For solitude sometimes is best society, / And short retirement urges sweet return. – Paradise Lost
If you will stop and consider a moment, you will realize how much these swings of Rhythm have affected you in your life-how a period of Enthusiasm has been invariably followed by an opposite feeling and mood of Depression. – The Kybalion; Rhythm
It goes something like this:
But then, there’s this avalanche: This avalanche of collaboration.
It starts to eat at the soul, and causes all these weird attention problems.
You start to float, in this weird dimension of information. You stop seeing words, and it becomes a sea of letters.
You feel, physically, like you want to throw up at times. You are stretched thin.
And you can think to yourself.
You see nothing, and then you start seeing new things-
Really impressive, interesting things.
You write about them.
Our poor technology plays some role in the InvolvementCycle.
In particular: There are a lot of annoying logistics involved in getting involved online.
At some point, everybody who participates has to learn the names for all these things – things that they already did in RealLife. You have to setup your system so that you can hang out with your friends. You have to learn wiki languages. You have to configure your DNS, and Apache, if you’re hosting wiki. You need to keep notes, so that you don’t forget. There’s all these little details that you have to put together in your mind, and cement into your mind, in order to interact online.
Even ideas such as “Saving pages,” “Caching,” “Preview,” – they are all these things that we have to work around.
All of these details make it hard to interact online, and make it cost something extra, with every transaction.
This plays some role in the cost of the InvolvementCycle. They all add “friction” to our interaction. And, presently, it’s all very clumbsy.
The technology above is all being developed, improved upon, changing. We’re just at the beginning of figuring out how to use all these things. We’ve had “E-Mail,” for ages, and it too is still improving. We’ve got intra-email protocols for automating mailing list subscriptions, HTML mail, spam filter systems, all sorts of stuff. The room for improvement is vast. Everything is a moving target. That means: We’re likely to have all this high friction for a long time to come. (The argument can even be extended to the telephone.)
However: I do not believe we should think that the InvolvementCycle comes from technology friction.
SocialSoftware is going to make the InvolvementCycle more common. If people cannot relate now, they will in the future.
SocialSoftware is technology that “sucks people in” to talking about the things that they are interested in. Wiki is an example of SocialSoftware. It “sucks you in” by it’s low barrier to entry – you just hit the “edit” button below, and add your two cents. Then you can either wait around for a reply, or get an e-mail later on, telling you that someone replied to something you said. (MailedUpdates?.)
This can be both good and bad.
It’s good in that it’ll pull the passions out of people. People who might otherwise be watching the Television, and occasionally look at the Internet, might be yanked into being active on the Internet, and find that their passions are provoked. They could discover the people that they didn’t meet before, because they were lost in the disconnected life of Suburbia, and had only a TV to relate to.
But it’s bad, in that we need to figure out the cycle, and come to peace with it. Or, break from it, either to a better, more even relationship with the InternetHiveMind?, or to break out of technology all-together, for good. It presents a problem and an opportunity.
Alex Schroeder: A fantastic thread on social media about the need to ban people on a site that are no longer happy being on a site. It’s hard to summarize in a few words and needs a page of its own. It’s long. Link: remove the people who don't like being there.
Dan (@ifixcoinops) begins the thread with the following:
I’ve run a big text adventure for thirteen years (at one point briefly it was the biggest text adventure!) and if there’s one thing I’ve about managing a big online community in that time that I’d choose to pass on as a warning to others, it’s this: remove the people who don’t like being there.
Alex, reading these posts – I can’t help but think that you’re talking about CommunityWiki, through each post.
Speaking for myself, I’m a little sad that WikiRevival, Epoch 2020 has not taken off. I have fond memories of the 2020-00’s, and had thought that perhaps a new wave of development might arise. It seems, however, that that’s not what’s going to happen, – and I’m fine with that.
Would you speak here or elsewhere, about how you see these threads in relationship to CommunityWiki?
Alex Schroeder: The way I see it, the original thread and the things I extracted are important things to know for online communities, both for maintainers and members, for anybody trying to understand the medium, and possibly a tool to bridge our understanding from social dynamics in clubs and associations to online communities.
As such, CommunityWiki is simply an example where we see the different phases, where we had a lot of curiosity, experimented with wiki features, where we see member churn, where people move on, where people are sad that things aren’t what they used to be.
At the same time, I don’t think that we need to moderate ruthlessly, I don’t think we need to watch for abusers, there simply aren’t enough of us. Our cosy mode DeclinePhase simply doesn’t encompass many people. I guess I’m also trying to find peace with what happened, remembering how WikiFounding is hard and needs a thousand (new) pages to get started.
I feel like I’m extending our LinkLanguage to better understand and describe what is happening and has happened here, but I’m also thinking of IRC channels, MUDs, Mastodon Instances.
Thanks, Alex. I just added a note to Epoch 2020 to kind of wind things down.
I don’t know that it so much that I’m sad that things aren’t how they used to be – that’s true, but it’s not the real focus of my sadness.
The thing I’m most sad about, is to not find MutualInspiration at this time. That’s what I love! What I’m really excited about right now, is realizing possibilities around AggregatedInformation, and community collaboration on making visualizations and communications about the world around them, that light up like Christmas trees and illuminate the world and bring people to interesting ideas and possibilities. And I’m sad that we didn’t find a place of sufficient overlap. It’s like – we had some kindle, there was some enthusiasm around the small systems idea, but we didn’t have enough kindle, or the overlaps weren’t quite right, or we didn’t find enough people, or something – something about this juncture in time didn’t work.
I have a light sadness about it, but I’m not disappointed, not bitter. I think it was worth the shot.
OK, enough relating about that. To the adventure. 😊
Ha! Funny to read a Kybalion reference here. OK, see you around, sooner or later or much later.