Re: [NTLK] Fighting Complacency within the Newton Community

From: Lord Groundhog <>
Date: Mon Jul 31 2006 - 07:31:32 EDT

~~~ On 2006/07/31 07:11, Jon Glass at wrote ~~~

> 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)
> Matt-
> 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
> grows.
> 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,
> please!

Dear Jon,

Thanks for this. I arrived back at my e-mails and started reading this
discussion, and before I knew it, the feeling that I'm being a "leech" by
lurking made me start calculating how long it would be before I would have
to leave or would be taken off the list. TBH, the only encouragement to
stay I found was that so many people objected to the original post.

The fact is I'm still pretty much a Newt-noob, and even if I ever get past
that stage, I'll never be able to contribute much to a list full of people
who have forgotten more about the Newton than I'll ever know. So strictly
speaking I'm "useless" to the list. But I fall into the category of people
who love the Newt for what it can do, and love it more for what I'm
beginning to realize it can do. I want to learn more, and you're right;
where else is there but here for me to learn it?

It's not that I don't see what Matt is getting at. I guess it's not easy
to be one of the people who actually knows what's what, who actually has to
field the questions from guys like me, and who wishes that the other Newton
"veterans" would pitch in sometimes. But some of us may never be "veterans"
in any meaningful sense, and if we have to "qualify or quit" on this list,
we may never be veterans in any sense at all.

Your post puts all this into perspective for me, including the comments
about "guilt". Let me use this opportunity to say to anybody who's
bothered about lurkers: I'm sorry I have nothing much to contribute to NTLK
at this point, and I may never do. I'm devoted to the Green Screen that
does amazing things and serves me so well, but I'm still appallingly
ignorant and have little that's worthwhile to offer the group. I hereby
apologize formally, sincerely,fully and freely to anybody who objects, and I
hereby extend my equally formal, sincere, full and free gratitude to those
who have helped me in the past or may yet do so, as well as those whose help
to others has benefitted me (and that has included Matt, so thanks).

Now I intend to stop feeling like a waste of space and get back to my work
-- with the help of my Newt.


~~~ ~~~ ~~~

łAny sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from a NewtonPad.˛
            -- in appreciation of Arthur C. Clarke
(With thanks to Chod Lang)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

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Received on Mon Jul 31 07:31:48 2006

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