A Wider Circle

Voice Card  -  Volume 1  -  John Card Number 16  -  Tue, Aug 30, 1988 10:38 PM

When I first started searching for members to participate in this mad Archipelago scheme, I thought I might have trouble attracting a sufficient number of warm bodies. But as the project grew I began to face just the opposite problem! There are more quality members than there are available slots!

I feel that it is essential to keep our group fairly small. If you have ever participated in or tried to conduct any kind of class or discussion group, you know that the number of members has a dramatic impact on the quality of the interaction: too few and the creative forces fall below critical mass, too many and the atmosphere loses its intimacy. Too many members would also cause some technical difficulties and the additional overhead would become too much of a strain on the already overworked editor (that's me). I think ten is just right and I have set an absolute limit of twelve.

And yet I am confident that I could easily attract ten more extremely intelligent, talented members (indeed, I have already turned several away). And I'm sure each one of you can think of a few friends who would enhance the group, and they may have friends as well.

It galls me to waste this pool of potential friends, and I have been racking my poor brain trying to come up with some way to widen our circle (without destroying it).

One approach would be to foster the creation of other independent Archipelagos and to ensure that each group has members which belong to two groups. Such members would become bridges over which ideas and information could flow from one group to the next. The catch here is that I'd have to find people crazy enough to serve as group editors. Would any of you like to start your own group someday?

Another approach is to establish a one-way relationship with a larger audience. Our own little group is two-way, that is, we can all speak as well as listen. We could take the fruits of our interactions and transmit them to a larger audience.

Stuart has suggested that we might form some kind of journal, published in HyperCard format and distributed throughout the Macintosh community. There are already a number of such publications, but most of these confine themselves to computer stuff; we could create something new with a broader appeal. We could provide poetry, fiction, reviews, essays, programs-as-art. Or whatever. If such a journal ever came into existence, we would become associate editors. And it might be possible to publish on paper as well as on disk. (Late breaking news item: I've just become aware of such a journal already in existence; see card 20).

A more informal approach is for each member to simply share parts of Archipelago with other friends, share their contributions with our group, and in general serve as a kind of two-way representative. I have also considered marketing some kind of start-your-own-Archipelago kits.

Clearly this is not something we have to decide on right away. Our first goal should be to learn how to interact with each other and to get some of the bugs out of the system. But I think we should start talking about this issue as soon as possible. We need more data; we need options and opinions and ideas; we need to brainstorm! No idea is too wacky! We need to work together if we are ever going to find a wider circle!