hand. Never did *that* before.

  14. silvio soprani says:

    little gator,

    “Speako?” I love that!

    Queen Pam,re: “vague feeling in guts;” I feel that same thing too.

    Kids table…beta area…for whatever reason, things are changing.

    Yes, we are an archaristic bunch, and the organic nature of our discourse is what has held so many of us here. Once you throw a wrench in that bountiful source of participation, things are never the same.

    But stuff does change. For one thing, when Alison’s site migrated here from the cold and unappreciative Planet Out, things changed in a big way (for good.)

    I never really followed the comments then; I just read the strip. It was an entirely different experience. No love, so to speak.

    I cherish all of you. Even though it is a virtual relationship, I do depend upon for my morning check in, as somebody said the other day (was it Pam? was it Liza?) You are all my invaluable coffee klatch each morning.

    I know I won’t like having to locate to the kids table and make that conscious decision; it will alter the nature and frequency of my posts (maybe that’s a good thing?)

    But I cannot deny that this site seems to be overwhelming Alison.

    What I do resent is that one post from one new post-er is enough to shift the balance of our culture here.

    Shadocat, I am glad you spoke up, “keepin’ it real,” as they say.

  15. Aunt Soozie says:

    little,

    I believe that Alison usually handletters DTWOF but that strip was done in what is commonly known in the field as the “looks like handlettered typeface font thingy”.

    She mentioned that she was sick with a nasty virus so maybe that’s why she opted to use the type instead of handlettering…hard enough to work being sick and all…

    to the persons who are predicting a relationship will end
    or something drastic is happening
    or getting sick feelings in their bellies,
    unless you too are getting a nasty virus
    Auntie says,
    take a long, deep, cleansing breath and CHILL!

    it’s just an experiment…
    you can behave and go over to the beta board
    or you can be an unruly hussie like Liza

    Just do me a personal favor…
    don’t feel the need to post the same message in both places. That’ll make me crazy.
    Just for me,’kay?

    Alison,
    You’re raising a ruckus girlfriend…whew…
    if you find yourself longing for some peaceful distraction I can start discussing my unresolved feelings about MWMF…

    I love you…all of you…
    Auntie

  16. silvio soprani says:

    Auntie,
    Don’t you know that I read this blog for role models for how to be an unruly hussie like Liza?

  17. Aunt Soozie says:

    fuck yeah.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Just my two cents–I really love the organic shape this blog has had. I seldom post and, unlike many here, can never think of a clever screen name, but I’m always fascinated by the meandering and evolving nature of the conversations, which generally use the original post or strip as a jumping-off point. If I become uninterested in some part of the discussion I have a simple solution–I skip it. I think it’s an exceptionally friendly and inviting atmosphere here, because those who post can follow where their thoughts and enthusiasms and interests lead them, rather than worry about whether their comments are strictly on-topic or belong somewhere else. I don’t understand people who say that the non strip-related comments interfere with their enjoyment of the site, because there’s nothing forcing them to read the comments. And, really, it’s often very difficult to draw a line and say when comments are ‘on’ or ‘off’ topic.

    Alison’s work is not only skillful, artistic, and technically brilliant (love that pen-and-ink work), it’s a commentary on current social realities and political issues. Because it does this in a clever and thought-provoking way, it naturally stimulates thought and conversation. I think this is one of its great strengths. This message board provides one outlet for those discussions and thoughts. Once released into the wild, any living, thoughtful conversation will wander in unexpected directions. This is also one of its great beauties. I love that the posts on this site do wander, just like a conversation I might stumble into in the flesh and blood, bricks and mortar “real” world, and I would hate to see it go away. Have you ever been talking to a friend only to stop suddenly and say, “Whoa. We started with Guantanamo and now we’re debating the benefits of ‘local’ versus ‘organic’ food and exchanging recipes, and venting about logging practices. How’d THAT happen?” For me, those are the best sorts of conversations, the ones you get lost in. They aren’t an efficient exchange of information, but that’s not what conversation is for. If this blog changes and loses those qualities, I will miss it dearly, because it is a special thing, and not something I’ve seen in other places. I understand if Alison just doesn’t have the time and energy to maintain this sort of site anymore, but I would still be sorry to see it go. I’ve learned much here–especially from the ‘notorious’ comments. I knew nothing about Michigan’s music festival, for example, and now I know a little, enough to go learn more. Reading about the Chocolate Jesus fiasco, something which, as a contemporary artist, I ought to have followed, alerted me to news stories I’d missed. And as an enthusiastic baker, my life is greatly enriched by the addition of the moist orange cake to my repertoire/arsenal.
    That’s probably more than two cents but you know what they say about words being cheap…

  19. Liza from pine street art works says:

    Chewy- I think you’ve nailed it. If characters from DTWOF came to life and were having an ongoing discussion on a blog, this is what it would look like. Smart, nerdy, funny, passionate, involved,literate,and varied. Which is why, in my opinion, the blog has been working so charmingly.

    It’s no accident that this is the blog that draws us (ahem) in. AB has a huge fanbase and is riding a wave of success that invites a huge self selecting progressive,literate, queer and queer friendly audience.

    What has happened here comes from AB, but at this point is more than AB. We are here by her grace, of course, but this site has made it possible for for a community to create itself into a valuable, rare and fine thing.

    Like many people, I check into a lot of different websites and blogs. I appreciate – even love – many for different reasons. But I’ve never found one that is as stimulating, intelligent, queer, progressive, silly, varied and, yes, welcoming.

    I don’t think that our discussions are “off topic.” Like any stimulation conversations, they take off in interesting directions. As a host, that would be the thing I’d be most proud of, and work hardest to nurture.

