/. pointed to a Bruce Sterling interview, which is worth a read. The part that really struck me comes towards the end, when Sterling says (almost as a throwaway line):
…there are certain psychological aspects to human social organization that — I wouldn’t call them timeless, but they are commonalities.
I also like to experiment with them. I like to experiment with the media. I’d like to see what people can do with the Internet that they cannot do on paper. And there are certain things one can do that are not worth doing. Like I can set up a discussion group that’s open to everybody! And that is not worth doing. It’s sort of proven that it immediately turns into a cesspool because it’s badly designed.
And I thought, hmm, that has relevance for recent discussions both at Medley (“Unfounded Communities” and “More on Communities”) and at Flutterby (“Incoherrent Comments” and “death of weblogs, film at 11”). So I’m pointing it out, because I don’t know the answers to any of the questions that Medley and Flutterby are raising, but I am interested in continuing to talk about them. (Maybe if we talk about the problem for long enough, we won’t need to find the answer anymore…)