The State of the Rag

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Re: The State of the Rag

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 14, 2015 5:50 pm

Guru,
I'm not much concerned with the state of Cavechat (though it has been an incredible source of education for me, and entertainment, and I'm sad to see it go for what amount to trivial personal reasons). This is all about grotto newsletters, electronic or paper.

Ms. Boop, are you stating your personal disdain for proper documentation in favor of some "likes"? If so, and if this is/becomes the majority view of the productive NSS membership, how can the Society fulfill its constitutional obligation to
promote interest in and to advance in any and all ways the study and science of speleology?
What role should the Social Media Committee have in ensuring that original work be put to enduring use? Are cavers being actively encouraged by a suicidal organization to document original work with scattered postings to various transitory social media?
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Re: The State of the Rag

Postby JSDunham » Jun 15, 2015 4:31 pm

Well, jumping back to the original subject, and speaking as one of the northeast folks reporting new stuff often, I can say two things for sure--one, people are busting their asses up here hunting for and digging out more cave, which I think should be reported because its hard work, and two, as Luke mentioned, this is a pretty tight community up here and we're all pretty happy to share our finds with each other. Short of pissing off landowners and losing us access to a project, I honestly don't worry about scoopers showing up on our projects, because they won't be scooping anything unless we hand them a shovel, but I can also see how someplace where you can hit miles of borehole would bring out miles of assholes to go along with it.
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Re: The State of the Rag

Postby leeboop » Jun 15, 2015 6:39 pm

GroundquestMSA wrote:Ms. Boop, are you stating your personal disdain for proper documentation in favor of some "likes"?


There's no personal distain involved. People can snap photos on their phone and instantaneously share with friends and fellow cavers that they've been caving, found a new pit, surveyed virgin passage, whatever. If hundreds of people have already seen it the day that it happened (thanks to the Facebook post), what motivation is there to write up an article, which includes all the photos that the person has already posted to Facebook? Other than, of course, placating the newsletter editor who is begging for material.


GroundquestMSA wrote:What role should the Social Media Committee have in ensuring that original work be put to enduring use? Are cavers being actively encouraged by a suicidal organization to document original work with scattered postings to various transitory social media?


If a caver posts in the NSS Facebook group (as many cavers do) that they've achieved/experienced something, then that post becomes part of the online record in that group. The original post and all comments that follow (save for those that are deleted, of course) become archived in the group. I would not say that there's any encouragement or discouragement to post to Facebook, it's entirely up to the poster... as is writing a newsletter article. My point is that: Posting to Facebook is easy and instantly gratifying. Hence the decline in newsletter material, which needs to be drafted and edited, include references, etc.

GroundquestMSA wrote:suicidal organization


This is an interesting word choice. Especially with the continual decline in membership, Ithink that more emphasis than ever should be put on social media. This is notmeant to discredit the hard work that goes in to creating publications and outreach materials. However, if the NSS wants to reach out to potential members, a significant effort must be via social media. Unfortunately, although my committee is comprised of six volunteers who are very passionate about this mission, the truth is that we are volunteers, and are limited mostly by our available time.
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Re: The State of the Rag

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 15, 2015 8:46 pm

I suspect that you and I are radically distanced in terms of values, and that we are unlikely to agree on this issue, but I would like to address your comments.
leeboop wrote: People can snap photos on their phone and instantaneously share with friends and fellow cavers that they've been caving, found a new pit, surveyed virgin passage, whatever. If hundreds of people have already seen it the day that it happened (thanks to the Facebook post), what motivation is there to write up an article, which includes all the photos that the person has already posted to Facebook? Other than, of course, placating the newsletter editor who is begging for material.

Obviously there is none (or not much anyway). The question is, why should there be motivation to contribute to the newsletter. Here's a hint: it's not to get the editor off your back. If that were the case, grottos should terminate the publication of newsletters altogether, since they would amount to little more than an annoyance to everyone involved. Instead, as I thought I had mentioned above, newsletters have the potential to serve as a "permanent" and easily referenced source of information in a way that Facebook etc. cannot.
leeboop wrote:If a caver posts in the NSS Facebook group (as many cavers do) that they've achieved/experienced something, then that post becomes part of the online record in that group. The original post and all comments that follow (save for those that are deleted, of course) become archived in the group. I would not say that there's any encouragement or discouragement to post to Facebook, it's entirely up to the poster... as is writing a newsletter article. My point is that: Posting to Facebook is easy and instantly gratifying. Hence the decline in newsletter material, which needs to be drafted and edited, include references, etc.

Your point is understood, and I agree in part with your conclusion. And while it is true that submitting material in any form is up to the individual, I do not agree that cavers should be encouraged to view the support of their local newsletter as just another of equally valuable options.
leeboop wrote:This is an interesting word choice. Especially with the continual decline in membership, I think that more emphasis than ever should be put on social media. This is not meant to discredit the hard work that goes in to creating publications and outreach materials. However, if the NSS wants to reach out to potential members, a significant effort must be via social media. Unfortunately, although my committee is comprised of six volunteers who are very passionate about this mission, the truth is that we are volunteers, and are limited mostly by our available time.

