I finished Trippi this morning and I don't have the heart to tear him apart. He doesn't deserve it. Yes, Joe Trippi is full of himself.
Yes, Joe Trippi managed to write a book, but in the end Joe Trippi got screwed and his followers or rather Dean's followers also got
screwed. They contributed money and did not ever get to cast a single vote for their candidate in most cases. All that work for nothing is
my first reaction. Dean of course is head of the Democratic National Committee. Joe Trippi and his internet and the volunteers made him.
Did they get much back? Well, Joe got a book.
Joe is a member of the secret elite. How do I know? I'm going to quote him. The quotes are real, but I am too lazy to look up the pages.
Joe is proud that Dean's campaign is the little guy against Bush' Rangers and Pioneers. You can see that all comparisons are relative. I
have no beef with that, but Joe also says that during June of 2003, the average contribution to Dean for America was $112. Say that number
again. Tack it to your refridgerator door.
$112 is not chump change and half of all contributions were larger. That's what an average means. If you live pay check to pay check, as many
Americans do then this is the money you scrape together and pay off for months to spoil your kids at Christmas. This may be what you spend
on Christmas presents. For a secret elite member, however, this is his or her discretionary dollar. This is true even if the secret elite member
has less than $112. That he or she has money leftover for a political contribution says a lot.
Time is also money. Nonsecret elite college students can't take a year off from paid employment or a year of absence that lets the financial
aid loan clock run to go work on a political campaign. The students who took a year off were young members or aspiring members (I haven't made up my
mind) of the secret elite.
Needless to say ordinary working stiffs who have bills to pay and families to support also can't take a year off. Dean's campaign never made
it from the secret elite to ordinary Americans. One place it appeared not to travel, at least according to Joe Trippi, was the deep south. There
were no appearances in Georgia or the Carolinas.
In fact, the "people powered" campaign did not exactly leave a sweet taste to my mouth down in Columbus Georgia. Yes, a professor
at the college who ultimately became head of the local Democratic party, and will probably be a change for the better, routinely ran
meetups down in the historical district at 6pm on a week night. Any one with a late work schedule or who was on the other side of the sprawling
city of Columbus was out of luck. The rest of the world was not on an academic's summer schedule, and that included academic librarians. I felt
that the Dean campaign did not care about me. I never went to a meetup and supported Kucinich.
One last note Joe Trippi complained about receiving $165,000 for thirteen months of campaign work. How many of us are going to complain of
earning a six figure income?
Now let's talk about nonsecret elite people and politics. They aren't always conservative though I could tell stories about that too. This
story is fresher. I was on the Greyhound coming home from New York where I went to visit my mother. There was a driver getting a free ride home who had
a long conversation with the driver. The two drivers talked about unionization. Two seats ahead of me was grassroots people powered politics loud
and proud and it was not one bit secret elite. The bus drivers' union is the AFL-CIO which has since split so I'm not sure which half of the
union it is. One driver was a union rep and trying to convince the driver in the front seat to be more active. I joined the conversation and told how the
AAUP saved my own job and a colleague's job. Habermas can laugh, but unions are a big part of people powered politics.
I am curious about what parts of the AFL-CIO is on the web and how interactive their web site is. I guess it is time for a look,
Here is the web site. It has no web board. It has a bloglike section for news. It has e-cards, merchandise,
puzzles and games, plus a listing of unions. Interactive sites attract vandals, so I can understand not wanting to run one.
The right side of this blog is devoted to role play and interactive fiction. There are ways to manage it well and ways to manage it poorly.
There are ways to role play well and role play poorly. We have new role players on Ghostletters, and
I joined two adolescent run role plays on Invisionfree.com.
Good role playing requires inner directedness and presistence. There are going to be times when you don't get a response, but your characters
have to continue their lives. Then you have to get out there and write despite the emptiness. You have to write on a slow list. Your character
has to have a plot and purose, hopes and dreams. You do not have to write other characters relationships or plot. That's the other players job, and
they'll know how to do it best. Writing your own character is what is most important.
