Re: [xmca] in case you missed it

From: Kevin Rocap (
Date: Fri Oct 28 2005 - 11:50:25 PDT

Dear Bryon,

I'll send a quick reply too. I would echo what David has said. Though
I appreciate your interest in an "on-task" discussion list ;-)

As I mentioned I believe I share David's view and can't imagine that
this list could have ever avoided discussing September 11 when it
happened, or Katrina, or any of a host of other current events that
impact our world and even people on this list. Personally I've never
experienced these as inappropriate interruptions, and the flow of
intense XMCA dialogue and discussion never seemed to really ebb as a
result of these kinds of messages.

On this list folks have also been encouraged to, as needed, follow
threads of discussion or messages that interest them and, if they feel
the need, ignore, delete, or disregard those in threads they are not
interested in. It seems like a sound policy which puts choice with list
members to read, disregard or discard, rather than in attempting some
kind of censoring approach, especially when this list is often "on-task"
obsessively, to a fault. ;-) (said in all fondness for list interlocutors).

But I'd like to add another angle, with perhaps a slight Activity bent.
People of course come to the list with varied motives, "objects", if you
will....purposes. Among those are to connect meaningfully with
like-minded colleagues. Part of connecting is not only to be had
through the on-task dialogues, agreements and disagreements, but from
occasional social chit-chat back and forth, or a glimpse into someone's
private hobbies, interests, or dare I say ;-) politics. From studies
of the life of successful online groups those kind of personal/social
interactions are not merely asides, but part of the glue that keeps an
online community (whatever that is ;-)) alive and active.

Even when I agree with them I'm not such a big fan of political cartoons
and am generally not one to circulate those, but am happy to be reminded
that some folks enjoy and see value in them and am occasionally grateful
to be in a loop that of my own accord and interest I'd likely not be
in. I'm also interested in what other people on the list find value in
(whether I do or not, or whether I agree with them or not), as an
insight that can sometimes aid in contextualizing and/or interpreting
their "on-task" comments and interests as well.

I think it is part of the exchange. Though I think I might be inclined
to agree with you Bryon if the chit-chat or social or political
commentary occluded more focused CHAT dialogues and discussions on the
list. But I've never seen that happen. So I think there is actually a
healthy balance of personal, social, political or otherwise potentially
"off-task" interactions with the often intense and fruitful CHAT dialogues.

Your suggestions strikes me a little like asking people who come to work
in an office to never socialize or have non-work conversations at the
water cooler because someone took offense to one particular comment or
opinion expressed one day. Again, I think you'd have a point if the
water cooler conversation became all that people ever did at work, but I
think we're far from that scenario on the XMCA listserv.

That said, I'm sure, on the other hand, that it helps some folks to hear
a concern like yours expressed; and I'm sure it may even make someone
think twice about or not send a message they might have considered
sending previously, so, as a member of the community, you do have
influence. And hopefully you won't feel the need to leave the list over
an overheard "water cooler commentary" that you disagree with. ;-)

My humble opinion,
K. wrote:

>As I understand the discussion groups purpose, it is an opportunity to dialogue and explore the complex nature of the human mind in its cultural and historical contexts. Politics are inextricably bound to this discussion. However, I don't find the discussion group the appropriate platform for political 'daggers' surrounding the war. There are strategic and intentional wars where body counts and resources measure success or failure. There are also fractured and unintentional wars within our young population for purpose, encouragement, and value. An earlier xmca participant explained he was more concerned with the underlying issues surrounding hate than an opinion about a book. I offer the same rationale with the country of Iraq vice the state of our youth.
>I do not intend to defend President Bush and his politics -- I simply request that the discussion group send me email that relates more to xmca than to whether or not we should be a nation at war.
>If this norm is acceptable to the group, than I will humbly unsubscribe and say thanks for the discussions I've had the chance to 'lurk' in. The group has a wealth of great minds and contributes a valuable body of work -- my opinion of that remains the same.
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Peter Smagorinsky <>
>Sent: Fri, 28 Oct 2005 06:08:25 -0400
>Subject: [xmca] in case you missed it
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