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May 24, 2005

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It took me a long time to figure out how to be a good guest here. I can contribute more in the role I've developed than I could as an *official* team member. So I don't think it's a good idea for me, personally. When I hit a flat note in comments, I can be ignored and not fret too much about spoiling things for others.

You are way too humble.

The best way for me to deal with others is to ensure that they, at all times, have the option to let whatever relationship they have with me lapse painlessly into a gentle distancing. That makes it possible to weather most conflicts and keeps open the possibility of forgiveness, should it ever be needed. It's not humility. It's long range survival planning. For others' sake as well as mine, it's good to know what fits different venues.

Harry, we could always use a good wrench monkey in the pits handin' out salt tablets and doin' interviews with Pam Anderson. Pays not great, but the ethanol vapors sure are a cheap high.

Tutor, let me start with what I like about your plan: not much. Actually, ever'thangs fine with the plan, or the way it was, too. (I'm working on my triangulatin'. How's that?)

Still, y'all might wanna inform Smokey Joe that Jon Husband is not one of us. He's F1, an open wheeler, a furner, if you know what I mean. He likes a little back bacon with his catsup. I mean we gotta be careful who we open up this open society up to. Gotta consider the sponsor's feelins, too. Not just the lawyers. They may wanna see what you approve before you post.

Good points. What I get out of this is that you all travel light and are more than happy to see me take the bullet for WB solo. One of you had better write a decent eulogy. Read it in absentia, around whatever dumpster is nearest, 30 days after I have mysteriously disappeared. I know too much.

There is no greater comfort to a man in his final moments than knowing he will meet his doom in the company of a giggling crackpot. I am here for you, Tutor. Giggling. If you want me on board, I am ready.

T., There are two aspects to your proposal that maybe need to be separated out.

One is making it a group blog. There's a strong and weak version of that. The strong version is allowing people to post directly to the front page; the weak version is having you promote remarks or posts from the comment threads. The weak version is actually something you do already, culling things from the comments section and turning them into main entries. The only new twist would be maybe that you put them up more often as written, in their own "name," rather than refracted though Smoky Joe, Candida, etc. Me, I don't have any problem with the promotion bit (I'm always flattered and generally needy and hungry for attention). If we wanted to play around with different voices or gravatars, we could still just do that in comment threads and you could pull what you liked. If some people preferred a query first before being put on the front page, or preferred being left in comments only, that could be arranged too.

The second idea is more radical. It's the one reflected in e.g. "document key leverage points for positive social change, to draw attention to them, and to encourage funders and volunteers to take note..." This sounds like a substantial shift in the direction of the weblog-- the professionalizing of it, writing to an audience of the wealthy rather than writing to each other and letting the wealthy overhear. I suspect that makes people uncomfortable; it does me. It seems like it would leach out most of the qualities you (and we) value about WB, which come from the casualness of the whole thing.

Well said, TV, but I would suggest the WB itself remain a place of experimentation and literacy, where Carnival is on 24/7 if anyone is awake, and that the other blogs, Gift Hub and The World We Want are attempts at the second thing.

To go further with the WB experiment you might think about what other tools might help. An associated Wiki (just like the "workspaces" at Omidyar Network) would give us the ability to write and post things to your site that become permanent assets like the bios of the WB gang. How would you workshop characters in this virtual environment, what other features does it need?

At some point this may go beyond your personal ability to subsidize the whole thing, so you might want to start thinking now about when you will need to create the WB foundation.

Why not just start, with a few simple guidelines so that there is some 'alignment" of purpose, style and feel, and see what happens ?

I'd be glad to join in, but only if you accept people with two passports .. no furners allowed, of course.

Tigg Montague, manager of Candidia's Think Tank All Stars softball team, was born in 1972. He is a standout in the new wave of public intellectuals. Tigg recently qualified for a third degree black belt in Shorin Ryu karate and is a distinguished Olin Fellow. He holds the Market Democracy chair in the political science faculty at Yale University and can be found playing squash at the New York Athletic Club every second Saturday. His Claremont Institute lecture series is available on DVD free of charge to campus groups interested in promoting grass roots democracy. He works closely with Morton Blackwell on the popular Commons Outreach programme.

Tigg is happily married to Ashley Antoinette Montague, neƩ Cosway-Mason, and their charming daughter, Carol-Anne, attends Rye Country Day School. Ashley is devoted to school charity and holds bimonthly leadership seminars which, in the spirit of inclusivity, are open to members of the Oak Tree Guild, the Blue and Gold Council, the Charter Circle, the 1869 Fellows and the Founders Society.

He joins Wealth Bondage in an effort to illuminate dumpster denizens and hopes they may eventually cultivate the sense of ownership they will need for success in the new millenium.

Softball? Nobuddy mentioned a softball team. Why weren't I told? I suppose Dick Minim is 'the catcher'. Anybody capable of working up some tradin' cards?

