re: what kinds of exchanges: a playground for loose constructs

Devi (
Sun, 30 Jun 1996 13:43:06 +0100

Last night, Louis Shawver wrote:

>If you really want the list to work this way, then I think you need to
>set it up differently. Lots of people set up lists for special interest
>groups, but you have to toss out people that don't have these interests.
>It has to be included up front how the list discussion is going to
>limited. I believe in the legitimacy of such an approach, but it has its
>disadvantages as well as its advantages.

This was in response to Jim Mancuso's comments about people who don't
bother to learn a little of PCP ideas before they come into this group with
six-guns blazing at us, whom they in turn perceive as
>toadying fools who follow a set of power-manipulating egotists or
>are benighted babes-in-the woods who deserve the services of a knight in
>shiny armor.

Okay. The first thing is for Louis to notice that Jim didn't call for their
"tossing out" of the list. All he said was "I am _not particularly
sympathetic to the suggestions that we need to give much attention to_
someone who comes on to the net and begins to proseletyze without having
done his/her homework regarding the foundational knowledge". I certainly
agree with the latter underlined words and would, like Louis, disagree with
"tossing them out": surely this ain't that kind fo interest group.

The second thing is to thank both Jim and Louis for starting this thread
off, since it gives me the opportunity to state (restate? I don't
recall...) my own thoughts on contributing to this list.

For me at any rate, the value of all the newsgroups and mailing lists is
a) to exchange information on specific issues (ideas, references and the like)
b) to provide the opportunity to ruminate over half-baked as well as
partly-baked ideas. One can use journal articles and conferences for the
more "completely cooked" materials, or take part in electronic conferences
which do, indeed, require a different format to an open mailing list or

The great value of the present pcp mailing list is, for me, the informality
and the safe space to make, and have corrected, the occasional error or
misconception while challenging preconceptions.

I always write in that spirit; if you share this view with me, then perhaps
you'd agree that
a) correspondents need a certain minimum of knowledge about pcp to make
their interchanges worthwhile
b) six-gun cowboys should never be banned: they act as the irritant to
one's ideas that might, (just might), help generate a pearl or two in due
course. They force one to re-examine ideas that may be perfectly useful and
viable, but may on the other hand be getting a little too "comfy", through
habit or laziness
c) if they get too irritating one can always make a personal decision to
ignore them (irritation thresholds being set at different points for
different people).

I'm in two minds about whether more actively destructive people (cowboys
wielding napalm and bazookas, as it were) should be banned. Hopefully
they'll self-destruct...

And in conclusion. This liberal openness is surely _the_ great attribute of
the Net in general. Where else, given the nature of the medium, can one
talk on first-name terms to people of varying age, sex, contribution and
reputation without being overawed on the one hand or dismissive, though
inattention or distraction, on the other? With outcomes that are governed
only by the quality of one's argument?

And _not_ the quality of one's ideas, since there is enormous value in the
exchange of half-baked ideas, as I argue above. Sure, let's have
earthshaking insights by all means; but, while we await those, let's enjoy
the more usual staggering footsteps too.

The pcp mailing list: a place where loose constructs go to play after a
hard day's tightness in the workplace of life.


Devi Jankowicz