[OPE-L:28] Theoretical study and cyberspace

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Sun, 10 Sep 1995 06:04:59 -0700

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A few comments on the limitations and possibilities of the medium that we
are using for communication seem to me to be in order at this stage:

1) There is a long tradition for group study and writing in Marxist
political economy, most notably, in German study groups. The tradition in
many other parts of the world is for individualized research and writing.
Perhaps Iwao would care to comment at some point regarding his
experiences with group theoretical research.

2) In previous study/research groups, people communicated with each other
directly. The medium of the Net allows for more frequent communication by
people in separate geographic areas (its positive aspect), but it also
has its limitations and problems as well:
a) Net exchanges tend to be brief and often suggestive, incomplete
and/or assertive. This can lead to problems regarding
interpretation of posts.
b) In traditional groups it is much easier for participants to gauge
the motivation and perception of participants and to interact with
each other. We have, for instance, no way of reading body language and
intention in cyberspace.
c) Some topics, due to the their inherent complexity, can not be
answered adequately with brief ("sound-bite" type) posts. As we
continue, we'll have to give some thought to how this could be
overcome. Perhaps we could try seminar papers at some point.

3) Unlike most Net lists, we not only want to exchange views, but we also
want to get something done. This makes our task harder, but more meaningful.
As we continue, we'll have to give some thought to time frames and
concrete organizational structure for us to meet our goals in a
reasonable time period.

4) The sine qua non for this medium, given our tasks, is good faith,
logic and patience. If we give consideration to the problems outlined
above, I believe that we can (and will) overcome them. This post is *not*
directed against anyone nor is it a response to anyone else's posts. The
mere fact that I have to make this statement to ensure that the intent of
this post will not be misinterpreted, reinforces my perception of some of
the problems outlined above.

We need to discuss our goals more and how we initially attempt to go
about meeting them. I'd like to hear more discussion about this. I've got
a lot of ideas, but I can't be expected to come up with (necessarily) the
best ideas about this project. As I have said repeatedly, we need more
input and exchange of ideas.

In OPE-L solidarity,