While I should be writing a fairly dense section for my thesis on Thomas Kent’s paralogic hermeneutics and Grice’s theory of conversational implicature, I can’t hold back from making a few observations. Perhaps its just my disappointment with my students— 90% of them actually believed that the Hitler Historical Museum was a legitimate web site that could be used as support for a research paper. All those clichés about web research seem to be true.
But some people get it. Qb (Ms. Frizzy Logic) for one. I believe that problem of constructing meaning is both internal and external (biological and social). In looking at anything, both the social network which constructs it and the internal schemas that map it must be taken under consideration.
Dave Weinberger gets it too. Social software bores me. Current versions work on a predefined schema which sets parameters for sociality that just don’t match up with the fuzzy nature of how sociality works. I have been deeply involved in a couple of communities loosely based around software. First, in the early 80s there was the computer club scene. People got together to socially and illegally exchange software. Not exactly the same thing, but hey, it was social—though unified by platform, they connected in ways that had nothing to do with the “trope” which organized their meetings. I met an Episcopalian minister there (not one currently on the web, as far as I know) that became a friend for several years. My next encounter was forum culture on CompuServe (which went horribly wrong when a relationship went private and personal). However, the most lasting and satisfying online “community” was one of a low-tech mailing list that was loosely framed, and fuzzy beyond belief. Though I don’t have time to keep up with it, I often miss the people I met there.
Organizing communities through precisely defined schemas just seems wrong. People just don’t work that way. They have both insides, and outsides. Urkel makes more sense, and would probably be more usable. It has a broader range of available archetypes.