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Greg Wolfe

An Announcement about the Future of A&F

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I got the official announcement via e-mail last night, and it immediately struck me that Image was the logical choice for A&F's new home. I'm sure there will be bumps along the way -- growing pains, really -- as the merger moves forward, but with a little bit of grace, I'm sure we'll see it through.

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I've never been a big fan of Obama, but I suddenly find myself freely invoking his "hope" and "change" mantras. :)

Christian wrote:

: This is a happy thread, and I don

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I would like to see someone try and make me think in deep thoughts if I don't wanna.

Poopy poop poop.

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I think your post count is safe -- IMAGE Forum is actually going to be integrated into THIS board.

You know, you might be somewhat surprised by my response to your question about "thoughtful" vs. "hype" and "trivia."

Our IMAGE Forum was so thoughtful that it thought itself into paralysis.

Everyone was intimidated by the level of the conversation and felt a certain pressure to craft a post -- or just not post at all.

Hype and trivia aren't good things but what I love about A&F is the freedom and fluency of the posting here. Why, I wonder, did that never happen at IMAGE?

I've already joked about not liking emoticons, so yes, I do find boards where a third of the posts simply read "lol" or the equivalent to be pretty useless.

One thing I'm NOT going to do is pose as an expert on this board or boards in general. I've lurked here a few times over the last few years and I certainly did my best to get the IMAGE Forum going, but I've got a lot to learn.

So, why don't we split the difference between trivia and thoughtfulness?

(By the way, perhaps we should do this on another thread but I think the whole question of thoughtfulness vs. whatever is less than thoughtfulness raises big questions -- at least for me. IMAGE routinely gets called "intimidating," even "scholarly," and frankly isn't subscribed to by a lot of people who should be subscribing. This drives me nuts because the writing in IMAGE is actually not scholarly at all -- it's just incredibly compelling, good writing. But we struggle with this issue all the time.)

Greg

The boards will be merged in due course. Stay tuned.

Hey, this is exciting.

Will my post count start from scratch?

This is a happy thread, and I don

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(By the way, perhaps we should do this on another thread but I think the whole question of thoughtfulness vs. whatever is less than thoughtfulness raises big questions -- at least for me. IMAGE routinely gets called "intimidating," even "scholarly," and frankly isn't subscribed to by a lot of people who should be subscribing. This drives me nuts because the writing in IMAGE is actually not scholarly at all -- it's just incredibly compelling, good writing. But we struggle with this issue all the time.)

Maybe you should try writing some of it dumberer.

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The conversations at A&F can be somewhat breezy at times, and that includes (but is not limited to) what some have called "hype" or "trivia" (which are not the same thing: I'm very leery around hype, but I'm very fond of trivia). I would hope that our posts don't have to pass some sort of "deep thoughts" quotient in order to qualify here. Especially since my brain has been leaking ever since I became a full-time stay-at-home dad.

I have always enjoyed the fact that one can get as deep as they want to here. We have had a lot of detailed, complicated discussions about war footage, Holocaust cinema, the psychology of editing, auteur theory, criticism, Jesus cinema, etc... It seems that one can usually find someone willing to engage such topics constructively. And if other posters aren't interested, they move on to other things. We have had a good organic balance.

I am not a big fan of having posts filled with too many links to reviews and bits of information that aren't subsequently involved in conversation. I wouldn't mind us all agreeing about what constitutes link-dumping and what doesn't.

Edited by MLeary

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Regarding my use of emoticons, if such a defense can be made. I used to never use them, but I started using emoticons in the various discussion board due to a conversation I had with Rich Kennedy many years ago. I gathered that one could not always tell if I was being sarcastically humorous, or a flat out grump. Thus, began my use of emoticons. An emoticon is like an electronic version of a qualifier. "Ahem, I was not serious when I said that - didn't you see my colon and capital D following the paragraph."

So... I blame my use of emoticons on Rich.

