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1. Posts prior to 2004-10-23

I want to be clear about something. While I started off talking about a TechnologySolution on SpaghettiWiki, the underlying problem is emotional social human, and the ultimate solution will result in a new MeatballMission. You might have noticed that I have already made some moves recently to start reforming it. I believe a well written mission statement will make the final architectural solution a clear and obvious choice. I still think that the architecture of the site needs some modification, but I will fight hard to ensure that we maintain good FeatureKarma.

I'm also hesitant to start on the emotional side until I have enough time to devote to the discussion. That isn't this week, unfortunately. -- SunirShah

I understand that you don't want to start on this now, but I think I should make a comment in case I'm not around when the reformation starts (don't bother reading/replying now if there's no time, just keep it in mind for later). I like the current MeatballMission, especially it's broad scope. We have a breadth of topics from CategoryInformationVisualization to CategorySoftSecurity to CategoryCopyright to OtherHypermedia to CategoryWikiEngine. If this scope is later decided to be too broad, I would not like to see some of these kinds of topics "losing their charter"; rather, I would like to see Meatball split into multiple wikis to accomodate different focuses. -- BayleShanks


I feel that the MeatballMission is too often used as if it were a precise a description of what is on or off-topic on this site. The problem is that the MeatballMission is purposefully vague, and that pretty much everything which we ever decide is offtopic falls within the scope of the text on the page MeatballMission somehow.

I don't think the page MeatballMission should be made more precise, and I don't think there is a problem with what we are declaring off-topic. But I don't think we should be saying essentially "this is off-topic, didn't you read the MeatballMission?", because the MeatballMission doesn't create a precise, objective notion with a clear boundary between on-topic and off-topic.

For example, GsLug?, the JohnKellden pages (to a lesser extent), that time some Scandinavian school used us as a classroom, those all fell under some part of the MeatballMission. It's fine to have a nuanced, "soft" idea of what belongs here (as opposed to an exact and rigid definition), but then I don't believe that when something goes astray that it should be labeled "abuse" or that it should be implied that people didn't read something they should have.

If we feel it is important to keep off-topic content off, we should say something on the page MeatballWiki (the page MeatballMission is buried in the links at the bottom, so it can't really be considered required reading -- on that note, there should be a mention of UseRealNames somewhere, too). In addition, we'd have to clarify MeatballMission. If we don't, then when we find a violation of our norms, we must treat it as our fault for not being clear rather than theirs. In addition, I think that until we're more clear about this, people should get a few weeks grace period if they'd like it.

I understand that the page MeatballWiki doesn't seem very friendly if we start out with a bunch of rules, but it isn't really fair to act all friendly and then come down hard when people don't pick up on an unstated assumption. I would prefer that we keep the page MeatballWiki extra-welcoming, but in that case we have to follow through. Usually the way in which we tell people their stuff is off-topic is on the whole welcoming, but I think that we need to do even better -- there shouldn't be the implicit assumption that they are trying to take advantage of us or broken some law, because the law here is unwritten (and I think that grace period would be fair, also).

Perhaps somewhere (like in MeatballMission) we could add examples of what is not on-topic on this site (but that you might think would be). But this doesn't completely solve the problem; unless it is mentioned on the page MeatballWiki, it can't be considered required reading.

-- BayleShanks


I strongly disagree with the notion that "it's dangerous to even cut the marble," as some sort of universal wiki principle.

You are observing something like an undifferentiated new subject, except applied to wiki. An undifferentiated new subject is the first stage in the discovery process; that is, when a subject first appears, it is largely "undifferentiated". It appears to be just a mish-mesh of interesting, but confusing or otherwise blurry things. But with closer study patterns appear, much like when listening to classical music. If you don't listen to symphonies, one symphony sounds pretty much like another. However, if you listen to lots of symphonies, you start to pick out patterns. (See ConstellationIdentification?.) After some time, two symphony pieces will sound radically different. You can also begin to pick out subtle beauties that were once invisible to you.

Because wikis are so new, there is little space for TopicCanonicalization. Thus, premature attempts at definition are a bad thing, unnecessarily dividing people. With time, however, as TopicCanonicalization inevitably runs its course, it will become clear what wikis are for what, and people will leave from the undefined to the defined. -- LionKimbro

Except the MeatballMission is for MeatBall, the project, this place--not wikis in general. It's dangerous the cut the marble because we change the focus of Meatball and consequently MeatballWiki as we see fit. -- SunirShah

I always think of MeatBall as a wiki for founders (of wikis or online communities). MeatBall seems to talk about what's important to them, the technical details as well as the social problems. "Community of communities" expresses this, but in an abstract way. I like to put it this way because in building wikis I came to replace the question "for what" more and more by "for whom". This has advantages. It puts the people in the center. It makes definitions easier, because the topics change faster and are much more difficult to define than the people. -- HelmutLeitner


We should ammend the mission to include something about its role in the wider wiki community. I'd like to point out that we have no intrinsic or extrinsic quality that makes us an interesting place for wiki discussion. We only do this if we serve a valuable role to other wikis, and it is the extent that we do this that we are the centre of wiki development, or whatever. So what language should we use to describe this? I think we will implement PageClusters so we can expand MeatballWiki's role in this dimension if that is desired. If we do this, however, whomever wants to do this has to actually go to all the wikis and say hello, watch what they are doing, make links, talk, teach, help out, etc. -- SunirShah

Focus inversion. We should also note our relationship to WikiWiki, WikiPedia, and bloggers (not to mention MeatballOutreach). While my initial strategy was to be incredibly grumpy to all of them to keep them away and make/keep Meatball its own thing, that strategy has failed miserably--or maybe it succeeded, and people are noticing? Oh well. At least WikiWiki manages to keep away. WikiPedians are just too gracious. Bloggers are just starting to creep in as they discover wikis. Time to expand the camp, I guess; but I don't want to swamp these proto ideas with the mainstream culture on the 'net, whose problems they seek to mend. I want to remain PostWELL. Maybe we could stake that border? For anyone, anywhere, that is PostWELL. Then we just have to define what is TheWELL. -- SunirShah

We can set forth where we want to go. But the community will become what it will become, won't it? Should we recognize that someday this community might assume values we don't want it to, despite our most gracious and persuasive efforts?

