Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
On being a writer as compared to being a community member.
Elizabeth Lane Lawley wrote tonight:
Shelley wrote “If community causes you to alter your writing—not to say something you think should be said, or to write a certain way to get attention—then you are betraying yourself as a writer.” And in a comment to one of Shelley’s posts, stavrosthewonderchicken wrote “It’s not about community any more, if it ever was, for some of the more visible amongst us, I don’t think. Unless by community they are referring to the intersection of their legions of acolytes and their semi-closed network of peers – the same people that they hang out with at these silly conferences that people talk so much about.”
That just makes me angry. How dare either one of these people pass judgment on the sense of community or friendship that’s developed among the people they’re criticizing? I have watched Joi reach out and befriend so many people—very few of them among the digerati that seem to irk Shelley and her readers so. But they don’t bother to look closely enough to see any of that. They paint anyone who counts themselves part of this growing community of people with an interest in the sociology and technology underlying new technologies with the same brush. And in the process, they diminish all of our voices. I fully expect that I’ll be dismissed by them as simply another acolyte—and that the irony of that dismissal will be completely incomprehensible to them.
How dare I write something like, “If community causes you to alter your writing—not to say something you think should be said, or to write a certain way to get attention—then you are betraying yourself as a writer”?
Easily. By being a writer, and not worrying about members of the community making remarks such as this.
She also wrote:
Not interested in the research and projects presented at conferences like ETech, or AoIR, or Media Ecology? Fine. Every academic and professional field has people who find it a waste of time or an orgy of navel-gazing. But the level of venom and animosity being directed at people who I’ve seen to be welcoming and encouraging to so many newcomers, and whose circles are so clearly inclusionary, indicates to me that this isn’t disinterest. It’s resentment. It’s entitlement. It’s a reverse form of exclusion—if you’re part of “them” you’re not part of “us,” and we’re the only ones who really understand the medium.
Venom and animosity. Huh.
Liz thinks I’ll just dismiss her. She said, I fully expect that I�ll be dismissed by them as simply another acolyte�and that the irony of that dismissal will be completely incomprehensible to them.
She does me a disservice, both in this assumption and in the accusation of writing about this issue with ‘venom and animosity’. But this will be the last time that I suffer her accusations.
I am gratefully reminded of the truth of my own words, and they will serve as my response:
The best damn thing that can happen to many of us is being cut adrift by our communities.