  20. Doctor E says:

    I disagree that “the familiar, in-group atmosphere here might start to have an inhibiting effect on new visitors.” The same people who banter with their friends here also go out of their way to welcome newbies.

    I’m also skeptical that the Beta room concept will work. People will post their thoughts in whichever thread they happen to be reading when they think them. Those thoughts may be tangentially related to the original topic, or they may not. Those who post here aren’t the type to do as they’re told.

    Still, this is Alison’s blog, and the only person who needs to be pleased with it is her.

  21. Liza from pine street art works says:

    Uh, and Anonymous, post overlap – but no problem saying it twice,and I love the idea of conversations in the wild. Lovely image.

    I’m dealing with customers and designing ads as I write, so, bear with me.

  22. shadocat says:

    Fraulien–Last year it was decided that we would each make a “donation” of $35 a year to be a part of this blog, And later we had a “drive”- $500 for strip #500–which as I recall raised a lot more than $500.

  23. Feminista says:

    I thought of Beta in the Greek sense, coming after Alpha,so that it would secondary,but still important.

    I don’t like the idea of two blogs because you fascinating people cause me procrastinate here,when I should be 1)working on my own writing,2)working on my ongoing paperwork reduction act,3)going to the DMV,etc.

  24. Feminista says:

    Um,that should read would be secondary,and to procrastinate. See,I’m getting distracted by all your delightful discourse.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I’ve read a few comments recently which troubled and gave me pause, and I really feel a need to respond. First, I thought the donations given to Alison were not specifically for the blog, but for the strip–since PlanetOut dropped it and wasn’t going to be paying for it anymore, there was a feeling that Alison was doing us all a huge favor by putting it up online. Second, those who could donated what they could. I think there were a number of different levels suggested, and by its very nature participation in the site isn’t limited to those who chose to donate at that time. I’d hate to feel that this freely given donation bound Alison to continue the strip, or the blog, in any particular format, or that those who were able to donate were any more valid as members of this community than those who could not. With Alison’s growing fame, many regular readers here may well have discovered this space after the early donate/subscribe/??? conversation. Some people here comment more frequently and at greater length than others, but I would never presume that this reflected their level of monetary support for the site. I do get particular enjoyment from reading the postings of many regulars–Maggie, Shadocat, Liza, LondonBoy, Aunt Soozie, Silvio among so many others, and consider myself a fan not only of Alison herself, but of her many smart and thoughtful fans

    …and now that I’ve commented twice in one day maybe I really should come up with a handle. Oh, the pressure…

  26. silvio soprani says:

    Anonymous, yes, definitely it is time for a handle!

    And Sophie (from the BETA thread), thank you for that lovely quote about the refreshing nature of solitude. Known well as a necessary refuge to any of us who have put their foot in their mouth (or done a “speako”) on this blog!

  27. silvio soprani says:

    p.s. Anonymous,
    I am sure no one meant to imply that donating money to Alison’s enterprises entitles them to more characters per inch than anyone else on this blog. I think if you read this blog for a couple of days, you will see that we are probably the least quid-pro-quo materialists you will find on the Internet.

    There was a long discussion in autumn of 2006, if I remember correctly, about the issue of artists needing support but being disinclined to act entitled to it, and some readers here responded by contributing to a fund.

    But it is honesty, compassion, wit, and humor that are the coin of the realm here. Having said that, we all do what we can to support the artists we crave. ‘Nuff said?

  28. Dicentra formosa says:

    formerly anonymous.
    Silvio–it seems we agree.

  29. little gator says:

    Anonymous-you could always use the porn star namimg game.

    First name-your first pet, or the street you grew up on.
    (if multiple, choose any one)

    last name-the maiden name of one of your grandmothers.

    I could be Parker McCarthy.

    Or just use your real first name-that would still be sort of anonymous.

    Or yoru real first name and “Anonymous” for your last name.

  30. Dana from CA says:

    Boundaries do wonders people. Alison is only one person who has been inundated with email and comments and all sorts of attention. This is great for her, but also overwhelming as she has repeatedly said. Give her a frickin break. Let her take care of herself however she needs to. If that means flushing email she doesnt have the energy to answer or separating the blog comments the way she feels she needs to to protect her art or herself, it is her business alone. People you really care about, you have to support them in doing what is best for them whether it is beneficial for you or not.

  31. Pam I says:

    From a bit later – AB has a point about the clubbable in-group nature of the blog. I like it, that’s why I come here, but then I’m in the group. What’s unknown is how many are put off by it. I don’t know whether the site hit counter (Clustrmap) allows for any analysis of visitors – i use that counter, but the freebie version which lists the location only – how many come once and then run away? Can this be discovered from that Site Meter record?

    As someone said (Liza?) AB as a freelance artist is running a cottage industry. One function of this site is to get her work known to people who then fund it – either $$ via Paypal, or they buy the books. Also important is to get the strips into paying media (just wait for that movie deal…), hello editors, the world is ready. Most regular posters here will have the books already. Question for all you thousands of silent readers – does reading the rambling discourse encourage you to buy the books? Or otherwise?

    We shouldn’t forget too that this is possibly a lifeline to thousands (again) of isolated dykes or thinking-about-its. I worked for too many years for London Lesbian Line which was there for “help, advice, information, or just for a chat”. For many regular callers we were the _only_ lesbians they ever spoke to (knowingly). And the chat would be about anything and everything – it was enough that we were just dykes. I don’t think things have changed that much, especially outside the cities. The web gives new access, to get involved, or to eavesdrop. I’d think that accessing AB’s posts and the DTWOF episodes would be why many people come here, but dropping in on the daft or otherwise conversations is fulfilling in a different way.

