[Blues-l] Do we need this?

Rich Kulawiec rsk@gsp.org
Sun Jan 21 16:37:13 EST 2018


I will argue that we do, BUT that we probably all need to invest a
little bit in revitalizing it.  The list's migrations over the years
have certainly been a disruption, but I think that it's still a
valuable resource.  Let me explain why.

I've been on the 'net for a long time, going back to ARPAnet days.
Mailing lists like this are one of the two best communications methods
we've invented for ourselves.  That's why, for example, the North
American Network Operator's Group (pretty much the braintrust for
networking in NA) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (the standards
body for the Internet) use them as the primary means of communication.
I mention that not because they're significant, important organizations:
I mention it because these are the people *who built and run the net*
and they could use anything they want.  But they use mailing lists,
because they're superior to everything else.  Not web forums.  Not
social media.  Mailing lists.

I'll skip the bullet-point explanation of that for now, because it's
lengthy.  But the gist is tied back to what I said in the first paragraph:
this list still exists despite changes in domains and technology *because
it can*.  Try doing that with a web forum or with Facebook.  (Hint: you'll
fail.  You'll find, like others before you who have tried, that you
can't export/convert the data.)

Let me also note that Facebook, like every other operation, will have its
day and then fade.  This mailing list has outlasted a lot of similar
operations that had theirs and are now in decline or are gone entirely.

So.  Let's talk concrete steps.  First, I'm willing to transfer the
domain to me and pay for it.  (Alternatively, I can just move this
to one of the other domains I already have and run mailing lists on.
THey all use the same physical server anyway.)  Second, one good way
to pump some life into this would be for everyone on the list to recruit
one person to join.  Well, join and *say something*.  It might start
a discussion, heck, it might start an argument, but it'd be fresh air.
And third, let me note that we've had a trickle of recent new subscribers:
so -- slowly -- people are finding this mailing list and joining.
(I see this because I see the log entries every morning.  You don't,
because those people are joining but not saying anything.  Yet.
I may poke them to introduce themselves. ;)  )

Finally, one more observation.  There was a point in time when [some]
observers declared Usenet dead: circa the mid-1990's.  And it's true,
parts of it are ghost towns these days.  But y'know, other parts of
it recovered and are doing better than they've ever been.   So I suggest
patience, above all else.

Okay, okay one more: I've also been chasing down the old jazz-l list and
the folk mailing list.  Jazz-l was run with listserv software (as blues-l
was for a while) and was last seen at Brown University.  Folk was run at
folkserv.net by a version of Mailman (which runs this list).  And I've
been chasing down a few more.  I'm not sure which ones I'm going to try
to bring back, but jazz and folk are at the top of the candidate list,
which is why I mention them.  I think we may be at the right point in
time to try this, as the downside of social media is starting to become
more apparent and some of the companies are now in trouble.  Maybe,
just maybe, there is a window of opportunity here.

---rsk


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