I'm glad you're interested. It was a careful word choice. There is more than one kind of death, and the one that the NSS seems to be dying is one of slow decline into sluggish, boring mediocrity. Putting more emphasis on "easy, instantly gratifying" activity can only serve to accelerate this decline. The NSS does not need more lazy members. It needs passion and quality. The best way to attract such is by being a passionate, quality organization. Your committee, you say, is passionate about social media. In other words, passionate about laziness, instant gratification, the decline of intelligent communication, and the abandonment of thorough and meaningful documentation. Sounds like a suicidal organization to me.

Before I'm accused of being a curmudgeonly Luddite, let me explain that it is not the form that I take issue with, but the content and the culture. If digests of material were comprehensively collected from these media and preserved in files that could be put to future use, then important purposes could still be met. However, that there is relatively little of long-term value to be gained, from any source, online or off, (as Buford Pruitt, editor of Underground Online can confirm), suggests that this is, at its base, a cultural problem. Besides, what blurbs of good information exist online are so scattered and ill-organized that gathering them into a database would be an extremely hard job of work.

There are immensely busy and "productive" cavers, of all ages, who are doing absolutely nothing (in the long run, a few photos and a few lines of text on Facebook equal absolutely nothing) to add to the body of work that cavers of past decades have worked so hard on. They are content to take from past generations without giving anything to future ones. That is their right. The NSS seems content to watch them exercise that right without comment ('til now :big grin:), and thus violates its constitutional commission to, "...promote interest in and to advance in any and all ways the study and science of speleology." The NSS (that is to say, ourselves) should demand something of its members, or else hang it up.
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Re: The State of the Rag

Postby LukeM » Jun 16, 2015 9:04 am

20 years from now you won't be able to research old cave write-ups on Facebook or Instagram. Any knowledge posted there will be lost or unsearchable. If that has become the go-to for many cavers as the final place of documentation there will be an eventual and tragic loss of caving lore, data, knowledge, etc. As a "younger" caver old newsletters are invaluable. If it weren't for them I would be repeating old mistakes, pushing old dead-end leads, reopening old dead-end digs, and I'd have no sense of perspective that comes from acknowledging the experiences of cavers-gone-by.

I don't think there's anything wrong with the instant gratification of social media platforms. That's their purpose, and they work really well. It's very gratifying to share the excitement of a day of caving on the very same day, while it's still fresh on your mind, and get instant feedback from your friends. There's no reason to look down on that miracle of technology, and we should use it as a way to enhance the caving community. However, just because we have some new channels to speak through doesn't mean we've found good replacements for the old ones.
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Re: The State of the Rag

Postby MUD » Jun 16, 2015 10:17 am

:big grin: Some of us like to dig, push, scoop, map & conquer the cave and could care less if our picture, map or fun is publicized anywhere. Just some food for thought.
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Re: The State of the Rag

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 16, 2015 9:24 pm

LukeM wrote: As a "younger" caver old newsletters are invaluable. If it weren't for them I would be repeating old mistakes, pushing old dead-end leads, reopening old dead-end digs, and I'd have no sense of perspective that comes from acknowledging the experiences of cavers-gone-by.


Exactly.

Cavemud wrote::big grin: Some of us like to dig, push, scoop, map & conquer the cave and could care less if our picture, map or fun is publicized anywhere. Just some food for thought.


I respect that very much. It is not that I want information to be "publicized" as much as I want information to be preserved, and accessible. Preserving the documentation of your work is a real gift to whoever might come later, and need have nothing to do with a desire for attention. It's a gift that you don't have to give, but I'm sure glad (as so is Luke) that past cavers have done so.
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Re: The State of the Rag

Postby MUD » Jun 16, 2015 11:50 pm

:grin: My 12 year old son Solomon, NSS 53606, has been caving since before he was born. He has helped to dig, push, scoop, map & semi-conquer the caves lol. He will one day inherit my files. He can then do with them as he sees fit. I have no interest in being in a newsletter, in someone's pics, or patted on the back for my accomplishments. LOL....when I'm dead, have at it! :waving:
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Re: The State of the Rag

Postby caverdan » Jun 17, 2015 3:14 pm

Here in Colorado, all the grotto's contribute to one publication that's put out quarterly. (Rocky Mountain Caving) Donna Frazier has taken over as editor. Let me know....if you need her contact info. It's a great resource for caving here in the state. :kewl:

There is also another group of cavers in the state that call themselves the Madrats. They too document, survey, and publish their work in the form of guide books. The guidebooks are produced for their yearly party, which is held where ever the limestone is found in the state. The only way to join the club or purchase a guidebook is by showing up to the party. I imagine there are other groups of cavers in other states that do the same thing.

