Computer-Mediated 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 community.

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 you don't." ¤

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