Tigg that there Morton Blackwell sounds like a heap of fun, a Saul Alinsky for the day. Workin' the bottom of the gene pool. Sometimes you got forget all the collaboration and team work and just let a nutbar run with the job. Maybe we could get Tutor into the daycares and sunday schools, never mind morals tutor to the stars, we need us a star tutor to the Morans. Big family we'uns.

Gerry, TV, whhhhhooooooooeeeee. Y'all are right. We needs us a little separation, between This and That. And some sponsorship. Leather jackets, caps, T's, tradin' cards. Decals!

Very thoughtful and helpful comments. A lot to digest. Someone described Romantic poetry (Coleridge's "Lime Tree My Bower," say) as not heard but overheard. That has been the strategy with WB. The conversational voice, table talk, musing - all of that has strong literary precedents, from Horace in his epistles, to Rabelas and the langauge of the country fair, to Dryden in the coffee house, to Addison and Steele blogging the coffee house chat and calling it a journal, the Romantic's imitating the self reflective inner voice, what starts as sub-literary becomes a new genre. It was interesting to me to see how the dumpster people who responded to the call for an essay on The World We Want struggled with tone and style, most of you became more formal and less effective, reverting automatically to the goody-two-shoes, "grade me," style of received "good writing." In that sense, I would much rather keep it loose here and let the habits of studied informality become so inveterate that when called upon under pressure we don't lose that voice, but heighten into art. That is why I think I will keep it as it is for now, but do more cutting and pasting into the main page and more cutting and pasting, and revising with links, for The World We Want and Gift Hub.

On audience: One audience, rich or poor, for we are all citizens. And the high and the mighty can learn from us, as Midas could from his barber, or a brat from a morals Tutor, or a King from a Clown. That is the whole premise, however enforced. I want the wealthy and privileged to meet their betters in a Carnival in which we are all human, fallible, and in need of convivial checks and balances.

Let's make it a rule, then, unless someone objects that comments are tacit submissions to a common pool asset and can be cut and pasted creatively with whatever attribution seems approprite. If you post with your name, or persistent pseud, I will link to your home site. If you use a gravatar and phony persona, give me the bio as Tigg just did. I will add it to the staff, and when appropriate will promote the comment into a post with a bio link and gravatar.

Probably a good idea, because it keeps one editorial perspective and makes everyone unselfconscious. I obviosuly won't promote things that I think will be embarassing to the poster.

Looking at it objectively, Tigg is a great new character, he trumps Smoky Joe for the same purpose. Joe is like a villain in a melodrama, Tigg is genuinely sinister, because he truly could pass for an Olin Fellow.

Likewise et's Bud Morans and family is infuriatingly upbeat and convincingly moronic. Instead of denouncing Folly what we learn from the Ancients is to impersonate and celebrate it. When you do magic happens, you find that the character is lovable in his or her own benighted way. (C.f. MacFleckno). Then what had been divisive and embittering becomes a shared pleasure, with even the personages, or types, satirized, finding a smile coming on, and a laugh. Satire wounds, but there is a kind that also heals. Tigg, like Candidia, is lovable in his own way, like Undershaft, say, in Major Barbara by Shaw, or like the conmen and rogues in Twain.

Bitternenss and whining, as they say, is losing strategy. Tigg shows us how to embrance and extend Folly and Knavery until even the Fools and Knaves smile at their own reflection in the mirror we hold up to nature.

Let the important people pointedly ignore the Carnival in their midst, but that is hard to do when we limn their features so tellingly and pantomime their dumbed down mediaspeak so joyously. We are not so threatening to them and might even win them over if we can "keep it positive," as Tigg does so admirably as do his cousins, Bud and JJ Morans.

On professionalization of blogging and the risk of that, I agree. Gifthub is dull because it is so "professional." But think about Situationism. The trick to find a professional or decorous audience and then to introduce into their midst a Carnival. That has to be the payoff for all this effort. That could change the world in its own way, an eruption of the dumpster dwellers into the safe and private places of wealth and power, leading not to tradegy, irony, satire, much less loss of life and limb, but to a dance, the dance with which a comedy ends, all dancing in a circle, rich and poor alike, and them moving on if possible to some common projects for the greater good.

The Beggars Opera and Rabelais, more than Swift and Pope, or Debord point to this benign consumation.

Wealth Bondage just went hip hop, n'ome sane.

Yes, street cred. Cool hunters welcome. Come up with my own WB FUBU line.

Wealth Bondage: America's Left Bank.

When the Bank goes bust.

"There's a strong and weak version of that. The strong version is allowing people to post directly to the front page; the weak version is having you promote remarks or posts from the comment threads. The weak version is actually something you do already, culling things from the comments section and turning them into main entries."

With Drupal the group can vote on which posts are promoted. X-number of votes = promoted. Proprietor's discretion can always be applied, of course.

Klaus, sounds cool. Glad to see you around again.

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