Fire for Effect: Alas Alas That Great City LUGNET

This is the fifth salvo in Michael Rutherford’s regular column, Fire for Effect. Take it away Mike…

LUGNET.jpg

The planet LUGNET… The Lego User Group Network… The Home World.  Once the undisputed hub of the entire AFOL sector, it was a powerful marketplace of ideas.  Almost 20 years later,  LUGNET hangs invisible from the ceiling of cyberspace… like a gigantic, arthritic bat… hidden from view in the darkness, but still clinging defiantly to life.  A desolate place… its once thronging multitudes are long gone, fled to the promise of a better life in the off-world colonies. Those few who remain on the Home World are merely stewards who live in the ruins, creatures of habit who hold out hope for better times and new track geometries.  The mighty stream of message traffic that once flowed in from every corner of the AFOL sector has now slowed to a trickle of Ones and Zeros… Occasionally, the dusty silence of litter strewn streets is broken by a distant sonic boom, a recon drone swooping down from orbit on a preprogrammed census sweep.

LUGNET was a good thing and nothing like it exists currently.  In its heyday, the site was a communications nexus, a cognitive disco and an atomic snow globe of creativity. Announcements of MOCs were the mainstay, but not the only commodity to be had. Ideas, conversations, debates, arguments, product news and other deliberations were all available in seemingly inexhaustible supply.  And links?  Links a go-go!  Links to LUGs. Links to images.  Links to other more specific groups.  Links to other blogs.  Links to contests.  Links to Keith’s mom…  It was the allure of this perpetual tumult that lured me into my first public utterance as an AFOL.  It was Sunday, the 24th of October, 2004… at exactly 04:14:42 GMT.  The transcript of this first transmission remain in the abandon archives even today!  Prepare yourself, it was both insightful and inspiring.

Rosco,
Nicely put.  Apparently I couldn't handle the dictionary after all.
Mike

UHURA.jpg

Yet for all this activity, LUGNET was swept from majestic cultural centrality into the margins of the AFOL world in the blink of an eye.  The thronging population crashed… seemingly overnight.  Historians would argue about the cause of LUGNETs collapse… if they cared.  But of course, historians, like most other people, could care less!  But trust me… if they did care… they would argue!

RUIN.jpg

What happened to LUGNET?

I think the AFOL race should ask itself, and perhaps ask beings from other races, this question.  The answer to the question may be an unpleasant but valuable cautionary tale.

Why is our home world all but dead?

Well for starters… I sure as hell don’t know!  I have deepened and broadened my ignorance by steadfastly refusing to do any serious historical research.  Further, I have carefully cultivated a massive cataract shaped exactly like modern consumer communications systems.  I don’t know an iPhone from a xylophone (Wait wait!  I know… the iPhone is the one you play with little mallets!) On the upside, failing to back your opinion with research means you don’t have to worry about the age-old question: APA or Turabian? So, in the unlikely event that you are STILL reading… know ye this: Every word of this article is based on the subjective opinion of an aging white man!  I’m also pretty sure my world view is mired in the Western tradition… and further tainted by years of work in the service of the state!  Also, my daughter says I’m a misogynist, but she is incorrect… silly girl!  So read on, only at the peril of your plaid wearing, Panini eating, Seattle’s Best drinking, hipster soul!  And get your rebuttal in gear… because I think I’m setting myself up for some rotten tomatoes here… Oh, Shush… here comes my thesis!

My best guess regarding the cause of the great population collapse on LUGNET is three-fold.  First, the rise of the specialized sites.  Second, the triumph of the visual over the verbal. And third, some technical stuff that I can neither comprehend nor articulate… but I’m pretty sure it’s in there some place.

The first horseman arrives.  Behold, the rise of the specialized sites!  And like so many catastrophes, it sounded like a good idea at the time… As I recall, it was the castle community that inadvertently broke the first seal in 2003.  The castle heads were the first sub-community to strike out from the home world, they were the first brave souls to seek a better life on a distant planet, which their wizards had named Classic Castle.

In the interest of clarity, I don’t mean to point an accusing finger here.  I think the castle heads, as a culture, have always been one of the more refined and dignified AFOL sub-cultures.  They embody a sort of renaissance ideal.  They strike a balance between the icy, unblinking technical competence of the Train Heads and the aggressive emotionalism of the Spacers.  The castle heads are a calm, restrained and tolerant people.  They are by and large a friendly lot and enjoy a culture of gentile artisans and hearty drinkers.  Always willing to make room at their table, always ready to laugh (Come to think of it… Castle Heads might actually be Halflings…).  No, my intent here is not to admonish.

HALFLINGS.jpg

Photo Credit: “Very old Friends” by the always entertaining Pate-keetongu.

Their efforts seemed at first to be akin to the early colonial era.  A small band of souls, setting searching for a new start on a foreign shore.  Who could foresee the cataclysm approaching like an invisible tsunami?

Disopra.jpg

About a year after the quiet departure of the Castle Heads, the Spacers took flight!  With all the braggadocio and fanfare of a legion departing for battle… the Spacers left.  All the while, speaking with great confidence of how much better life would be on their own world.  A distant planet in uncontested space they had terraformed for the benefit of their own kind.  A world they called Classic Space Forums.  Sadly, the colony is no longer available for your perusal, it has been raized and replaced by a rather mundane blog focused where to find and purchase sci-fi themed toys.

SPACE EVACUATE.jpg

And with that… the die was cast.  What had started as an isolated migration became a planet wide diaspora!  One after another, prominent builders from many genres sought to establish themselves as leaders out amongst these new-found worlds… tiny sovereigns of tiny specialized planets.  The trend hit the LUGNET population like a plague of piranha.  The mighty leviathan began to buckle, bite after bite.  Small groups, leaving one after another, each with a mouth full of LUGNET flesh clamped tightly between pointy teeth, each leaving a tiny bleeding wound behind them.  The piranhas began to eat the elephant, and it didn’t take long for the wounds to become fatal.

Eurobricks, Mecha Hub, Builder’s Lounge, JLUG, From Bricks to Bothans, MOCpages, BZPower, and the groups of FLickr… A myriad of brave new worlds sprouted like new grain even in the shadow of LUGNET’s collapsing silos.

But this is just an account of events.  It does not talk to the “WHY” of the thing.  And a slippery WHY it is!  Who knows?  Can we know?  Not really.  Why, has always been a lot harder than “WHAT” or “WHEN”.  But… I offer this timid guess:  Tone.  The name of the first horseman was Specialized Sites… but he fed on disrespect, on cruelty and intolerance.

