I find myself saying pretty much the same thing when there's a crisis of identity on a listserv:

This listserv is a complex ecosystem. Every part of it affects every other part of it but no part defines any other part. Wise inhabitants will avoid overall ecological destruction but will mainly harvest and consume what they find useful while avoiding whatever they find poisonous. Very wise inhabitants will also cultivate what they hope to see more of but not worry too much about what's going on in the jungle just beyond their garden patch, plowed field, or milpa.

To those who fear to post because they feel outgunned (sorry for the abrupt switch of metaphor), I sympathize but suggest that . . . Damn. I could have beaten the earlier metaphor to death by making some of us into predatory beasts lurking in the forest. . .  Anyway, Franklin Dealano Roosevelt probably had it right when he said we have nothing to fear but fear itself. 

When I first saw this listserv a bit over a decade ago, it seemed to be a closed society. It was a bit like walking into a party where everyone knows each other and they all seem to fit in. Even if there are rivalries, they belong at the party and you feel like an interloper. You come home from some gatherings like that thinking that these are people stuck at age 17 who will never trust or care about anyone they didn't go to high school with. PhD-Design isn't one of those.

But--to paraphrase the old joke--put four members of the PhD-Design listserv in a room and you'll hear five or six different opinions. If you say anything, there will be someone here who will disagree with you. By the nature of this sort of conversation, you are more likely to hear the disagreements than the agreements. If someone disagrees with you, you think about it, and you conclude that the objection was ill founded, you are better off; your thoughts have been tempered and you may have discovered that the presentation of what you have to say needs tweaking. If people disagree with you and you conclude that they were right, you are much better off because you have learned something. My answer to the subject line question is "It's the kind of list where you learn something." 

As Jude put it earlier today, "I might be wrong, and I am willing to be corrected." (I don't know if that nicely describes what kind of list this is or if it nicely describes my attitude about my statement about the kind of list it is.)

So don't worry if your posts don't meet with universal acclaim. Universal acclaim is an indicator of a problem--it's in short supply anywhere that people think independently. I know that there are a few people who appreciate my posts but I suspect that there are plenty who delete anything I write without reading. That's okay. There's nothing that anyone has written that most people have read so I'm in good company.


Gunnar Swanson
East Carolina University 
graphic design program
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