Sociology and Message formatting

From: Chuck McManis <>
Date: Thu Jan 7 13:14:26 1999

I've been reading the responses to the message text question and have
enjoyed them immensely.

I particularly enjoy the more clever rejoinders.

Now that you have all thought about this for a minute, take your view and
widen it up to include a lot more history.

This list is a community, joined by technology, sharing a common passion
for a particular topic (in this case classic computers.) New technology is
continuously being introduced and when it reaches a point where the
community experience is "better" with the new technology than it is with
the old, the community will move. I make this statement based on the
following reasoning.

First, lets clearly define what we've got here. I've chosen to call it a
"Global Community of Common Interest" (GCCI). I define such a community as
a collection of people who are geographically distributed around the planet
and bound together by only a common interest and a communication mechanism
(the Commons if you will). This sociological phenomena is a globalized
instantiation of the local phenomena known as a "club" or "society." The
latter having existed throughout recorded history, the former having come
into existence in the 20th century with the development of the first global
communication technology, the mail.

If we existed in the 40's and 50's we would probably all get the "Classic
Computer Newsletter" via First Class mail. In the 60's and 70's the "cool"
communication technology of choice was amateur radio. In the 80's many
GCCIs formed using dial up bulletin boards, and in the 90's the Internet
and SMTP mailing lists became the technology of choice.

I've participated in GCCIs using all of the above technologies and
experienced "community drift" in all of them. Community drift occurs when
members of the community begin to use a different technology base in
preference to the existing base for the commons. Once started the drift
tends to increase until the entire community has shifted. I don't know how
many radio operators I heard complaining about "why should I dial up some
BBS when we could just chat on 10 meters?" The answer was time shifting.
The move to the internet from BBSes was cost. The move from plain text to
HTML is being motivated by the ability to communicate more clearly.

I particularly liked the "you American's assume everyone has high speed
access" rant. I'm actually the worst kind of technocrat here because I'm
sitting right smack in the middle of the mecca of high tech and using
technologies that may never escape the San Francisco Bay area into the
mainstream. However, one need only compare that comment to the BBS'ers
comments of the FIDO days which went something like, "You guys are so
arrogant, you assume everyone has Internet access." to understand just how
irrelevant such a stance is. The world moves, no one understands this
better than computer collectors.

You *will* get high speed affordable internet access. You may get it much
later than other parts of the world but I can recognize a steam roller when
I see it. You got a telephone right? And then FAX machines etc, etc. The
world *will* move away from plain ASCII into something more expressive.

So, what's the bottom line? Things change I guess. Not too profound I know
but it sure is useful to watch. And its a lot more fun then talking about
Y2K ;-)

Received on Thu Jan 07 1999 - 13:14:26 GMT

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