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A friend passed along a link to this blog posting about "structurelessness" in organizations, and I realized a little while later that, while it was originally about feminism and women in open source, it's also applicable to the LSW's own brand of anarchy.
But the discussion of "elites" and what an "elite" is are still relevant, I think. - DJF
Yes. I think author is write in suggesting that that sort of an elite is inevitable. I'd like to think that we are a fairly welcoming elite, and an elite that values criticism, and an elite that encourages behavior that is helpful, but I don't doubt that the elite exists. - laura x
Fascinating post that I have read quickly. I need to go back and read the linked articles. Josh tries to address some of this in his zine article, where he basically says "if you want to change the LSW, just participate or start your own splinter group." (i.e. "fork"). What is the LSW structure? What are our rules? There's Josh, who started the thing. There's me who has done a handful of projects and called them "LSW" projects. Then there are people who self-identify as LSW by participating here or in other manifestations of our group, and there is probably some hierarchy or relative authority granted based on how long or how much you have participated. what? I mean, really so what, not dismissive so what. If that is true, what does that mean? If that's wrong, how? - Steele Lawman
Steve, There's nothing wrong with a hierarchy or relative authority based on length or amount of participation. What the article is arguing is that it's better to recognize that this happens, so that newcomers aren't floundering wondering what's going on. By saying "Yes, I've been here the longest, and have done a bunch of things," you acknowledge that others might see you as a "leader" of this "leaderless" group. - DJF
And...heh. You edited just as I was about to ask if you had a good idea of how to tell. I know some people have felt alienated by personality issues, language, the not-very-professional parts of our not-all-that-professional group. - Steele Lawman
Right, DJF, I'll cop to that. I think Josh and I both try to acknowledge that, but also say "PLEASE come up with LSW stuff on your own," and many people have--making ribbons for conferences, starting LSW presences on other social networks and so on. - Steele Lawman
As for forking, it would be fascinating and awful and hilarious if someone tried to fork it in a way that "we" would hate. Paris Dada vs. Zurich Dada! You are no longer a Surrealist according to this manifesto I just wrote! - Steele Lawman
I think, though, that there's a perception of cool that is intimidating to people (I suspect). I think the LSW is far more welcoming than, say, a high school clique, but if part of your goal in joining is to be liked and welcomed, you'll want to do things that the group thinks are cool, and people have a lot of anxiety about that. - laura x
I totally agree, Laura. Do you think we do an OK job of lowering that bar? Or is there something else we could do? - Steele Lawman
There is definitely a perception of cool that is intimidating *at first* but my experience, at least, is that once you gather the courage to step over that barrier and post to FF (or, in my case, sit down on the floor at LobbyCon), the welcoming aspect completely overwhelms the barrier and one is left thinking, "I was intimidated by these people? Really?" - Catherine Pellegrino
"I was intimidated by these people? Really?" LOL "What a bunch of dorks! I can be queen of this group and have a dork army to do my bidding!" - Steele Lawman
I don't know. As I said, I think we're generally welcoming (as Catherine just said), or more welcoming than many elites, but I don't really know how you lower that barrier. I think I would rather concentrate on not having our interactions with one another become toxic, which is another thing that often happens. - laura x
OK. So be conscious, conscientious, cool (but not too cool) and keep on truckin'? - Steele Lawman
Two possible suggestions for lowering the intimidation bar: (ir)regular "de-lurking" invitations in the FF room, along the lines of "introduce yourself!" (Like Shovers & Makers, but lower-key). Also, "Bring a Friend" invitations where LSW members invite someone they know who they think would like the LSW to come check it out, er, somehow. - Catherine Pellegrino
I know that when I wore my LSW ribbon at the Access, I got a lot of questions, and I'm pretty sure I didn't explain it very well, but I know that other people at the conference were also explaining what was going on - DJF
I only wish I'd taken some to the Linux Fest last weekend. That would have been amusing - DJF
I go back to Clay Shirky's thing about how the internet is held up by love. I don't know if his talk stands up to rigorous inquiry, but I do feel that one of the main reason LSW exists is because we wake up each day loving the idea and loving each other and create it anew each day. I mean it so very sincerely that I love the LSW and the people in it, and am grateful for this group, whatever it is. - Steele Lawman
Well, one person did walk (cough) and sort-of said why...but he didn't walk all that far, and he sort of crept back partway, singing "but I did not shoot the deputy..." under his breath. Unfortunately, sometimes he now refers to himself in the third person...but doesn't think the LSW needs to or should change. - Walt Crawford
I wasn't going to bring up any specifics about that person, but if people think that some of the dominant personalities here are too dominant, or just rub them the wrong way, this could certainly be a difficult place to spend your time. I wonder what the LSW room would look like if you had me blocked? That would be great. - Steele Lawman
Also, don't harsh my mellow, Crawford. - Steele Lawman
Josh: Of course there's something blocking their way--it probably wouldn't work, and it certainly wouldn't have the LSW people in it. (Doing the same idea in another field: That might work.) Steve: I'm mellowing your harsh--this apostate did come back, didn't she? Or he, or whatever? And the person in question only has one block, not in any way related to LSW. He wouldn't think of blocking NeffLawson & Co. - Walt Crawford