    Amazingly, there has been no hate mail or flaming that we’ve seen – maybe it gets deleted fast. The only nasty spat – the Fat Wars – was handled OK IMHO. Other discussions are heated and maybe angry but still polite. In the week when there are calls to clean up the blogosphere, this site is a model of good practice. (I’m sounding like a town hall bureaucrat.) Publishing a site attacked by anti-dyke rants which needed moderating would be the time I’d bin it, or close it to comments.

    If I had 676 emails to sort in an apparently endless Vermont winter, I’d be desperate to make things as simple as I can. Roll on spring, it’s here now in sunny tottenham.

    I’d love to hear from other new posters – quite a few have arrived in this discussion. Welcome, please send us your cake recipes and cat stories soon (*sound of AB’s head crashing against the wall*).

  32. silvio soprani says:

    Pam,
    I will keep this short to leave some space for others who want to jump in but haven’t quite mastered double dutch yet (that’s a jump rope reference, for all you non-jumpers…)

    your point about the effectiveness of this blog as promotion for Alison’s work is absolutely true, in my book.

    Speaking as a lifelong musician with a decidely half-ass inclination to promote myself, I can attest to how valuable it is to already have a a pool of “the converted” to preach one’s wares to.

    The one time getting people to my gigs was NOT a major drudgery was when I lived in a small yet arty town that had a gay/lesbian monthly brunch. They all became both friends and fans and they treated me as if I were doing them a favor by telling them where I would perform next. HOW REFRESHING is that?

    So I think (like but unlike the unfortunate Howard Dean), Alison has a great asset here in all these eager readers on the Internet. (We know she would never shout herself hoarse like he did…she has much too much couth.)

    And your point about this as a resource for people with no known queer community nearby is also true.

    So, everybody, you are all welcome here. Silent or noisy, in the words of that dunderhead boss from ARE YOU BEING SERVED?, “You’ve all done very well!”

  33. silvio soprani says:

    p.s. I’m still working on “short.”

  34. R says:

    Alison you are featured on afterellen.com

  35. little gator says:

    “the familiar, in-group atmosphere” is just what sucked me in as a newbie. I agree with Dr E.

    One quick look and I thought, “wow, lots of wonderful people post here. I’ll have to consider joining them.”

    And then I did.

    Speaking of the 50 cake project, I’ve been counting muffin tins and am about to check recipe sizes.

  36. --MC says:

    50 Cake Project? I was with a buncha cartoonists once and we started trying to name all the pies we could think of. The obvious ones (rhubarb, cherry), the obscure ones (nesslerode, tamale), the mythical (Shoo Fly, Honey). Got a list of about fourty.

  37. Spark says:

    I’ve posted once — during the Michigan/transgender conversations — though I’ve read much of this blog. I love the vibrant, brilliant voices. I love the community: the welcoming of people (literally), the sharing, the differences in viewpoints and opinions and interests. My investment in reading comes from valuing the whole more than the sum of its parts. We could tease out the threads — putting comments under topics/titles/specific entries, but I’m afraid we’d lose the richness of what is.

    It strikes me a bit as the difference between 1) the conversations w/ new people/old acquaintances, where you go through a list of topics, asking questions and checking off the answers, then reaching the end and having little left to say. (This *would* lead to a more compact and manageable blog.) And 2) the current (previous?) version that has the feel of a free-flowing conversation among people deeply interested and engaged in each others’ experiences and perspectives of the world, not the least of which are the perspectives and depictions AB shares w/ us. These are less manageable, more messy, and potentially less inclusive. (Inclusive is a funny term – it’s the broad-ranging conversations that feel more inclusive to me.)

    We’ll generally not know who didn’t come back/stay/pipe up. Or why. But, me, I feel honored to have heard and witnessed some of what’s gone on here, and hope that whatever develops (be it through active change or inertia) feels similarly valuable.

  38. little gator says:

    sorry MC it’s not that clever. I’m just making 50 cupcakes, int different sizes, for my 50th birthday.

    My first birthday since my migraines made me give up on chocolate. and citrus.

  39. Riotllama says:

    Aunt Soozie, lets not open the MWMF can again yet. It makes me hate people whose posts I usually enjoy reading. I love the way these posts tangentiate (is that a real word?) into conversations far from their origin. Like someone said above, it feels like a lovely meandering conversation among friends in the kitchen. I too have that strange feeling like my stomach is a rubber band that is being twisted too tightly that I get before someone breaks up with me. And I would like to take this moment to ask if anyone else get strange physical premonitions before they get dumped. this is the kind of digression that alison wants to divert yes? It would seem more organic to keep those discussions here in the thread that spawned them. I could see the BETA column becoming a forum of a different sort. A sort of “ask the readers” if you will.
    For instance, I work in a university library (surprise, surprise.) Today one of my colleagues (who is the adviser of the school’s glbt club)asked if I could guest advise the meetings for the next two weeks since he’ll be on vacation. I agreed. Then he told me that apparently a topic of discussion last week was how crushed out several of them were on me. Ah! besides being terribly flattered, i now don’t want to go 10 feet near those kids! Can I back out? Can i face them without being awkward? and wtf do talk to them about anyway? I know you know the answers.

    see? totally inappropriate for this post but totally appropriate for you, my e-friends. Should I move it to the beta and hope for a reply?

  40. LondonBoy says:

    I have made a posting to the immediately following “open thread” which responds to some of the points made here.

    I feel a little uncertain about where to post what at present, but I guess time resolves everything.

