Saturday, June 23, 2007

If it ain't broke, don't fix it....

First of all, a short note: Over the past three days, I have lost the ability to ping Technorati to update content here. I've done all the pleading with Technorati that can be done and they simply will not fix the problem.

Basically this means that those of you who get updates through Technorati will no longer be getting them. If you see old content when you check Technorati, it is probably not valid. I don't let content get old here... so.... please don't depend on Technorati for accurate information.

I'm totally disgusted with their lack of responsiveness to this problem. The help forum is filled with others having the same problem and Technorati apparently has no interest in solving it. The endless waiting and lack of response has convinced me that pinging is no longer an option for me.


Following up a bit more on the previous thread (which is still active, by the way), I gave this some more thought last night.

I'm basically a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" kind of person. I can't help but wonder what would shift and change if we were all to meet each other. The idea of meeting individually isn't quite so intimidating ~ but meeting in a group would be entirely overwhelming. At least for me.

Naturally, me being me, I wanted to think about why that's so. Why would one way be inherently non-threatening and the other nearly paralyzing?

I believe there is the potential for relationships, regardless of their nature but especially virtual ones, can change when group dynamics are introduced.

I just finished reading a book last night called "Please Stop Laughing At Me". It was a bit hard to get through it because it was a brutal examination of group dynamics, how things can happen when it goes south.

Maybe I'm just too overly protective or too cautious, but honestly speaking ~ I like things the way they are here. I like the honesty and the respectful discussions we have with each other. I like the different personalities who gather at this virtual roundtable. I like the ideas that flow like a breeze through this space. It's difficult to imagine that anonymity doesn't play some part in that.

I will never be crawling inside any of your private lives. I will not be knowing things you don't want me to know. There is no opportunity for the "Blink" (reference to the book) dynamic to take place.

I'm finding it hard to see how the quality of what we do here is diminished by the fact that I will not be meeting any of you in a group setting.

It's hard to predict what choices might be made if the opportunity presents itself to meet any of you privately, one-on-one. Chances are... I'd probably do it.

So... taking this from the strictly personal to a broader perspective, how do you think the group dynamic could affect the openness and honesty that most of us give and receive when communicating in each other's comment templates?




Snoskred said...

What I love most about you Chani is that you always get me thinking. Often I wake up in the morning with an idea of what I am going to blog about. Then I get to your blog, and the direction I was going in changes completely. And today is another one of those days - The Power Of Positive Thought came to me as a surprise.

I've met people from the internet before. In fact, I met The Other Half on the internet long before I met him in person. Those were back in the very early days of the internet, when meets were quite a common thing. So I've been to group meets, and the dynamics are usually not a great deal of fun.

*HOWEVER* these things do depend a great deal on the maturity and people involved. I can tell you horror stories, but I can also tell you of happy stories.

I don't want to scare anyone, but something not so nice happened to me and probably if you're going to a meet you should be aware of what could happen. I'd say it is really unlikely with this conference being discussed, but still. It's wise to be cautious. Especially when it comes to your image being out there on the www.

A not so pleasant secret about one of the baiting forums - they had a meet, and photos were taken, and some people got a hold of those photos who should not have. A few months later myself and another baiter were kicked off that forum for no decent reason, all hell broke loose and a split formed in the community.

Some of the people at the forums took the opportunity to take those photos and do a little creative photoshopping. I had not gone to the meet, however I had given my photo to people I thought could be trusted. That photo turned up with the face of someone else put where my face should be. I kinda laughed it off, but I won't lie, I was offended. That someone I trusted would do such a thing, that anyone would do such a thing. This is one reason why the most you'll see of me on my blog is tiny little bits, like my hair photos.

However for some of the other baiters who did go to the meet, things got a lot worse. Their faces were put on gay pr0n pictures and put all over the internet. I'd say it is likely this has happened to my photos as well, but I just don't know about it. I can't do anything about it. I can't change it. I just have to grin and bear it. It's simply that there are some people within the baiting community who are not there to help others, who are not there because they care about stopping people from getting scammed - they have huge egos and if you don't treat them as they want to be treated, they will try their best to hurt you. Especially if you are a strong woman who is good at what she does, like me. ;)

This episode has left me with a lot of issues, number one being I wish to remain as anonymous as possible on the internet, and never give out my photo to anyone regardless of how much I trust them. Anonymity is now something I treasure greatly and I would have trouble going to a meet.

There are some really great people within those communities, but as time goes on I find myself turning away from them simply because I've lost trust and faith.

People will recall incidents where these things have happened to other bloggers - notably the Kathy Sierra incident. She has deleted the post now but here's one that explains what happened. What happened to her is not only a part of her history but a part of *internet* history - and not a very nice part of it, either.

