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How can we improve the NCDD Discussion list?

Though NCDD runs a variety of email discussion lists for people who share interests or live in specific regions, our most active listserv by far is the main NCDD Discussion list. The list currently has 1170 subscribers, and people use the list to share news and opportunities in the field, to connect with new people who do D&D work, to get advice quickly, and to discuss issues in our field.

Whats Next GraphicSome weeks, the listserv sees just two or three messages, while other weeks see dozens of messages posted. The listserv discussions are sometimes deeply philosophical or academic.  Other times they are highly practical.  Oftentimes, announcements are shared that do not stimulate discussion (nor are they meant to). Here are a couple compilations that demonstrate what the listserv can produce…

Over the last few days, a discussion has begun on the listserv about the technology we use within NCDD to communicate with each other.  Some folks would like to see more of a forum format, where people can post online within topic threads and be notified via email about posts.  Others are happy with the current listserv format.  Others would like to see NCDD members holding more in-depth discussions on various social media sites.

I wanted to move the discussion to the blog here, where we can really dig into this topic without filling up people’s inboxes.  The discussion is an important one for NCDD and I encourage everyone to use the comments below to share your thoughts, ideas, and opinions on what about the NCDD Discussion list works for you and what doesn’t work so well, what technologies you think might work for NCDD, what suggestions you have for strengthening the listserv discussions, etc.

I have a lot to say on this topic myself and really enjoy experimenting with new technology, so I look forward to this discussion!  Also – be sure to look over our page at www.ncdd.org/social to get a sense of what NCDD is using now (facebook, linkedin, twitter, flickr, youtube, blogs, listservs, etc.).

Sandy Heierbacher on FacebookSandy Heierbacher on LinkedinSandy Heierbacher on Twitter
Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher is the Founding Director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD). Sandy has an M.A. in International Management from SIT Graduate Institute, and also serves as a Research Deputy for the Kettering Foundation. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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  1. If you are subscribed to the NCDD Discussion list, please share what it is you like about the listserv. In your opinion, what’s working?

    • Just to start us off, the listserv is the most active outlet we’ve experimented with over the years by far. Many people have told me they’ve gained valuable insights, connections, funding opportunities, etc. from the list, that they’re impressed with the quality of discussion on the list and the caliber of subscribers. Most importantly, I think the listserv reminds people that they’re not alone in this work, and gives them quick, easy access to their peers.

      I think the most important factor that makes the list successful is simply that it’s email-based. People send and receive messages via their inbox, and don’t need to remember a login, password, or URL to visit. Another important factor to me is that it’s FREE. L-soft put us on “donation basis” several years ago, so there is no per-email or per-person charge (even for our monthly updates).

      • Lucas Cioffi says:

        This is a test message to see whether you can reply to a comment that doesn’t have “reply” underneath it.

        If this comment shows up as a reply to Sandy’s comment of “Just to start us off…” then it is possible by putting the comments number where it says “870” in http://ncdd.org/5091?replytocom=870#respond

        This is a bit techy, but to see the number of a comment, click on the comment’s date and look at the URL in the browser.

        If this comment does not show up as a response to Sandy’s comment, then perhaps there are settings preventing deeper responses that can be changed by the administrator.

      • Lucas Cioffi says:

        Follow up comment: As of now, it looks like responses will only show up two levels deep.

        This comment, for example, should be in reply to my previous comment, but it will instead look like it’s replying to Sandy’s comment beginning with “If you are subscribed…”

        It would be great if the settings could be adjusted to enable deeper threading for this conversation and others.

    • Lucas Cioffi says:

      In reply to the “What’s working with the discussion list?” question, it’s clear that the quality of conversation is consistently very high, much higher than any other email discussion list I belong to online.

      Specifically, people take the time to post very thoughtful questions and responses, and they show they are listening and appreciating each other’s ideas and perspectives. Simply stated, there is a great deal of learning going on.

      I also like the bottom-up nature of the discussion list; anyone can begin a conversation which ensures that if there is news of interest to the community, someone will post it quickly.

      It’s also clear that there are many existing relationships between members of our network that shine through in the respectful nature of the email exchanges. I imagine that many of these relationships started in-person, but they undoubtedly grew through the email exchanges.

      To sum up, I’m a huge fan of the discussion list because of the learning environment, the ability to stay current on news, and the respect evident in conversation.

    • David Kimball says:

      Although not a professional D&D person, I love the sophistication of the comments and also like to know what’s going on.