  41. Deena in OR says:

    Auntie–MWMF????

    Complete coffee spew all over my keyboard!!!! If memory serves, I think that particular thread is still the DTWOF volume record holder.

    Anybody headed down I-5 this year from anywhere north of Salem, OR to go to Dinah Shore weekend? Interested in a road trip or ride sharing?????

  42. Pamela R says:

    I ignored reading the blog comments when I first came here a month ago because it was so clubby. Now I read them because I find it entertaining how certain readers are getting into a huff because- horrors!- Alison is trying to find a way to keep the comic-based comments on the comments. Considering the academic base of the DTWOF crew, I’m sure that while they’d appreciate yakking and yammering about whatever they want, they’d also know there’s a time and place for it.

    Personally, I have no problem with your comments in the non-comic related stuff. Just consider that there might be a time and place for it, and those of us who dare to be new to the board might actually like to read a thread about the comic and its past, and not give up when they realise that ‘oh, here they go again…Note to self, just read the comic and go’.

  43. Alex K says:

    Shoofly pie is real.

    Diabetogenic (one bite will shrivel your pancreas as you push the plate away and reach for something with which to rinse the SWEET SWEET GOD STOP IT SWEET out of your mouth), but real.

  44. liza says:

    Pamela- “here they go again” – doing what? Having an interesting discussion on their own after dissecting the comic down to the nub? How awful.

    By all means, let’s not have an actual conversation, let’s not build community, let’s not discuss anything but Alison.

    Alex K, take that shoofly pie out of this room immediately!!

  45. meg says:

    Coffee’s in the kitchen (beta version) and the water’s on for tea, if you’d rather. C’mon, it’s where all the really cool stuff is happening, so as not to frighten the children – or overwhelm poor Ms. Earbrass!

  46. liza says:

    What children? I know mine are not frightened by conversation. Bored perhaps. But frightened? I think not.

    Who is being protected, and from what?

  47. meg says:

    well, let’s not bore them then…

    or why not simply take our hostess’ gentle suggestion (she’s looking a little weary and peaked these days) and move ourselves out of her drawing room and into the more raucous and happening kitchen? Lend a hand getting those dishes done so Ms Earbrass can relax – don’t you think she deserves that?

  48. Jen says:

    At the risk of sparking an interesting etymological side-discussion, what does “Earbrass” mean/refer to?

  49. liza says:

    Well, now I have to read The Unstrung Harp by Edward Gorey, and thanks for the oblique reference, that being one of the best parts of this blog. ie – learning from each other.

    Is that tangential or off point? I don’t see it that way.

    And I still don’t get who the “children” are.

  50. mulierebus says:

    Edward Gorey’s brilliant “The Unstrung Harp” in which Mr. Earbrass is a novelist. Alison is very fond of it.

  51. lisa says:

    I come for the strips and occasionally read the comments. If I get bored, I move on. I don’t find this site either extraordinarily welcoming or un-welcoming.
    However, reading some of the more prolific posters’ comments about being upset over a change puts a sour taste in my mouth.
    I think Alison goes out of her way to get reader opinion here when she of course doesn’t have to. To take that change as a personal affront seems a bit dramatic and unfair to the possibility of a change that might work out well.

    I’ll share my cake recipes in the open thread.

  52. --MC says:

    Alex — speaking of Dinah Shore, her song about shoofly pie (and apple pan dowdy) is all I know of the pie, but I’m not surprised to hear it’s sweet to the point of toxicity. Pancreas shrivelling up? That’s probably what the song meant when it said the pie will “make your eyes light up and your stomach say ‘Howdy'”.

  53. Jaibe says:

    I have to *strongly* disagree with shadocat. You can’t give someone a gift & then tell them how to enjoy it. Donations were in gratitude for what had been done and to support whatever comes next. If Alison wants to change gender & and become a performance artist for only cats (or even dogs) that is her perogative as an artist. But instead she is spending time (probably more than she’s been paid for from this site by any reasonable consulting rate) trying to figure out how to make this a better place.

    And I have to agree with Alison that this blog is very clubby and intimidating. *I* find it indimidating, and I’ve been posting to it & its predecessors since the 1990s. In fact, I’m probably one of the people who occassionally intimidates people.

    ——

    I feel a need for full disclosure — I never made a donation, possibly partly because I didn’t like how unclear I was on the concept, and also because I already support Alison through direct capitalism at every opportunity. But my first paragraph was based on reading what was posted here, as well as a general understanding of the principles of charity, as well as art.

  54. Pamela R says:

    Liza, I never said anything before, and had no reason to. After all, that’s the way things were, and hey, if Alison’s cool with it, that’s all that matters.

    But she’s now asked to try something else. Last time I looked, this was HER blog. Why not actually try it, for her sake? Say what you want about me; I couldn’t care less, especially after seeing how poorly you treat the suggestion of someone you claim to respect. Interesting way to build a community, I gotta say.

    Nobody has asked that you stop your conversation with your friends here. Every board I’ve been to recognises that people like to talk, and they set up separate forums and/or threads for it. They seem to manage; I can’t see why it should be a difficulty here.

  55. shadocat says:

    Jaibe–I gave Alison a donation because I do love and appreciate her work, AND I loved the blog community that was created here. I also have some rights; if this changes into something those of us who are like minded do not love and appreciate,we can always decide not to make our yearly contribution, and find somewhere else to go.

    Another FYI: I’ve posted the following down in the riff-raff room, so if you go down there and see my name, feel free to just step over my obnoxious post. Just be careful going down the basement stairs….

