List technology

Chris Burford 100423.2040 at
Tue Aug 13 00:22:36 MDT 1996

"I do apologise to you Jim. I was a bit over the top. I keep saying that I
am not going to do things like that, then I do them. I obviously can't
take the pressure of the immediacy of the list."

So said Richard. Credit to him for his generosity, and to Jim for
his self-discpline in confronting rather than retaliating.
It could easily have gone the
other way, because this medium is like ether,  intoxicating and
flammable. One of the reasons that perhaps helped them to draw
back, was the experience in another medium, face to face
with representatives of their parties or similar.

Now I concede that everyone who has commented on what has been seen
as my proposal has criticised it. Some with an edge that shows an
awareness that whatever Chris Burford might think, if it entered the
minds of the small group of Spoons moderators it might just happen.
They have already conceded the argument in the case of marxism that
special arrangements have to be made.

So can I emphasise? To adjust the environment, the ambient temperature
of this culture dish by a few degrees, I am not personally saying
everyone should go onto digest. I am saying that every new subscriber
should go onto digest with information about how to sub to instant if
they wish *rather than the other way round*. Is that so bureaucratic?

			Instant		Digest		Total

Apr 30 1995		249		 34		283

May 28			244		 40		285

Jun 30			239		 35		274

Aug  2			229		 46		275

Sep  1			230		 51		281

Oct  1			230		 72		302

Nov  1			232		 90		322

Dec  1			225		103		328

Jan  1 1996		210		111		321

Feb  1      		216		120		336

Mar  1			227		130		357

Apr  1			200		134		334

May  1			191		115		306

May 31			176		110		286

Jun 30			164		104		268

Aug  1			163		 85		243

Note the total figure includes some but not a large amount of
double counting.

Now the point I want to make is that apart from
the latest figures where the digest has been particularly hit
arguably by the academic holidays, the digest has risen in relative
importance and has resisted the loss of subscribers better than the
instant list *without any promotion* and with every new subscriber
being put automatically on instant.  And when you consider the
turnover of subscribers that is quite a bias.  But by the beginning of
July 39% of the list were on digest.

I therefore contend
that the digest may be a naturally more convenient format, for many
people. And if
the first choice was digest rather than instant, we would certainly find
60% perhaps 70 or 80% of subscribers would be on digest.
The right to be on instant need not be taken away from those who
have special wants or needs, but I contend the feel of the list
could be a couple of degrees cooler. And there could be more light.

As for the half a dozen protests who were assuming instant would
be taken away, you would get protests if you changed a broadsheet
newspaper to a tabloid or vice versa. Reading seems to be a very
personal matter.

But this is not decided by me or Rahul or Carrol, but by a small
group of spoons moderators, who can feel trapped in a role
with apparently a high degree of responsibility and a low degree of
power. We can assume that some may see no merit in the marxism list
continuing. How many might vote for it continuing? Perhaps not many.
Fingers of one hand? Or less? At the next crisis we shall see.

So next time someone feels like slagging off Hans or Lisa or making
out they are the embodiment of capitalist oppression or revisionist
evil, they ought to think what will happen if Hans and Lisa get
fed up and decide there are more rewarding ways of spending their
time, and if no one can be found who is willing to
don that responsibility and at the same time be acceptable to spoons.
Then as Lisa has pointed out on this list, it *would* be dead.

But rather than wait in a cocoon assuming that this service is a
free lunch, breakfast and supper 24 hours a day, what is wrong with
discussing mechanisms not that rigidly *control*, but decrease the
tendency to the tyype of immediate response, that tripped Richard up,
and reward more considered contributions from subscribers as a whole.

Chris Burford

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