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I’m working on converting the last of the old Dynamic Earth articles I plan on salvaging: the four-part Tale of Two Monsters, covering the Loch Ness Monster, and the giant squid. A lot of work to port these– they are large articles.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

I’ve always been rather proud of ToTM and pleased with the connections I’ve made to such a wide variety of people because of them: from official Nessie watchers in Scotland; to the world’s premier cryptozoologist in Maine; to marine biologists and giant squid fans all over the world. Regular as a dental appointment, once a year there’s a Swedish nutcase who sends me an email calling me a bitch because of my criticism of one of his so-called expeditions. When next he checks in, and sees the ability to leave online comments, he’ll probably expire from the excitement.

That will earn me chocolates in some circles, I can tell you. Good chocolates, too.

See? Even in the days before ‘weblogging’ people would connect with each other online, based on mutual interests and the same hooks that pull people into weblogging commenting now. Weblogging didn’t invent community–all it did was pave already existing roads so that more people could participate, more easily. And the hooks I talk about have less to do with the skill of writing, or the beauty of the page or the sexiness of the technology, as much as they do with putting something into the writing that makes others want to respond. If I could determine exactly what it is, I’d make a plug-in of it, and win that Six Apart Plug-In contest.

Well, maybe I wouldn’t win the Six Apart Plug-In contest…

Still, writing does matter. Sometimes too much.

I was thinking last night, before I went to sleep and after watching my cat experience that very mild earthquake to the north, that there are times when you want people to reach out to you based on something other than the merit of your argument, the strength of your words, the rightousness of your cause. You want them to be a friend, and just say, “Howdy, you’re cool” even if you sound like an idiot online.

I mean, a complete and total idiot. The kind you see in the store every once in a while and think to yourself, “God, I’m glad I’m not married to him/her!”

People in the flesh can see when the time is good for intellectual discussion over coffee or beer, or when someone just needs a hug. Tears, screaming, swearing, and throwing pillows helps. Online it’s not so easy – you have to earn those hugs. You have to have the better argument; you have to be slammed the hardest and the most unfairly; your opponent should be more popular, or at least nastier; and on top of all this, you have to spell correctly. I mean, spell correctly for land’s sake.

In other words, you have to bleed online–but do so with great style.

But even assholes need a hug sometimes. And I bet even Glenn Reynolds needs an instapeck on the cheek from time to time.

And can you imagine a tearful scene like the following:

Man: You don’t love me, you never did. I’m just dirt, aren’t I? Efluveum on the bottom of your feet.

Woman: You spelled it wrong.

Man: What?

Woman: You spelled efluvium wrong. It’s E-F-L-U-V-I-U-M. You used an ‘e’.

Man: I’m crying my heart out here, and you’re checking my spelling?

Woman: People who want to be taken seriously take the time to check their spelling.

Man: You’re a bitch, you know that?

Woman: Troll!

Isn’t this just the most bizarre shit at times? If you could see the expression on my face right now, you’d know exactly what I mean. Think Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail.”

And no, it is not a chick flick.

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