    Well, I’ve been thinking…And I can see some are trying to make the best of a bad situation.

    But truthfully, for me, it’s a bit unbearable to watch this blog turn into this…creation, for lack of a better word. We’ve been forced to chop our conversation in two. Instead of a lively conversation, where topics ebb and flow from the serious to the mundane and back again, we have…this.

    I agree with Liza–a blog without a community is just a marketing device.

    And I agree with Ian–the postings about Alison’s daily life are hardly springboards for meaningful or long-lasting conversation, let alone topics that stimulate discussion of the “artistic condition”.

    Finally, I must defend Maggie in her use of profanity. Strong opinions com from strong emotions.Strong emotions begat stong launguage. And this ain’t the first time I’ve read the word “Fuck” on this blog, and it probably won’t be the last.

    For those of you who think we need to “lighten up” or “give her a frickin’ break” as someone said; Alison wanted to try this, I assume to see how we felt about it. I thought I was pretty clear about how I felt about it, but maybe this will further clarify how I feel—

    How do I feel about the “new blog”?

    I fucking hate it.

  56. louise says:

    jaibe, Yes exactly.
    We’re not shareholders in a corporation here.
    We shouldn’t be asking her for anything.
    I also agree with others that the real problem is that something is being asked of *us* that is basically unrealistic. If it was money or support it would be easy, but what is being asked of us is kind of a pain in the a** and would certainly cut away a chunk of the soul of this site at least the size of a finger. I’m thinking we’re not going to be seeing the plan ever actually successfully work any time in this universe. Like the hurricane said to New Orleans, cute levees.
    My job involves supporting an IT department that supports some executives. The IT guys have this character where they use a thick Russian accent and pretend to be a Sputnik-era head space technician who likes to make unreasonable demands. “I want you to make robot [roll the ‘r’] that can go faster than speed of light, and that I can fold up and fit into pocket. Go. Make.” “I want you to make for me, machine that reverse flow of space/time. Make for me by lunch.” It makes me giggle.

  57. lisa says:

    I can’t believe how personally some are taking this. It’s been a whopping 2 days and already the blog is ruined and we must flee?

    The rudeness and hostility being shown is certinly not welcoming to anyone at all, old or new.
    Perhaps Alison should just shut down the site and I can wait and see if I can find the strips in a local paper.

  58. lisa says:

    rudeness and hostility “are” not welcoming.

  59. mulierebus says:

    I agree with Lisa. The blog is not ruined by this little change in format. It will be more ruined if some of our wittiest commentators absent themselves. Stay and we are still the same community in a different room.

  60. liza says:

    Architecture is powerful.

  61. LondonBoy says:

    Oh dear.

    This is where I get confused. Let me start with the observation that because I’m a bit of an aspie ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspie ) I’m finding all of this difficult. I hope that I don’t misunderstand what’s going on. Here’s what I think has happened/is happening:

    1. Alison remarked that her site has taken on some of the characteristics of a message-board, and of a wide-ranging conversation. In the past she has made positive comments about this, and in her post above she notes that there are both positive and negative aspects to the way this site has evolved.
    2. To address some of the aspects that she and some others perceive as negative she has tried the experiment of adding an “open thread”. She explicitly stressed that this was an experiment, noting that “In the interest of a more focused and accessible blog, I’m going to try this. Uh…heck, let’s just start now and see what you think. It might not work at all.”
    3. Several people who are regular posters to this site have felt very uncomfortable with this experiment, for a variety of reasons. Strong opinions and emotions have been expressed, and my guess is that right now Alison is feeling like she’s opened a huge can of worms, and probably isn’t feeling very comfortable with the whole situation – and, quite possibly, with the idea of having a blog at all.

    Now that’s what seems to me to have happened, and my guess about how people feel. Remember that because I’m not good at reading emotions or handling other people’s emotions I may not be right, but I’ve given my best interpretation. I can’t really tell what other people are thinking, but I do know this:

    4. When I first read Alison’s post at the top of this thread I felt very uncomfortable. Like Pam and Riotllama above, my first feeling was that kind of uncomfortable twisty sensation in the stomach that signals the beginning of the end of a friendship. I didn’t like the feeling, because it felt to me like Alison was saying “hey, I don’t like having you around talking in that rambling way that you do, and maybe we can kind of cool the relationship a bit”. Maybe some other people who posted immediately also had that feeling.

    But because I’m a bit of an aspie ( Visit Aspergia ! Wonder just who is carved in Mount Prosopagnosia ! Bathe – repeatedly – in OCD River ! Participate in our bizarre rituals ! But whatever you do, don’t touch us unless we want you to ! )… ahem, as I was saying: because I’m a bit of an aspie I have learned ( slowly and over many years ) to take my time before reacting to my feelings and my interpretations of others: I often get things wrong. So I waited 24 hours or more before posting my initial response ( in the other thread ). By that time I had thought a little, and what I realised is that Alison was just trying something that might make things better for us, and for other readers, and – not least – for her. It seems to me that this was an unambiguously well-intentioned action. So far as I can tell Alison didn’t want or intend to upset anyone. She knew that the experiment might not work, but that’s the nature of experiments.

    5. I can understand why many people might feel unhappy at present, but I hope we can all agree that no-one here wants to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome here. This goes not just for regular readers/posters and new readers who may become part of this ongoing conversation, but also, most importantly, for Alison herself. I hope we can all keep in mind the thought that no-one here is being malicious or intentionally hurtful, and that we are all aiming for the same thing: a place where everyone with an interest in DTWOF can meet in comfort, and find like-minded friends. Some people may not be feeling great right now, but I don’t believe there are any bad intentions here. With this in mind, I’d like to suggest that we might try to move the conversation forward a little. Let’s see if we can find some positive aspects to where we are now.

