Oral his-stories

We like to talk, don’t we? At least some of the time. Chatting, telling stories over and over in different ways and with different embellishments, all the while helping us to work out who we are and who we’re not, what we might choose to be or do next. But also who we’ve been, who did what, what’s been done (or tried) what’s been talked about before and so what’s fun to talk about again.

I’ve found this history bit interesting in online communities. It’s not as important to some people as it is to others but I often find myself playing the role of reminding groups of what was said before and why, as a reminder of where we’ve been together, why we took certain decisions together or else to help out a newcomer who’s repeating the mistakes of the past, going down a real blind alley.

I was reminded of it when coming into contact with some of the “old-time” seesmicers at LeWeb. It’s only a year since the peak of seesmic for me, but a lot of what we were talking about is lost. And I noticed this at the time that as the community grew quickly there were a set of first behaviours or topics that were obvious when yu were new. But because seesmic didn’t have an inherent way of recording what we’d learned, the understanding and the rituals and traditions that came about could only stay alive as lng as the people there were willing to keep talking about them and reminding each other of them. The traditions were loosely held, it only took a few people to make up a new tradition and for a few people to leave for a once fiercely guarded tradition to be discarded.

There were many reasons why my seesmic activity tailed off, but one of them was that a greater proportion of my time was spent on watching new people go through the initial phases and I was left either waiting for them to catch up or spending my time helping them to catch up more quickly. Less time for me to be creative and just enjoy the flow.

There sees to be a difference for example between talking to people at Tuttle about how it all started and what I think of it all, between that and the tangible stuff on the web that you might find if you were bothered to research it. Does that mean I need to write down more of what I say to new people every week? Or has the saying f it been enough, are there enough people who know the story in rder for it survive without any other effort? Or might that lead to a distorted story? Is it important? Is it valuable? What would be lost if it were forgotten? And what is the definitive story anyway? Is there one? Or is it that my version is dominant because of my role and repeated attendance?

Dunno.

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