[Web4lib] Code4lib 2008 Minority Scholarship

Dan Lester dan at riverofdata.com
Thu Dec 20 04:48:05 EST 2007

Well, this old geezer will pop in again.

Background: I've run a couple dozen lists/groups (mostly LISTSERV(R),
some Yahoogroups lately) over the last 20 years, on both professional
and personal interests (the latter include cars, collectibles, and
health issues).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007, 11:22:19 AM, you wrote:

> Recently I have been writing about the trend toward modular, open,
> service-oriented architecture. I wonder if this doesn't also apply
> structurally to professional discussions. The key communication technology
> of the 1990s was the mailing list, a humongous, turnkey silo managed by
> sundry Dads and Moms.

That's not necessarily so, Karen.  Sure, some have thousands of
members, but those on specific topics (meaning more focused than
web4lib) are much smaller.  As to the "dads and moms" comment, I get
your point, and agree that some are managed by stereotypical
anal-retentive librarians, many of whom don't know what the hell
they're doing.  (I won't name one of the largest and oldest, that is
still fully "moderated".  However, everything gets posted, even the
occasional "out of office" and many personal replies that were sent to
the list by mistake.)

Any organization needs some sort of structure, doesn't it?  Aren't any
blogs of significant value either moderated or otherwise controlled?
And isn't the same for any other group communication method?  We've
all seen what can happen to a "group of whatever technology" that
doesn't have at least a minimal amount of structure (and it is pretty
minimal here).

> Today we see forums, blogs, ad-hoc Facebook groups,
> other social networks... communication mechanisms with an entirely differ=
> Zeitgeist, diffuse, decentralized, ad hoc, specialized.

I guess I'm not getting what you mean by decentralized in the above.
Doesn't your blog run on a single server?  Don't many of us get the
updates on it via RSS?  Is that significantly different?  If so, how,
and what am I missing in my incipient senility?

> Better? Not for all
> purposes =97 but it does provide alternatives where more, and more
> interesting, voices are heard than on the Father-knows-best catch-all
> discussion lists of yesteryear.

Well, again, I'll ignore the cheap shot, though I don't see it as
pointed at me personally.  I just think that in general it is not the
case.  I also think it can apply just as well to OLD technology
(newsgroups), not-so-old technology (lists), or any other form of

The road goes on forever and the party never ends. REK, Jr.=20
Dan Lester, Boise, ID =20

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