It is something to seriously think about and each blogger has to do what makes them feel comfortable, I think. I can tell you having been the target of something like this it is absolutely no fun so my preference would be to try and avoid it by any means possible. On the other hand, if that meant I missed out on meeting people like yourself, would it be cutting off my nose to spite my face? I don't have the answers to these, and many other questions.. :)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I think that in a group, it would be impossible for each of us not to be more drawn to some than to others, which would create little alliances, and that our comments would then, perhaps, reflect this like little nudge-winks.

I think that while the new dynamic might also be rewarding, the purity that exists now would be forever changed.

The BlogHer gathering does sound like fun, but also as if all the blogging has led up to it, like foreplay, rather than being the complete experience I have found it to be.

thailandchani said...

Snos, you make some very good points. I honestly believe that BlogHer would not include the risks you mention ~ but in the more purely social gatherings, the ones without focus, I can definitely see where that would occur.

I've met very few people from the Internet... and on the few occasions it occurred, it was fine. (Well, except the one total nutball... but that was my fault.)

I wonder if longevity shouldn't be a large part of discernment. You know, if someone communicates for a long time on the Internet, we get to know them differently than "hey, let's have a meet-up" within the first few weeks.

The older I get, the more I appreciate patience in all things and my red flags flap in the wind when someone tries to get me to take some kind of action, any action, too quickly.


Susan, right on! That is exactly how I see it. It's the nudge-wink stuff that I want to avoid. The purity is refreshing. And it's not just foreplay. I'm content with it as it is and have no expectations beyond what is.




Christine said...

I am not sure. Would likely be ok, but I do wonder if there will be this explosion of posts about it. Of course that is ok--it is an experience people want to talk about and share on their blogs. I hope it wouldn't be that wink-nudge kind of game where others would feel left out, but it's possible.

slouching mom said...

Chani. Very early on, I developed a preference for get-togethers involving an even number of people. Don't laugh. But I was seriously girl-bullied in my elementary years by someone who was once my best friend, added a new friend to the mix (so then there were three of us), and then, of course, dumped me. Cruelly, humiliatingly, publicly. To this day, I cringe at friendship triads and go out of my way to avoid them. It's pathological, but it's somewhat understandable based on my treatment at the hands of this girl. No details, but believe me when I say that she was breathtakingly cruel. Vicious, even. So I feel much the same as you about groups.

But here's the thing. I believe that I've tossed the baby out with the bathwater. I'm quite sure that I've missed out on some of the wonderful benefits of group membership. And there have got to be some, no?

So I believe myself to have been damaged. But that is not to say that I feel there's anything inherently wrong with BlogHer, only that I might be uncomfortable there. Might. Often if I just force myself to go to things like that, I end up rather liking them.

Sigh. People are so complicated. Maybe that's the most wonderful thing about the internet and blogging relationships: they are not complicated by layers of thick, messy experience. They are distilled. They are pure.

thailandchani said...

Christine, I agree. People are going to want to talk about it. Much of it will be very interesting, too. :)

What would be especially interesting is if someone decides to write a recap of the event, the topics covered and so on.

Well, someone probably will. :)

The ones that are all about wink-wink-nudge... well, that's what the delete key is for. :)


SM, I can so relate to what you're saying here.

Did you know that Southeast Asian spirituality acknowledges 3 as an unlucky number? Other odd numbers aren't mentioned in the same context... but 3 is a big deal. It is considered to be bad for harmony.

No kidding!

Just last night, I read a book about bullying and it describes the very thing you talk about.

For some reason, I lack the capacity to understand why human beings feel the need to be emotionally cruel to other human beings.

It simply makes no sense. There's no rationale I can attach to it. It doesn't seem to be exclusively Western, knowing that it occurs everywhere.

I think there are safe groups and unsafe groups. None of us would insist on not taking a yoga class.. or a book club.. or something else that is focused. It's purely social situations that raise these issues, don't you think so?



Snoskred said...

Technorati is evil.. I wouldn't worry too much because I think most people rely on bloglines and google reader and feedburner and those kinds of things rather than Technorati.

I just wish google would buy them and get it over with, because the people running it seem to have no clue what they're up to..

flutter said...

Group dynamics are an interesting thing. It is so volatile and dependent on so many factors, none of which I feel like I am qualified to pontificate on....but

I feel like we would be a celebration, a party of sorts, and not so much a business meeting or an awkward fumbling of a workgroup. I think we would meld together fine, as a group. I truly do, because we have already established a mutual respect and a fair amount of love.

Tabba said...

Oh, I am so with flutter on this.