    • Cheryl Honey says:

      I seem to be suffering from information overload. I appreciate the cataloguing of postings on this site. However, I’m challenged navigating the pleathera of information.

      Wondering if we could schedule a conference call to discuss these topics. I miss the person to person connection. F2F is a great idea, however, logistics is always an issue.

      Have you thought about plotting the NCDD subscribers on a map so we can connect with members who live near us. I travel alot and would also like to connect with NCDD members in those communities.

      On another note…spamming seems to be a concern. I’m interested in knowing what other NCDD members are doing and would like to receive notices of upcoming workshops and trainings.

      Appreciate the individual and collective efforts of all NCDD members to advance our field to create a more democratic society.

  2. Also, what isn’t working for you so well? Do you have any suggestions for improving the list (different tech, different moderation, different ground rules, etc.)?

    • I’m not happy with the online portion of the listservs. L-Soft does allow people to access list archives, but it’s a rather complex, unfriendly system to understand so we don’t encourage subscribers to use the web interface.

    • Regarding Sandy’s reference to the online portion of the listserv, I have found this to be generally an issue. Much listserv software is based on Lyris, which was created a long time ago and does not have an easy web interface. It is meant to be used via an email interface and if you can get a list of the various email commands available, you can do almost anything from within your email client.

      Archived messages are not generally easy to access. What I do is to archive all of my emails on my computer, then I can do all the searching for past messages within my own email client.

      I have noticed that there is a lot of newer listserv software available, though i haven’t reviewed any of it. I think the Lyris interface is used a lot as network administrators are generally familiar with it.

      –Kenoli

  3. Reynolds-Anthony Harris says:

    I agree with Steve – “simple” is good and at the same time , innovation and
    trying new portals + networks is a worthy expectation.

  4. CKJ says:

    The following is what I would do to increase the accessiblity of discussions, drive traffic towards them and make the process somewhat more hands off and self-secured.

    Firstly the user DB and Network need to become an integrated part of the sites instead of a separate cadre. This should be used as the underpinning to eliminating the security issues. The Basic Idea here is to aggregate data and take a marketing structure that currently looks like a tailored plan to each service regardless of direction to a singular and cohesive messaging strategy that drives users back to the website and into discussion forums and wiki editing.

    Website
    -Single User DB – this will kill the security issues from spam as new members must be approved
    -Designate a non-members area on the forum which will need patrolling
    -Desite to allow quests to comment or log-in
    -Start a forum which pulls it’s user DB info and avatars from the NCDD Network
    -Start a Wiki that pulls User Info from the DB
    -Make the User DB differentiate from new public members, professional members and senior/admin members
    -Provide an area that is promoting community communications and blogging

    Blog
    -Integrate the Blog commenting system with user DB add Facebook connect and Twitter connect for those that wish it
    -Make blog publish to Facebook through Page and Twitter when published
    -Forward Blog Comments to the Forum? Or Keep at Blog

    Make up a NCDD commitment

    Forum
    -Ground Rules for Discussion in all areas
    -Coming Events
    -Event Revues
    -DIscussion Areas

    Wiki
    -USer DB integrated
    —> This will kill the security issue
    -Allow unadministrated posts by members and force the general public to have administrated posts

    Add sign up info to the different areas that is better than a CAPTCHA. Logic Questions

    Change Social Networking component to lead back to the website instead of create separate factions

    Facebook
    -Close Group, no longer allow new members
    -Pare Down the Facebook Group so as to eliminate it and request Facebook merge membership
    -Take Page and forward Discussion area to website Forum
    -Kill all sections on Facebook that do anything other than simply promote the organization and forward to the actual website
    -Use Events portion of the forum to promote NCDD Events and have mostly redirects to website coming events/forum instead of promoting a huge use of the Page as a board for discussion

    Linkedin Page As ORganization
    -Same Focus as Facebook

    Twitter
    -Use for promotion of Blogs, Coming Events

    ListServ
    -Use specifically for announcements to the e-mail list as a digest based on relevant time structures. For instance a weekly coming events and newsletter with blogs
    -Submissions by persons which are announcements
    -Duplicate content on Other social networking places
    -Promote Current discussions on the forums which are good

    Youtube
    -Promote a video a Week or Month in a newsletter
    -Take video submissions on the forum

    Flickr
    -This seems rather useful as a data housing, but Facebook will be more useful for tagging individuals and promoting the photos

    Thataway.org
    -Move Member Network over to NCDD and force Thataway links and e-mails into a redirect

    The End Goal here is that the user DBs of all the content on the site are merged using MediaWiki Modifications,p robably vBulletin or PhPBB modifications and blog user settings. Facebook, Twitter and Linked in begin to run themselves and provide links to content back to the website. And that the ListServ becomes a place for announcements, not long dicussions that fill e-mail inboxes and are a general turnoff for some members as a style of discussion, but promote the lively discussions already going on at a hopefully centralized source of information.