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Regarding my use of emoticons, if such a defense can be made. I used to never use them, but I started using emoticons in the various discussion board due to a conversation I had with Rich Kennedy many years ago. I gathered that one could not always tell if I was being sarcastically humorous, or a flat out grump. Thus, began my use of emoticons. An emoticon is like an electronic version of a qualifier. "Ahem, I was not serious when I said that - didn't you see my colon and capital D following the paragraph."

But about 95% of the time, one can achieve the same effect by either rewording the sentence slightly or adding just one or two signifiers. To whit:

Sentence of uncertain meaning: "I love ice cream."

Sarcastic: "Yeah, uh huh, right, I love ice cream. By the way, I was being sarcastic."

Sad: "My cat loved ice cream. Then she died."

Sincere: "I sincerely love ice cream."

Embarrassed: "Honey, honey...stop...stop crying. It's, it's not...it's not what it looks like. It's frozen yogurt, I swear! I swear!"

Silly: "I gorble gorgle gork. But by 'gorble,' I mean 'love,' and by 'gorgle,' I mean 'ice,' and by 'gork,' I mean 'cubes.' And by 'cubes,' I mean 'cream.'"

Angry: "I LOVE ICE CREAM, YOU DENIZEN OF HADES!"

Et alia. And I mean that "et alia" sincerely.

Dale

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But about 95% of the time, one can achieve the same effect by either rewording the sentence slightly or adding just one or two signifiers. To whit:

Funny: "My cat loved ice cream. Then she died."

Fixed it for you.

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I guess I'm not sure what just happened.

(Maybe I don't want to know. Online forums are perhaps like politics, church life and sausage: the end result can be good, but you don't want to know how it's made...)

I'm gathering that I missed a difficult week behind the scenes. I'm sorry I wasn't here as a load-lightener, if I could have been. Again I want to state how profoundly grateful I am to Alan, Jeffrey, Steven, Peter and all moderators and frequent posters whose contributions here have deeply enriched me.

Greg, this new relationship with Image sounds perfect. Like, maybe, in some way, the logical (and even inevitable) outcome for your forum and ours. A warm welcome and a hearty thanks from here.

And to everyone who sailed through stormy seas recently, grace and peace to you.

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am also in agreement with Buckeye on most of the following - though I'd exclude "Politics" and "Religion" from the non-arts fora...

Ellen, are you recommending that Greg get rid of the Politics and Religion fora, or are you saying that you don't see those as "non-arts" fora?

Perhaps an emoticon would help here ...

It would seem that most of the really contentious debates at A&F have taken place in the Politics and Religion fora, so the board might in some sense be better off without those fora. On the other hand, it's not as though political and religious topics would magically stop coming up in discussions about arts and faith. As I see it, the moderator has three choices:

1. Tolerate tangential discussions of religion and politics within arts fora.

2. Facilitate a place for those topics to be discussed on the board, so people can go off on tangents if they want, while keeping the arts fora more focused on the arts.

3. Send people elsewhere if they wish to discuss politics and religion.

Alan chose #2, which turned out to have some drawbacks, but #1 and #3 might well have even greater drawbacks.

Valuable lessons I've learned at A&F:

1. I don't have to win every debate.

2. Even if I lose a debate, that doesn't automatically mean I was wrong.

3. Losing a debate may temporarily harm my ego, but has seldom failed to help me think more deeply about the topic, whether I change my position or not.

4. Just because I take something personally doesn't mean it was intended that way.

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Will there still be avataristic secrets in the new iteration?

Oh, I actually had a point before I got distracted by martin's tag line.

I think it makes some sense to start a new thread for input, but I'd defer to Greg Wolfe to set that up. That way the input can be collected in a single source (and I assume other input would go on via other means, such a PMs and actual conversations.).

Sorry for getting us off on a tangent.

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I'd vote for axing the Politics forum... more out of concern for Image than anything. Image is not about politics, and hosting a politics forum might not be in their best interest.

It is, yes, one of the most flammable branches of the site. If there was a way to take that branch and graft it onto some other board somewhere, if anybody wanted to take it on, that would prevent the loss of the archive. But I think it would be better off somewhere else.

