Public Square or Private Club: Does Exclusivity Strengthen or Dilute?

The first panel I was in time to attend in full today was this one. It featured Tiffany B. Brown, Melinda Casino, Barb Dybwad, and Lisa Stone.

Many of the originial comments from the panelists got lost in the shuffle of the SXSW wireless not working and my computer hanging because it did the “sit and spin” thing when the SXSW wireless connection failed. So I’m sorry that I cannot reproduce the initial comments of the panelists.

There were lots of conversations from the audience. There was discussion of private groups focused on a certain area. If people are interested in that focus are invited to come and participate. It’s self selecting.

Most said they are in organizations where they are interested in speaking to the mainstream. Lisa asked, “Why, when, and how do we open up to the mainstream and how do you make people feel welcome to participate.” There were several comments on this. Barb said when a group has a set of goals that they want to accomplish is a good time to open it up to the larger community.

A converstation about anger began. In public blogging Tiffany said she tries to avoid anger and maintain a level of civil discourse. Anger represents a loss of credibility to her.

Melinda defended anger saying it’s led to more action in the feminist movement than any other emotion. She mentioned the feminist rage page whose motto is equality never looked so pissed. Supportive communities lead to activist communities.

One audience member said that angry disagreement might be the only way to break a frame built on politeness and civility. Context matters in how people behave in online communities where people come together around one issue, but that those same people in a discussion in another context might not agree at all.

Lisa’s last question is about turning the tables so that they were asked to pick a person in the mainstream that they would like to get to know. Melinda said she didn’t like the question because it smacked of kissing up. Barb was willing to name skobel. Tiffany named dave winer and a black consersavative woman’s blog, the name of which I missed.

If I have this much trouble tomorrow with the SXSW wireless connection in that room (the same room my panel is in) I may give up on trying to blog during the event.

Photos on Flickr. My shot of Lisa is out of focus, so I’ll try again tomorrow to get a photo of her.

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