Perhaps the goal of evolving a PatternLanguage from a particular set of values is somewhat at odds with the reality of the community life cycle? It's awkward because both "happen" in the same space.

You can engineer how the community develops if you are clever. Most of the Patterns here talk about that. One often mentioned only in passing is marketing. Countries control immigration by selectively selling. The law may be egalitarian, but you can stack the deck. I can stack the deck with enough energy. I wanted to see what would happen if I stopped marketing and stopped writing. Answer: I lost "control"--really, my imprint. The wiki developers left, Wikipedians & bloggers came in. The community shifted underneath me, and I became atavistic. Yet I'm still somehow authoritative [and that's shit; I hoped others would rise to the occasion]; hence, we have all this neutron bombing as all the latent tension gets vomited out. I was hoping it would be a constructive process, but I guess I wasn't up to the challenge. I wasn't counting on the Big Flame War to reassert itself. (ForgiveAndForget failed because it destroyed GuidePosts.)

For a long time I wondered why the more famous net.pundits do not write here. On the Internet, it's cheaper to form your own space than to work "underneath" another expressive/controlling personality. Communities on the Internet tend to have only one leader/expressive type; other leaders/expressives form their own communities. Hosting is cheap, and links are cheaper. WebLogs rule because everyone has an ego they want to express, and that is a good thing, in a way. On a wiki that is a bad thing. LionKimbro's locked down FrontLawn runs counter to the pre-existant Meatball philosophy of letting anyone edit anyone else's namepage as if it were a normal page, and our (maybe now only my) "radicalism" is exactly why he does not fit here. WikiCanonicalization? is also degoƻt to anyone who equates the URL with the community. I wish he'd understand that it wasn't anything personal, but so it became.

Truly remarkable leaders who grow collaborative, supportive communities will attract others who do not want to go to the expense of forming their own space; moreover, those who enjoy the collaborative environment. However, this stickiness is deadly. Friends make the worst enemies. My excessive controlling caused Alex to form his own space to follow his own vision. I was controlling because I did not want to follow his vision. The controlling (through "MeatballMantras") was partially designed to encourage others to leave to allow us to develop our own ideas, which are pretty radical (PostWELL). However, for friends like Alex, that sucks. You probably have no idea how I feel. He probably doesn't either. I really value Alex. I was really hurt that he wanted to make this space obsolete.

The only reasonable option is to give each such personality a space of their own; EnlargeSpace. If you don't give it to them, they will create one. In the end, MeatballWiki and CommunityWiki may diverge to fit more closely with our distinct perspectives. However, the other option is to follow Lion's philosophy and disintegrate the community from the spaces. The community are the people, the herd if you will. They can move back and forth from space to space. So, instead of just connecting MeatballWiki to CommunityWiki, we should work to connect MeatballWiki to everywhere. The community then becomes fluid, disconnected from a place, but more effective across space. But we still want to control our own architecture, so internally we will split in deep ways. OpenMeatballWiki and PageClusters will serve to break the Meatball city state into a Meatball province (cf. OnlineCommunitiesAreCityStates). This province may have differentiated personalities, but the proximity and the consequent collisions between subcultures will force idea exchanges mitigated by architecture. As the dominant culture, our values will underly, and as the architects, our values will shape. And there will be more fighting. It's not an easy solution, but it is the easiest. -- SunirShah

[ed: comment elided regarding inhumanity of MultiCopyrightWiki]

A MultiCopyrightWiki is inhumane and unnecessary. However, it is. The philosophical argument is over. -- SunirShah

How do we move from vague generalizations like "fluid, disconnected" to an implementation? Also, maximal disintegration might be well enough for conversation, but what about the PatternLanguage?

I am all details. I am not so random, even if things got out of control as I am learning as I go (it did take two years to get this done).

We know what to do. Change to OddMuse, make it a PublicScript, clean up the script, really use PageClusters and PermanentAnchors, really do OpenMeatballWiki, bridge SisterSites, upgrade MetaWiki, and sell, sell, sell. I'm done with the fire&brimstone. All the competing goals and sentiments are out on the table, at least the ones I know about. And hopefully while absence failed, trolling succeeded in deflating my "cultish authority." (*) So now on to the hard part of hands, heart, and mind.

(*) Well, except in Helmut's head, tough bastard. ;) He's making me feel my title as Greatest Wiki Troll ever is not deserved. I mean, using his term, I'm trying to "usurp" my own authority! I deserve a BarnStar for that, at least.

You know I'm joking, right? Well, maybe. There was this cult of personality for so long, and still is, and this put more and more pressure on me to reflect others' goals that I could not. I've tried lots of things to DevolvePower, but the PowerLaw of preferential attachment still holds, and people are trepidatious to say outright, "No, you're an idiot, Sunir, we're going this way" on what Helmut recently called "SunirsWiki?." Finally Chris said the truth and I felt gigantically relieved.

I've tried some autocratic moves lately in desperation, like explicitly delegating power and dropping landmines, but I think that's wrong. I want an environment where creative people have the opportunities and motivation to be creative whilst BarnRaising with each other; you know, a Collective. The whole FermentWiki -> CommunityWiki event was an unplanned, unmitigated disaster; it happened faster than I wanted, and I couldn't stall it long enough. Helmut doesn't understand my motivations for bridging, but it's simply that I know from experience here that it's impossible to have only one space for fifty years.

