virus: Action and Reaction

Brett Lane Robertson (
Fri, 04 Jul 1997 23:36:00 -0500

There seems to be a confusion as to the function of an email list. I see
people using the list as a chat room. I see others using lists as a news
server. Some use it for sending email back and forth. Some use them as
bulletin boards.

I think the email list has a special place within cyberspace. It can be any
or all of the above. So what makes it different from these things? If
function and form are related, then an idea "how" people react to an email
list may help solve this dilemma.

I like to approach an email list as a place where people with general
interests meet. I like to read all the letters posted to a list because all
the members have common interests--the people are interesting to me. I like
to share with an email list because (I hope) since I have common interests
with the members, others will be interested in what I have to say. I like
to check my email list for mail about 3 times per day. I like to submit to
the list once per day. I do not follow strings as much as I follow general
trends of the entire list. I DO however like to see personal comments to
my posts. I do not like for all the comments to be argumentative. I see
the list as a cooperative place where the group as a whole progresses as the
members contribute regularly.

How is this different from a chat room. I value ideas more than their
contributors. I am not as friendly on a list as I would be in a chat room.
On an E list , I am a member of a group with similar interests. I expect
posts to be related to that interest. I have an agenda on a list--I/we are
"going" somewhere: A list that is not progressing is merely a chat room.

How a list different from a news server? A news server is more specific. I
use my news server to browse for a specific string of logic. I post to that
string without any great understanding of the people or their interests. I
do not get a general feeling for trends or issues...just topics.

Email is much more general than an E list. The people I correspond with
have varied interests. I tend to avoid "religion" and "politics" or topics
which might polarize. I expect agreement in email and full cooperation (or
else I expect rash statements to be politely ignored). I may have an
agenda, but it is a personal agenda. I want acceptance, or power, or money,
or, or friends, or associates.

A bulletin board (and/or a list digest) I use for research and study. If it
is important enough to post to a bulletin board, I assume it has been
carefully thought out. Although there is a topic...there tends to be two or
three general camps which people fall into in relation to this topic (those
in favor/those against, for example). bulletin boards are a statistical
tool. I usually fall into the camp of "disagree" and refute the position I
feel most strongly against (and you?). List digests are similar, as far as
I am concerned since there is so much information and so little time. Like
bulletin boards, there is little back-and-forth interaction.

What I want from an email list is: Less diversification between threads.
More cooperation. Less focus on individuals. Less commentary on other's
posts. More general interest posts. Less personal objectives (power,
money, sex). More group focus. In short, I want to get a feel for the
trend of a list and then be able to post a general response which
encapsulates that trend and moves it forward a notch.

I also belong to several lists. If I get the feeling that lists are
converging in their paths and are formulating a common ideal, then I like to
post to several lists (with the above criteria in mind). Because I sense a
world unity, I often see a trend that can be termed a "transcendent spirit"
(I think this posting touches on such a spirit). When this occurs, I am
convinced that all of my email lists are functioning as they should be.

If anyone disagrees with my assessment of email lists...perhaps they should
use another medium.


Not Spell-Checked,
A Blob Nest Net Terror