. . . in the tuesday cafe

Because many people can all talk at once, and everybody can listen as well--or really many people can write all at once and everybody can read--several conversations at the Cafe will take place at once, with everybody being able to read and contribute to any or all of them. The comment that stimulates someone to write something may be some lines or screens back.

The first time I taught a course on a MOO (not just one class meeting, but regular meetings integrated into the course), women in my class felt liberated by this quality of MOO discourse. They said they quit worrying about interrupting someone. Partly, they quit worrying because it's basically impossible to interrupt someone on a MOO, especially when the discussion is busy and the other MOOers are experienced and know how to handle the multi-threadedness of the discourse. Of course, to some people, basically the only thing people can do on a MOO is interrupt. Multi-threadedness is not points constantly interrupting each other, to me, but threads of conversation that extend through time, weaving in and out, but for some people it takes some getting used to.

People who are reflective can come to appreciate this feature of MOO discourse, because they can take their time to write what they want to say, and if they contextualize it well enough, then it won't matter to the other MOOers if some minutes and screens have passed since the comment that stimulated their response. This taking time to think actually contributes to the apparently thoughtless and chaotic way MOO discourse has of not escalating on a single point but stringing a number of thoughts out as people work on them.

To me, in a way, ideal textual writing is something like John Stuart Mill's deliberate, majestic, inevitable, tectonic progress toward one massive and complex point. Great MOO logic is more like a great juggling act--or a troupe of performance artists--that starts by throwing all their tools into the air and then keeps them all spinning and whizzing around their ears the entire time. Great juggling isn't playing with something and then dropping it, playing with something else and dropping that. Great juggling is playing with all of them all the time.

Another way to think of it: many experienced MOOers really read the threads they're interested in and just skim the rest. Eric Crump once called this reading technique "skim and dive," and it applies to all electronic discourse--reading e-mail, reading the web, reading the wire service.

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