New forms: beyond online political arguments

Part of the reason I started this weblog is so I could talk about new forms. Every online community, for a wide definition of “community,” seems to fall into one of two basins of attraction: weblogs and message boards. I’m not counting the forms that are basically formless, chat and Wikis. But, really, no wonder so few smart people seem eager to jump into this online world; the only forms we’ve got for computer-mediated communication are just these old two. That’s a tight bottleneck for all of the possibilities of the written word.

I’m interested in people who are putting together new applications, that don’t boil down to “this guy posts one thing after the other and maybe people comment on them one after the other,” or “we all post stuff and respond to other posts and it all goes into a big pile, only we call it ‘threaded’ so it sounds organized.” Those are sets of game rules, in a sense, and they encourage certain kinds of interactions. I’m interested in the new interactions we might get – new emergent behaviors – from new sets of game rules. Sometimes they might come out of a web app that’s trying to accomplish something specific, but sometimes not.

I’m particularly interested in something an online acquaintance has been working on for a while, and seems finally to be gathering steam on.


He calls it “Robert’s Rules for the net.” But really, it’s a set of game rules, about the larger game of American politics. What’s really exciting is that it stands a chance of breaking the endless cycle of Usenet dogpiles and semi-connected weblog salvos – those discussions don’t ever build or move forward. XR will put them in a structure – which may mean that nobody will like it, I dunno.