I think that if we just built it, it would work more or less. We spent enough time and spilt enough blood designing the solution. -- SunirShah

Edited from elsewhere...

My argument about multiple competing creative personalities needing their own space does not override the BarnRaising and egoless WikiNow. The space I refer to is linguistic space, not political space, as creativity comes from linguistic exploration. However, the current Commons interleaves all the conversations together, making it perceptively seem as if we are all having one conversation. This is a good thing as it encourages a small diameter for the page graph, but it makes the cognitive load of short-term PeerReview too painful.

Time spent tracking "interesting" people is wasted. It's better to attract them to collaborate directly with you, and you do this by being genuinely interesting (actually: valuable) yourself. Being interesting yourself is not time wasted. I recognize not everyone is interesting. But consequently, I'm not interested in them, nor is anyone else.

My strategy is for the community to extend its sense of place, not disembed itself entirely. We will disentrench, not disintegrate. Placelessness fosters anxiety, so it won't work without power to force it, and that means it is wrong. Communities we integrate with will not want to disembed either (how would you make them give up their need for place?), but I hope they will appreciate our support, which is our sole integrating economic commodity. Over time, I also hope people writing on separate spaces will traded insights with us, and thus become "Meatballers".

Actually, that was the original plan. It continues to work very successfully in the background if you haven't noticed. I've been moving steadily backwards socially, but forward technically. Excessive CommunitySolutions to architectural problems warp society, which is why we should push those solutions deeper in the strata so we can return to what really matters. Hands, heart, and mind. -- SunirShah


For a long time I wondered why the more famous net.pundits do not write here. On the Internet, it's cheaper to form your own space than to work "underneath" another expressive/controlling personality.

Maybe they just haven't heard of the place. Actually, someday I was going to propose inviting some of them. But, I also like your explanation about it being cheaper to form your own space.

The controlling (through "MeatballMantras")

He he, maybe I'll make a page about MeatballMantras sometime. Pattern or anti-pattern? So efficent and precise, yet so GroupThink. They remind me a little of the "targeted viruses" in the book "Blood Music" used to control misbehaving members of TheCollective (sadly, the book never explained how the collective dealt with major conflict).

However, the other option is to follow Lion's philosophy and disintegrate the community from the spaces. The community are the people, the herd if you will. They can move back and forth from space to space....break the Meatball city state into a Meatball province....My strategy is for the community to extend its sense of place, not disembed itself entirely. We will disentrench, not disintegrate. Placelessness fosters anxiety

I don't think Lion's ideas and the province idea are opposed. One of Lion's goals is to build the technological infrastructure to enable communities of people to detach from place. That doesn't mean the people will choose to "disembed entirely" (or that he wants them to, although maybe he does). Indeed, the "province" idea is exactly the sort of use case I envision for InterWiki-related software.

There was this cult of personality for so long, and still is, and this put more and more pressure on me to reflect others' goals that I could not. I've tried lots of things to DevolvePower, but the PowerLaw of preferential attachment still holds, and people are trepidatious to say outright, "No, you're an idiot, Sunir, we're going this way" on what Helmut recently called "SunirsWiki?." Finally Chris said the truth and I felt gigantically relieved.

If you wanted more abuse, Sunir, you could have just asked :)

The whole FermentWiki -> CommunityWiki event was an unplanned, unmitigated disaster;

I'm hopeing it will eventually end up being a small bump in the road.

-- BayleShanks

I hope you aren't implying there will be yet another worse community split. Here at MeatballWiki, or in other lives, whenever someone wants to initiate a change by force, the community splits. I fight to maintain the slow, methodical, BarnRaising model, but when the community starts splitting, I get very angry. For two reasons: one, I put a lot of work into these places, so those tearing it apart using violence deserve hot flaming death in return; two, it disrupts my expressivity, and if I can't express myself for long periods of time, I get very frustrated-depressed-angry. The really clever also tend to throw all our faults back at us, which is unfair, because we are very open about our faults--here there are lots of pages about them all over the place. My natural instinct--or maybe I am forced?--is to try to resolve the issues, but that is bogus because we cannot resolve problems immediately as they demand, which is the whole reason why we take things slowly. The answers I supply then to appease are bad, not well thought out, and warped by anger, and that begins the death spiral as the community is shocked & awed by what I am saying, and I am pissed off at the community for not helping out, doubly pissed at them for quieting me down.

I was considering writing a page, DeconstructingMeatball?, describing both the process of revolutions compared to our normal process of discourse, the positive aspects of self-analysis and the negative aspects of it, especially as it is LifeInText, but that would be deconstructing DeconstructingMeatball? on Meatball, and then my mind melted.

I wonder if in general Revolutionaries are [Narcissistic]? The lack of empathy is pretty common amongst Revolutionaries in a democracy, I find, and empathy is the most important thing to me. (Maybe because I am so bad at it.) -- SunirShah


Support. The value of Meatball is not the text or the code or the URL but the mutual support we give each other. We care only about you as a person; we believe everything good will come out of our friendship. Our value to you is our support; your value to us is your support.

If the value is all in the community and not in the text, then why are we so careful in editing? Why refactor so much? Why not just make everything a SpaghettiWiki, to be deleted whenever a page goes stale for a few months?

Why care about the corpus if all we care about is you as a person? -- BayleShanks

But what do I care about as a person? My own objectives. TheCollective seeks to help me with those objectives, so it must be effective. That means the text has to be clear and methodological as the corpus is our biggest aide in communicating effectively. -- SunirShah

But, assuming that the corpus is only being used as a medium for communication between each other, rather than a direct tool for achieving objectives (in which case developing the corpus would become important in itself), then I assert it would be more efficient just to chat with each other, and not to edit very meticulously. We could assume that we understood each other until we didn't, like in normal conversation. Only answer questions after they're asked, don't bother to make the text clearer unless there is demonstrable confusion. And, once everyone here understood something, no point in keeping the page around.