MsLittlePea said...

This is such a good question and really hard to answer. Because there could be so much change in so many ways or none at all. It depends on the individual and the size of the group. Some people may be less inclined to reveal more personal things after meeting in person. I am the sort of person who is more likely to get personal after meeting in person because I, myself, am less likely to judge a person once I've looked them in the eye. At the same time, if it were a group situation and anyone felt left out, it could have negative affect on that person and that person could either fade herself out or react negatively in comments and change the dynamic that way. I'm thinking this would be rare though. I figure if people are really committed to getting together as fellow bloggers to meet each other, for the most part, it would be a positive thing. I've never met anyone through the internet. Most of my readers live far away but I think I would. SNo's comment gave me a little scare though....I'm paranoid enough as it is! :o)

thailandchani said...

Snos, couldn't agree more about Technorati. I'm disgusted with them. I have Google Reader, too, and it is very reliable.


Flutter, I think you're probably right. It doesn't stop me from questioning or wondering but when all is said and done, you are probably right about BlogHer.. at the minimum.

The 20-30 of us who rather continually read each other would probably do very well, too... but I'd still prefer person-to-person.


Tabba, yes... You know, I will be very interested to read your take on BlogHer when you get back.. you know, what the experience was like.


MsPea, I like to think I am fairly non-judgmental. I'm sure there are times when I cross that boundary and make an assumption of someone or something. There are blogs in existence that I don't like.. and I'm certainly not going to indicate that I like everyone and everything. That would be disingenuous. :)

I'm the type who would fade away... or just devote all of my efforts to Thailand Voice if it all had a bad outcome.

Ultimately, there wouldn't be anything else I could do. I'm certainly not going to get nasty in comments. :)

I suspect most of us are the same. We'd just fade away.. but I truly don't believe any of this will have that bad an outcome. It's still worth taking a look at it though.. and being mindful about what can occur.

There are ways to make sure a group experience is good for everyone.. and I suspect it's focus that provides that. I've had some very good experiences with groups that have a specific reason for meeting and everyone is united in that reason. The Dharma Houses I've been to, as an example. And some book clubs.




ellie bee said...

Wow, something to think about. I find that I am actually often more comfortable in groups...easier to hide I think. I know I prefer doing talks to large groups rather than small--wierd I guess.
I think of a group get together as safer somehow...not that anyone of the wonderful bloggers that we converse with is "unsafe", but meeting one on one could be intimidating. Guess I am clearly the oddball here!

jen said...

i think it depends on the group. during my graduate work i had a lot of opportunities to participate and lead groups and individual sessions. even in a "support" rather than therapeutic group setting there was always something magical. there are many theories behind why groups have the potential and power they do...

now in a regular setting, a group dinner for example..i still think it can be pretty incredible, IF of course, it's inclusive all around.

but if i had to pick my's 4 or 5 folks, a small group of people i know.

thailandchani said...

Ellie, I suspect some people are just built that way. :) Many of us find a large group intimidating. I don't know exactly why. For me, it's largely about group dynamics.. .but through this thread and this discussion, I'm beginning to evaluate my interpretations of that.


Jen, groups united in a common cause is probably entirely different than a large social gathering. Can't help but think they're worlds apart.

There is something that happens when a group is united. That generally keeps things respectful.

I had to deal with those groups and work in groups during college, too. Aside from the subtle competition, it usually worked out okay.



QT said...

Chani - good question. BlogHer is actually hosting sessions where picture taking is not allowed, and has also asked all attendees to respect that not everyone there will want their pictures/stories published, so be sure to get "clearance".

The funny thing is - I think most of the women that are going will respect that. Some of the speakers have highly personal blogs that deal with childhhod abuse, or write about their current sex lives. Our only chance to meet these incredible people, especially the survivors of abuse, is in this group setting, and by following the rules set by the conference.

I don't want to put the blame on men, because I know my share of shitty, manipulative women. But this community is one where I think a violator of the rules will be shunned.

Julie Pippert said...

Why I like online: I have time to think.

Corporeally, people seem to expect quick comebacks. I can be good at that but I prefer to have a little time to process because I think I am sometimes not on the same plane, LOL.

Like now. I think I still need a little more processing time on this.

Tentatively, I'll say this (someone I think brought this up in your other post) I prefer interatction to begin with a little guidance versus free form.

P.S. Guess I will have to set up google. The others have let me down. Bah humbug! Sorry Technorati has been jerky to you. It has been a little troublesome to me. I think they are having an big overwhelm right now. BlogRolling is useless. Their notify doesn't work AT ALL.

Snoskred said...

Go the google reader - you won't regret it. ;)