As I stated, the Castle community are a kind-hearted people.  Sensitive and respectful.  They left due to the deteriorating tone of LUGNET.  The sprawling idea markets of LUGNET had become more like the public executions of the French Revolution… the amphitheaters had become blood soaked arenas.  Notions like interpersonal respect, or rhetorical restraint had faded.  I don’t mean interpersonal respect in a “love thy neighbor” or a “Stepford Wives” kind of way.  I’m not talking about disingenuous communication (where candor is dead) .  I mean respect more in the “keep your tongue civil” kind of way.  The generic respect we all still use today when dealing with people face to face.  The way we talk calmly but respectfully to the store clerk at Walmart when we return merchandize.  Normal public civility and nothing more.  The tone HAD BEEN civil for years… but that tone, that “public respect” was gone.  Replaced with hot and hurtful language. (I know… I just said: hurtful… but don’t worry! I’m not going all Allen Alda here).  Flame-wars were no longer simply on the rise… they had become the new norm.  It was from this fire and blood rhetorical landscape that the Lego renaissance builders fled.  What?  You dare to doubt me?  Go check out Classic Castle!  In addition to all the great builds… take a moment to savor the tone.  It’s a kind and friendly place.  I’m not saying it’s Camelot… but it is very nice.  Deliberately, manicured and polite…welcoming even.  Hey come on… Classic Castle is not like Duloc!

LUGNET was a little bit like that before the darkness fell.   And while such a culture does produce a distinctly saccharin after taste… there is also a very real and culturally relevant reason to adopt such affectation.  Namely, it prevents blood in the streets!  It might have kept the Castle Halflings on LUGNET… and might have stemmed (or at least delayed) the collapse.  I say delayed because Specialization was but the first horseman…

The second horseman arrives.  Behold the triumph of the visual over the verbal.  Show me the money.  Images.  Pics.  PHO-TO-GRAPHS! (Like Sam when he tells Sméagol: PO-TA-TOES!).  Images on-line were not a new thing when LUGNET fell, but there was an increase in the use of “image sharing sites”.  On such sites, people let the pictures do the talking (logical when one considers that each pic is worth a thousand words!).  The visual medium is a more economical way of communicating… as long as your unit of measurement is time, and not data size or detail in meaning.

I read some place (trust me… I read it!) that men tend to be more visually oriented, and women tend to be more verbally oriented.  In short, that’s why men dig porn, and women dig steamy novels.  Yes… yes, yes.  Don’t start!  Men can and do read books with Fabio on the cover… and yes, women look at Pornhub… but MOSTLY it’s the other way around.

FABIO.jpg

Well, if that is true (even if it’s only mostly true) that really is important when you consider the ratio of men to women in the AFOL population.  What is that ratio?  Piss off!  I don’t know!  Anybody who coughs up a number made that shit up!  But I’m on pretty solid empirical ground when I say: The ratio is a lot of guys to not a lot of gals.  (Somebody once said that’s why the hobby is “male dominated” but I’m not buying that) And mostly it was the same people… guys… who made up the population that flocked to image based sites.  First MOCpages, and then Flickr.

MOCpages….as I mentioned in an earlier FFE rant, is to me, like another vast and fascinating ruin.  A crumbling island citadel where the old king is an absentee landlord.  MOCpages is the defining artifact of a better managed time.    It definitely contained more images than the Home World, and less reading, but it did leave some room for verbal communication.  Truth be told, I think MOCpages struck a masterful balance between the visual and the verbal aspects of the hobby.  And the population of AFOLS and indeed… all manner of FOLS was massive!  The rate of fresh builds was like a torrent!  On a daily basis you could go there and anticipate seeing SOMETHING new and fequently interesting!  The tone was always a bit rough and the image compression sucked… but who cared?  There were so many images and AT THE SAME TIME so much talking!  It was like LUGNET but with pictures!  Lots and lots of them…

MOCpages.jpg

 

But unfortunately “This island MOCpages” was also doomed.  It was often difficult to upload pictures to the site and it suffered from frequent and frustrating power outages.  Nobody is less tolerant of needless delay than the tribe of the Techy.  And as we all know, there is a long and storied history of overlap between the AFOL peoples and the TECHY peoples.  I can recall being angry at not being able to upload an image… and being told by a MOCpages adept: “It’s not that hard!  You need to learn some basic HTML… Gosh!”  I got it, I’m technologically inept, this is not even remotely in dispute.  But I know I  wasn’t alone in my frustration AND, in the “Put up or shut up” competitive environment of the internet… anybody who’s site is just as good, but easier to use… will win!  And in a few short years, MOCpages, like LUGNET before it, had become a necropolis.  Nailed to the doors of so many MOCpages groups were quickly scrawled notes reading: Gone to Flickr!

Now remember, I loved MOCpages.  I still long for that balance of visual and verbal.  As I think I mentioned in that other FFE, I ran three groups over there.  And while I held on stubbornly, for love of the site’s content… even as I watched so many others flee to distant lands… technical problems not only endured, but increased.  The site was down more and more often.  I would click on the site and find not functional utility, but rather a “funny” little note that read something like “Clank, Bong, Thump…  Something is broken!” it stopped being funny after about the ninth time in as many months.  And of course, with the departure of most builders, I was mostly alone with the remaining population… mostly child zealots of the one true God, eager to proclaim, testify and condemn…

Planet Flickr is almost entirely an image centric world.  Images abound there even today, and although many proclaim that it’s high-water mark is past, it’s still the closest thing we have to a second Home World.  Uploading quality images is fast, easy, and free.  It is a very good example of what it is: an image sharing site.  And now that little note boxes are back it even sort of supports verbal AND visually oriented critique… but the visual still rules.  Quality conversation may occur there, but I’m dammed if I can find it.  Starting a conversation in the Flickr group “16+” is like trying to bring a mannequin to life with a defibrillator!

Manikin.jpg

Enter the third horsemen… his name is… “Some Technical Stuff”.  As I mentioned above, the tribes of the TECHY and of the AFOL are intertwined, and they are both intolerant of anything that is less than cutting edge where consumer computing and communication are concerned.  They like to use words that are strange to me.  Platform.  Modality.  Protocol.  Giga-thing.  Mega-other-thing and Terra-super-big-thing.  Like Saruman, they have minds of metal and wheels.  (Thankfully, unlike Saruman, most of them look nothing like Christopher Lee) And it is apparent, even after only a cursory glance… that LUGNET is nothing if not OLD SCHOOL.  It’s not even colorful!  It’s sort of drab…subdued even.  The esthetic is a legacy of the time when the TECHYs dominated all online activity… the time of naked utilitarianism!  (yes… back in the early days, most online communication was done in the nude!).   Bright colors?  Why? This is a web site, not a boutique!  Ease of use?  Hello!  It’s called HTML… Duh!  Balding men laughing behind their clip boards and slide rules…  So… in my inarticulacy… (Had to check but yes… it’s a word!) I offer that LUGNET fell in part because it was seen as clunky or primitive for some technical reason… that is really important… to TECHY/AFOLs.  The concept of a multi-step posting system involving email authentication of any post is unthinkable in today’s fast-paced world.

Yes, I put this horseman last in part because I am unable to describe it intelligently. I think it’s real.  I think it matters.  But I can’t pretend to be able to explain it.  And in a serious discussion, I’m sure this issue alone could be the focus of several focused articles.  But I also put it last because I feel it was the least important of the contributing factors that lead to the great collapse.