(note to others: of course, I do believe that the text itself is a tool in fulfilling our goals; important not just for communication with each other, but for communication with others) -- BayleShanks

BarnRaising or death; or, blather is evil.

Meatball's objectives are social. One can only achieve social objectives by communicating with other people. The other option is to force them against their will, which would be an abrogation of the very intent of Meatball to seek to find alternative means to regulate that do not destroy people's freedoms.

The corpus is LifeInText. Organizing it allows for more rapid linguistic evolution. Chat rooms lose knowledge rapidly by forcing people to reiterate the same idea, which destroys creativity. They also limit the amount of time one has attention to express that idea, causing anxiety amongst the authors and an escalating race of speed. People must be given the time to think so that they may express themselves; this is liberating and actualy results in greater value. Blogs break this model by moving too rapidly, so only a few geniuses can say anything of value, instead of valuing each person's contributions. Blogging is sadness--it creates sadness.

Once the PageDatabase becomes too unwieldly and disorganized to comprehend, the wiki falls apart. First, Wiki:FixBrokenWindows; disorganization cues people to further add chaos (litter begets litter). WhoTakesOutTheTrash when you live in a garbage dump? It is much more valuable to increase clarity than PostNow, probably a full magnitude as much.

Putting off your responsibility to Wiki:FixYourWiki until Wiki:RealSoonNow kills the wiki's value. It wastes others time: the readers, the future writers who building from your text, the past writers whose text you corrupt. Wasting others time is devaluing them as people. This is why we write for readers five years from now.

The worst are those who come here to write a lot of incomprehensible blather to gain attention out of Meatball's popularity; so I respond by denying them attention. So should we all; they are just manipulating us for emotional validation. BarnRaising is fun, but listening to an attention seeker is not. This is Narcissism in action. Encouraging narcissists to write little snippets of their infinite wisdom all over MeatballWiki kills the society, just like letting people with loud ghetto blasters wander around destroys the psychological space of the public street.

We are only popular if we are valuable, and we are only valuable if we are legible. Wasting our time--reading junk; cleaning after junk; and smearing the gems we invested time building--for your short term gain comes at our long term loss. I don't want to throw away quality, but I know that quality naturally arises when good people collaborate with each other. If your joy comes from the multiway interaction with others, you will clean up messes that hinder that communication. It is those whose insecure egos demand attention without giving any in return that generate garbage and cause the whole project to descend into chaos. And it is a death spiral as the junk left behind that hinders communication, either badly written text or fossilized FlameWars, destroys the open psychological space necessary for BarnRaising.

I'm still only interested in BarnRaising. Anything less is zero. BarnRaising is the only fully democratic system as it gives everyone the space and time to think and express themselves fully. The only caveat is that we all have a duty to make this process efficient, and that means we must remove all hindrances to communication. Increase clarity. Of course, sometimes this may mean tossing people who are willful confusion generators. We will always accept those who write poorly but try to improve. It's the attitude that counts.

However, the approach also needs refinement. People are much more likely to accept the StyleGuide when multiple respectable people present it to them, edit their words, and help acclimate them than just one person, which happens to be me, and I'm overworked and stressed enough already in my life. If the CommunityDoesNotAgree with that, they aren't a community. They are only an audience, and I don't want an audience at all. Then what I write will turn into blather as I have nothing forcing me to be sharp, and my so-called audience also wastes their lives being passive. Lose-lose. Blogging is sadness. BarnRaising is win-win-win all around; each author wins, their collaborators win, and the shy audience also wins for free. -- SunirShah

I agree with what you said there, and much of it should be saved somewhere else; we may as well note down our rationale for keeping things tidy.

But, I think I was unclear; I agreed before today that "blathering is evil", and that we should make the corpus good. But I feel that way because I feel that the corpus is valuable, that producing a good corpus, a good, concise way to explain certain ideas, is one of my goals for meatball.

You have said, though, that all you care about is the other community members as people. If that was how I felt (which it is not), then I wouldn't see the point about spending so much effort on the corpus. Once I felt that all the active meatball members understood a page, I would delete it rather than spend time refactoring it.

I am trying to understand why you care so much about the text if your end goal is just supporting each other. Especially since I know that your end goal specificially excludes the text, because that is the main value difference that you posit between MeatballWiki and CommunityWiki. Here's my current theory; lemme know if its right.

Perhaps you feel that producing a good corpus helps future community members (or, at least, saves time for us not to re-explain things to them?). So, either the corpus is good because it will be valuable to future members, if not for present ones, or it is good because it is essentially a FAQ, saving time for old-timers who don't have to repeat themselves.

Am I on the right track? And then, while CommunityWiki sees the text partially as something to be developed and refined for the public good, you see its only purpose as assisting future MeatBall community members to get up to speed. You don't really care about its usefulness to the public; you feel that were someone in the future to read the text, their gains from simply reading it would be insignificant compared to their gains were they to come here and collaborate with us.

Or, perhaps less dramatically, maybe you do care a little about the text as a public resource, but in your effort to clearly contrast the value difference between MeatballWiki and CommunityWiki, you made it sound like you didn't at all. Maybe you think the text is a good public resource, but not so fantastically valuable and important that it is critical to CopyLeft it so that our supposed gems of wisdom can become CommunityWiki:MobileText and be reused all over the internet. You think the corpus as a public resource is cool, but that it is sufficient to just host it right here (and maybe you think it's not so great that others would want to copy and reuse parts of it anyway).

(the last two paragraphs are two contrasting possibilities; which one is right? or neither? or, I guess, both?)

