A perfect sea urchin

The Cyberculture Corner

Welcome to where I air my wrong headed views on cyberculture and the internet. I always have a lot to say and no one tells me to shut up. To return to the regular blog page, just click here.

Storms Rage Perfectly

RAOK had three birthdays and a new member. The new member became my friend. There has been a lot of activity on individual members' walls. In three years of Facebook, I have become an expert at handling both the short and long versions of my newsfeed. It is a highly customized newsfeed with most of the game news hidden. I don't get a lot of application invites any more thanks to having blocked over five hundred of them. This makes the newsfeed a wonderful place. Sometimes my friends who are members of my groups bring me real news. There are births, illnesses, deaths, sick friend. Usually there is not much drama.

Sometimes there is small talk. This is not as horrible as writers who don't like Facebook portray. Talking about what one cooks for dinner, where one goes for vacation, etc.... is healthy drama free discourse. It invites others to comment without argument.

I haven't topped out my RAOK friend list for good reason. I've been busy talking and responding on the wall.

Then there are the birthdays and new members. I need to help the members with birthdays celebrate and welcome the new members. That's what's been going on this week combined with a lively news feed. This makes RAOK and LOTH easier.

As for Zanmi, I added my first video clip and a couple of interesting links, including a New York Times article. I need to find the group more photographs. It looks as if the page is getting a nice Westchesterite focus. The last two new fans have been members of Ardsley High School Class of 1980. That was my class. Who would have thought they would have joined. Unfortunately, the guests of honor have yet to arriave at the party. Hopefully, it will still be going strong when they straggle in.

Eileen H. Kramer -- 7/25/10

Not Just Going Through the Motions

Instigating on Facebook is a daily-do. That sometimes means it can feel like a chore. Sometimes it is interactive and fun. Today it went routinely until I saw the post from the LOTHling (LOTH is Ladies of the Heart) stating that she had lost her four year old cousin. There is a bit more than this. I don't want to discuss all of it, but the child was murdered. The member posted a link to the local newspaper which had the story.

There is a procedure to follow in cases like this in a ladies' group environment. First you visit the bereaved member's web page or profile and leave a condolence message. Second, you inform others in the group so they can give support. It's that simple. The phrases one uses are stock phrases. "You're in my thoughts and prayers." "I'm sorry." "Please accept my condolences." You get the idea. This is not the time to be clever or original.

That said, I've done all I can do, and I'm still reeling. LOTH has shrunk a bit, and we don't have a particularly functioning support committee. The support committee at LOTH used to be called LOTH Spirit Workers. I was a member of it. I was also a member of Angels of Kindness for RAOK and RAOK Hugs Committee. These days, I'm it for both groups. It's a one woman show unless others pitch in.

Worse still, LOTH is in rough shape. One of the leaders is looking for work. Real life easily overwhelms web life. I hope LOTH is strong enough to handle a bereavement.

Eileen H. Kramer -- 7/19/10

Census Update

The first cut at ZOID will be easy. It will be the only cut for a while. I got back six to eight bounced messages. Anyone from whom I have not heard in years is bouncing and unreachable, so I can cut six to eight ZOID memebers painlessly, and leave the list about a bit under thirty with three or four of us marginally active. This makes ZOID still viable. The hard part will come next spring. I can turn my attention to Haldis' work after this and leave site fighting alone or at least treat it as a normal part of my do-list. In a way, that is the easy way out. In a way I am stumped with what more to do. That may change sooner than I think but that is the way it is in high summer in 2010.

The only hard task I have with site fighting is going to be getting in touch wtih a ZOID competitor who has "fallen off" the mailing list. I have an email address from her which I hope doesn't bounce. If it does, she is gone. This hurts both more and less than cutting a fighter whose web site disappeared. It won a pencil after it was gone because I was playing king and queen maker. That felt good. It felt humiliating to find the web site missing. This is how site fighting dies.

I'm glad I've pretty much done all I can figure out to do with ZOID. I want to take a deep breath and sit back. Of coruse Haldis worries about her competition. This is the second year the brass haven't shaken out the place in the summer except for the usual graphic revisions. The Webleagues is suffering from the same threats as ZOID, but has no organized end game in sight. They are also on summer haitus. Long breaks are about the worst thing you can do for a competition. For hardcore fighters a short break of a week or two is great to recruit, but if others aren't fighting, and many competitions take breaks simultaneously, even recruiting sours. After three months, you probably are rebuilding from scratch, and less fanatical fighters just drift away. Considering there is no place from which we can really recruit new fighters, you can guess the rest... It's any one's guess what is going to be left of the web site competition world after Labor Day. Haldis has entered adulthood as a site fighting administrator, but I know how she will get on with her life such as it is. She is always happier and more successful than I am and that is a good thing.

There is still no Diaspora software available. So far it is all hype and vaporware, but I can wait.

I got a compliment about how I was keeping things together and active at RAOK. I haven't touched Facebook all day long. I need to do some sort of work with Zanmi and go through the motions. I can do this endlessly, but there are days when it gets dull. At least we are not losing members. That is a relief and RAOK has tripled in size in the last three years. Need I say more?

