Re: virus: Why swim upstream?

Tim Rhodes (
Mon, 14 Jun 1999 17:41:53 -0700

Eric wrote:

>I've been thinking about the issues you raised here, in depth, for
>nearly a month now. I had orginally hoped that a core group of
>regulars on a list could maintain a positive atmosphere -- could
>"control" the list sufficiently that flamewars and the other negative
>dynamics I have identified could be avoided. But recent events here
>on Virus have now convinced me that that's a pipe dream -- not only
>does it over estimate our abilities (we're not perfect and will
>sometimes lead discussions into those areas as well), but it also
>underestimates the influence that one poster can have -- not to
>mention a small new group.
>So how do we avoid such negative dynamics? I don't know. My only
>real idea is The Conscious Approach -- which you describe below. It
>requires a certain focus on *how* you argue and *how* you're saying
>things, not to mention *why* you're saying them, and like you said,
>that focus tends to dampen your own input and motivation. It is a
>nasty catch 22.

>Tim: I hear you loud and clear. What's that slogan? "The Medium *is*
>the Message". The dynamics control the conversation...
>I have changed in the same way, Tim -- I see it now too. But I'm not
>content to let it stay that way.
>You lapse into cynicism and apathy:

You're right, of course. Thank you.

>You ask "Why swim upstream?" I'll tell you why: to change potential
>into actuality.
>In a message to Dave Hall, I said:
>"Email allows us to combine the exact, systematic and reasoned nature
>of *writing* (think philosophy books) with the rapid stimulus and
>variety of the "beerhall", to use your term. This combination could be
>*explosive* -- and if we can harness that explosion, it may usher in a
>"new age" of knowledge creation, accelerating our growth of knowledge
>even beyond the dreams of the Extropians."
>Just as a side note, I think the "explosion" of email is already
>here -- we're just not harnessing it, and so the explosion is hurting
>rather than helping us.

This is a beautiful analogy. BTW.

>So why swim upstream? Because there's gold in them there hills! All
>we gotta do is go get it!

True enough! And I think your Epistemology of Email may be the first step in putting a waterwheel on that stream and harnessing its power to help us sift the gold from the sand.

-Prof. Tim