-- BayleShanks

I don't want to interrupt your discussion - just a few thoughts. I think that there are three main items that interact to create an interesting place like MeatBall: the content, the community and the public (four if we include the technical system). The community is most important because it is the cause and the end of all. But community can not happen without content, for content is the way community shows and manifests itself. On the other hand content without community is like a book - there are millions of books and that's not really exciting, you can't talk to a book and you can't continue its thoughts. The public - although invisible - is just as important. We have to know that what we write is read, that there is silent judgement out there, and that the potential for new interactions depends on the quality of what we do. CopyLeft has the side-effects to split the public, to destroy the privacy of our communications (anyone may copy and publish our rants and communication faults) and to remove the aura of uniqueness from the happy moments and places where we succeed. -- HelmutLeitner

Meatball is timeless. TheCollective stretches across space and time. You do disservice to future community members by forgetting insights today as you do disservice to past community members by destroying their insights learned yesterday. I write across all this time and space. I edit across all this time and space. I grow across all this time and space. The more time I spend on present day issues, the worse I feel. It's deeply wrong to not be writing text for five years from now and finish ideas written three years ago.

The corpus is nearly useless to outsiders. Its value is stored mostly in the CommunityLore we use to index the site. This is by design. You cannot fork MeatballWiki and get MeatballWiki. You would lose, for instance, me. The community is not code; it is uncopiable. A finite resource. It is an organism, where code is an idea. You cannot copyleft a person, no matter how much you try to copyleft me against my will. I will fight for control of my life. That is what Meatball is about to me: a fight for control over my own life against the larger background of technocrats and cryptonauts.

I care greatly about its usefulness to the public; that inspired me to work so hard in building a collaborating Collective. Fighting cryptonauts is my objective for which I come to Meatball to enliven; others have their own objectives they ask TheCollective to help them with. It is constructed as a Collective; so we can share help collectively for the collective enjoyment. -- SunirShah

Helmut: Thanks for your comment, it resonates with me. I think I am beginning to see what the disadvantages of CopyLeft are that you are afraid of.

Sunir: In the first sentence of the last paragraoh, "its" is the community, right? And, you think the corpus is nearly useless to the public (the public = outsiders)? Just making sure I understand. If I do understand, then I am beginning to see why you have taken the positions you did on the copyright subject, etc. As you figured out long before I did, I feel differently; I feel the corpus is very useful to outsiders. -- BayleShanks

Maybe you have a narrower definition of outsider vs. insider. Even our "outsiders" (exilees) are not outsiders as they continue to be RecentChangesJunkies. What is the purpose of language? The corpus by itself has no value. It needs a reader. It is only in its relationship with others that it gains value. As the text is a reflection of our lives (LifeInText), a relationship with the text is a relationship with us. Even our egolessness is faux, just as NeutralPointOfView is faux. We are all invested in the text, but we are "egoless" to free the text for future investments. Signatures end conversation because they prevent text from being modified, and that ends dialog.

Moreover, the text is ergodic. It is unreadable and unnavigable. What is the first complaint outsiders have when they come to "canonical" MeatballWiki looking for answers? It is a big ball of spaghetti. They cannot find information. Instead, how do our ideas spread? Through our hands, hearts, and minds. People form the mediating layer between here and elsewhere. You cannot copyleft the community. The community is more than CommunityLore; it is the passion, the embodiment, the visceralness, the representative, the agent, the motivator, the instigator that is the life in the text. The ghost in the machine.

And in fact, what is Meatball? Meatball is the interface, the in-between place for others to relate experiences in other spaces. The more insular it becomes, the more we ossify, institutionalize, crystalize, and have FlameWars over power and control. The more we fight over space because the membership does not have their own spaces. But that's because we forget it is the people who are important. Sure, we wrote that in our GoalStatements, but we have argued in the past two months that it is the text that counts.

Some feel Meatball should break apart into smaller pieces instead of following me. Some think that Meatball should be only a connection between other people's projects. Those people have read the MeatballMission. It's just that lately, instead of listening to what I'm saying (perhaps because they listen too intently), they find it easier to reverse the trend by taking nuclear shots at TheCollective. The point is to remain collective--collaborative, but independent--because it is only with independent perspectives that the place can grow.

The text is only a reflection of the community. The text serves a role to outsiders to extend the stretch of the community, but it is not primarily valuable as text, and I would argue on two prongs: a) the text isn't that good--but it's "an education for those who are impatient with education" as some have commented; b) distributing text means you believe the conversation is over. You should always believe the text is not good enough.

On the other hand, I don't disbelieve the value in republishing the text. Returning value back to the community that created it means giving them artifacts they can bring back with them to wherever they came from. Links aren't always sufficient. It will remove pressure on MeatballWiki whilst allowing Meatball to grow. However, as it is our lives in text, all cannot be "freed" by default.

The word free is wrong. Free means having choice about your own destiny. Freedom is only defined against other human control. If someone "freed" you by placing you in the middle of the Amazonian jungle, away from civilization, you are not free. You won't feel free. You will feel quite oppressed. Waiving your morale rights may be "free of constraints", but the text is now no longer free to be what it is. Rather, it is diffused. It enters fully into the the ecological world of discourse, just as your body will probably diffuse through the ecological world of the jungle's biomass after you die.

Enough philosophy; more reality.

I question those who would inflict "OpenContent" on those through a LegalSolution rather than a CommunitySolution. FairProcess matters. The usual argument that I have "free choice to contribute" is clearly false from our situation with CommunityWiki. Value is power; leeching value is disempowering just as trapping value is disempowering. It's enough to dislike the process to thwart even the most well-intended project. So, in a more prosaic sense, I also oppose republishing my work and those I represent (the past community) unless I have a real influence in how that is done. Thus, while idealistically I would free my text, the more negative attention I receive, the less I will do this. This makes the current political landscape is a zero-sum game.