There is a lovely, lovely passage from a letter from the Berkeley Free Speech Movement (nods to Walt) that I would like to add to this thread, and if I find it tonight, I'll type it up for you. But it talks about how the members of the movement worked together and learned together and ultimately, "found flowering within ourselves the very presence whose absence we were, at heart, protesting." - laura x
Nods back, although, shamefully, I was only an observer at the time. (OK, I was also only a frosh or sophomore...) - Walt Crawford
I'm not entirely convinced it hasn't worked *already*. I have no evidence of this, but it seems entirely plausible that someone has peeked in on LSW, thought "these are a bunch of wankers" and gone off to form some other more low-key group that better fit her personality. - Steele Lawman
Maybe I'm saying it wrong. It's not that you couldn't start a new LSW-like disorganization; it's that, at least within the same general space, it wouldn't attract enough of the same kind of people--'cause they're already in LSW. On the other hand, an LSW-like disorganization clustering school librarian types, or plumbers, or whatever...yeah, that could work great. - Walt Crawford
Hmm. The BSW (Blue Skunks of the World)...there's an idea. - Walt Crawford
Well, I guess I was thinking of being at ALA and people saying "are you going to the Facebook meetup" and I was all "the whatbook whatup?" Because I'm not in that group. But other people are and they find it meaningful and collegial enough to schedule a meetup and all. But yes, an actual splinter group, like "I'm leaving and taking my faction with me" would be weird/impossible. - Steele Lawman
If there was an actual faction, it would be plausible but, I think, stupid. (Maybe the wrong word.) If there's some friction, well, that's life. I hadn't thought of the "LSW in other media" version--is there an LSW Ning? (Sorry: Forget I asked that. Please.) - Walt Crawford
Did I neglect to say it? Laura's quotation is beautiful. - Steele Lawman
Yes, I should have said that: Laura's quotation is beautiful. (And the FSM was, in its way, a thing of beauty. Wonder whatever happened to the booklength ms. I wrote on FSM's press coverage...on an electric typewriter, using microfilm as source material. Walking uphill in the snow five miles each way. All true but the last.) - Walt Crawford
Steve, I love your love post. - maʀtha
There's a LinkedIn group? That does social networking? On LinkedIn? I never woulda guessed. (Maybe because, for me, LinkedIn's mostly been an incredibly extensive and wholly useless set of contacts...I would never have thought of it as a social network) - Walt Crawford
Interesting. Turns out I'm already a member. And, looking at the interaction, I guess I'd still say "Social networking? On LinkedIn?" There's a level of Earnestness there that I'd expect on LinkedIn--more serious than ALA Connect, and even less lively. But I'll check back frequently--maybe even once a month. - Walt Crawford
I do so like kgs's (I think) description of LinkedIn as "Facebook as if invented by Microsoft." - DJF
I was thinking of forming a splinter group / faction / fork called the "Special Libraries Liberation Army" (SLLA) of the LSW. - Joe
Nice essay! Applying it to the LSW - the only thing I've noticed so far is similar to what I notice most places on the net, to greater or lesser extent: that, despite its name, the LSW is really pretty America-dominated. Not in an "Only Americans will be welcomed" way of course - just in an "America is the default" way. Proposed meetups are in the US; synchronous chats happen in hours that suit USans. This is understandable! It's participant-driven and the participants at the moment are mostly USans. But it's a thing, y'know? America-as-default pervades the anglophone internet and... it's just a Thing. In the LSW part of it is unavoidable. And of the part that is avoidable, part of it I could do something about myself by promoting it to fellow New Zealander librarians. (Just I'm creating other communities at the moment.) And of the remaining part, it's not like anyone's got a duty to do anything about it. Just... if one wanted to be aware of who isn't included and whose voices we're not hearing, that'd be one place to look. - Deborah Fitchett
Yes, Deborah, good point. And that doesn't even get into non-English speaking people. It's funny because the name was really supposed to sound grandiose. If Josh was being more literal he would have called it "American Librarians Who Like to Joke and Argue Online & Friends." :) - Steele Lawman
Deborah, the challenge is that we are all victims of the world's timezones. Even within North America, there are definitely communication barriers between the east and west coast caused entirely by the time difference. Friendfeed makes that a bit simpler by being slightly less synchronous than chat, but the problem is still there. - DJF
@DJF - Yes, I definitely understand. There's a reason why I participate in LSW mostly on Friendfeed (and why my early days on the internet were mostly on Usenet!) It's not something that bugs me; it's just something I occasionally notice, and even more occasionally feel vaguely on-the-outskirts because of. - Deborah Fitchett
@Steve - Fair enough! Heh, at one stage I was doing an irregular series of blog round-ups of non-English library blog posts, because there's so much going on that we never hear about. But then other interests took over, and now it's on my list of Things I Must Get Back To Sometime. - Deborah Fitchett
Cripes, I can't find the piece of paper where I wrote down the whole quotation, but I'll keep looking. And if I can remember anything at all more about the book it came from, I may ask one of you people in a large place to try to find it for me, since Google Books is so far failing me. - laura x
Thanks, Steven! That's where I got my "seed" of French, Spanish, Danish and Swedish library blogs but I should take look for other countries now that Google Reader does its (sometimes hilarious) auto-translate thing. Interestingly it was mentioned by some NZ tweeps this morning, and consensus was that the NZ section was already out of date. Things change quickly online... :-) - Deborah Fitchett