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GSBN:What is the GSBN anymore? (was:Nomination)



The crux of this post after much self-debate and balancing is in its final paragraph, which reads in part:

	Can the GSBN be both the GSBN and a TLS-Advisory
	list? Is there a happy medium? Maybe and maybe not.
	I propose that this list be renamed TLS-Advisory and
	given over to the direction of TLS c/o Joyce. We see
	how things shake out... and if TLS-Advisory doesn't
	satisfactorily encompass the requirements and desires
	of the GSBN, we'll make a new one. Heck, we can
	start now if people feel strongly about it. Email me,
	gadfly@...

The rest of my ramblings follow for anybody interested.

- - - - -

At 11:47 PM 4/8/02, the revered old geezer wrote:
>... what I think I remember to be the original, vaguely
>described, purpose of the GSBN.  That is, a way for
>a smallish number of people, representing the
>straw-bale communities or associations in countries
>(or regions of larger countries), to network... acting as
>two-way hubs for the transfer of information...

	Yeah, I remember it like that.

Also in the mix, as I recall, was that the GSBN would be an advisory panel for TLS - though that, too, was never defined in any clear way, and it's never been utilized as such.

The GSBN in that capacity always figured as a rather prominent part of my personal grand scheme for TLS - virtually none of which I ever managed to implement, alas. Anyway, after a couple instances of passing the hat among GSBN the members to cover expenses, TLS offered to pony up the dough to keep things going - since TLS was benefiting in some way from the expertise of the GSBN members, or was going to.

A bit farther along the continuum, back before I resigned from TLS, I posted here for a vote about running TLS-bound material by the list for voluntary peer/expert review. There were no dissenting voices, only assenting. And largely strongly assenting, at that.

	That's as far as that aspect of things ever got, though.


>...the criteria being used to screen suggested additions
>(which we must do unless we chose to welcome all
>interested individuals), seems to have been gradually
>changing... Is that because we have simply forgotten the
>original intent, or because the criteria need to be
>changed, or because the purpose of the GSBN has
>gradually morphed into being mostly a way for "serious
>strawbalers" to pick each others brains in a more private
>way than the CREST listserve provides?

I think that Joyce has been thinking about the GSBN very much the way that I always did - not only as a hub of "high-level" SB communications-for-the-commons, but also as an advisory / peer-review council for TLS. (Joyce may be more strongly focused on the latter than I was, which is OK since we're actually two different people.) And in her forthcoming capacity as publisher, managing editor, and overall boss honcho of TLS, she's working to involve people (as it happens, most if not all of the ones that I know about have so far been professional builders) that she feels will be beneficial to TLS, its readership, and SB at large. How many people will she want to involve, and using what criteria? Dunno. We'll see.

That's all well and good, but the questions Matts suggested remain: What is the GSBN anymore, and what's it for?


>If the original purpose still holds, and the criterium of
>"organizational / key player / mover and shaker" activity
>is still relevant, then I have no information about [name
>unimportant for this discussion] that make it
>appropriate for me to second his nomination.  If that
>criterium is no longer relevant, then [he] and many other
>fine individuals that build straw-bale homes for people
>would seem to meet the remaining criterium of
>"professional" activity.  But if we chose to screen
>"nominated" individuals solely on the basis of this latter
>criterium, our membership will surely expand greatly
>and the role that the GSBN has played will surely shift
>further toward a listserve for insider brain-picking.

	Beauty speech, dude. Most excellent. And furthermore, bully and huzzah.

So what do I think? What do *I* think? What do I *think*? What *do* I think? I'll tell you what I think. I think that the GSBN is on its way to becoming a dedicated TLS-Review-Board-List. If utilized to its fullest extent, that could potentially mean a significant increase in traffic with a virtual guarantee that each thread, no matter how tremendously exciting it begins, will finally play itself down to fussiness over punctuation and word choices. For me, that sort of thing is usually interesting and invigorating - if it's happening within the scope of a clear goal and not just niggling about arbitrary preferences - but I think that for most people, however, it's probably dull and aggravating under all circumstances. But they will have certainly opted out of the thread by the time that happens; the Delete key is indeed our friend.

In the wake of my recent post for peer-review and the subsequent responses (thanks, folks!), Chris and I exchanged an email apiece a couple days ago on the subject of GSBN-as-material-review-board and how that might work.

He worried about the editorial workload exploding. If the material was funneled back and forth through a TLS editorial staffer - as I'd envisioned doing it in my day - unless the point person has the opportunity to be exceedingly diligent, things will bottleneck. Guaranteed. I wasn't able to overturn that entrenched process while I was at TLS, and in the end that process was part of what overturned me. For it to work, the point person will have to be able to be very dedicated and very focused. If things continue at TLS the way they have been, and TLS tries to begin using the GSBN as a review council, then it's inevitable that this list is going to get swamped with material once every three months at production time. That would not only suck, but also not be nearly as effective since people would get overwhelmed and not want to participate. BUT - if material can be trickled in at a consistent rate of one or two pieces a week, I tend to think that would be something that most of the membership might actually appreciate. They could participate, if they chose, in snack-sized bits that fit comfortably into their busy schedules.

Chris also asked my opinion about giving the GSBN address to writers and letting them have their material reviewed at their own discretion, making any revisions themselves before submitting it to TLS. I think that's an excellent idea - but not for the GSBN. Seems to me that the GSBN membership on the whole appreciates the fact that it's a little-trafficked forum where people aren't relentlessly wanting pieces of them. An eager author might want to have endless conversations about their article onlist. That quickly becomes a wearisome drag for most people, and that kind of thing is probably the single biggest reason behind the sad fact that most of the GSBN people aren't on the CREST list. One potential solution is to make it de rigueur to respond *only* to the original party (as those of you who responded to my recent call for review did). Then they can post a rewrite for further review a week or so later.

Chris expressed a reasonable concern about the "too many cooks" syndrome, as well. I agree that's a possibility. However, I also feel that sometimes two people is too many cooks, while other times a dozen are not enough. Like all of life, it's a situationally-specific thing. The GSBN is growing - and in principle I really have no quarrel with it growing. What concerns me isn't that the list is becoming more populated with people who are knowledgeable and experienced, but that they're increasingly not here based on their selfless and active pursuit of the work of the commons. For all I know, things may get to the point where most of the GSBN members are here principally because they have reputations to further and egos to feed and careers to enhance. And *that* is one thing for sure that the GSBN is not supposed to be about, whether it's a quiet garden of SB delights or an ear-splitting dragstrip of TLS concerns. (It's probably not the best place for a crude nonprofessional malcontent loose cannon like me, either, though, is it?)

Can the GSBN be both the GSBN and a TLS-Advisory list? Is there a happy medium? Maybe and maybe not. I propose that this list be renamed TLS-Advisory and given over to the direction of TLS c/o Joyce. We see how things shake out... and if TLS-Advisory doesn't satisfactorily encompass the requirements and desires of the GSBN, we'll make a new one. Heck, we can start now if people feel strongly about it. Email me, gadfly@...



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