I was really happy with the progress you had been making before in opening MeatballWiki, right until you went to a site claiming to be a MeatballWikiFork?. Revolutions are not progressive. They are regressive as societies have to rebuild all the value that has been dissipated. This is an investment; revolutionaries believe it is worth the cost of war and disruption in order to build something better. The purpose of a democratic society is to provide means for people to change the system cheaply without resorting to violent means.

The better answer was to just create the new space as we had agreed without the banners, pitchforks, trumpets, and PoliticalAction, and then we could have stitched them together, slowly but surely. Although, it is true, I think copyleft is bad for OnlineCommunity, I also think LoginsAreEvil. Both I consider as people using technology to control others; one controls access, the other imposes values.

I think copyleft gives control to technology with the logic of ability defines morality; it provides full power to the wire to copy, modify, pastiche, rip apart, rebuild, and relocate. I think there are reasons you should be subtle and nuanced with your life. I think for someone who is so concerned about privacy that he would walk around in a shroud, you have not thought enough about what you have just created.

I think copyleft is a "special" issue as it is heavily loaded; in fact, it was constructed as a PoliticalAction. Copyleft is an all-consuming, unstoppable machine. Unlike democratic PoliticalActions, targets (victims) have no choice, no negotiating position, and they are given no tolerance, and therefore it is totalitarian (a "total" solution). That I think this is ironic because people equate me with the RIAA in their heads, and that is more insulting than you probably can tell, especially since you should know by now what I do believe. But that's Animal Farm for you.

All of these objections are because my goal in life isto keep technology from pasting over human rights (actually, the human soul), not because I want power. Disempowering Meatball was a big insult. Where else would you find people more interested in devolving power of their own volition? That CommunityWiki took that for granted was sad. And of course I responded with dialogues of power; that's a natural reaction.

Copyleft isn't imperative. Open content isn't imperative. Improving everyone's lives is imperative. One is a means, the other is an end.

I'm still sticking with "The better answer was to just create the new space as we had agreed." Now someone ask me why my agreement was necessary and how that isn't a reflection of authoritarian power. -- SunirShah

I disagree with the assertion that Community Wiki intended to weaken Meatball, with the assertion that copyleft isn't imperative, that all of this has something to do with human rights, that Community Wiki took for granted that people were or were not interested in devolving power of their own volition, that there are victims in the context of copyleft, that copyleft gives no no choice, no negotiating position, and no tolerance to any people that come into contact with copylefted works, that it is totalitarian, that it gives control to technology, that it gives "full power" to the wire to copy, modify, pastiche, rip apart, rebuild, and relocate, that it leads you to be unsubtle and not-nuanced with your life, that it has anything to do with privacy, that creating Community Wiki was a revolution, that it "inflicts" copyleft on anybody, that it was a legal solution instead of a community solution, etc. In fact I think the passage above is bunk. -- AlexSchroeder

I disagree with the assertion that copyleft isn't imperative.

Well, that's a start. CommunityWiki is intended to weaken Meatball Wiki. I believe it was made with a view to strengthen Meatball. I think your statement that copyleft is imperative is the problem. I don't like copyleft. You think it is imperative. This ideological divide is the problem. It has come between us as friends.

While it was completely acceptable to let you write on CommunityWiki and let me write on MeatballWiki and then collaborate back and forth over hypertext, instead you insist that we all move to CommunityWiki, where I was actually saying that let's create another OpenMeatballWiki for those who like OpenContent. Now, at the last point of discussion, Bayle and I had agreed to just throw a wiki up just as soon as I had a free moment to do so (I am busy), and then he'd just use it as he wanted and we'd sort out the complicated parts later. Then you created CommunityWiki with a militant GoalStatement to move TheCollective there, and since I don't want to write on a copyleft wiki, you were actually saying to me that you wanted me out of Meatball.

Conversely, I think TheCollective is a bunch of people, and the text is communicative and serves an organizing principle through "stigmergy", and that it doesn't matter where we write as long as we keep talking and I keep building. I think it's perfectly fine for me to call the copyleft nation a gigantic threat to freedom and human rights and perfectally legitimate for people to disagree, and that we are both given spaces to function creatively as the world keeps turning. And while I would continue to work to provide the criticism I think is sorely lacking to the copyleft propaganda machine and the copyleft people would work on their movement, we would still be waking up the next day just the same.

There is nothing imperative about copyleft; no one is dying. Are you saying that you demand that everything I write be copyleft? Do you not see how trying to force me to do something I really don't want to do might be just a little shy of FairProcess, and more to the point, would really piss me off? And in fact, demonstrates what I think what is fundamentally wrong with the copyleft nation in the first place.

As I was saying before, what really annoyed me about this discussion is that I would be the one moving, bending, flexing, thinking, developing throughout the two years when the copyleft people were intransigent bricks. Which philosophy is more democratic and humane? Mine of socially negotiated choice or yours of technological imperativism?

Copyleft has everything to do with human rights; it was created to return human rights to the masses (from software vendors to users), but it did so at a time before mass publishing, when the masses were the audiences. Now the masses are the writers, but copyleft still is taking power away from the writers, and that means disempowering the masses.

And in this case, it has killed our friendship. That just isn't right. -- SunirShah

As I said elsewhere, what we really want is one wiki with multiple side-by-side panes for the differently copyrighted content. I think the closest thing to this that is currently easy to set up is two tightly linked wikis.