I’m not just being cavalier about stuff I don’t understand here.  I think we (the larger population… people in general today) often allow the technological aspect of communications to eclipse content of communications.  To put it in the crude but maybe better known example: Email makes sending letters easer, but using Email does not improve the quality of your letters.  If you write lousy letters, your message will be lost whether you hand write it, email it, or text it.  Content (message)  is neither enhanced nor damaged by format (tech).   I was in a group of builders once, who were emailing one another about a collaborative project.  They younger guys wanted to stop with the writing and discuss the project on SKYPE.  It was all going to be “so much easier” they insisted.  So, I got all SKYPE ready… and then we did the thing with the thing, that lets you do the other thing… and we were suddenly able to converse.  Real time audio and visual.  Behold the Tech!  Just like talking to Star Fleet!  I was nervous about how to USE the visual medium.  What were these guys going to SHOW one another?  And these guys once we got on the system that they said was so important…  had jack shit to actually SAY or SHOW.  They just sort of mumbled vague half sentences… fiddled with some parts (which none of us could see on our screens) and then started talking about TV shows.  Had the project been related to TV shows this would have made more sense to me. But as should be obvious right about now… the project had nothing to do with TV shows.  The tech was desired, and the tech was employed, but in the end, it contributed nothing to the achievement of our goals.  It was just an arbitrary standard, adopted but not used to its potential in any way.  We didn’t “show” one another what we were doing.  We didn’t even “speak” about what we were doing.  But my team mates all thought the meeting was a success because everybody was doing SKYPE at the time.  SKYPE was state of the art commercial commo, so anything less than SKYPE was clunky and not to be tolerated.

TEC 2.jpg

While I refuse to dismiss the relevance of tech stuff entirely, I think what really trumps tech is the art of communication.  And communication is what I am looking for on-line and not finding.  Pics, yes.  Hits, yes.  Likes, yes.  But rich communication? No.  A comment, a response, and then a re-phrasing or adjustment of the initial comment?  No.  Critique, response, discussion?  No.

LUGNET had an interesting feature that visually depicts, albeit in an abstract way, the depth of conversations.  It’s like a little map of lies and stars that shows the development of the thread, post by post.  The maps used to baffle me (back when I was throwing jaw bones up in the air down by the obelisk… ah, good times).  Now I understand them a little better.  The maps show any who care to look how the thread splits, and how a split can really last a very long time in terms of comments.

LUGNET SNIPIT.PNG

Now read all the messages on one of those maps.  You will find lots of silly crap and resentment, but you will also encounter complicated ideas being communicated between people.  You will see ideas being rebutted, or qualified.  Reshaped and re-presented.  Ideas that are changed by the process of review and adjustment.  Conversation.  Real, nuanced, spontaneous and vibrant conversation.  Sometimes heated, sometimes inane, but open, and ultimately inviting participation.

So… if your still reading, first let me say… Wow.  You’re an iron reader!  Second, congratulations!  You have made it to the part where I say what my point is!  My point is this:  LUGNET was in many ways, the high water mark for AFOL unity.  A clearinghouse for all the many facets of the AFOL world.  And certainly, a hotbed of conversation.  Conversation IS the hobby just as much as building itself.   Conversation seems to be in decline every ware on-line.   And as conversation goes… so goes the AFOL a community.  Stop talking, stop growing.  Stop growing, stop regenerating.  That’s cultural sterility.  That’s cultural death.  Back to the pre-internet days of building in our own little isolated worlds.   I’m not saying that conversation doesn’t occur any place on line today…but I am saying that I can’t find anything like the volume of conversation that was LUGNET any place on line today.  I am saying that what I see on Facebook and Flicker today is not conversation.  It’s a list of drive by shouting, crafted to make the speaker look funny or clever.  These drive by comments are not conversation.  They do not help refine ideas or improve building.  They are more like random dog barks in the predawn gloom.  It’s a trap… this culture of drive-by comments… I’m in the trap myself.  I’m also saying that conversation cannot survive as an art if we don’t all guard our tone, and treat one another with respect (except for Goldman, who of course deserves no god-damn respect from anybody!)

I miss LUGNET, but I don’t like shuffling around and waxing nostalgic about it.  There are reasons it collapsed.  There are reasons it became irrelevant.  What are the reasons?  Can we do anything to resurrect the culture of discussion?

The name of the column is Fire for Effect.  And you just read my opening volley.  Call the FDC, swing your tubes around, pull the lanyard and deliver effective counter-battery fire.

FDC.gif

Attack!

38 thoughts on “Fire for Effect: Alas Alas That Great City LUGNET

  1. Wow, Mike. I’m really impressed with how well written your posts are. I don’t mean “wow” in any disrespectful way; I mean that truly that I’m blown away by what I just read.

    If I recall correctly (I am a LUGNET member, but shortly after I joined I discovered CSF and pretty much did all my posting there), you had to pay to join LUGNET. I’m not saying that format is a bad thing, but it is something to consider; some may say it keeps the riff-raff or the kFOLs away. I can also see how it may generate or lead to elitism.

    I read all of your recent discussion posts in the AFOL16+ Group, which has also started to become barren. When you write, you provide great feedback and your commentary is sincere and well thought out. For me, I feel sometimes that I don’t have anything to contribute to the conversation. Maybe it’s the time thing, maybe it’s because I have other stuff going on or I’m building; the point is…it is not that I’m not interested; it takes effort to be involved in the community. There is definitely no current catch-all place for discussions to be had with other AFOLs; I refuse to use FB or Instagram as my primary Lego posting source and have no interest going there to look for Lego. I am still on Flickr, browse often, comment less so. What I’ve replaced it with is group texting a close group of AFOL friends, or even texting others directly. Also, a group of us have a pretty consistent weekly video call, where we talk ideas, share WIPs, talk about Lego news, newly released sets, etc. Similar to your Skype experience, but actually worthwhile. To me, aside from Conventions, that is what the hobby is to me currently.

    It would be nice if there was someplace to go for all things Lego, good conversations, good value for what I am interested in. The closest thing to that I’ve found, ironically, is this blog. Right here. You, Goldman, and the other commenters are providing (at a smaller scale) exactly what you (and I) seem to be looking for. Is everyone in the Lego Hobby here? No. But most of the people whom I enjoy interacting with are, the tone is civil, fun, and enjoyable. Plus, there’s Fabio now.

    I honestly thought after the hiatus that this place would die. That fact that it didn’t says a lot about Keith, you, the community and the void that this place can fill.

    Like

    1. Hey man, good to hear from you.

      Glad you liked the article. Yeah, that hiatus was beginning to feel more like “the longest vacation you ever heard of” I think this second go will be interesting. Iteration = improvement… we hope…

      I recall the discussion about paying for LUGNET. Lots of indignation. Lots of that “content wants to be free” rhetoric. I like free stuff, but sometimes it does come down to “You play? You pay!”

      You said this: “group texting a close group of AFOL friends, or even texting others directly. Also, a group of us have a pretty consistent weekly video call, where we talk ideas, share WIPs, talk about Lego news, newly released sets, etc. Similar to your Skype experience, but actually worthwhile. To me, aside from Conventions, that is what the hobby is to me currently.”

      That’s exactly what the hobby is for LOTS of people. And I think it’s a good thing too. It is easer then ever to link up with buddies. And, as you say, the video stuff can be worthwhile. This behavior is not “a problem”, and thinking of it that way would be non-productive.