    Me feeling – and I’m sure there will be some comment on this – is that in a sense we are all here by invitation: Alison has invited us into her home, and although any gathering of people in a home takes on a life of its own ( I know from experience that parties seldom go the way you plan ) we are still her guests. We can be rowdy guests who talk too loud and break the crockery, or we can be weedy chain-smokers who sit in the corner and don’t join in the conversation, but I think we’re here because Alison likes having us here, not because we have a right to be. I do agree that we’re a community in our own right, and are friends among ourselves, but ultimately we’re all here because we’re friends of Alison.

    Poor Alison ! Suddenly the people you’ve invited in are demanding more than you thought you’d have to give when you started the party, and maybe ( this is again an aspie making a guess about NT feelings, always a risky business ) you’re wondering if you shouldn’t just throw everyone out and get back to work. It can’t be nice, particularly some of the tougher language. I hope you don’t throw us all out, though. I believe that we may simply be having some temporary communication difficulties.

    With this in mind, and with the idea of being constructive and moving forward, here are some thoughts/suggestions ( I explicitly exclude comment on the “open thread” idea, as this is still an ongoing experiment ):

    6.(a) Perhaps we could adopt the explicit principle that when a new strip is posted we use the comments under it only for specific comment on the strip itself – its artistic merits, how it links with other strips, and so on.
    6.(b) To make this work, Alison could create a separate “matters arising from strip ###” thread immediately adjacent to each new strip. We could use this for all the extended discussion and discursion, but new readers who might be otherwise discombobulated by excess verbiage would be able to avoid it.
    6.(c) Alison could consider indicating some of her postings as “comments only on immediately relevant matters, please”. So where there’s information about a book-signing ( say ) we would only add comments like “how to get there” or “don’t park on Main Street unless you want to get towed”. This would make the blog more useful to casual readers and Alison, and would give us a chance to see the wonderful schoolmarm in action ( grin ! ). ( By the way, Alison, have you ever read “Good Morning, Miss Dove” ? I sometimes imagine you as a rather stern 1940s New England geography teacher… )
    6.(d) Unless specifically invited to, I think we might consider adopting a “no comments on Alison or her personal life” principle. I think we’ve more or less done this so far, but making it explicit might be useful.
    6.(e) I know that it’s difficult, but perhaps we should all try to remember that this is “only a blog”. It isn’t Alison’s work, and all of us here surely have broader lives to lead. We have friends here, of course, but I hope and believe that our horizons stretch wider.

    I’m aware that this is a very long post. I hope you’ll all forgive me, but I felt it would be better to say everything at once. I hope I’ve said something useful.

    And to Alison and everyone here: thank you for creating such a great website.

  62. LondonBoy says:

    Darn… I proof-read that, but didn’t spot the “Me feeling…”, which should of course be “My feeling…”. Sorry for that.

  63. little gator says:

    I’ve read about the Terrible Miss Dove, *and* I live above the 40th latitude.

  64. push me in the water says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful and generous post, LondonBoy. My own response to all this, as a pretty new reader, has been that the hostess as well as the posters seem to me to be lovely, sensitive (and I mean this in a purely positive sense, meaning, more or less, ‘showing a deep concern for the experience of others”) souls. I am very encouraged by your suggestions. Please note, however, that I am NOT patting you on the back- would never ever do that, even virtually, without permission…

  65. silvio soprani says:

    LondonBoy, you are a sweetheart.
    And I’m glad you made Alison a GEOGRAPHY teacher!

  66. LondonBoy says:

    ( blush )

  67. Jana C.H. says:

    Saith JcH: Geographers make the world go round!

  68. Cyan says:

    Alison & others,

    I feel like I need to apologize, and I assure you I would, if I only knew what for.

    It is true I am not a regular poster here, although I read this blog fairly often. I never felt it was unfriendly to newcomers (recent mention of resentment towards the ‘one post poster that has shifted the balance’ notwithstanding), and of course I’m aware that with so many loyal contributors the discussions will organically branch out from initial conversations and expand into (as Liza from pine street art works put it so well) a self created community. Which was exactly my point, no more and no less. This site has become a self-regulated messageboard, and there’s nothing wrong with that for as long as Alison wants to keep it that way. But since it’s “no longer just about AB and is more than AB”, why have AB solely responsible for its content? Which she now is. Anytime a new person does come here (this is, first and foremost, AB’s promotional website) the front page will be an expanded community – albeit a lovely, friendly one – and not her work. It takes a massive portion of this website and probably generates a lot of hits; all good, but perhaps not terribly professional.

    The way I see it, we have been welcomed into someone’s space as guests and most of you have contributed to it enormously, but it’s still up to AB to continue taking this site where it needs to go for this community to thrive and expand AND for her work to be promoted and showcased to its best potential. To accuse Alison that the blog without community is “just a marketing device” is, in my opinion, incredibly self-centered and sulky.

    But anyway, I will offer my apologies for causing any of you to feel like an intruder has just tipped a friendly space into something that can be lost. I’m also very, very sorry for what Alison must be going through. I saw no ill intention on her part and neither was there any in mine when I posted my earlier comment. Change and structure are potentially for the best, and I’m sure that the friendly space will be kept too.