Resorting to a jorunal or internal dialog often works in these situations. On Ghostletters characters have the option of using the first person
voice so a Ghostletters post can begin: "It feels strange and sad to be here without my fellow conscripts in Liberty Executive Park. I am now well enough
to commute to Oak Gardens Plaza, but when I return to my home base to get supplies or sleep in my own bed which I'm still supposed to do some
of the time, the emptiness reverberates. Lisette Dumont is of coruse still here. She can't get back in her apartment. Her building is still sealed
off as a crime scene. Lisette is looking after me as much as she can. Tonight I'm well enough to go to services at Rabbi Shimon's. I guess I have
Lisette to thank for that as well as Dr. Morgan, our chaplain. I tell myself that things will only get better for 2007 but having been so sick
for so many days and still not being all myself kind of puts a blur on everything and leaves it soft and grey around the edges."
Alise, the chaaracter in whose voice I just wrote, has recently recovered from a kidney infection that she got from calling down the wrath of God on
drug gangs feeding them in to the hands of Washington, DC's finest. She still has a voice and even without response can speak about herself.
Most teenage run role plays are third person narration only and based on a Neopets style role play that resembles chat. When role plays move
to boards, they get expanded intellectual freedom, but pay the price by going asynchronous. Role plays are slower and take place over days and
sometimes you end up writing to an empty house. Having journals (first person writing) for characters helps, but even in third person, it is
possible to keep giving a character voice. The trick here is a flashback: A flashback works like this. I have a character I
am meaning to launch so I am going to use her for my example: "'Ahhhhh-Nicks, the kids in Wooly Worm house tended to twist her name. They
twisted it without malice or hurtfulness. It was just more familiar to their American born and bred tongues to turn Onyx to 'Ahhhhhh-Nicks. Yo Ahhh-Nicks, can I
have a gate pass. I'm coming home from services late tonight. Ahhhhh-Nicks, do you have any shoe polish? Ahhhhh-Nicks, can I borrow your stapler?
Ahhhh-Nicks, do you know if the laundry room is open?' The kids were a decent lot and Onyx enjoyed being their head resident most of the time because
once the kids started studying and buckled down they reminded her of herself reflected in a different color and sometimes gender. Sometimes though they
hurt in ways she could not fathom. Her history was not theirs. At a bit more than thirty years of age, Onyx could dip back in that resembled a layer cake
of assorted flavors held together with gooey filling. There was her early life in a village in northern Nigeria. Onyx' father had learned English in the high
school in the big city and his wife was also eduated. He had only one wife, and both of them had given all three of their daughters' English names.
At eight, Onyx, and her family immigrated to England after one year without her father. Onyx, outdid herself in school and found herself by age eleven
going to the grammar school a long underground ride away and wearing an elite grey and blue plaid skirt and navy blue sweater vest with the school's proud
crest. At thirteen, Onyx found herself in New York in the enrichment track of a junior high school which had no uniform. At fourteen she
sat for another exam and attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, another long subway ride away. Then there was Cornell and University of
Nebraska at Lincoln and now...There weren't a lot of regular jobs for a person with a PhD in Comparative Literature. Here she was head resident
in Wooly Worm House."
Inner dialog is a different trick. Here is an example: "Leonie was not ready to call her parents. It didn't matter what Aunt Onyx said and
that what Aunt Onyx said had made perfect sense. Dealing with the same old arguments would only make her feel painful inside along with feeling
empty and kicked. Leonie wanted no fresh wounds. 'All we will do is argue again, Aunt Onyx. Don't you understand?' Leonie was not going to give
an inch as far as going to services was concerned. If you are not going to fight for religion, for what will you fight? Leonie knew that asking
that question sounded way too dramatic. When you had to fight for what you believed, it was a grubby tired business. Getting hurt by dealing
wtih parents who hurt because they simply have more power, is not noble or virtuous. One fights over one's beliefs because it is something one
has to do, not because it is noble or wonderful or principaled. Leonie was up to doing more fighting for her faith. She was sick of it."
Internal dialog goes a long way. It is a way to make third person almost like first person.