Eileen H. Kramer with help from Haldis K. Guerrin and Thadea G. Myers -- 7/15/10

The Census

I finally sent the "Are you still out there and do you care?" letter to the inactive ZOID membership, that meant thirty-two out of thirty-sevem members. I'm glad most of the old formerly active friends are gone. I'm hoping I see which email addresses bounce. I probably won't though. Here is a copy of the letter.

You probably haven't heard from me in a long while, either that or my letters have been lost in a welter of email spam. Either way, I am glad you opened this email.

In case you have forgotten, you are still a member of ZOID City Community and Community Competition http://zc2zc3.st and we are still out there with competition every other week. In fact, we are the second oldest, continually operated web site competition on the net. Some days that is a dubious honor.

I am sending you this letter to make sure you are still at least marginally interested. It is very much like the letter you get every few years if you have an old, dormant bank account, except this time there is no money involved, just you.

Please send something back to me if you are the least bit interested in being part of ZOID. That is all I ask.

If you would like, you can tell me if you still have a web site and would like it to compete at some point. You can also tell me what you are doing now, but you don't have to do that. I just want to know if you are still really out there and have not forgotten us.

Eileen H. Kramer/ZOIDRubashov
Yes we are still in business!

What I don't want to see back, are a whole pile of apologies and false pledges of participation. What I dread seeing back is silence. What I'll probably see is silence. I suspect the email addresses are abandoned and not bouncing. I don't think Yahoogroups will tell me if they bounce anyway.

The next question after the census is deciding what to do. I'm glad I waited to write this letter. I'm glad it contains no threats. I don't know what I'll do. Cutting the bouncing addresses is easy. They don't exist. Cutting the nonresponders is drastic and punitive. Given the utter lack of activity (and we are talking about years) of most "members" I suspect ZOID has an eleven month time line not a twenty-three month timeline. I've learned that much this morning.

Oddly that does not distress me. Eleven months is an eternity or seems like one. Not facing an immediate close down, feels like a reprieve rather than a death sentence. Knowing that we will close in an orderly fashion when we do (not if. It's when.) also makes me feel fantasticly good. Thadea watched the Golden Elite crash and burn. Thadea watched the Site Wars sputter to a halt. John, one of the ZOID members watched the Seven Wonders of the World go out with a bang. The world watched Fantasy Fights try to sell itself and find no buyers. The Rumbles went down in a blaze of drama. We're not going to do that.

I am going to have to cut another site or replace it next cycle, but that is another matter. I ought to be angry about being treated a bit like a public convenience, but I've gotten used to it, and that's the truth. It's an old complaint by any one who admins a web site competition.

Right now the letters are sent. All I can do is wait. I will wait without suspense. I kind of know what happens next. Eleven months gives me a lot of time to make hard decisions. I've done what I promised for this step of the process. Now it's on to other things.

Eileen H. Kramer/ZOIDRubashov -- 7/11/10

Waiting for a Friend

This is an unusual day besides the fact that it is day three of a three day weekend in real life. Today I am waiting anxiously for a friend to respond to a request. She was recommended and she is a real life friend who has moved to Israel. She is one of the reasons I started Zanimi, Chevarim, Todomachi, Amis, Amigos and Friends on Facebook. Now I need to pull her in. I am excited, but I also know that both she and her husband are skittish when it comes to online social networking. They are so skittish and such perfectionists that they are going to break my heart and disappoint me. Still I wait.

All of RAOK and most of LOTH has been interactive today. In a way that is exciting. Sometimes there is bad news involved, as there is today, but even then, it feels good to see live members who either like something or who say something, usually on their walls, to which I can respond. It beats writing stock messages though I'll do that more than willingly.

I'm glad that Karen in Israel, the friend for whom I am waiting, will inherit a clean, well lighted, and busy page. I am actually coming up with ideas for posting on it. That is a big relief.

Posting at RAOK and LOTH long ago became routine. I'm not sure what happens to vengance when it becomes routine. I just tell myself time wounds all heels and look back on what I've built. There are just some things one can not really help when one thinks about it.

Eileen H. Kramer -- 7/5/10

Evil Strikes Again

Scroogle Scraper is still down. Now I have to worry about my privacy every time I seach. Atlavista which I try to use instead is not as good. I'm not happy with this. I feel like Big Brother is watching me.

In other news, the leader of Walk the Walk did not know what a vuvuzela was. I felt like asking her: "Haven't you heard of the World Cup being played in South Africa?" in the news. I didn't. I also didn't ask her on which planet she lived. She posted a video honoring our fallen soldiers. Uh...Fourth of July is not Memorial Day or Veteran's Day.

My other groups have been weirdly interactive. Zanmi even has some new photos. I haven't done anything about ZOID except set it up for fighting. Haldis is taking some needed time off to either teach, take courses, or both. She's working on an Masters degree so she can teach technology in community college and possibly high school. Life takes funny turns for my youngest avatar. It's hard to believe Haldis turns twenty-five in October.

Tomorrow I have to wade through the usualy July 4th platitudes on Facebook. I'm not sure I'm ready. I'm out of things to say, but can always think of something. In the morning I'll feel better. A good night's sleep fixes everything...well almost everything.

Eileen H. Kramer -- 7/4/10