[OPE-L:5508] Re: Proposal on Archives

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 22 Sep 1997 14:36:48 -0700 (PDT)

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I am going to avoid dealing with the "secret society" question in Andrew
K's [5505] (... I am afraid that is a topic of discussion that would
raise my blood pressure...), but I do want to comment briefly on other
sections of his post:

> At least two members of this list have said that they regard it as an
> informal "coffee-house" sort of conversation. Due to its casual
> nature, its archives should be closed.
> I admit to feeling a bit hurt by this characterization. I, for one,
> put a lot of time, effort, and thought into reading and often studying
> others' posts, and to writing my own. I consider my activity -- and
> that of many others -- on this list to be a serious research effort,
> not idle chit-chat. I think it is clear that some others are equally
> serious about their work on this list.
> Nor do I think a "coffee-house" is what Jerry or other founders of the list
> intended.

I can understand why you are "hurt" -- you (and many others) have put a
tremendous amount of intellectual energy and time into this list. I think
it is fair to say that this list has become a major part of the
professional life of many members. This is true even for those who
post rarely since the time and effort required to read and digest posts
can be very significant. So, in that sense I agree with you that the
"coffee-house" analogy is a bit OTT (over the top). On the other hand,
there *is* a type of informality and comradeship that is not completely
unlike coffee-house discussions (... but, on the other hand, I've never
been part of any "coffee-house" discussions that were as intense,
scholarly, [sometimes] technical, and ongoing as our discussions).

> I thought the purpose of keeping the list closed was to keep out
> certain individuals who would be disruptive and bring down the list.

That is a concern, but the main advantage of a closed list is that we
can keep the list size relatively small and thus maintain serious and
engaged discussions. The advantage is similar to the issue -- for
teachers -- of "class size".

In solidarity, Jerry