11 February 2007

The Fading Fray

Subject: The Fading Fray
From: Ender
Date: Feb 11 2007 11:55PM

My interest in keeping the fray interesting hasn't waned so much as it has evolved. It was that desire to keep the fray interesting that lead to bestofthefray [bestofthefray.blogspot.com/]. But a curious thing happened once the focus I usually reserved for the fray was shifted to the task of exploiting the rest of the web. Piece by piece, bit by bit, I began to feel that the talents I'd discovered thanks to the fray had been wasted on the fray. This suspicion in light of the many years I'd been a pure frayster eventually left me with something similar to buyer's regret. By the time I tired of bestofthefray, my buyer's regret was just one of a dozen arguments that left me seeing the blogosphere as the fray, only writ large. I regard bestofthefray not as a failure, but as a step in my evolution from frayster to blogger. A "transitional fossil", if you like.

But the fray remains good for some things. It's good for conversation. It's good for maintaining anonymity. Not that you can't be an anonymous blogger, but unlike the fray, blogging has the power to make you famous, which makes anonymity a lot trickier. It's good for teaching the value of anonymity, and the fray, you could argue, can serve as a good proving ground for cutting your virtual teeth. Lastly, the fray remains good for community. You can argue the relative merits or current state of the community, but you can't argue it doesn't exist. I end my little list of the fray's merits with community because my membership in that community, my investment in that community is the only thing about the fray that doesn't pale in light of what I learned thanks to bestofthefray.

At this point it's useful to remember what kind of frayster I was because it helps to explain what kind of blogger I am. I was a political poster, a literary poster, a social poster, and that's just for starters. As I sit here thinking about all the different types of posts I've written, I know that I simply can't list them all, and that despite having dabbled in just about every type of posting imaginable, the one type that comes to mind most, that I suspect comes to your mind first, is the manipulative poster. The reason for that is not just because I've been successful at it roiling the pond, but because no matter the type of post, I usually managed to make it manipulative too. That sounds bad, and I won't deny that I went about collecting wounded egos the way some went about collected friends. But in my defense, I always paid you the compliment of treating you like adults, and as I define manipulation, everyone is guilty, to varying degrees.

But manipulative, however accurate, doesn't really do my fray history justice. If you can imagine one, a fray mechanic is a better way of understanding how I approached posting. From understanding what would get a rise out of the fray to finding new ways to take advantage of the structure and nature of the fray, my aim, it seems, was to get the fray to do things no one else had. To me the fray wasn't just a problem to be solved, but a problem I took pleasure in solving, and was even driven to solve. It is this interest in the question--how can I make this thing meet its full potential--that I no longer ask about the fray, but I ask instead about blogging. Manipulating the fray, and you, is a primitive pursuit compared to the challenge of roiling the ponds, lakes, oceans of the internet. This is the kind of blogger I am.

The challenges of blogging and the tools available to bloggers are both more sophisticated and many compared to the fray. And much in the same way I was experimenting with the fray, others have long since experimented with the blogosphere. It is the same problem, at the same state of solution, but much much bigger, and with bigger fish working it. I'm intrigued, and almost without realizing it, I've started in on work my solution.

This is where WikiFray comes in. WikiFray is the beginnings of my proof. My buyer's regret? WikiFray solves it. It brings my investment in this community with me to the blogosphere. Sounds selfish and it is. I lost interest in the fray, but rather than abandoning my investment here I devised a way to take it with me. The joke is on everyone who followed me to WikiFray isn't it? I manipulated them. Some of you are going to love the idea of me admitting to manipulating those who joined WikiFray. This is it! The gotcha that we knew Ender would pull. But those of you who are thinking that as you read this are not adults. An adult recognizes that what is true for me is also true for WikiFray contributors. My investment is their investment. I'm not taking advantage of them anymore than they're taking advantage of me and each other. All I've done is set up an exchange where fraysters can convert their fray stocks into blogging stocks.

As for the future, well, I won't be changing my stripes. I'm a mechanic. That is my main reason for playing. This, however, is the last time I invest those energies in getting the fray to do something new. If you can't see the advantages of WikiFray, that's too bad. If you're here just for the conversation or to play anonymously, I understand. But I want more than just conversation. I want as many people as possible to read what I have to say. It's that simple. Achieving that is the problem, it would seem, I was born to work on. I've had success here, but I could use your help out there. You each have strengths that you've discovered and honed and rely on in the fray. WikiFray combines our strengths, so that in addition to using them in opposition to one another as you do here in fray, their secondary potential to persuade and invite a larger audience isn't wasted bouncing off the walls of this closed community. You may know your most erudite argument in opposition to your old fray adversaries won't cause them to budge. Yet you still write it. You still post it. Then why if not to persuade the audience, if not to compete to be seen as the winner of the exchange? How much more fun would that be, how much more worth it, if your audience was more than a handful of people who already know you so well they already know which one of you is going to win?
Think about it. [wikifray.blogspot.com ]

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