the community

. . . at the tuesday cafe

The Tuesday Cafe connects professionals, many of them separated and working alone in their various schools, to each other, so they feel part of a community of (generally) like-minded people, people interested in Some of the regulars at the Cafe have been doing this for years--since about 1990--and are very experienced and willing to share what they have learned.

Many of the Cafe regulars are members of the MediaMOO community, which Amy Bruckman describes like this:

MediaMOO is a professional community for media researchers.  It 
is a place to come meet colleagues in media studies and related 
fields and brainstorm, to hold colloquia and conferences, to 
explore the serious side of this new medium. ["help purpose"]
MediaMOO has rather explicit rules of conduct and purposes compared to elseMOO. These conventions of the culture at MediaMOO can be gleaned by reading the document that appears when one types "help manners," as well as by asking or interacting with regulars.

Regulars typically love MOOing and MOO discourse. They talk about how happy they feel when they log on and see the names of their friends, some of them people whom they've never met face to face but with whom they've shared intimate moments. They talk about how exciting it is to spend an hour a week working over the major questions in their discipline with brilliant and articulate people.

Sometimes I think that life at MediaMOO, including life in the Tuesday Cafe, is a lot like life in high society in the 1890s. People are who they makes themselves out to be. People are valued for the intelligence and literacy of their conversation. People construct a community out of conversation, out of sometimes idle chat.

Oscar Wilde said,

"The only thing worse than being talked about
is not being talked about."

Only now it's

"The only thing worse than being flamed is being ignored."

This notion of the importance of conversation and "idle" talk is at the heart of Ray Oldenburg's notion of the third place. It feels bad to be ignored because it feels bad to be invisible or unable to speak in a community.

Besides his book on the subject (in which he talks about many-to-many communication, among other things), Howard Rheingold has collected some excellent resources for people interested in thinking about virtual communities.

As Richard Grusin, of Georgia Institute of Technology, suggested in a session at CWC\96 (the Computers and Writing Conference in Logan, Utah, in May 1996), virtual communities exist outside of cyberspace as well as in it. That is, virtuality is an aspect of reality, not the opposite of it. Everybody has had the experience of feeling alone in a crowd or of being emotionally and intellectually connected to just a few people in a large crowd or of having that feeling of belonging in a crowd. The feeling of community--of belonging to a community--is in some sense independent of the crowd itself: the physicality of the crowd is not what makes us feel a part of a community in it. I would argue that it's virtuality in a crowd and in the Tuesday Cafe, not physicality, that allows a community to form. Grusin considered the question of other virtual communities in offline life. For example, do Jesuits make up a community? Does the fact that their community exists through time as well as space make it any the less real? Because they are not all in one place at one time, is their community virtual?

Introduction to the Tuesday Cafe.
What is the Tuesday Cafe?
What are some of the benefits offered by this kind of community?
What are some of the disadvantages of MOO discussions?
How do people get to the Cafe?
Works Cited

Last updated: 10 June 1996. Questions and comments? Please e-mail Sharon Cogdill at