      But I do think that most of us are doing exactly what you describe almost exclusively. It seems, that most of us want to LOOK in public, and SPEAK in private. Hence the popularity of the image sharing sites. Maybe the dearth of meaningful public conversation is the unintended byproduct of this private dialogue.
      Private and Public are two totally different contexts… they both exist for unique reasons. I love the insights that emerge from both.

      I don’t mean to say: “Stop talking in private! Talk in public instead!” I guess my point is closer to: “We all talk in private, but remember how much fun it was when we talked in public?” Or maybe: “How can we get people interested in public discourse again?”

      As long as we do more than just say: “Gee, I used to love the community… now I feel sad… ” My own goal is not to gripe about the silence, but to entice conversation (ok, gripe AND entice).

      Glad your on board man (and yea, I totally get the notion of often having nothing to say. Never speak just to fill the void. We all hear more when we listen instead of speak!).

      Attack!

      Like

  2. I feel like I just ran into an old flame at the grocery store. Someone you still think of every once in a while and wondered what could have been… Your parting was swift and painful but you realized eventually that we all have our own path. I still bear the scar of The Manifesto, but the pain is gone.

    Love the intro, Mike, I wish there was a LUGNET book series now. I never was a part of ye old LUGNET but you have painted a surreal picture.

    I agree that the fall of this particular AFOL online community is the change in which people communicate both technologically and socially. (and they certainly go hand and hand) Just reading this post made my eyes dry and tired. I can read a book for an hour, but all my online play is in short spurts mostly looking at pretty pictures and headlines. I follow few blogs and never comment, puleeze! Call me a simpleton, but it’s just not my online style.
    Also, Lego the company seems to have created this segregation between AFOLs. Now there are how many categorized Lego sets and genres? Lego City, Elves, Friends, Minecraft, DC, Technic, Ninjago…the list goes on. I appreciate your love for in-depth thread discussions, but it’s gone the way of writing letters and talking on the telephone.

    I think a good podcast can’t be cast aside. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! Find a way to get people to listen and they will start talking (or posting responses). Keith you are a wordsmith and with some adjustments, The Manifesto could be the new hot AFOL podcast. (shut up about the sound of your voice)
    Or even the evil YouTube, if Dan TDM can have 15,053,640 subscribers you could wrangle up a few.

    That being said, does this mean The Manifesto has been resurrected?
    All new ZOMBIE MANIFESTO!! Now with more gore!

    -Amanda

    Like

    1. Did you see Keith’s previous post? The Manifesto should be in store for a happy future, unless Keith can’t count to 100 or there’s another burnout. Hopefully conversation can keep that flame from fading again, though. I’m up for what the future brings!

      Like

      1. I did not, I blame Keith for the lack of electronic mail notification. I blame myself for the blatant lack of observation. Thanks for the heads up!

        Like

    2. “I still bear the scar of The Manifesto, but the pain is gone.”

      I wept. Snif… so beautiful…

      you said: ” the change in which people communicate both technologically and socially.”

      This is a HUGE part of it. Yesterday my son called me on the phone and asked me for a phone number. I asked him if he had a pen and paper to copy it as I read it to him. He told me that I could just “send him the contact” and when I said “No dude, it’s right here, just copy it…” he told me he didn’t really need the number that bad.

      What? For real? You would rather NOT get the number than stoop to manually copying it on paper? The point for me was the reality check that FORMAT is not just important for many younger types… FORMAT IS PARAMOUNT. Give it to me right now, in this format or just keep it to yourself. Period. Well shit, what do you say to that? “Listen you little punk! You WILL copy this number, RIGHT NOW… or there will be hell to pay!” I guess I could try that, but I have a feeling it would not be very relevant.

      But that’s just a tiny example. For my kids, it’s instagram or bust. One of my girls wanted to know something from her buddy the other day, and she kept fretting about the info… and I said “Well shit girl, just call her already!” She became annoyed with me and said: “Papa, you don’t just call somebody unless it’s REALLY important!” I think of a phone call as a throw away effort. Hey man, whats up… I just called to ask bla bla bla… Not a big deal. But again, for my kids? Totally different paradigm. Again, format trumps message. It’s killing me!

      As for the Lego group and the themes… I don’t know. I mean, themes have always been a highly artificial division in my eyes. Large broad themes (train vs space vs mindstorms) make some sense to me. They capitalize on different skill sets. Esthetic vs Function for example. Function is everything to a mindstorms guy and the projects look like hell. And for a Spacer, none of it is real anyways… so it better at least LOOK cool. But I think a lot of FOLs take it to far. One of my all time favorite KFOL quotes: “I’d really like to try building Castle, but most of my parts are Lord of the Rings, so I cant really do it.”

      Yeah, I wouldn’t want to mix castles with Lord of the Rings kid… that’s crazy talk!

      I have a deep voice that just resonates with strength, calm masculine authority and roguish charm. They wanted me to be the voice talent for that Fabio novel… but I said “No way!” At least until Fabio asked me himself… then I said “Oh you…”

      Welcome back!

      Like

      1. I agree, it needs to be smart phone friendly these days to get any play. I’m guilty myself of the convenience. I remember 6 yrs ago when I got my first smart phone. I didn’t understand the texting lifestyle, “Why not just call someone and ask fill in the blank?”. Fast forward to now, I hardly use the telephone as a telephone and forbid anyone who leaves me a voicemail!! (I’m talking to you, Mom. “No message. Just wanted to see if you were home” is in-fact a message!!)
        Does the future hold us in suspension tanks hooked up to devices? Never touching or engaging with other humans in the flesh? I hope not. So let us type vigorously and search phone books for restaurants and look one another in the eye…wait…you know what I mean.
        Adapt to the technology but keep our humanity.

        Like

  3. I agree with Amandroid, it would have been a privilege to experience LUGNET in its heyday. And that’s not because it was better, per se, but simply because I like dipping my toe in each lake to see how it feels, and to say I’ve been in it. Granted, the allure of websites like Flickr and … (Yep, that’s my point) is certainly an obvious reason why the hobby is fragmented like it is. It’s so easy to get accustomed to one locale, and view that as the easiest, or most convenient, or whatever other way you describe what is really just your happy home.

    I just came back from reading through the latest column on Flickr 16+. And now I’m pissed that I hadn’t checked out that group before. Comment section wasn’t public, so I didn’t know what characters hung out there. Turns out there’s been stimulating conversation of varying degrees for the last several years, and by golly I’ve missed it all!

    That brings up another point. How worthwhile is “catching up”? I would love a full article series on this topic. Keith’s “Two for Tuesday” has literally been one of my only windows into the hobby of old, as it used to be in the early days of the internet and even earlier days of fan conventions. I know I was still chewing on colored plastic rings and sticking K’nex rods in my hair (because heavens forbid children play with “Legos”!!! [So thanks Mom for supporting my hobby now that I’m old enough not to kill myself with them.]) In other words, since I’ve never had the experience (and I say again, privilege) of enjoyng that old and gold culture of AFOLs, is it worthwhile to search through the archives of internet history? What new techniques were discovered, and since forgotten? What formative arguments were made, battle lines drawn and flames thrown across the expanse of differing opinion, that would make me evaluate my own love for the hobby? How many countless times did rowntRee’s clone whine on about “a”rt versus “A”rt? Inquiring minds want to know!!! Is it worth clicking the beckoning “2004” and braving the haunted and hallow pages of LUGNET or any other sister site?