  69. Vivid Lady says:

    Good evening all,

    First, please feel free to blame the blog debate if you want to know why this femme-dyke of a newbie finally got up chutzpah enough to write. It’s incredible, albeit risky at first, to be posting in a place like this with such vibrant, compassionate, & literate people. This is a real community. Many thanks to AB, to everyone, for being here, because being in company like this, albeit in cyberspace, is a rare pleasure. Like Maggie Jochild, I know something about isolation, and like her, I believe that the details are what show you care, and AB cares. Tremendously. And because of her work, we all care more. The whole of the blog debate is proof enough of that. I have been lurking for some time now, but since I’m a bit of an aspie myself (LondonBoy, thank you kindly for introducing me to the term, and can we talk sometime?), I’ve been hesitant to join the conversation till now, if only because both the rapid-fire ideas & the emotional undercurrents have carried me away — where do you put one non-banal comment after fifty incisive ones? And what a place to begin! AB, if you’re out there reading this posting among all the other hundreds of posts by now, and if you’re not completely up to your ears in the blog debate, I just want you to know I owe you a huge debt of gratitude: DTWOF was my first introduction to the LGBTQ community & you’ve never steered me wrong yet.

    It’s lovely to be in like-minded company. Thank you all, and I hope to be posting in the strip discussion when it resumes.

    Be well & safe —

    Vivid Lady

  70. little gator says:

    Hi Vivid!

    I tried to steer an online friend here(not the one I talked about earlier-another one)

    She doesn’t like the word dyke and prefers to call herself gay. She feared she’d be too feminine and girly to be accepted by self-labelled dykes. I hope she tries reading this blog but she might not.

    And I told her that everyone here is nice to straight me, so she shouldn’t worry.

    She said she’s so feminine, some ppl don’t believe she’s a lesbian. Anyone else had that problem? That is, coming out and not being believed because you’re not butch enough for the disbeliever’s expectations?

  71. meg says:

    LondonBoy, nicely said. Ta muchly.

  72. Vivid Lady says:

    little gator, could I be that friend of yours? 😉 Because everything you said fits perfectly! Not butch enough for the butches, and more comfortable calling myself gay, in general. It makes me sympathize doubly with Sparrow.

    Very small world!

  73. Vivid Lady says:

    And LondonBoy — your comments are spot-on.

  74. Doctor E says:

    Oh the drama! It’s like I’m back in grad school!

    Thank you, Meg, for making me feel smart with such a gloriously obscure reference.

  75. LondonBoy says:

    Thanks for the nice comments on my earlier posting.

    Has anyone else noticed that “Silvio Soprani” is an anagram of “Sips on ravioli” ?

  76. Pam I says:

    On threads – a quick whizz through the 93 posts currently on the Open Thread Beta post, shows some 18 different subjects up for discussion – probably not untypical. So would that mean following 18 links which could then all split in turn?

    When I do my morning check-in here (just while I have that second cup of tea, honest) I usually look at the three posts that open on the DTWOF home page. If discussions got threaded, it would become impossible to follow, even my boredom threshold is above that. My only experience of following threads has been on some camera or computer info sites when I want help finding the grommet I need or whatever, and even that simple task can get, shall we say, testing.

    I don’t think AB is wanting to bring in threads like this, but for those who are asking for threaded discussions a la Livejournal, this may be something to consider.

    Back to the grommet search. Today, a lens hood for Canon 85mm lens please.

  77. liza says:

    85mm. Sounds good. I’ve been using a 20mm for the past year after watching a John Fankenheimer director’s cut in which he talks about using, I think, a 12mm lens. I suppose you’ve tried B+H camera?

  78. Pam I says:

    Liza, I got one thanks, local mailorder – B&H charge far too much postage esp for something that weighs about an ounce.

    Need the portrait lens working so I can at last get started on that degree final project – deadline May 25th…. must stop following threads….

  79. Alex K says:

    Hey, LondonBoy. Ravioli ‘n’ sposi, or spaghetti ‘n’ mateballs, was how I decoded the Soprani handle.

    Aspie, eh? Do you lot venture south of the river? SE5 / SE22 here (almost under the duvet with Peckham – the shame!).

    For your high-quality long posting, in whose analyses I concur, I’d like to offer you a geographically convenient pint. Convenient to you, convenient to me, neutral ground, whatever. Say the word and suggest the when.

  80. Maggie Jochild says:

    Testing to see if this goes through.

  81. little gator says:

    Vivid Lady-My friend knows about my cat Lydia, who is an Empress. She also knows the name and breed of my dog. If it’s you, email me, you have my address.

    If not, I now have 2(at least) efriends of your description!

  82. Riotllama says:

    re:vivid lady and little gator,
    While i don’t identify as femme myself, I live in a vibrant and diverse, urban queer community. Many of my friends identify as femme, and many of them have told me stories about feeling like they have had to “prove” their queerness. They also complain about people assuming they’re straight all the time. Some on this blog may consider the ability to pass as a hetbo a privelege, but as one of my friends put it, “I hate needing a butch to define my gender as queer.”
    Not to even start in on the het porn’s commodification of femme-femme couples.
    just hoping to validate you.

  83. little gator says:

    Try being a slightly butch hetgirl like I am. That confuses everyone.

  84. Silvio Soprani says:

    I think that’s another reason I like it here so much. I don’t always know the orientation of some of my favorite post-ers.. Then when i find out someone is straight, or male, or trans, or butch, or whatever, I think to myself, “people really can relate to each other beyond the context of queerness without rendering that element invisible or problematic. ”

    In other words, the intellect and the heart are central here, and the orientation becomes an added depth to one’s understanding of a kindred spirit.

