Back when my e-mail address was firstname.lastname@example.org, I belonged to an online communicators' forum called, just as sexily, PRSIG. (That was somehow short for "PR + Markting Forum.")
As I remember it, PRSIG was created by a mild-mannered Internet geek named Ron something—I'll think of it—and its various chat areas were hosted by people called "sysops," which was short for "system operators," which really just meant that they guarded the forums against full-scale riots.
Solberg, that was it! Ron Solberg! Hell of a nice guy—unlike many of the rest of us, who were just discovering the joys of online truculence. (I'm not sure I've ever gotten over it.)
Mad debates took place—over everything from how employees prefer to get their corporate news, to whether Maya Angelou was or wasn't a proper choice to keynote the IABC conference—and many characters emerged. All the characters could be split into one of two basic groups, though: You were either a provocateur, or you were an ameliorator.
I still know some of these people today—Shel Holtz, Brian Kilgore, Sue Johnston, Craig Jolley, Charles Pizzo, Sheri Rosen come immediately to mind, but there are many other PRSIG alumni who are still in the business—and they still basically fit into their groups.
But now everything's different. The provocateurs all have their own goddamn blogs. In fact, so do many of the ameliorators. (The provocateurs' blogs are more fun IMNSHO—in my not-so-humble opinion, a phrase I believe we invented at PRSIG.) But the problem is, the people who spent huge chunks of their days debating communication issues at PRSIG (and their younger ilk) are still the handful of crackpots and cranks, thinkers and visionaries who you probably want debating the issues.
But speaking for myself: Every time I get caught up in a discussion on somebody else's blog these days, I soon have a better idea. If it's a good discussion, it ought to be taking place on my goddamn blog. So I write my own item linking to the other blog, and try to wave everybody over to my place, to talk over my point of view on the thing.
I waste too much time writing my blog to waste any time contributing to the discussion on your blog.
And vice versa, I've noticed.
So now, we have all the professional talkers talking to our own readers, but rarely debating with one another. Which is a shame, because those conversations were interesting. Often obnoxious, overwrought and silly—but interesting nevertheless.
Shel Holtz, I'd love to make a sincere offer to give up my blog and return, if you'll do the same, to those halcyon days of Ron Solberg's Communication Tavern.
But I'll never give up my blog, Shel. And either will you.