RE: Why Lurk...

From: Davies, Larry (ldavies@STU.EDU)
Date: Tue Apr 05 2005 - 06:14:19 PDT

I assume everyone is familiar with "fishbowling" whereby a small part of a
group in a classroom situation sits down surrounded by the rest of the group
and has a "conversation". The people who are not sitting in the fishbowl are
either not allowed to participate, or choose not to participate in the
dialogue. The observers still pick up a lot, I think, though they are not
active participants in the spoken part of the discussion. They don't
influence the direction of the topic, but they do soak up some bits of
information, advice, direction, things to ponder or whatever. This seems to
be fairly much standard practice on most discussion lists that I've been a
part. There are times when it's worth chiming in, and I will do it, but I
really value watching the willy-nilly direction of the chatter that happens,
on XMCA and elsewhere, and how outside news events, especially, tend to
influence what one wishes to talk about or delve into a bit more deeply.

Anyway, that's my two cents, and I'm going back to sit on the outside and
look in.
-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Mike Cole
Sent: Monday, April 04, 2005 4:41 PM
Subject: Re: Why Lurk...

Dale, Fern, Heather et al--

My question about those who read but do not write or otherwise make their
presence known on xmca was a little
different than the one answered. In seeking to fix a whole in the (always
holey, never holy) xmca infrastructure (e.g. the
people who one sees listed under members are mostly not and the only way to
find those who are is to act like you are signing up) I was fascinated by
how many people took the trouble to sign up, sort of describe themselves,
but never posted a question or observation.

This interested me in particular because I get a lot of email and I think
the threaded discourse data base for xmca, which is updated daily, is a
great way to follow discussions. Why, I wondered, would anyone want to go to
the trouble of signing up just to read? I figured some people might not like
using the web and prefer to get stuff through email. But its so difficult to
keep the threads in mind! (Witness the discussion on development, learning,
breaking away, etc.).

I appreciate the replies to the question of why people like to read but
don't post-- lots of different legitimate reasons. I personally benefit from
the diversity that sometimes blossoms on xmca to beat down the myths of
orthodoxy that over-representation of specific people (I am far and away the
worst offender over-reprentation-wise) engenders (a word chosen not at

So, I'll keep mixing it up as best I can, as you will see. But it still
puzzles me that there are so many signed up members when the discourse is so
wonderfully googleable.

Cousin mike

On Apr 4, 2005 1:21 PM, <> wrote:
In response to Mike's and others' postings about lurking.

First of all, I really don't like the term
sounds too predatory to me. And, as a lurker, I don't see
myself as carnivorous at all in my reading of other's
postings. Okay, well, maybe a little bit. It's delicious
stuff! Anyway...

I think of the XMCA list as sort of like a family reunion.
When a family gets together, there are all different kinds
of networks and relationships that become relevant as people
interact with one another. Cousins and "play cousins"
interact with each other, Aunts and Uncles, Uncles and
nephews, etc. The family reunion metaphor also throws a
dimension of temporality/spatiality in there that I think is
important. There are different generations present, and
people "living" in different places who come together at the

Many times, I envision myself as one of the "youngins"
listening to the words and stories and ideas of the four or
five or ten old folks (I mean that in the most respectful
and caring way) who I consider to be both more

But...while I'm in the circle of people listening to these
conversations, I'm also doing many other things that young
folks do, and I don't want to be disrespectful to other
people who are more thoroughly engaged in the
conversation/literature. And I don't want to appear foolish.
In "real" family reunions, there are ways to cover up what
might be construed as comments that are not quite at the
same level as that of the grown folks, but email/threaded
communication has a kind of linearity and reflective delay
embedded in it that doesn't allow for that.

So, that's my reason for not contributing more.

Take Care,


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