    • Thanks for the detailed suggestions, Cameron. I admit reading over your suggestions overwhelms me. At the moment, we’re understaffed and underfunded (like so many others in the nonprofit realm), and probably not able to devote resources to this kind of overhaul right now. I’ll hang on to these suggestions for the future, though.

      Some of the things you’re suggesting ARE on our to-do-asap list, though… like switching the members network from thataway.org to ncdd.org and changing the email addresses.

      And some are more immediately do-able, like featuring a monthly youtube video (love that idea!).

      And some we’re already doing, like automatically publishing blog posts to our Facebook page, Twitter feed, LinkedIn group and my GovLoop account and Facebook wall.

      One quick question for you, Cameron… you wrote about integrating a forum with a wiki, social network, the blog, discussion list, etc. Is there software (like PhpBB, which we’ve used for our forum) that does all that? And if so, do you need to work with a highly skilled developer to make it happen (which could be cost prohibitive)? I know we found PhpBB to be very complex and obtuse (yet limited in some critical ways), so I don’t think we could do this in-house by any stretch of the imagination.

    • Cameron — I followed some of this and couldn’t make sense of of other parts. One thing I appreciated in your comments, and which helps them make more sense to me, is to relegate FaceBook and Twitter to specific and appropriate purposes and not try to make them do things they can’t, like support deeper conversations.

      I’m going to have to check, but I think the forums on NCDD are pretty integrated into a listserv environment, I.e. it is possible to participate in the forums entirely through emails. If this is so, I like it, as it provides the forum framework for those who want to access discussions through the web in a forum format, and the listserv junkies like me can sign up for various forums and participate entirely through my email client.

      If this is the case, going over entirely to forum software that can be set up through user preferences to look like a listserv achieves several purposes: retains listserv interface for old fogies like me, provides a usable web interface for those who want it and for archiving and searching which is much more user friendly than Lyris, and allows those who like the forum format to use it exclusively.

      A few overview observations:

      1. As several have mentioned, stay with what works. If you modify it simply add usability without changing the format significantly. An example is what I mentioned above about an integrated listserv/forum format, which lets people use what works for them rather than forcing them into one interface or another. Keep things “backward” compatible.

      2. Choice points should relate to what software was actually designed to do or what comes out in the wash as what it does best, e.g. don’t try to get FaceBook to be something it can’t be just because a bunch of people use FaceBook or it gets a lot of press. I like Cameron’s suggestions for how to use Facebook and Twitter.

      3. Keep things simple. One reason I like listservs is that I already check my mail every day and using a listserv is right there. It is simple. What is complicated are things like: having to go to one or more places to review things that are related, having to learn some new interface that someone somewhere thinks we ought to learn, too much variety, too many choices.

      4. Stay with what is really needed as opposed to going with the newest thing. Good communications follow a different drum than the fashion page. (maybe fashion could learn something)

      5. ***Pay attention to how the format of our tools and conversations correlate to what we know about good group process. Fro example, what formats model collaboration and what formats model hierarchy, or what formats support individual voices in a framework that gives them a chance to be heard in the context of other voices. Make sure whatever we use is easily accessible.

      6. I suspect that the fact that I (and others) have stayed with NCDD conversations so long reflects the fact that some good thought has gone into the NCDD technologies. Keep it up.

      7. Who is not participating and who would like to or who is needed because any of the formats we use create a threshold that keeps them out? The answer to this question might be a good guide for any changes.

      –Kenoli

  5. The following comment is copied from the listserv. I think it is appropriate to add it here. Needless to say once on has read this comment, I am less sure about the process of responding to blogs than to listervs. Also, needless to say, I hope the NCDD listserv persists. Having gotten involved in the internet in the 1980s (maybe even 1970s, can’t remember for sure), I’m beginning to feel like an internet old fogie. Here goes:

    This is one of those moments where I find myself rising to defend the humble, unadorned, unpretentious but persistent “listserv.”

    I love the listserv. Everything comes to my email box and I can sort it any way I want, by subject, by who posted the message, by keyword. I can follow one or more threads, I can respond by writing what I am thinking in a simple window that is nor full of ads, images, flash objects, popup windows, 600 links and all kinds of other “noise.” I can easily have a side conversation with an individual or small group by replying just to one person or several.

