Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(July 2002)

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Subject: Re: The role of the mailing list
From: J C Lawrence <claw @ kanga . nu>
Date: Sat, 13 Jul 2002 13:35:54 -0700
To: Chuq Von Rospach <chuqui @ plaidworks . com>
Cc: "Roger B.A. Klorese" <rogerk @ queernet . org>, list-managers @ greatcircle . com
In-reply-to: Message from Chuq Von Rospach <chuqui @ plaidworks . com> of "Sat, 13 Jul 2002 12:47:00 PDT." <B955D1C4 . 47D93%chuqui @ plaidworks . com>
References: <B955D1C4 . 47D93%chuqui @ plaidworks . com>

On Sat, 13 Jul 2002 12:47:00 -0700 
Chuq Von Rospach <chuqui @
 plaidworks .
 com> wrote:
> On 7/13/02 12:26 PM, "Roger B.A. Klorese" <rogerk @
 queernet .
 org> wrote:

> But seriously, this is an area of increasing fascinating to me. You go
> to different lists run by different people, and you see highly
> divergent ways of dealing with stuff, and (usually) populations for
> which those choices and management styles work fine. And I'm really
> curious why.

I find if you look at this in terms of social evolution (for we are
effectively talking about the formation and continuance of largely
isolated social systems) it becomes more understandable and predictable.

> Is it generational?


> Is it the overriding style/preferences of the list owner? Does that
> set the tone, and then the user population self-selects in or out
> based on how well they accept the list style?


> Is it a word of mouth issue? Do existing list users tend to bring in
> "like minded" users to join the user group?


> Is it something else?

You bet.

> I think it's ALL of those things to some degree. I'm just not sure how
> they relate and which ones are the driving pieces. I'm becoming more
> convinced that it's the list-owner and how they position/manage the
> list that is the key item, however. 

..and how the position/manage the list, or more or less cede that
control to their list members who then form a de facto list-owner (or

(which really doesn't change your meaning, but I thought it should be

> Is this an emerging "list owner as CEO" model?

I don't think its emerging.  I think its been there all the time.

I would look at it in terms of friends and school gangs (of the good
sort).  As a kid you likely had a group of other kid you hung out with
and effectively formed something of a gang (in the original sense of the
word).  Why did that group form?  What kept it together?  

Partly it was due to the fact that you were all of similar ages and of
similar interests.  Typically there's usually a leader or linchpin who
holds such a group together and acts as the focus without whom the gang
either dissolves or is fundamentally changed almost to the point of
unrecognisability.  Why were you a part of that gang rather than some
other, or no group at all?  Means, motive, opportunity, and all the
other bits come into play.  Why do you bring into the gang?  Those you
think match, that you'd have fun with, that you like, etc.  Who tend to
leave such gangs?  Those that don't "fit" for some reason, be it that
the had kinky hair and were endlessly teased, or perhaps they just
didn't like climbing trees that much or weren't that fond of the gang

Lists are not that much different.  They're sometimes larger so there
are multiple sub-groups within the gang of the list, and there are the
various linchpins and leaders for those groups etc -- and that's where
the CEO model gains relevance (there are many sub-gang leaders under a

But, and this is the core, lists are essentially both social and
cultural constructs, and operate along the lines and rules of societies
and cultural evolution/engineering.  I do a _lot_ of very deliberate (if
cautious) social and cultural engineering on my lists.  Sometimes is
just simple things like which posts I let thru or discard, other times
its what posts I hold and don't release for some extended period, then
other times is what bits I edit out of or add to members messages, what
I reject and with what stated reason, what threads I pick up and post
on, off-list conversations, phone calls, discussions, etc.

They're social systems in exactly the same way that social groups that
go lunch together form at work places.

J C Lawrence                
---------(*)                Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas. 
claw @
 kanga .
 nu               He lived as a devil, eh?  Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.

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