For those running role plays (and this is not Ghostletters which is a mailing list), too much top down plotting or in a board environment planning
will kill your story. Ghostletters, which uses a mailing list and so no premade categeries, is completely bottom up. Scribes create not only characters, but
also their characters' environments and worlds. This has resulted in the convention that characters can and do inhabit parallel universes. This permits
multiple futures and fictional pasts and alternate presents. This gets complicated and makes characters meeting for adventures that are not
just correspondence difficult, but such is life. This very open bottom up architecture makes it very hard for new scribes to get started because
each scribe begins with a completely blank slate.
On a conventional teen role play, characters to some extent share a common environment. I have seen some experiments multienvironment, polychronic,
and connected role plays, but these are difficult to pull off. This still doesn't mean that owners and founders have to create the entire environment.
It is possible to set up four or five general areas, for example for a boarding school role play (and this includes boarding school for magically gifted and
college role plays) might include: classes, dormitories, elsewhere on campus, and off campus, and maybe an out of town, in addition to a variety
of administrative categories. This is very broad on puropose so that
scribes can build what they need and not leave a lot of empty categories as they ignore what they don't need. Chances are excellent that thinking scribes
will need things you would not even create. For example, suppose a scribe creates a female character who is drop dead beautiful but makes her a talented
horsewoman instead of a cheer leader. The new scribe has just avoided a cliche, and added a bit of diversity. Of course if you have made your
campus or twon very detailed, your scribe will have to beg for an equestrian center and/or stable. If you are using the more open plan outlined above, your
scribe creates the place she needs to ride and you have a happy creative scribe.
Preplotting is also another deadly sin. I know it is tempting because you have a story in your head, but use inner dialog and flashbacks to get going and
don't depend on others to share your vision. Besides, you don't know what your scribes think. They may be able to write plots of which you never
conceived. You may have a scribe who is learning a langauge who wants to write an academically heavy plot that includes the second language, or a plot
about an exchange student who is bilingual. You may have a scribe who wants to write about a character returning to school after a long illness. Again,
this was not your idea, but don't you want it?
It is not easy to drop the reins, but think of it as building room for growth.
Finally, whether you are on ghostletters or a conventional teen role play, you are going to need to keep your characters going after those
initial introductory posts so here is my last contribution for tonight. I call it SNOC. It stands for Strengths, Needs, Opportunities, and
Challenges. You can SNOC any character, old or new. SNOCs will change over time. Here is how a SNOC might work for my flaghsip Ghostletters'
character, Naama Roth. Naama is a seven year old character. She was nearly sixteen when I created her and she will be twenty-three May 31, 2007. Her SNOC
reflects her age and some of her experience but not really her past. Here it is.
Naama's Strengths: Naama has always been an excellent students. She will also graduates with marketable skills, a BA in mathematics
from Cornell combined with enough education (Ed psych) credits to give her a provisional 7-12 New York State teaching license. Naama is also
an able and successful administrator of House #2 for Rose Among Thorns, a messianic religious movement with roots in Syracuse New York. Naama
has a boyfriend named Caufeld whom she plans on marrying. The two have had a monogamous and healthy relationship for nearly four years.
Naama's Needs: Health comes to the top of Naama's list. She is cursed which means she loses weight at the top of a hat, meaning she
often does not weigh enough to menstruate due to insufficient body fat. Naama is on antipsychotics, antianxiolytics, probiotics. She has
had screaming nightmares and even at one point hallucinations. She has nearly died due to a miscarriage. Naama when she does menstruate is
ragingly fertile. She wears an IUD to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. She is still quite ambivalent about becoming pregnant. Naama has the ability to
"call souls." Naama saw the face of God the summer she was eighteen. This is an amazing power and Independent Rainbow has wanted to
exploit Naama. Naama has been able to plead ill health but that may not last.
Naama's Opportunities: Naama wants to marry Caufeld. She would like to ultimately become a high school principal. She is well
suited to acheive both of these goals.
Naama's Challenges: Independent Rainbow would like Naama to work for them as a mage/priest. Naama has no interest in doing this and
friends have been running interference for Naama. There are also a lot of powerful people who have a less than positive view of Rose
Among Thorns, the messianic organization with whom Naama is a high ranking officer. Naama Roth has enemies and those who do less than wish
her well or have her best interests at heart. On a day to day basis, getting teenage foster kids to stick to their studies and become useful
working people is Naama's more pedestrian challenge.
There you have a SNOC. Give it a try.