    When I log onto facebook or Twitter or even LinkedIn, my mind explodes (and then runs for cover) trying to deal with the circus I am presented with. I find the forum or bulletin board format excellent for technical questions and discussions but not the kind of thing we do in NCDD. I can log onto a coding website for instance and log onto the discussions of a specific language or issues and once I get there, it pretty much acts like a listserv. But for a broad group with many forks like NCDD forums drive me crazy because I have to look in a dozen different places to follow the strings I want to follow.

    With the simple, humble, elegant listserv, I can get up in the morning and see what all has come in over the night right there in my email inbox. During the day I can check into the various discussion strings as I wish. They are all right there. I can sort on [NCDD-discussion] (or the subject tag of several listservs) and have each string or listserv listed together in date, time or poster order.

    And it kind of achieves that “all-in-one” solution Cameron and Sandy refer to. Most forums and bulletin boards (pretty much the same) can be accessed in the listserv format, with the user choosing which posts and strings they want to receive via email and allowing people to post by replying to those emails.

    I ended up teaching myself coding language to code our web site because it seemed to daunting to me to try to figure out how to get Joomia or WordPress to do what we wanted it to. They both wanted to make everything possible; I just wanted a web site. With web 2.0, we are being forced to reproduce the ambiance of Facebook on every web page. Not my vision of ideal.

    Communications on the web has gotten like choosing a cell phone or cable or internet plan. You are forced to figure out some complex, archane structure someone has created to serve their purpose or what they imagine your purpose to be instead of just asking what you want. Multiple choice and complexity seems, from my perspective, to serve the offerer much more than the consumer.

    And look at the historical reality, many forms have come and gone and the listserv still remains ubiquitous. The very first web based discussion format was the bulletin board. It was present on the internet before the web, back when people navigated around using gopher. That bulletin board backbone still exists as USENET, but still, the listserv persists with broad popularity. What can be simpler or more elegant than sending out a message to all of your friends that are interested and watching for their replies?

    I have experienced any number of people create new “exciting,” “productive,” simple tools for communications, tried many of them and seen few take hold. Billions may be sending tweets and facebook graffiti, but disconnected semi-sentences are a far cry from getting below the surface of an issue and trying to collaboratively understand it. Doing that requires time and thought and space, not quick spurts of often unintelligible communication. These formats are perfect for what passes in this world as public dialogue and, too often, governance: a quick unexamined emotional response.

    If as a thinker from the sixties once said, “The medium is the message,” content in America is now being defined by the tweet.

    What would become of us without the listserv?

    –Kenoli (listserv aficionado)

    • Don’t worry, Kenoli – we won’t be getting rid of the NCDD Discussion list. It may not meet everyone’s needs and it may get overwhelming during busy times, but overall it has really worked for us. If anything, we would consider moving the listserv over to a different technology that has the same functionality plus some additional things that would be nice (like an optional online interface that is user-friendly). But probably not; it’s a lot of work to switch over to new technologies and orient everyone to the new technology — and I’d want to be 100% sure it would be well worth the time and resources invested. I don’t need another time-sucking project with low return, when most people are happy with what we have at this point!

    • Angie says:

      While I do sometimes feel overwhelmed by the listserv, I have also gained a lot of insight from the emails I’ve read. I wouldn’t suggest getting rid of it altogether, as it clearly has been valuable. I just sometimes feel there could be an easier way to see the conversations taking place and read up on everyone’s ideas.

      Sandy – thanks for moving this discussion over to the blog. It’s great to be able to see everyone’s comments in a ‘snapshot’ view.

    • I agree, Angie; that part’s a challenge. A few years ago we actually were planning to switch all our lists over to a different system, but when we told L-Soft our plans they offered to switch us to “donation” status. That’s a big deal; we save thousands a year having all of our listservs and our big Updates announcement list (21,000 subscribers) donated.

      Before we switched over to L-Soft we actually used a system called EdGateway, which provided both the email functionality you see with L-Soft and a nice online forum structure on the NCDD site. We found that no one was really using the online interface, and there were some serious limitations to the email side… limits to moderation, for one, and a major problem with auto-replies (out of office emails) going back to the list and causing a torrent of replies-to-replies-to-replies in everyone’s inboxes before the pattern could be stopped.

