Thursday, 24 January 2008 v

Blogging and membership of forums is certainly an intimate introduction into cultural disparities as well as similarities! Like cruising it exposes me to a different perspective not only of where I am but where I have come from.

One of the extraordinary aspects of communication via the internet is both its immediacy and its geographical spread. It highlights the parochialism of our worlds and the vagaries of our language. The difficulties of communicating across borders are certainly still there! Instead of it taking time to exchange ideas and information we can now 'converse' with a speed that we could not have imagined even ten years ago.

But that brings its own problems.

I have recently had another 'enlightening' experience courtesy of the forum site. Billing itself as 'the world's largest online sailing community' one would have expected a wide range of geographical and culturally diverse participants. Well I did anyway!

What I have found however is the equivalent of an predominantly male, American Country Club. Where membership is controlled by the chosen few, outsiders are required to prove themselves and their pedigree and woe betide anyone who suggests a different way of thinking or criticizes any of the old boy network.

Even though Americans and Britons speak the same language we have a very different culture and norms.

I was stunned to hear an American cruiser yesterday express real fear abut the risk of voicing dissenting opinions in the States as in 'either you are with us or you are with the terrorists'. That certainly echoes the experiences I am having within the tiny world of USA that I am accessing.

There is a real horror of self expression or protest. To the point of paranoia. It does not bode well for their future I fear.Whatever happened to the frank exchange of differing viewpoints!

Have I been warped through the time space continuum to Communist China?

Beam me up Scotty....

In my post on dialogue versus debate I wrote all about the value of diversity in viewpoints and ideas. Yet this tiny sub-culture clearly values consensus more highly. In the biological world it's diversity in the gene pool that keeps the species alive. Learning, changing, adapting and growing. One thing is for sure incestuousness as demonstrated in the sailnet community leads to strange pathologies. Learning difficulties, bad eyesight and the like!

I was asked to change my blog by the sailnet moderator to something that 'did not enrage' the sailnet membership! I declined!

The experience has made me value more highly the lighter and more intelligent moderation and therefore content of the forums. I commend them to you....

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