. community —

fray vs. eMinds vs. communitease

After reading Alex Galloway's comments about www.fray.com ["<a
href="/cgi-local/query.cgi?action=grab_object&kt=kt0540">fray review</a>,"
RHIZOME CONTENTBASE, 4.6.97], Carmen Hermosillo wrote:

add to the list of wired/hotwired ex-pats eager to take their experience
to the bank ex-hotwired guy Howard Rheingold's eMinds site

positing itself as a member of the new cultural geography that alex
galloway described while simultaneously appearing to be a force for
cultural stagnation, eMinds is divided into five rather than four areas:
(Meeting of the Minds, Virtual Communities, World Wide Jam, Edge Tech,
and Tommorow). within these areas are allegedly cutting-edge insight
essays written by eMinds staffers whose knives have apparently not been
sharpened since 1995. the resulting conversation, contributed by
self-described "early adopters", is big on process, low on meaning, and
tends to choose the big word where a small one would do.

eMinds contains a high concentration psychobabble about community
couched in hollywood western metaphor. topics involving farming and
small town metaphor abound to the point where one almost expects to see
grace kelly and gary cooper at a grant wood american gothic front door.

eminds also does geekspeak about the future as if the world was about to
become a character in a vernor vinge novel. many eMinds users appear to
still be under the influence of the Summer of Love. users of this
system are invited to share their knowledge, insights, and personal
tragedies. it is slick, sentimental, and politically correct.

Although eMinds denies any ambition towards future data-warehousing or
user profiling, it takes about 23 cookies to get from the front door to
any given topic. it has a whole conference devoted to interviews with
representatives of the companies who put up banner advertising on the
site, and the interviews appear to consist of product announcements.

like the Fray, the eMinds site is an example of a modernist piece in the
finest dis-associative form-over-content sense of the word, adhering to
the same self-righteous perspective that appears to be a hallmark of the
act of aestheticizing cultural/political discourse since 1918.


Honoria responded:

I have been navigating around eMinds too. I found a "conversation" on
Mail Art. I have been a mailartista since 1986. The mail art network is
profoundly different from electronic net….i have been thinking about
the differences as I watch various conventions be adopted in the
electronic communitease.

I'm still thinking….Enjoyed your observations.

Jon Lebkowsky then wrote:

Honoria, I think you'll find eminds' Art_Circuit to your liking. As for
Carmen's complaints…no hollywood western in sight, though we have pure
Texas stock in the Austin conference, which I host. Whether Texas means
'Hollywood Western' or 'Austin slacker' I don't know… Come babble with
me and the rest o' the psychos!

It would most wonderful, meanwhile, if you could wax profounder on the
differences between mail art and 'electronic communitease'!