Friday, August 04, 2006

Blogs, communities, attention

Three months absence that cannot be explained away by me having been very busy working on roleplaying games: the conclusion that a blog is not the medium best suited for me can no longer be avoided. My attention - and that includes my creative attention - is too much a shifting thing: although it is generally quite focused, it never stays very long on the same spot. It always returns; make no mistake. But it can be away from any one field of interest for months before doing so (in the meantime hopefully having been enriched by its straying in other fields).

Blogs, on the other hand, demand constant attention. O, you can go away for two weeks, no problem; but go away for two months, and who will still be visiting you? Nobody. I'll have to think of some other way to reach out to those who share the same interests, because I really doubt this blog will prove to be very effective.

I have been much involved, during the past months, with philosophy and fiction. If anyone would like to hear why the realism/anti-realism debate in contemporary philosophy is a curious relic from the time when we still believe that a correpsondence theory of truth had some intersting content, just tell me. ;) Or we could talk about Derrida's critique of Searle's critique of Derrida's critique of Austin. Very interesting stuff. Alternatively, I might tell you that my faith in the possibility of good fantastic fiction has been restored by my discovery of Jonathan Carroll and M. John Harrison; or that I have started to exercise my storywriting muscles, and have written - as an exercise - a short SF piece, some writing exercises and the beginning of a metaphysical-symbolic tale about a man who undertakes a journey to the middle of the ocean in which God drowned. (But these tales are in Dutch.)

There is some roleplaying stuff I can tell you, though. I did some minor work on the first issue of Push, writing guest commentary; and I developed a small classification of kinds of psychological depth in roleplaying, which has allowed me to see that there is truth in the claim by old-school players that a character in a long, traditional campaign takes on a kind of depth you'll not find in the fast and furious indies. I'll come back to that some day.

I find it hard to keep in touch with the indie RPG community. I'm trying to catch up with the blogs right now; but where does one turn to simply ask, "Hey, what happened during the past few months? I've been away for a while."? Now I find discussions everywhere that seem alien and meant for an in-crowd I do not belong to. I know this isn't the case, but the structure of a blog-based community that is in rapid development makes it hard to penetrate and feel involved - for me at least. And that's a pity, because there probably won't be anything else.

The good news, though, is that when I come back from my holidays at the end of August, I'm going to by a whole set of new indie games. Shab-al-Hiri Roach, It was a Mutual Decision, 1001 nights, and others - I am dying to try you out!

10 comments:

  1. Hi Victor,

    The question is if you're looking to post your ideas, dialogue, or simply for a big crowd. Only in the last case do you need to constantly blog. Many of my favorite designers/bloggers post sporadically, if only because they have work and life to attend to as well.

    That aside, you may wish to check out Judd's "Threads to Check Out" threads on story-games where he lists interesting threads for each week. Also, many folks have del.icio.us accounts, and you can find people bookmarking neat stuff there as well.

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  2. I'd love to see some easier ways to "subscribe" to blogs (sure there's this RSS thing, but no one yet has pointed me to a simple way to set one up). There are a lot of blogs out there that are interesting to me, but after a while of no posts, they drop off my radar screen, possibly never to be visited again.

    By the same token, I wonder if anyone is reading my blog, since I'm not a frequent updater. Mostly I've been using it for stuff that I might have used to have posted on the Forge, but am no longer comfortable posting there because my thoughts are so half baked, or maybe they're theory mumblings, based on actual play, but not tied to actual play that I can easily express.

    Although I haven't dropped out of the scene for long times, I sometimes go to the Forge, or Story Games, and see a thread I might be interested in joining, but it's already gotten too big to catch up, so I can sympathise with your feeling there.

    Frank

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  3. Frank,

    I use Squidoo, which lets you set up an RSS reader on a webpage, and then you can share it with other people as well. You can set up to have it post just headlines, a few sentences, or the whole post, as well as how often it updates. It doesn't require much tech savvy other than copy and pasting the RSS feeds.

    I link it on DitG, but here it is again.

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  4. I do look at your squidoo occaisionally. I would find that type of thing a lot more useful if it at least noted the date of the last update for each site. Otherwise, to me, it's just another place to occaisionally browse to see if something new and cool has come up. But it does at least get me looking occaisionally at a few sites that are not on my regular rotation.

    Frank

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  5. I am at least partly proven wrong: I had fully expected this post to go unnoticed for at least a week.

    You are right though, Chris (it is Chris, isn't it?) - a blog is still a good place to post occassional pieces. Nevertheless, if they are used as such, it would be more useful to have a kind of central collection of these sporadic blogs, which might be called, let's think.. a forum! ;)

    I'm going to save a bookmark to your Squidoo lens, it seems useful. Also, I tried to register on the Story-games website you mention, but I had absolutely no success. I couldn't send in the application form (it kept claiming I hadn't read the terms of use, no matter how often I read them and checked the box saying so), and I could not find a way to contact the administrator.

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  6. Story Games is nice as a more relaxed forum. I've sent an e-mail mentioning your difficulty joining.

    I definitely agree that forums are easier to follow for occaisional stuff, or even regular stuff. They usually have at least some mechanism for highlighting posts (and more importantly, new comments) you haven't read yet.

    On the other hand, a blog is a great way to keep your thoughts centralized.

    Frank

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  7. Unnoticed? Never! We're glad to have you back!

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  8. Guys, you are truly encouraging. I almost regret that I'll be absent for three weeks starting next monday, because I'd like to get some fresh content in here. (On the other hand, I'm going to Eastern Europa, perhaps even Berlin, and one almost has to do that in order to count in indie circles these days. ;) )

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  9. I got Frank's email about your problems registering. Sorry about the mess there; it's standard javascript with cookies. So it sounds like you might not have cookies enabled on your browser, or have javascript turned off, or something like that. I'd try checking your settings there.

    Good luck, and when you come back if you have better luck I'll see you at the forums.

    BTW, my email is ziggurat at gmail.

    Thanks!
    -Andy K

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  10. Jonathan Carroll writes one of the best, most interesting daily blogs on the internet. You really should check it out if you haven't yet.

    www.jonathancarroll.com

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