Tuesday, April 26, 2005


I guess that what it is is that I'm feeling old and tired and wore out from silliness. That and the certain knowledge that this sort of silliness just never ends. Thirty years ago I was teaching data structures to nacent computer majors at UCF and UF and I made the mistake of creating a bulletin board program as a class project. It was an excuse to make the mainframe run a Pascal assembler. We called the program The School Board and it was a big big hit here in Orlando. Shareware. The thing mutated itself a hundred times and became something of a model for all the bulletin boards all over the country. Anyhow, what I learned about human nature by hosting that monster was that people usually don't have too much to contribute after they get signed on... so they spend most of their time talking dirty and being hateful to each other. There's something so appealing about the anonymity of a computer based messaging system that seems to bring out the worst in us. Back in those days it was called flaming. Burn the creeps, hack the system and trash things just to prove that you can. Lame.

For a long time I've participated in newslinks. Google has one of the oldest. This was helpful when I was doing a lot of sailing cause it took the place of an internet where you could post messages and interact with the folks back home. My daughter stayed plugged in with all of her little friendies back here in the world while she and I did a circumnavigation a decade ago. The trouble with those newsgroups is that there were always a certain group of people who really didn't have anything useful to contribute to the process but were determined to make it difficult for anyone else to enjoy the conversation. And they could be hateful in the relative security of their bedrooms at home. Losers.

Now days I have a website, a fairly busy one... and a blog so that I can put my collected thoughts on "paper" and scratch that publication bug that most college teachers never completely cure themselves of. I just want to write stuff and talk intelligently to like types. And I find the same sort of silliness. Of course, I can purge the vast majority of the crud off the same way I can scrape dog poop off of my shoe. So you say, if this is such a pain why do I keep on participating in the silliness? Good question. I guess it's because the good outweighs the bad. This blog is fun to do because there are a number of interesting people involved and I get a chance to chat with them regularly.. but from the distance that the written word makes possible. No need for shouting or finger pointing or rudeness. No serious arguments because I can always back off and reconsider what I'm about to type. That's a good thing with most of these folks because as a class they are thin skinned and intensely opininated and something of a strange mix. I mean... can you imagine having someone like Velocitidude for a house pet? Yikes. Or Rob? Or Catfish? Or even me?

I don't usually want to go to these "blogmeets" because there really isn't any agenda, except they give people a chance to match a real person to a persona that before the blogmeeting was just a character in a bad play. Once you actually meet these folks you may not particularly want to linger. Some of these folks take their personas a little too seriously. Too much drinking, too much posturing. Too much of the play acting and pseudo-hostile, macho pundonor-ing. I don't know. Just too god damned much. So I understand that some of them got their feelings hurt during this most recent "workshop" in Georgia. When egos clash the whole thing just turns into a bad rendering of Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf.

Kind of reminds me of the good old days of the School Board when I wound up shutting the thing down just to shut up the bickering. And... right at this moment the sailing.asa newsgroup is being gutted by some sort of attack of the morons. Shame too.

Maybe these "workshops" aren't such a good idea. When we lose civility we lose the only reason I can think of for having these damned blogs at all. Hell, I'm just looking for somebody to talk to.