      The L-Soft system isn’t perfect, but I love that I have been able to control spam to all lists, to have a daily digest option, to create as many new lists as we need, to set different moderation levels for different lists, and to get the service for free. I’m not sure there’s a perfect option out there, and I’d hate to do all the work involved in switching people over to a new system just to find that spam gets through or people’s email addresses are compromised, or that no one uses the new features.

      I’d be willing to experiment with new options (especially free ones), though — especially if we had some NCDD members willing to invest the time in testing things out.

    • Ron Lubensky says:

      I too remain a fan of the Listserv. But I don’t read it via email. Like most weblogs and social media sites, the listserv offers an “RSS” feed. I’m one of those people who have completely changed my ways of accessing the web thanks to these subscription feeds. What they do is let me choose my “appliance” to read the comment streams. I happen to choose Google Reader and Feedly on my desktop, but others use other tools. Basically, everything that I take an interest in that offers a feed (listservs, blogs, newspaper sites, real estate listings, active Google searches, etc) I funnel into my RSS reader. Once I’ve seen something, it doesn’t appear again. Most mornings, I scan my RSS reader before my email. So staying with the Listserv does not mean you have to label yourself “old school”! And because the listserv offers an RSS feed, it can be used to automatically feed social media sites. For example, every new Listserv topic could automatically generate a twitter post or Facebook status update, for those who enjoy instant grati…, sorry, notification. I don’t reply to discussion forum msgs very often, so the extra step of linking back to the Listserv to do that doesn’t bother me. One reason I like the Listserv is that the archives are searchable and go back a long way. Keeping the archive is also a good reason not to switch to a dedicated forum (eg. bbpress add-on to WordPress that runs the NCDD site) unless it can be imported. Lastly, I don’t think we need a fully-threaded forum where we engage directly to each other’s comments. I think it is sufficient to respond to the topic, and if I want to refer to what @Sandy said, for example, I can just do that.

    • Thank you for these comments, Ron! I honestly had forgotten all about the fact that the listserv has an RSS feed that people can follow (jeez!). I’ve added it to our page on the NCDD Discussion list at http://ncdd.org/rc/item/2624 so others can follow it as well. Though it’s my experience that not too many NCDDers are using RSS feeds much. Email is really the best way to communicate with this community so far.

      I also appreciate the reminder that archives go back to March 2006. That alone is quite a resource, for those savvy enough to use L-Soft’s online platform. One of the things we do sometimes for really juicy topics is take the time to create an archive of the conversation and post that elsewhere on the NCDD site where people can access it more easily. I remembered that we had several good archived discussions from the listservs on our old forum (which we disabled due to spam and non-use), so I took some time last week to transfer them over to the Resource Center so they’ll always be searchable there.

      If you go to http://www.ncdd.org/rc/resources (where the latest resources are listed), you’ll see a post on Polarization & D&D, one on describing D&D in a compelling way, one titled “Conservatives and Liberals,” and one on the lexicon of D&D.

  6. Marty Jacobs says:

    The following is my response to comments on the listserv:

    I’ll throw my vote in with Helen and Kenoli. My guess is that there is, at
    least in part, a generational divide here. This issue really speaks to how
    you are used to getting information: some of us cut our teeth on email and
    some on social networking, so I think it really depends on what medium you
    use most and your own patterns of how you work. For me, I start my day by
    checking email, but I know there are people who start their day by checking
    FaceBook. Maybe a quick survey would help you, Sandy, figure out what the
    split is?

    Marty

    • That’s a good idea, Marty – a quick survey asking people what media they use regularly and are comfortable with. Personally, I’m doing both these days (checking email and facebook throughout the day), but I’m less habitual with twitter and linkedin.

      We had a great facebook group going until recently. We had built up a membership of 2300 in our group, but facebook made us switch to the new group structure, which I don’t think is going to work for us at all. If I set the group so that all members (not just admins) can post, every member will get an email notification about every post that’s added — and I know that will not go over well. So now I’m trying to encourage as many group members as possible to “like” our facebook PAGE so we can use the page functionality to its full potential. At least with the listservs I have confidence that the rules will not all be changed on me!

