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
), 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.