Naturally, since I prefer to work on CopyLeft content myself, and because I think it is most "valuable", I'll keep trying to convince you and others to write in the CopyLeft "pane". One might say my goal would be to have everyone work together in that pane, but that may not be achievable and may never happen. Nothing here is forceful. The two panes can coexist forever, if need be (although I would prefer everyone switch, as I said, I realize that may not happen). I bet Alex feels the same. -- BayleShanks

If so, he should be explicit, because he explicitly said the opposite. The only evidence is scattered so far, and it is not looking good to me. Since he telemarked his entire conflict resolution strategy on CommunityWiki which could be summarized as "silence to the useless", it's arguable the lack of information was intended to harm as well. Given the silent response to initial overtures of support and connectedness, I conclude further that he found that to be insulting or ennervating, coupled with his negative reaction to the Meatball license on CommunityWiki ("Meatball should eat its own dog food."). Since I care to make decisions regarding the project, doing so responsibly is impossible without any information. The longer there is no information, the less I think about it positively, and the more it supports those who springboard here to attack me, the more I think about it negatively. Except some days I force myself to have hope that maybe it is a misunderstanding.

You push me about this, but you don't push Alex. Why? -- SunirShah

I did not insist that we move. I said that I would like that, because in my view it would have been possible to just rewrite the pages we are missing on a new copyleft platform. You don't want to post to a copyleft wiki, I prefer not to post to a wiki with the Meatball Copyright. So we part ways. Why all the bitterness? You felt like you were "moving, bending, flexing, thinking, developing throughout the two years when the copyleft people were intransigent bricks." Thanks for calling me a brick. I felt that the discussion just didn't advance at all. "Socially negotiated choice?" I don't think so. The essence of conservatism is that things will stay the same. And so they did. I did the constructive thing.

As to human rights. What article are your refering to? Nr. 19?

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

I think human rights are very important, but I don't think they really support any particular copyright implementation.

In closing, let me ask you: "What is more democratic and humane?"

  1. Not changing the Meatball situation, and once Community Wiki got created, to keep digging up the dirt as you keep doing?
  2. Create an alternative and let people contribute to both?

The only point I concede is that moving to Community Wiki forces you to use copyleft even though you don't like it. To me, that is no worse then staying here on Meatball forces me to use the default copyright even though I don't like it. Copyleft is imperative to me.

As to "the silent response to initial overtures of support and connectedness" let me remind you of the fact that I shut up because I wasn't interested in a discussion full of sniping criticism and implicit abuse. The discussion had reached zero value for me, and my side of our friendship ended then. I was interested in finding a solution for several years. So were you. We didn't find one within this wiki. We kept talking. I implemented unified recent changes for the two wikis, near links for the two wikis, and twin pages for the two wikis. If any support and connectedness is to be found, I feel it is on my part, not on yours. You just keep dragging this around, and I'm really starting to hate it. -- AlexSchroeder

Isn't this like a divorce where the partners have to continue to live under the same roof? Why not just separate the two systems cleanly, without near links, twin pages and common rcs? After that it would be much easier to rebuild trust and collaboration on a new basis. Currently there is no trust, so everything is a PITA. -- HelmutLeitner

I don't understand how your proposal alleviates the problem. I am not interested in breaking away from Meatball. I am not interested in discarding the pattern language developed on this site. The only thing I am complaining about is that Sunir is bringing the entire thing up again. It seems bitter and vindictive to me, and not at all in the spirit of ForgiveAndForget. How will the removal of a few tech features resolve this? -- AlexSchroeder

The discussion has advanced quite significantly over time, half through my own creativity; this is why I'm disappointed none of it was appreciated. We had moved from no copyright (original formulation) through to the default copyright to default copyright with archival purposes (thank you, Cliff) to open author tags to copyright tags to script-maintained copyright tags to snapshots to an OpenContent repository for Bayle to a full fledged snapshot MeatballWiki to the RightToInclude to ArchivedPages? to a cluster of densely interlinked MeatballWikis. Recently, there was too much architectural change to propose all at once. I get the sense no one understands what is written on OpenMeatballWiki. I did it to be accommodating to the best of my creative talent to do so, but a lot of decisions are being made too quickly right now.

We are completely misunderstanding each other whilst agreeing about the same thing. We were frustrated at one another, and then consequently angry and now bitter, which is warping everything. My point about "democratic" solutions was to create something like CommunityWiki. My issue is with the silent process you took to do it. I had to infer it from what limited words you had written, which were filled with bitterness. Your issue is with the process I took to do it, which was to grind along slowly trying to find the better answer for this place, which also became bitter from the lack of creativity involved.

Also when you created CommunityWiki, it was at a low point around here. I was not at my best. No one was. All discussions were full of criticism. I was also the subject of a lot of sniping criticism from other quarters. I'm sorry I was in a bad mood. Moving to Toronto has kicked my ass. Here I was really aggravated that people would support Joe in spite of his previous record, for good or bad.

I initially found it hard to stop throwing up chaff, and over the years having thought so hard about copyleft, I have come to become quite critical of it for personal reasons and for ideological reasons. It's hard to transcend all of that all at once. You didn't give me any time because you just acted. Maybe you are expecting too much from me (join the club). I am too stupid an elephant to turn around 180 degrees in one afternoon; I am still a stubborn ass compsci at heart, you realize. If you give me time, I promise I'll turn around. I'll cool it on the rhetoric. I no longer feel the drive to mask my impulsive reflex "don't talk with Joe!" underneath a cover of "don't talk on FermentWiki because it is copyleft," which is I guess what I was doing for whatever subconcious reason, and I transferred that to CommunityWiki and you, which was unfair.

I'm dragging it around because it is still salient. Everyone is confused. There needs to be a resolution for everyone's emotional sake and because I am redefining the MeatballMission, CommunityWiki has to be included in some way. It's significant for several reasons. One, the motivations that created it were negative, so those pressures have to be resolved so in the future splits are more amicable and fluid. Two, majordomos in the community are at serious odds, so we need to unify or reach catharsis. Three, structurally, the CommunityDoesNotAgree that we should bridge with CommunityWiki because some also see it as a threat. I cannot justify doing so as I am unsure what is true because there is nothing to go on except the word of Bayle and Martin, which is significant, but not enough. Four, TheCollective is split across the divide, and they would like some direction as how to navigate this.

