- Posted by Johanna on September 26, 2006 at 5:10 pm
- Category: LinkBlogging
For all their flaws, the rec.arts.comics groups (which I last visited over a year ago) were the last time I really felt a part of a comic discussion forum. I keep up with several web fora now, but because they’re moderated (and proudly in an iconoclastic “follow the leader’s rules, no matter how sensible or not” fashion), I always feel as though I’m there on sufferance and had better watch what I say.
It’s not unusual that I’d miss them. After all, I was part of them for almost 20 years. (Gasp!) But I was thinking about them again, after reading Russ Allbery on community. This one made me cry, as I was thinking “Yes! Yes” to points like these:
I’ve strongly disagreed with the idea that Usenet is dying. I still do, I think. I think things ebb and flow and shift around, but up until now I haven’t really thought about how my interaction with Usenet has changed, whether Usenet has died a little for me. But I’m sitting here, trying to capture how I feel about newsgroups and the communities in them, how I feel when I post, what threads I participate in, and… there’s That Hierarchy, there’s a sense of attachment to the technology and to a bunch of technical newsgroups, and there’s some combination of dogged persistence and obligation attached to news.groups. But… friends, connections, common causes, play, passion for a cause… that all used to be there, that’s all in those old messages, and where did that all go? Did I change, did it change, what happened?
… time marches relentlessly on, the entry scrolls off the bottom of friends pages, no one checks back for more comments, and the restless executioner of technologically enforced attention span puts a bullet in the head of another conversation.
I got to know those people on Usenet. And I’m not sure I know how to get to know people on-line any more.
My communities were on Usenet, and I’ve changed, and Usenet has changed, and I’m not sure that I can see them any more, and I’m not sure how I found them in the first place. But something disappeared and I didn’t replace it, and I’m afraid the places where I found it originally are too toxic to find it again.
So why not go back? Because of that last bit. I’m not convinced that the signal-to-noise ratio has improved from the cellar levels that caused me to drift away. Heck, I’m not even sure my current ISP offers Usenet server access, and the Google groups interface is atrocious. And because what I miss isn’t a technology but a group of people who were long gone from a time when there was only one free place online to talk about comics and everyone went there.
I miss it. A lot.