Communication Magazine /
Volume 2, Number 1/ January 1, 1995
CREWRT-L in the Chronicle
"An On-line Salon for Creative Writers" by Liz McMillen appeared in The
Chronicle of Higher Education November 2,1994.
Within a week of her article, the membership of CREWRT-L had increased by 50
percent. Not a big jump by net standards (where exponential increases are
common), but big enough to cause a splash in a small, fairly tight-knit
The article portrayed the list as a friendly, collegial, chatty place that
helped creative writers and creative writing teachers relieve the sense of
isolation many of them feel. Almost immediately, new subscribers began trying
to fit into the "family." Some introduced themselves and asked questions about
what was being discussed. They were welcomed with open arms. But some quickly
assessed the discussion as being somehow different than they had expected. A
few felt mislead, even betrayed, and expressed their dissatisfaction with the
content and style of the discussion. Some suggested changes be made! which
struck me as similar to a stranger strolling into a small town council meeting
and informing the locals that their streets are all laid out wrong, that they
should rearrange things according to the stranger's notions of good street
layout. Such suggestions inevitably are greeted with, um, a bit of resistence.
Liz's article, though, provides plenty of warning to prospective subscribers:
How, from that description, did new folks get the impression that the list
would be "academic" in any traditional sense? That is, "serious" and "on
task." Many old timers wondered that "aloud." No clear answers were
forthcoming. My theory is that resolution of the question and of the conflict
was unlikely anyway. The tension results from cultural assumptions--
technologically implicated cultural assumptions--that are deeply embedded in
many individuals. As Liz put it: "In other words, you either get it, or
- "They talk about classroom experiences, what they're reading, the weather,
the movie they saw last night, Iowa City bars, Rush Limbaugh, favorite cartoon
characters, and whatever else is on their minds. Oh yes, and writing, too."
- "People subscribe to the list and are shocked at the dozens of messages,
many of them personal, in their mailboxes."
- "For many people, CREWRT-L is their favorite list on the Internet. They
say...it builds community and helps fight isolation among writers scattered
around the world."
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This Issue /
CMC Studies Center