    Having said all that, I confess that i have often looked at Sparrow and wondered, “How has she managed to occupy her place in that household without ever agonizing about whether she is enough of a lesbian ?” (especially AFTER she met Stuart.) I have noted this before, but I do think that is one of the consistent strenths of the DTWOF–think of Lois, Stuart, Sparrow…they are all a-typical on the DYKE planet, but they are happy with themselves in their uniqueness.

    This is starting to sound like a bit like a sermon for teens or something, so I shall stop.

    Oh, but one more thing, LondonBoy–“Sips on Ravioli”?? Well, how insightful of you…Ravioli is a fine food indeed. (And I owe my handle to my accordion…)

  85. judybusy says:

    Well done LondonBoy! It reminds me of the very charming BBC miniseries, Oliver’s Travels, in which Alan Bates plays a recently sacked professor who is obsessed with anagrams and crossword puzzles. It’s available on Netflix, if anyone wants to see it. It also ties in nicely with an obsession of mine this winter to make ravioli for the first time…much fun!

    As to lurkers and newbies who are intimidated–there’s nothing like joining in a conversation to sharpen your own wit and eye. Even if you don’t get a specific “Hey, what you wrote was super clever!” response, be assured it’s being read and thought of. If we all responded to everything we found interesting, the work of Sysiphus (sp? too lazy to look up) would be a lark in comparison! And a good ten percent of the worldwide queer-friendly community would be unavailable for seeing friends, eating or going to movies, because we really WOULD be here 24/7, instead of just seeming that way!

    p.s. to Maggie. As you can see, your test post worked.

  86. little gator says:

    silvio-I can assure that *everyone* here is some kind of “whatever.”

  87. Lizzie from London says:

    Hi everyone,

    Have been interested to read some of the responses to Alison’s comments about rambling conversations and the like. When i saw that post my heart sank – I deal with the Internet because I have to and because even I (as techie dinosaur) can see that it throws up many interesting things – like this site. But anything that complicates things sends me running for cover. i already spend too much time reading stuff here (should be working at this minute) and have a slow system etc. etc. So I’m relieved to find things unchanged.

    I like the rambling nature of the conversations. It was quite hard to make my first post I must admit but maybe that’s hard with any established site. Was heartened when there was no negative respose to my “I do not identify as a dyke’ posting a while back since as I made it I metaphorically ducked down into a trench and waited for the grenades to whiz overhead. But it seems that what you say is true Silvio Soprani. Like one very nice place I work at the moment where I honestly think I could go in and say I’m having a relationship with an elephant at the moment and people would say”That’s great, bring him/her along for a drink next time.”

    Loved your party metaphor, Londonboy. Reminded me of days when on getting up the morning a party after there was a complete stranger asleep on your sofa.

    So Alison, thanks, and hope that perhaps your reward is occasional ideas for your strips – as well as pleasure in glittering intellects.

  88. Pam I says:

    Lizzie, I thought you were ducking into the trench in case your mother read it. Not this zoo.
    I feel a neeed to bond with sloths. Anything that is so lacking in dash that it gets covered in algae is my kind of pin-up.

  89. Vivid Lady says:

    little gator,

    Though I don’t know your friend, it’s good to know there are sympathetic souls in the world! Thank you for your welcome.

    Vivid Lady

  90. Wendy says:

    Shadocat,

    I wish you had listened to your heart and not posted that guilt-tripping, martyred post. I didn’t need to read that.

  91. Alison Cummins says:

    I’ve been following Alison’s strip since before there were regular characters, and I’m observing that now that she is frantically trotting about the globe some of her strips lack depth, but I don’t think I own her or the strip or the blog. Just the books I bought. That’s it.

    RE the blog: I don’t participate because to me, it looks like a self-congratulatory in-group. Yeah, there are smart people here but there are smart people lots of places. I’m here for the art, not the commenters.

    By “not participating” I mean that I only read when I’m here for a new strip and I notice Alison complaining that the blog has been causing her a headache, and then I eagerly dive in to find out what kind of petty infighting the commenters have gotten themselves into. Yeah, it gets pretty petty. I can see why Alison gets a headache.

    If Alison wants to try to set things up in such a way as to scale back the headaches, or to allow readers to choose to discuss the strip without having to wade through hundreds of comments about cats and cakes, more power to her. Everything we get from her is a gift.

    To those who are whining: grow up and be grateful. It’s really disappointing to me to see dykes behaving so badly.

    (I don’t expect Alison thinks you’re behaving badly – she’s more thoughtful and empathetic than I am – but I do.)

  92. LondonBoy says:

    Alison Cummins:

    I’m not completely sure that the phrase “self-congratulatory” applies: whilst many of the regular posters here enjoy “playing with words and ideas” I don’t think that’s quite the same thing, though I have the suspicion that it may be perceived as such by some.

    One thing about “lurking” on a blog is that it’s not the same as sitting on the edges of a conversation. In the physical world we can tell if there’s someone else listening and perhaps wanting to say something, and we can say things like “I notice you were nodding/shaking your head when so-and-so mentioned such-and-such, and I can see that you’re carrying a copy of Das Kapital/Atlas Shrugged/The National Enquirer… What do you think about this-or-that ?” In the world of blogs, though, we can’t spot lurkers unless they say something: the medium requires slightly more promiscuity in initiating interaction, and of course as soon as you say something you look like a member of the “in-group” to people who haven’t said anything, even if such a thing doesn’t really exist per se.

  93. Vicwa says:

    Jana C.H. – why Rome fell – that lovely modern plumbing system was filled with lead – hence, everyone had lead poisoning. Found in their bones. Great public health but no knowledge of the dangers of lead poisoning. I’m convinced we’re heading down the same road.

    Oh, dear, is that what “all roads lead to Rome” really means?