February 18, 2004

community and brawls

It's pretty funny, isn't it, that some of the folks talking about civility and correctness are some of the same folks talking about folks (well, this folk) behind their backs. You're right, Joi. You've got *some* community going on over there.

I've enjoyed Joi sharing in my comments the reasoning behind his thoughts on how to positively influence community. I see better now why that's a concern of his. Rather than somehow attempting to influence or nudge or force social civility among those who claim to be ultra-civil (a claim I'd never make ;-)), perhaps the best approach is to go completely hands off and let the community either cast out the bunthorns, burn itself out, or spin off pieces of value into new, more public spaces.

One of these things is likely to happen.

Me? I'll hang out and watch.

I like to watch.

When I started Blog Sisters two years ago, I didn't think it would morph into a 100-member community of really fine women thinkers and writers. But it has. And one thing I learned early on in team weblogging is that to be effective, I had to let the blog go completely. In other words, give up control, slide my voice into reverse, take my voice outside and elsewhere, let the space take on its own voice.

When Elaine, and then Andrea, agreed to jump in as co-administrators, the place stopped being "mine" completely and didn't really belong to any of us. The nature of threesomes, I suppose.

This approach is both smilar to and different from what happened with Gonzo Engaged, which was a very early, and now enduring, team space for not-quite-right-minded bloggers.

Gonzo stopped being my place a long time ago. It ceased even being about Gonzo Marketing, and by doing so, became moreso. Does that make sense?

To push it further, I made every member an administrator. That's a dozen or so administrators, all of whom have equal power to edit, fuck with, fuck up, or delete the entire weblog. I still say, that takes balls. It's full disclosure over there--everyone sees the stats, everyone can do whatever anyone wants. I understand WIKIs now have that same feel, that same level of equality-of-voice. As yet, I haven't tried one. I can't say why. I guess I'm a blog chick, deep down, where it counts.

Community freedom is lot like cold war. When all participants have an equal ability obliterate one another, generally they won't. No threat, no fret. And when disagreement or sidebar war begins, it takes place in public view, in plain sight of those with their own warheads. We get personal. In front of eachother. And we like it.

Which reminds me. There's something about getting personal I've been meaning to write about this past week.

If you haven't been around me in the blogworld for long--lots of new orkut friends here who must be wondering why the hell they clicked "yes"--you don't know that while I'm an open heart blogger, that doesn't mean I'm afraid to get down.

Using blogsisters as an example, Elaine and I have gone more than a few rounds in full public view, getting plenty personal, and it wasn't pretty. Or was it? Elaine, was it pretty? I think it kind of was, in retrospect. Pretty because it was real. My bet is that Elaine doesn't care whether it was pretty or not. She may come over here and have her own say.

But I do know that in our knock downs, I gained respect for Elaine because, among many other things, she didn't run off and talk about me on an IRC channel. She kept it real, and she kept it where it started.

I didn't come to blogging to be part of a debating team with rules and mores beyond those I brought here on my own two shoulders and in my gut. I didn't come here for nicely packaged academic debates. And I especially didn't come here to listen passively to passive aggressive rhetoric that slices people in two, but with such a shiney bright knife that everyone spends time commenting on how shiney the knife is, not the friend left bleeding in the corner.

No, I don't want your stinkin' mores. I don't want your civility. Sometimes I want to kick your ass for being an ass.

And if you weren't such an ass, then sometimes, maybe just once even, you'd bend over and take it.

Do nice girls misbehave? You better fucking believe we do.

AND we do it with the lights on.