So, let's roll back the clock from bitterness to anger to frustration to amicality to friendship. I hope I have acknowledged & accepted how you feel, explained why I did what I did for good or bad, and apologized for my mistakes. I would apologize again. And again. And again if I had to. I would have just bought you a beer, but that is slightly difficult at the moment. I could send you flowers, but Claudia might wonder. I would appreciate the same in kind (not flowers, but maybe beer).

Then since it is clear to me now what is true and what was projected and what was perceived, I would like to go with "two spaces, one community" in more than just words. The situation requires leadership, architecture, and commitment from both of us. But the community still has yet to be given FairProcess. Right now, neither of us are acting democratically, we are moving too fast in decisions and too slowly in discussions, and everyone is being caught in between. So, we will need to actually discuss together what to do. If you'd like to take a psychological break, we could wait until the New Year before working on this. If this is all still completely unacceptable, I failed. -- SunirShah

Sounds good to me. I still need a break. -- AlexSchroeder

Short, but sweet. --ss

Latest comment. You cannot ForgiveAndForget something that is current, especially if big collective-wide decisions have to be made. The problem wasn't solved by you just creating a new space: it was highlighted. You can now negotiate from a position of unliteral power as you are now also a GodKing here; so can I, but I refuse to do so because no one will like that and trust will die. I'd rather slog through to find the better answer between all of us, but including the two of us. It's not an easy solution, but it is the easiest. -- SunirShah

I keep running into this. My first move in a conflict is to back out and let people calm down. Which doesn't seem to work with you. Yesterday's reply of mine was very aggressive from my point of view but it seems to have worked with you. I'm still learning. :) -- AlexSchroeder

Dude, I'm a lover, not a fighter. No, wait, I'm a fighter, but I like to talk things out. Hell, I started a wiki devoted to bringing empathy back to geekdom... And, well, it's LifeInText, so you need text. It's faster to be straight up, at least with me since I can normally take it if TheCollective is being supportive, and you know I will bend over backwards to do the right thing. Anyway, you know where I am whenever you want to continue. Please, please have a hand in the new MeatballMission, though. Not just for CommunityWiki, but for your highly valued contributions throughout the past and the future. -- SunirShah

hit-n-run comment from an outsider: Long distance telephone is cheap (in North America anyway). Days and weeks of agonizing narrow-band text-only cross-purpose dialogue can often be sorted out in a few minutes when you can actually hear rather than infer, often incorrectly, the emotional over-undertones of the other side. At least the root issues can be clarified providing a foundation for further e-dialogue, if not resolved altogether. -- MattWilkie

We trade these off against OpenProcess. Since all our decisions are based on consensus (but we don't ForceConsensus?), when people make BackRoomDecisionss or affiliate in unknown circumstances, they may change the process without letting the rest of us know. Also, I have issues with using my cellphone for Meatball stuff. After all, there aren't many decisions here that are so serious they require rapid decision making. Well, there weren't. -- SunirShah

So if we ran into each other at the corner store you wouldn't discuss anything Meatball because it would violate OpenProcess?

Out of band communications do not violate open process as long as the substance of that dialogue is transferred to the normal venue (the wiki). You could transcribe if you wanted to be really faithful.

In any case I was just pointing out that there are other means of enlarging space in times of extraordinary difficulties, thinking that the principles of friendship and clear communication are higher than open process. Maybe they can't be separated for you. -- MattWilkie

Well, I proposed a Meatball conference for January. There is also the MeatballMailingList which I am using to organize that conference. In my experience, out of band communication that make decisions quickly and efficiently always (necessarily) has the appearance of a cabal to those not so informed (well, because it is a cabal), and this greatly reduces the trust necessary to run the place. At least you always know what I am thinking, how I am feeling (more important), and what I am doing. If I e-mail someone, I'll write about it. I don't think anyone else on the Internet is as committed to this goal as I am. So, there are only a handful of secrets I keep from you guys that if you knew you might be concerned, and that's because I am balancing harm.

I hope friends would recognize I am not trying to exert power, but rather the reverse, but I am incapable of deriving the perfect solution to all problems instantaneously. Those unkind people who try to exert power over me by holding me "to account" are not my friends, and I ask them politely to go away as they aren't fun. There's always more time to solve the problem. It's those who impose a timeline who are a problem; we all have lives outside of Meatball that are more important. It's wrong to hold our reputations hostage. And it shouldn't need to be said that the best solutions are often a result of waiting three weeks or a year to respond rather than demanding an answer within five minutes.

So, in a time of crisis, it's best to relax and wait until someone can figure out the better answer (the "worse is better" approach). That being said, I deliberately shook things up here recently because we were in a rut, for better or worse. HitCounts keep growing though, sadly.

By the way, I might discuss something about Meatball at the corner store. Having tried discussin Meatball face-to-face with other Meatballers, that doesn't seem to work very well. Without being immersed in the context of the PageDatabase, it is very difficult to express the same richness of thought. Plus, it kind of evokes cognitive dissonance to embed Meatball in a totally different context. -- SunirShah

But that's me and you are you and I'm starting to feel uncomfortable; I've butted in long enough and it's time for me to shut up. {smile} -- MattWilkie

Why feel uncomfortable? Butt in more often. Might I also point out that it was because of our OpenProcess that you felt capable you could butt in! -- SunirShah

Uncomfortable because I was offering advice on a situation which developed long before I started visiting (e.g. he knows not the subject he is pontificating about). Note that the initial observation has no unease associated with it, just the follow on stuff. -- MattWilkie



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