    It really is a question I ask myself a lot. Where is the hobby now, where are “we” as a community, and where specifically am I, on the subject of art, the concept of creativity, or the (all-too seductive) pursuit of popularity? Certainly, groups should change and have life, but when did that mean the degeneration of civilized and concentrated adult conversation, the hypocritical crusade of Bible-preaching CFOLs, the fragmentation of true, honest community, and yes, the increased pleasure and satisfaction from a climbing view count or fave tally?

    I would love to hear from anyone and everyone. Where does the hobby exist? Where do you find yourself in it? For me, over the last 5 months, it has been with a group of wonderful builders living locally who I joined for a collab display at Bricks Cascade in February. That, and refreshing KeithLUG almost daily JUST IN CASE… But does the hobby live on in small conversation clusters around the web? Facebook? Certainly there are a whole lot of builders I know with public friend lists (yes, of COURSE I’ve been spying on y’all) who are connected to even more builders. So, perfect opportunity for some lively discussion and debate. But does it actually happen?

    Is it actually necessary?

    Well, it’s too late to write anymore, and I should close before I start competing with Michael for the main article. Respond if you’re so inclined (or if you read this far), but hopefully there are a few leading thoughts in my words, and of course a look at my own mind, as a relatively new builder (November 2014), trying to navigate the past, present, and future, and always hoping for just a little bit more from the hobby.

    This is fun. I like the conversation. Keep it up, my friends.

    Like

    1. Ah, Vakkron!

      ” How worthwhile is “catching up”? ”

      Well, as a prerequisite for participation in any current conversation? I’d say it’s not that big a deal. I mean an open public dialogue is not like science. It’s not a cogent body of theory that develops over time, and is generally built on the thoughts that preceded it (then again, most science just pretends to be that anyways). The truth is elastic. Context, understanding, opinion, the impact of recent events… they all change constantly, so I would always council: Jump in man! Read, reflect, respond! (Attack!)

      “How many countless times did rowntRee’s clone whine on about “a”rt versus “A”rt? Is it worth clicking the beckoning “2004” and braving the haunted and hallow pages of LUGNET or any other sister site?”

      Yeah, after a few short years, the cyclic nature of many questions becomes evident. The purest modder debate. The price of Lego. The role of aftermarket brands. Is digital really Lego… Lots of the topics are repetitive. But I think repetition is immaterial for two reasons.

      First, for the individual, discussing a topic, and then leaving it for a year or two, and returning to discuss it again is beneficial. Our internal truths change. We change, and the external factors change as well. Unless your dogmatic, you seldom actually have the same conversation twice. Repeated iterations often result in insight and development…or as scholars call it: “Mo-bettah-ness.”

      Second, these conversations are often NEW for at least one of the participants. So, YOU know it’s a classic staple for the hobby… YOU might find it boring… but you can offer the new comer the benefit of your insight. There are more reasons to participate in conversation than simply our own amusement or our own development. Amusing and developing new comers contributes ultimately to a better mix at the hobby wide level. When we do this, we reinforce the longevity and the richness of this hobby.

      So, repeating topics are actually a good thing in my opinion, but do we NEED to delve into the fossil record in order to contribute? Naw… just pull up a chair and start to talk’en. That thar’s the ticket!

      Attack!

      Like

  4. Mike,
    Your observations are worthy of a government grant and the introduction to the sociology of the AFOL subset reflects a sad reality. LUGnet is dead, MOCpages is a dim shadow of its former greatness, the only groups that still seem crazy active are the train groups. Around the web there are the Lego equivalent of nationalist movements, increasingly insular small groups, bubbles, clichés.

    Like

    1. Ron, glad to see you!

      Ah… the Lego Train Clubs (LTCs)… the Train Heads. First of the organized Lego groups. They started as off-shoots of regular toy train clubs, waaaay back in the day! And that lineage is evident in their conduct today. An LTCs membership is often older on average than that of many other LUGs. They also often have more formal charters and by laws. Formal Club Officer titles, Treasurer, Secretary, Historian… stuff like that. Further, I regard them as the “Original Collaborators” It’s a natural result of what a train layout is: A system that can only function when the multiple members of the organization agree on several absolute rules (ie track gage). Collaboration is a popular buzz word today… but those old boys literally wrote the book on it.

      I know at least three LUGs started as TLCs. TexLUG, WAMALUG and I think SANDYLUG all started as break away clubs form the Huston, DC and SD LTCs.

      Train heads may be cool and distant functionalists… but they are the elders of our tribe. The proto-lugs. Make no mistake!

      I find it interesting that the first of us may be the last of us. They are still active on MOCpages? The elders continue in stolid insular silence… as they always have. I like it!

      In strong economies, companies split and multiply. In weak economies, they merge. I think the LUGs split into a thousand sepporate camps because of a super strong “signal economy”. LUGNET was built in a time when the know how was limmited. Not just anybody could build a site. Then, suddenly, commo (creating an on line presence) became very easy… and so they scattered. On some level, unity requires an amount of subordination, conformity, maybe even humility.

      All those things seem in short supply on todays net.

      Cheers Ron!

      Like

      1. Mike,
        L gauge proponents never really took to the ‘pages, but there are some extraordinary and highly active groups on flickr and Facebook! My own LUG is 60 % train heads and GBC creators. As a moccer I am in the minority.

        Like

  5. Mike,

    I’m glad Keith opened up the office so you could play again. I’m not sure about the hobby. Moving away from KCBricklab has sure changed my building and discussion time with other AFOLs on the subject. That and the loss of space in our new house. Now I watch my LUG from the shadows of Facebook and yearn to get to a meeting (sounds more like AA then AFOL). And I do speed thru the internet liking pictures and rarely providing comments (Army and dad requirements far outweigh other wants right now). Only real conversations are with the boy and his one word solliliquies. Keep the articles coming!

    Like

  6. Mike,

    Even with all of your truly entertaining fluff, I think you make some very insightful points here.

    The visual>verbal effect is the big one I think, and it’s becoming even more apparent on Flickr. In the early Flickr days, I remember when the ratio of faves to comments was more or less equal. Nowadays the ratio is far in the favor of faves, even as the community has “grown”. Even so, Flickr’s interface has never been conducive to discussion or criticism, particularly because of the endless “scroll” of pictures. One need not click on a topic (as with the old forums) to see a picture. One simply can see it and scroll past it. This is plague of the internet and one of the real challenges in this day and age: vapid, easily consumed content is “better” and more “efficient” than something like this article (a well-crafted rambling). Because so much content is readily available, it becomes that much harder to devote more than 10 seconds of your time to anything.

    A lot of the folks in my LUG talk about using Instagram to share their Lego stuff, which I find very strange. I’d be happier with one thoughtful comment over 100 likes. You mention Skype and the unnecessary use of “new tech” for the sake of it. Is there any “new tech” you think might actually be useful? Is a new LUGNET or Mocpages even desired by the community or sustainable? Moreover, does anyone actually like Flickr? Since actual discussion is so limited it’s difficult to know. I think Zach’s comment above and your response is very telling; many builders have retreated into these “private” spaces with a select number of other builders. Meanwhile, other folks (like myself, for instance) are left out in the cold saying “where is everybody??”

