[OPE-L:5509] Re: Proposal on Archives

Michael Williams (Michael@mwilliam.u-net.com)
Mon, 22 Sep 1997 17:47:13 -0700 (PDT)

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Andrew wrote:
> (3) These comments respond to the following comment of mine in ope-l 5456:
> "And, of course, I'm the one to catch hell for participating in what Ednaldo
> da Silva has rightly termed a 'secret society,' even though I'm one of those
> calling for an end to the secrecy."
> (4) Note that my statement *reported* a charge that was actually made by da
> Silva. I simply do not understand how it can be "over the top" on my part to
> report what he charged.
> (5) Also note that "secret society" is not "Andrew K's
> characterization," but da Silva's characterization. I was reporting
> and, appropriately, I enclosed the quote between quotation marks.

My comments were not meant to charge Andrew with anything. They were
directed at anyone who wanted to make a big deal out of the closed
nature of OPE-L. <According to Andrew>, this would seem to include
one Ednaldo da Silva, with whom I am not acquainted.

> (6) Perhaps neither Jerry nor Michael knew what I was referring to. Yet both
> of them witnessed this incident. So did many others on this list. It
> occurred at a panel of the IWGVT at this year's EEA convention. Indeed,
> Michael was chair of the panel. I am surprised that they seem to have
> forgotten it.

Now you remind me, I remember the incident, officer. It presumably
slipped my mind because I thought at the time that it was so OTT as
to not be worth burdening my aging brain cells with.

>From the following paragraphs in Andrew's post I can see why this is
a more serious issue for Andrew than for me. I apologize for stepping
on a raw nerve. But I do not wish to be drawn into a discussion about
what I consider to be a simple pragmatic, organisational matter -
wether a) the OPE-L archives, and b) OPE-L should be 'open'.

> At
> that point Michael cut off discussion.

Because, as I now recall, I thought we were getting away from
substantive matters relevant to that particular session, and onto
procedural matters not relevant to that forum

> -----------------------------------------
> 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.

Andrew doesn't name names here, but as I have approvingly picked up
Duncan's use of this metaphor, I guess one of these members is me.
1. What I intended was neither that I thought other list members had
a casual attitude to their participation, or that they did not put a
lot of thought into their contributions, nor that I was casual and
unthinking in my participation. For the record, OPE-L is way ahead of
the other 3 lists in which I participate, in terms of substantive
content, detailed argumentations, tone, etc., and long may it remain
so. My own contributions no doubt suffer from the dearth of time and
energy I fell able to contibute to them.

Nevertheless, I feel free (as I would in a seminar, or conference) to
be a bit more speculative and innovatory in experimenting with new
ideas, and so on. In that respect, OPE-L is like an 18th Century
London Coffee House, in which very weighty issues of politics, trade
and business were discussed in great seriousness. (I have no idea
what goes on in *fin de millenium* New York coffee houses ... ?). The
point relevant to the open/closed issue is that I treat OPE-L more
like the spoken than the written word - which may carry a greater
risk of having to defend the indefensible (particularly against a
deliberately hostile or provocative opponent) if the list and/ or the
archives are open. However, no doubt because of the security born of
age, having reached the level of my own incompetence, and foreseeing
no difficulty in earning my living until I retire, on balance *I
couldn't give a fish's tit whether OPE-L and its archives are to be
open or closed*.

2. I have never argued that the OPE-L archives should be closed. So,
Andrew, you are just wrong about that. What I did do was canvas some
objections I had heard to my own marginally preferred position -
opening the archives.

3. I am sorry I my remarks were instrumental in upsetting Andrew. No
doubt his position as 'the public face of OPE-L' (about which I had no
inkling until now) makes this matters of greater moment for him than
for me.

> Nor do I think a "coffee-house" is what Jerry or other founders of the list
> intended.

If any *one* person on this list feels that I am trivialising its
work, I will unsubscribe tout suite.

> I realize that, to those whose presentation of their ideas in public forums
> (conferences, publications, etc.) is welcomed and solicited, this list may be
> "small potatoes." But others on this list do not have the same opportunities.
> Indeed, some points of view have been -- and continue to be -- systematically
> suppressed, even (or especially) on the Left. For such people, the debates on
> this list are important.

But now, Andrew, I think you are getting a mite too self-righteous
for my taste. I have said nothing, nor seen anything on OPE-L that
could possibly support this interpretation on any of its members'
attitudes to the list's work..

> It has been said (or implied) that the TSS interpretation is not being
> suppressed, because it has been actively discussed on this list. But this
> list is closed and its archives are closed. The suppression of it in public
> and the discussion of it in private are just two sides of the same coin. The
> opening of the ope-l archives would be a small step towards rectifying the
> situation.

Ah Ah! So the major target of suppression 'out there' is TSS. This
may well be true - I don't know. But the swingeing charges just made
above imply that a much wider spectrum than this was at risk. As I
have already said, If this is such a big deal for TSS (perhaps quite
reasonably), then I would urge most strongly that the archives be open
forthwith. (My own guess is that this won't make a blind bit of
difference to the fortunes of TSS, or anything else, but no doubt I
am being naive.)
> Finally, I should say that when I joined this list, no one told me that it was
> closed because it was just some "coffee-house" chit-chat, and people didn't
> want to take responsibility for their statements.

If this is meant to refer to me, then it is way out of order, for the
reasons I have already outlined.

> I thought the purpose of
> keeping the list closed was to keep out certain individuals who would be
> disruptive and bring down the list. The latter purpose is fully ensured by
> keeping membership in the list "by invitation" but opening the archives to
> all.

I though so too. And my borrowing of Duncan's coffee house metaphor
was intended to convey another aspect of the same thing.

Actually, what *I* do not need from any list in which I participate
is more than the very minimum of non-substantive procedural
arguments either about how the list should be run, or about who did
what to whom and when, with what.
"Books are Weapons"

Dr Michael Williams
Department of Economics Home:
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