Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lurkers in the Loft

July 19

When I got my first computer, the phenomenon of chatrooms was fascinating to me. I decided to open my own, and in deference to Dorothy Parker, I named the club The Algonquin Round Table and went online Monday through Friday at 2 P.M. CST to conduct what I hoped would be an erudite exchange of witticisms and criticisms with others all over the country or the world.

It didn’t really work. Oh, people showed up, mostly 20-somethings who had never heard of Mrs. Parker or the original Round Table. That was all right; it gave me something to do, spending a little time in my role of pedant, explaining the history of the original Algonquin Round Table (which I’ve touched on in this blog, see the Dorothy Parker post of July 9), and trying to inspire people to be as witty as they could. I had a lot of laughs, and the room did get busy for awhile – but it just never came together the way I wanted and I gave it up after six or seven months. Now I can’t imagine having done all that, but maybe someday I’ll feel the same about writing a daily blog.

I learned a lot about the denizens of the Net. Probably the reason I abandoned the old Algonquin chat room was that it was not attracting the likes of Robert Benchley and George S. Kaufman. Every once in awhile a zinger came through, but most of the players were looking to hook up. Lot of IM'ing going on when Mother wasn’t looking. At least one assignation took place in Seattle, but I was told by both parties that it was a bust.

I learned that there are a lot of readers out there. When the room was open and someone entered, the announcement would read: HOLLY GOLIGHTLY HAS ENTERED THE ROOM, for example. Some of those who entered never contributed. They were IM'ing each other, I suppose, discussing the dopey rules of my room, trying to arouse each other, I don’t know what. But they weren’t playing my game.

Those who just came in to read what was being communicated were said to be lofting. They weren’t unwelcome, but I wanted a lively conversation at all times, and missed the point that they weren’t talking because they had nothing to say.

Writing a blog is kinda like that. I expect a lot more comments than I receive, and there are lots of people who come and check out Finding Fair Hope every day and never make themselves known. In a chatroom they are known as lofters, on a blog they are called lurkers.

As for me, I’ve mellowed. I’m proud that I have regular readers for the detritus of my mind, even though they number only about 30 on any given day. That counts repeat visits on the same day and probably half who just take a glance and don’t bother to read. But right here and now I’d like to ask a few more of you to make yourself known, just so I get a feel for which posts attract, which repel. I know that the domain doesn’t make it easy to slip in and make a comment -- they ask you to start your own blog with a rather silly procedure that shouldn’t be necessary for the casual passer-through -- but if you’ll take the time, I’d still appreciate it, and you’re not going to be obligated for anything. You’re welcome to say dumb things. It’s not like the Algonquin when one never knew if I was in my Dorothy Parker garb and ready for a one-liner to slice you down to size. (When Clare Booth Luce, whom Mrs. Parker despised, walked into the room, Dottie preceded her through the door. Mrs. Luce made the comment – which she’d probably had in the works for months waiting for the opportunity to use it, “Age before beauty.” Dottie’s instant rejoinder, “Pearls before swine.”)

But that kind of thing doesn’t happen here. We’re a big family with a lot of room for country cousins and hostile in-laws. And I love having readership – I just wish there weren’t so many who lurked without coming into the party, even in a costume.


ArtieLange said...

Bravo! And sorry for not commenting more often (though I am not a daily lurker).

I can safely write that I am not of Algonquin Round Table quality, but if you ever set up a chatroom called "Woolworth's Lunch Counter", I may have something to contribute.

Jess said...

Guilty as charged. A lurker in your midst. I enjoy reading your posts but I feel I have nothing sensible to contribute to them, so I read and take in what I see. You may know me from nagarjuna's blog. I frequent and comment on that one quite often.

Finding Fair Hope said...

Two lurkers outed! I know there are more. Til I find them, let's all go and read artie's blog. You get there by clicking on his name. Jess says she may get one soon herself. I think we'll hear about it if it happens (maybe she'll call in Woolworth's Lunch Counter).

Jess said...

I have no idea where and how to start. As you well know, Steve has been gently nagging me for months to start one up, but now is just not the right time for me. As you are probably aware, I have had several life changing moments as of late, and I am just not ready to put the jumble of thoughts I have out there for people to see. It is still too raw for me to think about, let alone talk about with virtual friends. When I do Steve will tell everyone I am sure of it ;).

Bert Bananas said...

Detritus? One of the Greek Stoics?

My favorite philosopher was Peristalsis, who was big on movement.