    The Manifesto is a great place for those who want to TALK about the hobby. I hope to post more here in the future, especially since I have very little motivation to post things on Flickr.

    Keep writing this stuff; it’s heartening to see someone expending so much valuable brain power and so many precious words on something more than the hottest new minifigs.

    Like

    1. I concur with everything you said. I have finite time in a day for social media and although I post pics on Instagram of MOC progress I don’t spend a lot of time on there looking at other MOCs. My time is spent scrolling thru Facebook (where our LUG posts WIPs and gets the most interaction), and then YouTube for news and entertainment (mostly LEGO). I think our LUG does a good job with discussion there but not very deep level efforts. We also coordinate displays and events and also vote on ideas for group events and projects.

      Like

      1. Smok’en Joe!

        Your in the can right now aren’t you? Your reading these words… right now… in the can. Cause that’s your thing. You read this blog in the can. It’s creepy. You should change this policy. Make the issue uncertain… because even as I write these words… I see you in my minds eye… and I don’t like what I see Joe. Make it stop.

        Yea, a LUG that actually votes on courses of action is doing well. KC Brick Lab is nothing if not organized! Transparency not withstanding, I think you guys do a pretty good job of communicating. You also do a good job of making room for people who only seek “inclusion” and not necessarily “participation”. That is actually very important, and sometimes easy to forget. Some LUG members just want to watch and listen, and maybe on display days, show up and help. They don’t all want to vote, argue, or pontificate. They just want a seat on the bus. Brick Lab has room for most of the AFOL types in their structure.

        As for commenting on other peoples MOCs… Yea, your not heavy into that… but that is not the ONLY avenue for communication. Your pretty active in your LUG (when you in the area I mean). On show day, you and the boy are on the ground doing the deed. Shit, that’s a whole separate effort and you guys hammer that pretty hard. Active participation in the face to face context is in my opinion, the highest level of engagement. I do this on line stuff because its accessible during the work day (so… what does that say about my professional focus…). For me, time on the ground at a fest or another public venue is the proverbial bomb.

        Now wash up for gods sake…

        Like

    2. Well crafted ramble… Yes!

      It’s an odd topic though. I mean, the fact of the matter is that many of the younger builders ARE going to use other protocols. If phone calls are out, then that it. They are out! If emails are thought of as drudgery… then bam! These guys are NOT going to write emails.

      I grapple with this situation because I know that when you compose a message, you must (MUST MUST MUST) start with consideration of your audience. It is there sensibilities that matter. It’s axiomatic. If your audience is on Instagram… and you only transmit on Flicker… your message may be great… but it’s also mute. It just don’t matter what you say… because its only effective whey your audience hears it. Unlike art, a message only matters when an audience receives it.

      Yet here I am, preaching to the choir on the platform of our preference. I see the disconnect, the dichotomy.

      Change hurts. I need to recon Instagram… sigh.

      Rest assured man, I’ll keep the signal up right here. This is the platform I dig.

      Like

  7. Well, I’m new enough to the community that LUGNET feels like a legend of the distant past to me. Never experienced it, just heard the name mentioned here and there. flickr was my first exposure to other AFOLs, and I also had a MOCpages account for a while until I got fed up with the technical problems.

    I’m a tech person and I think it’s quite true that tech people don’t like using things that feel out of date; at the very least it’s true for me. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t have to be bleeding edge; but if a website looks like it was designed 10 years ago, that puts me off.

    Looking at my time on flickr so far, it seems back in 2009 when I joined flickr, there was a lot more meaningful discussion in groups and in the comments section of photos than there is today. I’m not sure why that is exactly, but part of it probably is the interface design. Back in the day the actual photos didn’t take up as much of the screen space and it was easier to see the comments and discussions; these days many of the flickr views don’t even show the titles of photos. There’s also often less participation in contests and challenges than there used to be; with the recent LSB contest being a great counterexample, though. But I guess if people don’t read the discussion threads in groups, they just don’t get to know what challenges are going on.

    Would I love to see more meaningful discussion in the community? Sure! But on the other hand, more often than not when I’m browsing flickr, I’m only motivated to press the fave button to give a quick “you did good” nod to the other person, but not to leave a comment, much less a really meaningful one. Sometimes I feel about that — after all, if I want good discussions, shouldn’t I start one when the opportunity presents itself? Maybe part of the answer to the problem is “get off your damn ass and do something about it”.

    Like

    1. Pascal,

      I think you are giving voice to a larger reality. The reality that is sort of beating my ass. In the larger cultural context, stopping and engaging in detailed communication is becoming less and less common. Saying that may put me in the role of the angry old man… but I do get it. It’s the direction the glacier is moving. My approval or disapproval may be totally irrelevant (may be?).

      We all… everybody in many contexts… “Like” instead of “critique”. My desire is not to complain (but complaint is certainly a component of my message!). My desire is to try to discover a way to persuade others to engage in the critique. I feel frustrated, because it is not important to just say “Kids these days”…

      also, I don’t feel my knowledge of the internet is comprehensive enough to discount the possibility that there are places where conversation is humming along… though I do tend to doubt it.

      Bist nexte mal!

      Like

  8. Yes.

    I think that there is a fourth horseman, that 800 pound one sitting in the corner called “our own laziness.” And maybe laziness isn’t the right word to use, more of a lesser prioritization to communicate. As you said, a picture is worth a thousand words. But, without words, that picture is pointless, and so is looking at it. You covered the gamut here though from the full throttle talk fest to the pics only. There needs to be a happy medium. Flickr sure ain’t it, it doesn’t support the exchange of critique and ideas. The sole focus is the pic. Mocpages sure ain’t it, that Temple of Syrinx lacks the photo quality and conversational leadership. Lugnet was before my time and seems to be more of a relic than anything. And my own laziness and prioritization disallows me to gaze at that same artifact for any longer. Of course a site that combines all these aspects would be ideal; the conversational depth of Lugnet, the picture quality of Flickr, and the page set-up of Mocpages. But the last thing this community needs is another photo dump.

    But back to that fourth horseman. I find it intriguing that we are all here talking again after the Manifesto was gone for its hiatus, still champing at the bit to converse. I like that. I find that I don’t enjoy allowing work and life to get in the way of this release of creativity. This island Lego has us all willing to give up all concerns if for only a moment JUST to communicate be it ideas or pics. I get the rush of the ease of a pic, a simple note for critique, a quick comment for assurance, a single click like. I get it. But this is a dead horseman that we can’t seem to stop beating. Look through all the comments above. There is a prevalent wind that says we are all too busy and we are looking for the quick fix. Talking about it is equated with mental masturbation when it’s more than the sum of its parts. Of course life gets in the way, that’s all it fucking does. That’s why communication is so difficult, that’s why Lugnet went the way of Studebaker, that’s why the future looks grim for the community, and that’s why we need the conversation more than ever. Because it IS difficult.

    Lugnet wasn’t ahead of its time, it just didn’t adapt to it or us.

    Like

    1. Ok, maybe so. LUGNET perished because it didn’t adapt to change. I’m inclined to agree. It was cool, and then the environment changed, and it was abandoned.