I do agree that records need to be kept on hard copy....not electronic. I feel social media, the Internet, and electronically kept material can disappear in an instant and is a fad of the times. All can be eliminated at the flip of a switch.
Member: Colorado Madrats, SoCoMoGro,CWSG.
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Re: The State of the Rag

Postby leeboop » Jun 17, 2015 3:51 pm

GroundquestMSA wrote:The NSS does not need more lazy members. It needs passion and quality. The best way to attract such is by being a passionate, quality organization. Your committee, you say, is passionate about social media. In other words, passionate about laziness, instant gratification, the decline of intelligent communication, and the abandonment of thorough and meaningful documentation. Sounds like a suicidal organization to me.


Thanks for your kind words. It may delight you to know that my resignation as chairman of the Social Media Committee will be effective on August 1, and there's no one in line to replace me. Spending at least 15 hours a week on this volunteer task, I certainly didn't think I was lazy, or promoting being so.
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Re: The State of the Rag

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 17, 2015 4:21 pm

leeboop wrote:
GroundquestMSA wrote:The NSS does not need more lazy members. It needs passion and quality. The best way to attract such is by being a passionate, quality organization. Your committee, you say, is passionate about social media. In other words, passionate about laziness, instant gratification, the decline of intelligent communication, and the abandonment of thorough and meaningful documentation. Sounds like a suicidal organization to me.


Thanks for your kind words. It may delight you to know that my resignation as chairman of the Social Media Committee will be effective on August 1, and there's no one in line to replace me. Spending at least 15 hours a week on this volunteer task, I certainly didn't think I was lazy, or promoting being so.


Lee, I apologize. I certainly wasn't accusing you of laziness. There are a lot of good things that social media can be used for, and I hope you keep working to get the most possible gain from such resources. I had composed a much more tactful reply, and when I closed the window and lost it I got frustrated and let it out. All I mean to say is that there is a real problem with laziness in society in general and within the NSS. For all of the good things that social media can do, encouraging meticulous documentation, which is hard work, is not one of them. As Luke said earlier, let's use social media for what it's good at, not to replace something it cannot.
Again, I'm really sorry, I went a few sentences too far and have again made a fool of myself.
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Re: The State of the Rag

Postby Caving Guru » Jun 17, 2015 5:26 pm

It's probably not a good idea to call the NSS Social Media Committee suicidal and lazy. We should be thanking the Social Media Committee for all the time and effort they have put in and not criticizing them. Social media is probably the #1 source to attract more people to the sport of caving in the US (and thus leading people to join the NSS) and the #1 source that informs people of caving events. I am sure that the majority of people that go to caving events these days here about them through social media. Lee Boop also mentioned that NSS membership has been on the decline which is true. I remember seeing a chart showing NSS membership on social media a short while ago and it showed NSS membership peaking at about 12,000 members around the year of 2002 and it showed membership steadily declining up until this year of 2015 so there is about 9,000 NSS members now. So like Lee stated, the Social Media Committee is more important than ever to turn membership around.
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Re: The State of the Rag

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 17, 2015 6:21 pm

Caving Guru wrote:It's probably not a good idea to call the NSS Social Media Committee suicidal and lazy.

Not at all. To be absolutely clear, my claim is that it is the abandonment of thorough documentation that is bad, and if it is the position of "the NSS" that Facebook etc. are sufficient means for members to document meaningful activity that future cavers can build from, then they are mistaken, and the organization is doomed to continue to decline. At the outset, I had no intention to comment on the merits of social media in general, and plunged too quickly into unqualified and too-general statements.

Despite my poor word choices, I hope some are able to follow my line of thinking. I have received a surprising response and much of it has been enlightening and encouraging.

If I may, I'll try to continue to discuss this, doing my best to be more of a gentleman:

caverdan wrote:I do agree that records need to be kept on hard copy....not electronic. I feel social media, the Internet, and electronically kept material can disappear in an instant and is a fad of the times. All can be eliminated at the flip of a switch.


Ideally, both electronic and hard copies would exist. Electronic documentation is reasonably secure, and as long as it is backed up and organized, it is likely to be of use for quite some time to come. Hard copies are great for archival, but more difficult to reference. Dan, I don't think I've seen your newsletter. Thanks for bringing that up, I'll certainly investigate.

Cavemud wrote::grin: My 12 year old son Solomon, NSS 53606, has been caving since before he was born. He has helped to dig, push, scoop, map & semi-conquer the caves lol. He will one day inherit my files. He can then do with them as he sees fit. I have no interest in being in a newsletter, in someone's pics, or patted on the back for my accomplishments. LOL....when I'm dead, have at it! :waving:


That's awesome Mud, and a great inheritance for your boy. However, this is really about what the NSS needs to do, if it wants to continue existing as an organization that values its history, and supports and enables exploration and cave study.
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