Religion? Well, Image *is* a journal of "the arts and religion," so I have mixed feelings about the future of that branch.

Valuable lessons I've learned at A&F:

1. I don't have to win every debate.

2. Even if I lose a debate, that doesn't automatically mean I was wrong.

3. Losing a debate may temporarily harm my ego, but has seldom failed to help me think more deeply about the topic, whether I change my position or not.

4. Just because I take something personally doesn't mean it was intended that way.

These are good lessons for all of us, even if they are lessons that I find myself having to learn repeatedly.

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All I ask for is fairness and consistency. I don't want to see us getting into another situation where someone is publicly saying nasty things to certain people while telling them to take their disputes private, and then threatening to expel those people from the board because of private conversations that he wasn't even involved with.

And yes, transparency will definitely help there, I think.

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Star ratings: I want to axe them.

(See my rant here.)

I don't see that they've done us any good, and in fact, they *have* done a bit of harm, as they sparked debates the resulted in at least one person being banned.

I say, ban the movie ratings, not the people who rate the movies. I mean, if we want to rate movies, can't we do that on our own sites, or blogs, or Netflix, or Flixter, or a bazillion other sites?

Edited by Overstreet

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Star ratings: I want to axe them.

(See my rant here.)

I don't see that they've done us any good, and in fact, they *have* done a bit of harm, as they sparked debates the resulted in at least one person being banned.

I say, ban the movie ratings, not the people who rate the movies. I mean, if we want to rate movies, can't we do that on our own sites, or blogs, or Netflix, or Flixter, or a bazillion other sites?

On the other hand, star ratings are data, and data is useful in compiling candidates for stuff like the top 100, etc. I would say keep the star ratings, rants notwithstanding, but make them more useful. I'd love to have access to what are the top rated films by this board--and whoa, if I could import that into a Netflix queue, say an "A&F" sub-queue, that would be really cool.

Plus, wasn't there some film I just saw that I hated so much I would do some bad things to it if it were a doll...? Well, at least putting "o" made me feel a smidge better. I cannot remember what that movie was now. That is a good thing.

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"Ahem, I was not serious when I said that - didn't you see my colon and capital D following the paragraph."

let me state before the shift that i am not at all comfortable with looking at anyone's colon... :shock:

can we please ban all images of colons from the next iteration of this forums? please?

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"Ahem, I was not serious when I said that - didn't you see my colon and capital D following the paragraph."

let me state before the shift that i am not at all comfortable with looking at anyone's colon... :shock:

can we please ban all images of colons from the next iteration of this forums? please?

Just please don't ban ellipses... I'm not sure whether I'd be able to manufacture a post without them.

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There is certainly room for both vigorous debate and more relaxed conversation, and it's possible to learn from each other in both types of exchange. I would hate to see a moderator try to squelch "debate" in favor of "conversation."

The only universal rule I can think of is for each participant to model the kind of talk he or she wishes to see more of on the board

Edited by mrmando

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2. Facilitate a place for those topics to be discussed on the board, so people can go off on tangents if they want, while keeping the arts fora more focused on the arts.

FWIW, in previous versions of this conversation/board, many of these dialogues on politics and theology actually took place in the context of specific films. This was a far more effective way to handle these topics as at least these debates were given specific source texts to work with. The addition of all these different fora actually resulted in a film section that had less specific debates, many of which in ages past were quite constructive. I look forward to a time when our thoughts on film are more integrated with differing ideological convictions. Color me Gadamer, but it pans out well in a Christian context.

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In the meantime, maybe all involved here should be required to buy one of these.... [j/k, but only half ;)]

lens2321724_1228541173Bozo_Bag.jpg

Anyone know whether one can have these custom-made?

I'd be glad to print up a few bearing my avatar, and sell them to anyone who wants to beat me up in effigy. :lol:

I like Ellen's boxing analogy

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I don't see that they've done us any good, and in fact, they *have* done a bit of harm, as they sparked debates the resulted in at least one person being banned.