      But how are we “adapting” to change? When I consider my own statements, my own perspective… I don’t see much adaptation happening. I want to find a way to make concepts like critique and discussion relevant to people who don’t currently find them so… BUT… objectively, I should also be trying to reverse engineer it right? Work backwards from what the younger builders think is relevant. I find that I CAN’T. I cant get out of my own perspective. How am I different from LUGNET then?

      One conclusion is that I am simply lucky enough to have the “Best” perspective, and that the broader audience is simply “decadent”.

      This notion disturbs me for two reasons.
      1. I don’t trust it. It sounds arrogant and self righteous. To much of that perspective creeps in on me when Im not paying attention. It’s seductive and destructive.
      2. It’s to easy. Two facts: I have a message, and there is an audience. It’s on me to bridge the gap between me and the audience. It’s not on them. Its on me. They are who and what they are… I need to assess, and tailor my message to fit their identity. Not bitch about how they communicate… I mean, yea man… I am going to keep complaining! Lets not go crazy! But the job… the pay dirt… is to figure out how to reach and persuade the intended audience.

      What sticks in my craw a bit, is the number of builders I see on line lamenting the passage of the larger community, while at the same time, they offer almost nothing in public forums. Just pictures of their own work.

      Maybe its this last bit, those who lament the death of “communi-tay!” who motivated me to choose this topic. They talk a lot about how much they miss the good old days… Like there was a meteor or a nuclear war or something that swept it away… They are completely free to restart whatever dialogue they miss… but all they do is weep rub ash on their heads, and rend their clothes. Think about the Speeder Bike contest that just passed. How many participants said something like: Man! I miss this kind of action! This is great! The contest was great. But why are they so rare now?

      Like

  9. I don’t want to drag the conversation down the licorice ride of paranoia, but I’m starting to notice more and more references to Flickr being closed down in the near future, after Verizon’s purchase of Yahoo goes into effect. I’m seeing people in my Flickr-stream announcing their intention to jump ship to places likce Facebook and Instagram.

    There are threads like this one in the official Flickr Help group that pose the question and the response from Flickr is less than reassuring. Although the official response from Staff members are quotes like “This is nothing but gossip” and “Closing this thread because ‘nope’.” are pretty clear, there has not been what I would call an official press release or a comprehensive statement that looks like it was written by an lawyer or even a professional. It’s also a little disconcerting that they seem to be censoring the topic whenever it emerges.

    There are some other negative indicators like Flickr’s inability to make a significant profit on the site and their failure to update the mobile app at the rate that they used to, and the removal of some features. Any one of these details taken by itself is certainly no evidence of the virtual sky falling, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me either if Flickr’s demise was on the horizon.

    So if it is the Apocalypse, it would surely break the community’s back in the short term, but just like the great migration from the LUGNET Home-World, the hardcore population would find a new place to gather. For better or worse, Flickr is the home of a huge portion of the hobby and a giant repository of history and images, some of which will no doubt be lost in transition.

    I just hope the next home-world is not Facebook, because this grumpy old jerk will not play ball with that site. But I’m hard pressed to conceive of a more likely candidate. People are not going to return to outdated sites like MOCpages and LUGNET, people rarely go backward and both of those sites have huge issues that are not easily solved. I know when Flickr removed the ‘notes’ feature briefly there was some outrage and half-baked plans to go to Reddit or a site called Ipernity, but again, my instinct says that neither one is the long-term answer.

    So is anyone else encountering this spreading notion and what do you think the odds are of it being true?

    Like

    1. I’m hoping the reason for the silence is that they honestly don’t know yet. It’ll probably take a while for everything to transfer from Yahoo to Verizon, and Flickr was never the forefront of Yahoo’s attention to begin with. I’m not opposed to moving to a new site provided it’s not something horrible like Facebook or Instagram; those would be a step backward if anything. But as you said it would be horrible for all the old photos that would inevitably be washed away in the purge. Hopefully there’ll be enough warning to mass download everything available from my faves folder.

      Like

    2. I must be living under rock, I haven’t heard any rumors of flickr shutting down…

      If it does happen, I would go wherever most of the community goes. But if that turns out to be Facebook that would be a tough pill to swallow indeed.

      Like

    3. No earthly idea. All I know is that when I asked my youngest two kids opinions on the notion of flicker going out… they were, neither of them… remotely surprised, nor remotely interested.

      Discarding for a moment the unpleasant fact that my children are seldom interested in a dam thing I say lately… My son threw me this explanation (without looking up from his god dam phone… Grrrr!) “Flicker is already a backwater papa. Nobody uses it. Just old people (grinning now) like you and Keith.” My daughter nodded and added: “Yea I don’t know anybody who uses it, I don’t look at it. Instagram lets you do all that same stuff, and it’s better.”

      While these two punks don’t define the youth of the nation… they aren’t a bad sample either. I think lots of the younger types are already doing there thing on instagram and other sites. Already quite happy. Quite stable. I think WE may already be walking in the fields of Elysium… and we just don’t know it.

      Look for a sign posted on the door of 16+ “Gone to Instagram”…

      Like

  10. Great, thought-provoking points and well-articulated as usual. LUGNET was before my time as well so I appreciate the history lesson.

    I think the presentation of an online profile or portfolio is a big factor in the lack of conversation. People are too afraid of looking dumb in a section of the internet that is becoming increasingly more public and would rather stay quiet. This is probably related to why you don’t see a lot of WIP posts anymore; the standards for polish and presentation are too high and too intimidating now, and everyone would rather go for the big reveal for maximum effect and internet praise.

    Everyone’s got at least a little bit of social anxiety and that means we don’t have the courage to spew forth our opinions as freely as we would in private messages, Skype, etc. To play devil’s advocate for a moment, the format of Facebook may be terrible for documenting MOCs and conversations, but perhaps the non-permanence of it softens that social edge.

    Another thought: a big reason you don’t see a lot of people interacting is simply because of language barriers. It may not be that bad with Europeans who seem to have an easier time with learning English as a foreign language, but how many Japanese builders can you think of that have ever posted in a group or regularly reply to comments on their own photos in English? Most of them interact with each other on Twitter in Japanese and that’s it (the 140 character limit apparently isn’t as big a deal to them). Even if you have high competency in a foreign language, it takes a lot of confidence to use it on a native speaker. Does this explain anything about the English conversations dying out since the days of LUGNET? Not really. But it does maybe show why a lot of your favorite builders from across the sea aren’t that talkative.

    Like

    1. Ah, Mr. Hoffman!

      Yea, that whole international deal… that’s a whole separate FFE man! Language, nationalism, cultural assumptions… very rich soil indeed, but as you said, different from the question of what happened to our own North American scene.

      I think the social anxiety might have something to do with it. And if it does, then it amplifies the importance of welcoming the new builders enthusiastically. We don’t do that (we AFOLs I mean). But if your right, then we really do need to. That’s one of the things I liked about that speeder bike contest. Lots of new guys! Good stuff!

      People are afraid to look dumb. Probably true… but good god man. I’d never open my trap if I worried to much about that! Remain silent, hear more, learn more, contribute nothing. Minimal risk maximal return. Uhg… painfully logical. Dismal really.