  7. Lisa Heft says:

    Kenoli’s comment #5 (above) speaks to my passions for always staying present with the practice of access and inclusion. Always imagining not how much easier it would be for ‘us’ (whomever the ‘us’ may be) but what it might be like for people not like me / us at all – those not visible who are also adding to the richness of this group by not just their verbal presence but their listening and witnessing. I notice that often – the more tools and places to be and things to join and additions that technology that make it easier / more fluid for some – can shift the nature of on-line groups to become less diverse (given the others’ level of comfort with changing technologies or access to on-line time, hand-held tools etc., the fullness of their lives, being of on-line or push-to-Inbox cultures, English as second language, ability to absorb things in high-text environments, and a million other aspects of cultural richness / difference). And that often it can *seem* just as diverse – but actually that is only via looking at visible chat or who signed up as members in the beginning. Often the unmeasurable is who’s joined but is no longer reading, whether the listeners / witnesses are present (essential part of dialogue), who ‘walked out of the room’ to go be where it’s easier for them to listen. I don’t have a lot of tech knowledge, just these observations – and – a resonance with Kenoli’s other thought of anything we do or develop in technology reflecting a deep knowledge of group and interpersonal dynamics as we know them in the face-to-face world. The best technologies I’ve seen are added after an analysis of what the group is already doing / does face-to-face not as an ‘easier’ but as an extension of what is already happening with the humans…

    Typical Lisa: I may or may not see your further comments because I dip in and out of the flow of information coming across my screen but do not have capacity for the constant flow… ;o)
    But I’ll know the amazing Sandy and the remarkable Andy and you all will be sharing great thinking about all of this…

  8. Amanda says:

    I love Cheryl’s idea of putting NCDD folks on a map… I would love to get together with those in my area (NYC)!

    ALSO, Ron, Thanks so much for mentioning – I had no idea I could add the listserve to my RSS feed – that makes it soooo much more manageable for me! How do I go about doing that?

    As one who is getting more and more into Twitter, I’d love to participate in more conversations there!

    Thanks!
    Amanda

  9. CKJ says:

    Sorry for my delayed response.

    @Sandy
    As far as developing a User DB that spanned schemes. In theory, it should not be terribly complex. There are several solutions. You could edit variable definitions in each peice of software to reference back to one DB. You could force the DBs to reference back to one. You could create a solution on the website that logged in to all the DBs for the various apps in their separate incarnations by proxy of logging on to the NCDD site. Or you could create an automated process that replicated the information in one DB across the others. Which would be best? That’s a good question which would be hard to answer without knowing exactly what software is being used. And I would agree that PhPBB can be interestingly limited and hard to deal with at times, hence the suggestiong of vBulletin which is relatively cheap in license and very powerful, but still relatively easy to modify.

    @Kenoli

    Most forums have functions which will allow for list-serv-like operation.
    The largest problem I see with the stay with what works, is that there are apects which are not working and we have reached the technological limits of expansion for the format. If people start posting a few comments a day in a discussion, we have to scurry to a different venue. That’s a problem.

    In General,

    As far as inclusion goes. The e-mails from the list-serv end up in an inbox of 200 messages a day for me. And then with different comment trees and different responses across different e-mails and a lump here and there, the conversations end up disparate notions of what a conversation is. The tool of e-mail is not a very elegant group conversation tool because it cannot handle a large influx from different directions very well. Not to mention with no visual cue (usually a personal photo) to remember each person by, remembering who said what or attaching any sort of personal remembrance upon each person is much less likely.

    As far as the Marshall McLuhan quote, he wrote a lot of things. Along with that, he wrote “First we shape our tools, then our tools shape us.” The idea behind it was the interplay that goes on. If you wish to believe his other theories, it would be hard to leave behind this one where he said communication continues to evolve and if you choose to stop evolving, you will gradually lose the use of the tools and style in which communication evolves to. This “generational” divide is a self-imposed manner, as I post on all sorts of mediums with people of all ages. I’ve played MMOs with plenty of people 50+. When we characterize other solutions as somehow needlessly busy or by necessity our worst nightmare, we cease to think of the possibilities and cling to our fear and dislikes.

    That’s where it comes back to inclusion. How should those who are excluded due to the nature of our communication and the limits of it feel? Does every comment need to be a diatribe? Where’s the room for just saying you agree with another person, or that their idea is good, or putting in a detail? Should I really feel like using my single comment in a day better be on the right topic, at the right moment, and with the right length, with so much formality and moderated on top of it so maybe its never even used? Not to mention if discussion really gets moving, what’s going to happen is my inbox is going to be flooded with a mottle timeline of replies until it gets to a point where we have to go somewhere else and lose half the participants? Good detailed dialogue provides for all those things and as a necessity challenges all of us to communicate in the most effective way, not the one we are most comfortable with or like the best. It has no interest in exclusion in these ways. It takes away barriers to entry rather than supplying them. And hopefully it makes deep discussion more effortless and moderation of little need. That is not what we are currently doing.

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