Jeff, while I don't dispute the accuracy of this statement, I've been on the other side of having people characterize me and/or my actions when I wasn't able or willing to give my side of the story. This feels very close to me to doing the same thing in reverse. Whatever the previous moderator's reasons were (stated or actual) for some of his decisions, I think it was evident that in his way he cared about this site. I'm sure there are other, better reasons for canning the film ratings than the fact that it was the catalyst/context in which other, more problematic decisions were made.

Ken

Reporter: Is that true?

Megan: No, but it's accurate.

--Sally Field in Absence of Malice.

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We're all going to make mistakes, screw up, say things we might wish unsaid - that's a given, because we're human. But please, can we try to direct the negative stuff away from each other and put something *positive* into conversations and discussions? (Not that that doesn't happen already, but it's something we can all work on...)

Yup.

But it's also worth reminding ourselves that the hurt can come from a problem with the perception of those on the receiving end of criticism, not just from the person delivering criticism. There have been many situations on this board in which we were guilty of speaking too harshly. There have been many other situations in which harshness or accusation or mean-spiritedness was perceived by someone, but it was not actually present in the words or intention of the speaker.

So we will all need to do double-duty, being thick-skinned and willing to take the bumps and tumbles that come with an online forum, even as we exercise extreme caution in our criticism, dialogue, and debate.

We must also be patient with those of us who, in their discourse, have a lot to learn about how they *sound* when they participate.

Many of us are still learning about how eagerness and enthusiasm can come across, in text, as aggression, intimidation, and even "venomous" talk. Whether this has anything to do with differences in social custom, or with weaknesses in perception, with imbalances in medication, who knows?

I once had a friend confess to me, after I kept teasing him about Facebook, that he refused to sign up for one reason: He was bi-polar. He said that online behaviors often push him over the edge, and he loses control. He said he'd been called all kinds of names, and it broke his heart because that wasn't who he was. That was what he became when his perception was altered by imbalances. It was like Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, but he wasn't able to control the "transformation" well. He always felt devastated when he got back on his medication, balanced out, and saw things clearly. But the impatience of those who answered him, and the rage they directed back at him, actually did him a great deal of damage. He got to a point where he could hardly look at the Internet anymore, because he was so afraid of something knocking him off balance, or triggering behaviors in him he couldn't control. To this day, he's not on Facebook or MySpace or even Twitter, and now I support him in avoiding those things.

If he had ever been a participant on A&F, I would like to think we would have supported him and been patient with him. Honestly, I don't think he would have lasted two weeks.

I'm not saying we have to treat each other with kid gloves. And I'm not asking for a period of weepy confessions.

But let's face it: We don't know each other. Unless we're family, or longtime in-person friends outside of this forum, we really don't. We know a few things about each others' online personalities and voices. That's all.

I've often said things here I regretted... and it had as much to do with the excruciating stress of things going on in my personal life as it had to do with things on the board. I need to learn to control myself better. But am also grateful that you all have been forgiving and tolerant along the way.

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Speaking not with regard to poster personalities or personal conflicts, but with regard to possible changes in posting content due to the board's new (and welcome from my corner) connection with Image Journal:

Would anybody (especially Ken, Jeffrey, Steven, or Peter) be interested in contacting Doug C and inviting him back personally? If more "serious" discussion ensues due to Image's involvement, he might be interested in participating, and I know that I always enjoyed the depth of thought and knowledge that his posts brought into the mix. I would extend this invitation myself, but I've never been an active enough poster here to think that me might have any memory of who I am.

This isn't a suggestion that I think needs any debate (in other words, I don't want to prompt any airing of dirty laundry), but just something I wanted to put out there in case anyone Doug would remember thinks it's a good idea and would like to follow through on it.

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I'd certainly welcome his participation. And that of several others. Some of them have gathered at a discussion board of their own, but conversations there are infrequent, and I suspect that might have something to do with the demands of their other endeavors online and off. Who knows?

But I'd love to be surprised, solishu. I really would.

Edited by Overstreet

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