Re: [NTLK] Fighting Complacency within the Newton Community

From: Jon Glass <>
Date: Mon Jul 31 2006 - 02:11:29 EDT

On 7/31/06, <> wrote:
> Hmm... Let's see... I managed to get a few admitted lurkers to actually post
> something! That's an accomplishment right there! :O)


I am no lurker. I think you know that. In fact, I've been on this list
since the days that AOL was at version 2-something--back in the days
when the "place to be" for Newton activity was the AOL Newton board,
and you could talk in chats directly with Newton software developers
(like Hardy Macia and others), back in the days when Netscape was at
version 1.1, and Compuserve was still bigger than AOL, in fact! That
was when I first joined Newtontalk. In fact, I doubt there are many
people here today who have been on NTLK longer than I, and there may
not be any, in fact. Throughout my history on NTLK, I have had the
dubious distinction of constantly being in the top-10 most frequent
posters, and frequently in the top-5 (back in the days when these
statistics were kept and posted). I say all that, because there are
many people on the list today, who do not really know me that well,
because I do not post much any more. Why? It's simple. My Newton sits
on my desk, in the charger, and doesn't do much but Works (spreadsheet
mostly) and Notes. It never leaves my desk, while my Palm goes with me
everywhere I go. The whys and wherefores are not important, but the
truth is, I don't use my Newton any more. I still love it, and will
never get rid of it--my kids use their Newtons all the time. My one
daughter calls it her Bible (It has theMessage on it, and she uses it
for her Bible because she can find passages quicker and easier). We
are still a Newton-using household, even if my Newton is not my main
PDA. Again, I say all this for context.

In any case, I've been around here for a long time, and I've seen
hundreds of people come and go. I've seen the ebb and flow of this
list, and through the years, I've learned something. This list (and
others like it) go through phases--or rather, people on this list go
through phases. Let me see if I can describe them.

1. Noobie. This person just got, or maybe is waiting to get his first
Newton. He knows nothing about it, and, in fact, doesn't even know
where to turn to find help! He doesn't even know what questions to
ask, let alone where to find the answers! He eagerly posts the most
basic questions--often infuriating longer-term listers with the
seeming-stupidity of his questions--but he gets his questions
answered. He learns where and how to find answers on his own, and he
2. Freshman. He has learned enough to be dangerous. ;-) Still doesn't
know enough to be of any positive help, other than real noobies who
have the exact same problems he had, and sometimes... no,
frequently... gives bad advice. ;-) However, he is _still_ asking lots
of questions, but now they are more technical, and answers to his
questions are of frequent help to others, unlike the "noob" questions
which _everybody_ else on the list groans at with disgust.
3. Sophomore. This guy now is _really_ dangerous! He has solved _all_
the Newton's problems, and knows exactly _why_ the Newton is the best
ever, and is guaranteed to post an answer to most threads. He will wax
eloquent on all topics-Newton. However, he is very useful in helping
Newbies, except that he tends to be patronizing, and doesn't have much
patience for them. ;-)
4. Junior. This guy is really a power user. He knows his stuff, and
makes his Newton sing in ways that nobody else ever dreamed! There are
few shortcuts and tricks he doesn't know. And he is usually more than
willing to help those who are seeking to delve deeper into the Newton,
and also more than willing, usually, to put those pesky sophomores
into their place. ;-)
5. Seniors. These guys are "above it all". They don't bother, usually,
with the underclassmen, but will interject their wisdom on occasion,
but they are usually the "last resort". If Juniors think they know
something, they are peanuts in comparison to the seniors. These guys
are typically coding software, or hacking hardware, and frequently
both. These are the "Paul Guyots" of the world. Seldom to they speak,
and when they do, they must take great pains to be understood by mere
mortals. ;-)

I cannot really take credit for the previous stages, as I read them
somewhere years ago. I don't remember the specifics, and have put my
own observations into them. However, in recent years, I've noticed one
more level of listers...

6. Retired. These guys have hung up their Newtons. They're the ones
who fought the battles, won and lost the wars, but they, for all
intents and purposes, have "exited" the stage. However, they still
hang around--sometimes swapping war stories and reminiscing about the
"good old days." They could just leave, but they don't. They don't
speak up much, and often, when they do, their memories aren't always
be best, but the truth is, time has moved on, and left them behind.
Their strengths were with older computers--Windows 98 or Mac OS 8 or
9, and all this modern stuff just confuses them! However, their love
for the Newton keeps them around.

So, keeping these dynamics, which you know about in mind, I'm a bit
baffled as to why you posted as you did. I believe that you were
merely trying to spur people to contribute, but forced or enforced
contribution will not work in this situation (for many reasons), and
worse, the tool of "guilt" to force compliance is the weakest form.
(not the worst--brute force is the worst--which is what you
proposed--but it's not the weakest) People here contribute because
they want to and they can.

Like you, I know that there are people who could contribute more if
they wished--but it is not my part to tell them to, nor to try to make
them--if they don't want, they don't have to! Personally, I would have
it no other way than what it is. Anything else would be just plain
"wrong" in my eyes, and, I believe, would spell the end of NTLK
completely. I'm sure that NTLK will someday die a natural death. When
it does, its passing probably won't be mourned or even noticed.
However, let's let it die its natural death, and not hasten it,

> Well, I tried to get some of these folks off of their @$$e$. Guess that makes
> me evil in the eyes of some Apple-wielding lunatic fringe types...

No, what made you "evil" was your attempt to use guilt to motivate....
I mentioned that above, so I will leave it with that. I understand
your concerns, but seriously. It will take care of itself in its own
way. In any case, I'm in it until the bitter end, whether I'm
"lurking" or not--I'll be here.

 -Jon Glass
Krakow, Poland
There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published
opinion.   --Winston Churchill
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Received on Mon Jul 31 02:13:23 2006

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