      Very good point though.

      Like

  11. Ah the Effect of your diatribes are Fire in my loins.

    Seriously great read man, as a some what new comer, it’s really interesting to see where we came from, and I really do appreciate understanding and trying to learn form the past.

    And as a Flickr-er ? flickrite? FlickFirePictures? I have a vested interest in the ‘community’ not dying off…

    And I started looking at your very valid points in how things shaped up and the role of technology and the migrations to take off on their own toe explore brave new worlds is probably an key element in the fracturization and downfall of each of these new worlds.

    But I think you’re focused too much on the technological aspects, and not the human.
    We talked a lot about the Group Life Cycle in a previous FFE – but I think part of the migration is not just a new shinny technology is there – most humans tend to like to stick to old. But it’s a combination of failure of leadership to to steer the ship, and people jump to a shinier new ship….

    Running a community, is hard work.
    And people burn out, I wouldn’t be surprised if we looked at some of the declines of each one of these worlds and can see if key cogs have left for whatever reason.

    Eurobricks which is basically a big forum …. has been around for like 10+ years – but they have a deep, deep bench of leaders which does transition over time, but they have the foresight to actually search out and have a succession plan in place to ensure that there’s some continuity of leadership to keep the each one of the sub worlds alive.

    Like

    1. Fabio and I worked hard to light that fire in your loins!

      “Flickr-er ? flickrite? FlickFirePictures?”

      I believe the correct term is Flicksonian…

      “but I think part of the migration is not just a new shinny technology is there – most humans tend to like to stick to old. But it’s a combination of failure of leadership to to steer the ship, and people jump to a shinier new ship…. ”

      Money! Its an editorial bias that runs through all my crap… so yeah, I totally agree with you here. Leadership is one of those nouns that people just do not associate with on line behaviors… to their own harm. Leadership in a group, any group, even a group that exists only for hedonistic shenanigans… is crucial. At least is you regard longevity as a merit. Somebody has to steer the car if you want to have the car for more than a few seconds. Otherwise… it’s just some bunch of dorks crammed into a shopping cart. Loads of fun…while it lasts. The leadership of any group, be it a person, or a committee… not only decide in the affirmative (what should be done) but also in the negative (what kind of BS should not be tolerated).

      “Eurobricks which is basically a big forum …. has been around for like 10+ years – but they have a deep, deep bench of leaders which does transition over time, but they have the foresight to actually search out and have a succession plan in place to ensure that there’s some continuity of leadership to keep the each one of the sub worlds alive.”

      I don’t know as much about them as I should. But again, that transition of leadership from one person or group to the next is crucial. It suggests a group that is bound by some enduring rules. By laws, or a charter or something. I wonder what a comparison of average group member age and the level of organizational formality would reveal. Are they older and more formal? Younger and more formal? That’s fertile ground for detailed research. You nail it when you say “Foresight”. That is a thing that seems lacking over here… over and over again.

      Good to hear from you and your loins man!

      Like

  12. Ron,
    Your description of your LUG is very typical. Lots of LUGs start as LTCs and then after the MOCr population grows large enough to balance the Train heads… the two core groups often fall into struggle for control of the LUG. The conflict is not inevitable, (or even remotely necessary…) but it is part of a lot of LUG histories.

    So when the LUG reaches this supposed fork in the road, make sure you hold the combatants responsible for explaining why a choice is necessary at all. The reoccurring themes I have encountered are the equitable use of LUG funds/time/labor/facilities… but this us usually chaff, thrown up by the two faction leaders. Chaff used to obscure the fact that they are simply fighting for political control over the group.

    Make sure your LUG is one that stays integrated. It requires more respect, accommodation, and better planning, but it is also a broader and more adaptable approach in the long run (it’s not Train Shows OR Brick Fests… it’s Train Shows AND Brick Fests).

    Besides, any leader who would tear an organization in two, just to secure personal power is probably unfit to lead anyways!

    Unity or bust!

    Like

    1. I started my AFoL career on Fri, 28 Jan 2005 17:36:54 GMT with the post on my 22ndMecha. It’s just twelve years since then but it seems very long ago. I used to put pictures to brickshelf and posts to LUGNET.
      I didn’t get any likes but meaningful and helpful comments. I learned a lot from those fellow writers.
      This was a very formative experience for me. And at least sometimes I try to give some of the advice and inspiration I got from the community back to where it came from.
      I have adopted to the way of flickr. Quick likes, short praises and advice or criticism only if directly asked. Remembering the old days I feel lonely within all those likes and praises. Although I’m really happy if one of my creations get’s lots of them.
      I’m missing the deeper conversations which occurred more often on LUGNET. But all in all LUGNET, MOCPAGES, BRICKSHELF, FLICKR and whatever else are only technical ways to showcase and comment our creations. The way we use them is up to us. Technically it is possible to have meaningful conversation on flickr. It is possible to discuss ideas and possibilities for an on going WIP. In fact the possibilities to do so are even better than in the old days!
      So let me ask this question: What happened to the community since the good old days? Why are we refraining from meaningful discussions? Can we turn back time and have what we miss from the old days?
      I think it’s up to us. And this thread is a good example on what is still possible!

      Bis bald
      Marco

      Like

  13. Ah, another wondering survivor from days past!

    I don’t know about you Marco, but I think it is cool that despite it’s age, you can still go to LUGNET and see your first post on line. Look back on what you built and what you said.

    I think that you are correct when you point out that communication can occur on many different platforms. But I also believe that the platforms influence our communication patterns. Before the internet, did you ever get a written response to a written letter that said: TLDR? The whole notion of To Long, Didn’t Read would have seemed absurd. Like saying you have a short attention span and you are easily distracted. Embarrassing. But today, on any popular site… TLDR is an admonishment to the writer. Your statement is not concise enough. Your statement is to long for any normal person to read. That is a change, and I believe it comes from habitualized Tweetting and the desire to move to the next concepts quickly. A growing emphasis on speed at the expense of depth.

    I also agree with you when you point out that we are conversing right here right now. Yes, if you don’t like conversation… you are not going to hang out here! On the other hand, there is no way that this is the only island of conversation on the public net right? Or am I wrong, and almost all candid conversation is now conducted off in private echo chambers.

    Great comments, thanks for posting. Stuff like this makes the FFEs worth writing!

    später dude!

    Like

    1. Mike, I sadly have to agree with you on platforms influencing or better changing our habits on communication. I feel the tendency myself to hurry to the next bullshit picture and the next and the next just not to miss something. But I tend to open the interesting things in extra windows. And when I’m done or fed up from hurrying through the mass of worthless pictures I return to what seemed to be interesting and give it a deeper look.
      Being aware of the tendencies making your habits change in a bad way opens your mind to find behaviors to avoid the change. An other habit I established for myself is to check flickr groups only twice a week, and never more than three a day. Thus the amount of interesting stuff gets not too much to stick closer to it.
      Luckily most of my contacts don’t post too much so I can check them on a daily basis. Therefor I tend to spent less than one and a half hours a day on checking contacts, groups and answering mails and comments.
      Now that the manifesto is open again I may have to decrease checking groups to ingrease conversation. But that’s fine for me…

      Bis später

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s