Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Let's strive for more togetherness in '06

From Fredericksburg.com:

Let's strive for more togetherness in '06

FEW THINGS stink so bad as when you hear about some- one you really like doing--or saying--something repugnant.

But it certainly happens.

Exhibit A is from the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine, one of four periodicals my wife believes I subscribe to only to deliberately clutter our home.

Said publication contains a story about how much music Grateful Dead fans should be able to download from the Internet without charge.

Now, I'm told I don't seem much like a stereotypical Deadhead, seeing as how I've had the same reasonably short haircut since the fourth grade, and can be interested in the obscurities of politics or NASCAR, depending on the day.

But I used to live for the Dead. We didn't have uniforms at the public high school I attended, but back then I looked pretty much the same every day anyway as I rotated tie-dyes and concert T-shirts.

So I didn't like it much when I heard Dead guitarist Bob Weir complaining about people downloading bootleg recordings of the band.

"That's not going to get my kids through college," the musician, who's had to have made millions, told Rolling Stone.

But as I contained my contempt for that comment, I saw that Weir also was quoted as saying that when Deadheads used to trade bootleg cassette tapes there was a genuine "community" that doesn't exist online.

"The cyber guys can talk all they want about the cyber community, but they can't tell you the color of each other's eyes," he said. "What kind of community is that?"

What kind of comment is that? I'm not the most fervent Web user, and I do believe that some instances require communication other than e-mail. But there doesn't seem to be anything wrong when people do in fact create a community for themselves online.

And if there was no online "community," why do written and unwritten rules of online behavior exist?

For example: I've started a blog, or Web log, on our site, fredericks burg.com, and I wanted to tell some of my faithful readers and other contacts about it. I was in a hurry when I was preparing to send an e-mail about this on the Friday before Christmas, and I forgot to hide all the addresses in the "BCC" box.

It was a clear breach of etiquette. It meant I was essentially broadcasting all these e-mail addresses--some of which may have been private, like unlisted phone numbers--to everyone else on my list. I apologize to everyone involved.

But I guess Weir would think my remorse is unnecessary because there's no personal attachment to online business, right?

Likewise, my friend Alex Russell, who works for fredericks burg.com, noted that formal and informal rules exist for the site's online forum, FredTalk.

It goes without saying that you don't spam other FredTalk users, he said, or write in all capital letters BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE SHOUTING.

"FredTalk is definitely a community," said Russell, a fellow Deadhead.

Alan Brandhofer is one of the members of that community. He noted that though issues can arise in online gatherings, there is a place for them in today's world.

"There are many who for various reasons simply cannot get out and socialize by any other means than through the use of the online or virtual community," he wrote me in an e-mail.

"Simply put, the color of the person's eyes may not be important to everyone and not knowing this does not have to take away from the experience. I wonder if Mr. Weir has ever had a relationship with someone, whether business or personal, over the telephone?"

Brandhofer first went online in 1994. He was a limousine driver in Hollywood, which meant weird hours and not much of a time for what you and I might call a "normal" social life.

So he started meeting people in an America Online chatroom, and eventually dated eight women, the last of which lived in Virginia.

"She is now my wife," he wrote. "We will have been together for 10 years come this next March, and have been married for eight years now. If it was not for the online community, I would not have met her."

It's a new year, and for my money, I'd say we need more togetherness rather than less as we get started. We shouldn't be squabbling about whether that's online, at Starbucks, at the barber shop or wherever.

To quote a line I heard from Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, "Who loves loneliness, loves it alone."

Read his blog at fredericksburg.com/blogs/view?blogger_id=4

To reach JONATHAN HUNLEY: 540/368-5004 Email:


Anonymous Helen said...

I risk begin de-linked yet again by a Dead blogger for speaking out against Bob Weir but that's a gamble I am willing to take.
This statement and others like it from Mr. Weir are a cop out. I've traded with dozens of people through the mail the old, tradional way and I couldn't tell you what color their eyes are. And yes, I've traded at shows but there are just not as many people traveling around the country to see Ratdog as their were to see The Dead so give it up Bobby. It just doesn't fly.
Additionally, many who download and/or upload on The Archive feel that there is actually MORE discussion now than there was with snail mail. And real time, to boot. Certainly there is the benefit of more reviews but I'm sure he would find a way to argue that as well. I have never been more disappointed in him than I was in late November and continue to be. Does he think we are to believe that the SB's were pulled to help rebuild the community? So, he did it for US? Uh........I don't think so.
Thanks for posting this SLC and by the way, what color are your eyes?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006  
Blogger Ben said...

You beat me to this one. I relate alot to the author of this article, partially because I too lived in Fredericksburg, VA once. I've been making this point on my blog for the past month, but this article says it best.

Wonder if Bobby's figured it out yet...

BTW Helen, it's a bit hard to tell from your pictures online, but I'm guessing that your eyes are brown. Mine are hazel.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006  
Blogger SLC Library Boy said...

Mine are blue :)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006  
Blogger Joby said...

Blue/Green. Bob Weir should stick to playing music, every time he opens his mouth he puts his foot in it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006  
Anonymous Westchesterdead said...

Well, folks - to paraphrase Bill Graham (sic?), 'Bob Weir may not be the smartest one at what he does, but he is the ONLY one who does what he does.'

Oh well, the circus tent is big enough for everyone, I suppose. Bless his pointed little head and all that, etc. I read that article on Monday and I felt the same sting. I don't know how to react to statements like that, save for thinking that maybe he was having a bad day (although the repeated negative consistency of his remarks undercuts that theory a bit).

For the record, my eyes are hazel, my hair is just about all grey (at 40!)and lately I've been eating way too much chocolate. The stuff is far worse than Percocet, I swear.

It's nice to know that you're all out there, blogging away. It's much appreciated.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ironically, clicking the "Community" link at the Grateful Dead's own website takes you to Dead Net Central, an online messageboard. There is a a group of subforums there for "DNC community" as well.

A number of years ago I met up with some people from another online community. There were several suprises including meeting a parapalegic colleague. I hadn't known- because in the context of what we were doing online, it hadn't mattered and he didn't care to mention it.


Thursday, January 05, 2006  

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