Tuesday, March 09, 2004


It was commonbeauty who observed, in a comment left recently at Via Negativa: "I find it incredible that a community spontaneously forms itself within the vast universe of the internet, which is so full of websites and pages and words that you would consider it inimical to anything but navel gazing or casual intellectual intercourse."

Think about it: out of all the possible gatherings, like-minded people find each other and form a "community" with no pre-established rules, but with certain courtesies; no pre-established requirements, but with common interests. These people treat each other with respect. Humor flows freely. If a word of support is needed, it's offered.

It seems to differ from the communities I focus on in my Vagabond project, in that:

(1) This is a clustering together by choice.

(2) It doesn't have a physical center nor physical presence, i.e. members can be anywere; for instance, I visit and comment at Ivy is here; Ivy is in Ireland these days.

(3) Interactions seem serial rather than simultaneous, i.e., comments come one after another, as opposed to the simultaneity of exchange at a church supper or town hall meeting.

(4) Members don't always have a name nor a face (I don't have a clue to commonbeauty's name, nor ntexas99's at Brain Crayons, but both have real-life presence that comes through their words.

Despite such differences, there does seem to be a community here; you might ask yourself, for instance, "what is Dave gonna say about that?" You might worry if Lorianne hasn't put up post yet today, has she collapsed under the stress of writing her dissertation? You might wonder how the newspaper feature about Beth's blog is going to turn out. How is Fred's cold? How is Kathleen's smashed hand?

If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, maybe it's a duck? Maybe it's a community? Can it be? Even if we don't necessarily know each other's names? Or is it no more than a "virtual social club" of some sort?

I'm too new to it - only a month - to have any real answers, but I will say that sometimes it seems that what you're getting here is a lot like friendship. Can it be?

What do YOU think?



(501 W. Third #12, Smith Center, KS 66967)

"Boy," Ivan writes, "it's nice to be old and be able to say anything you want even if it is not politically correct. In my seventy plus years I have discovered three things keep a small town going - the three are good banks, good medical facilities, and good schools. If a town has those three things it can survive. Which one is the most important? Well, it's like a three-legged stool. Which leg is the most important on a three-legged stool?"


"Casey Edell really knows how to hurt a guy," Ivan writes. "Last Monday morning at the As the Bladder Fills Club I was wondering if the batteries in my golf cart would last the summer. Casey bluntly said, 'the batteries in that golf cart will outlast you'."


Ivan called Davy Winkleman about the Cedar High School mascot. "Davy said the Cedar High School team was called the Bulldogs," Ivan reported. "We won't even go into what a Lady Bull Dog would be called."


"It's no wonder middle America is obese," Ivan says. "All we do is attend soup and pie suppers, church pot luck suppers, and school fund raisers. Why don't somebody have a celery and salad supper?"


Plain Poems: A Fairwater Daybook

March 8, 2001

A sour sky far off
where the wind blows in from.
Snow across these prairies -

some stays on the road,
some runs for Michigan.

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