Re: Apology

Date: Mon May 29 2000 - 16:44:57 MDT

Alex Future Bokov writes:
> I don't owe anybody anything, of course, but I've been doing something
> that's bad for me and in a small way bad for the
> Transhumanist/Extropian community. Apologizing to myself feels
> insubstantial, so I'm apologizing to you. I periodically disappear from
> all fora and stop reading even the list that I myself run. I get
> overwhelmed by everthing that's going on, all the information that
> comes pouring in. Maybe I'm afraid of succeeding at what I most want to
> do.

One of the weaknesses of "electronic communities" is that we don't notice
when people leave. If Sasha didn't have real-life contacts we might not
even be aware of his passing. We have had many people come and go over
the years, often without much notice.

It would be different if we were all meeting in the physical world, at
a bar or a club, getting to know each other and talking the night away.
If we met regularly, then when someone stopped showing up, we'd notice.
Maybe one of us would give him a call or drop by just to make sure he
was OK.

This doesn't happen very much in our online communities. I think this
is in large part because we can't see who's here! We only see who is
talking, we can't tell who is listening. If someone stops posting,
has he lost interest, become depressed, or merely decided to observe
for a while without saying much?

Also, even if we do assume that silence is a sign of absence, it's not
that easy to remember who is here and who has left. We have a great
many posters who are active in any given span of weeks, often hundreds
of individuals. That's a lot of people to keep track of. Plus, the
"From" line in an email message is not as distinctive and memorable as
the appearance and sound of a person you meet physically. It lacks body,
substance, to help you fix him in your memory.

I looked back at the archive for two years ago, and I saw many familiar
names who were once active but who have not posted recently (not the past
month, anyway): CALYK, Damien Sullivan, Dan Clemmensen, den Otter, Erik
Moeller, Grant Sparks, Hara Ra, J.R. Molloy, Mark Crosby, Mark Grant,
Michael Nielsen, Nick Bostrom, Randall R. Randall, Scott Badger, Tony
Belding, Tony Hollick, Warrl kyree Tale'sedrin.

I'm sure most of these people are doing fine, and have just gone on to
other things. But it is strange to have all these departed ones who are
around only in memory, ghosts who haunt our electronic gathering place.


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