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Kathryn White

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

In Defence of Clique-ee-ness

When I went to Rhodes (one confusing year) the journ lecturers made a lot of noise about New Media. It was all going to be very exciting, they said. I didn’t stay on to finish my BJourn so I don’t know if there was a course called New Media & Ethics. It doesn’t feel like there was. There should be a new list of rules.

As this Information Crappy Bill slides forward more and more of the relevant content will come from online blogs and forums. It’s already happening – journalists looking for content stumble across a bunch of published authors having a public conversation. There it is, all you have to do is Apple C. So why call it cliquey? Why is there this constant admonishment, delivered in a whisper – but BookSA (aka Books Live) is so cliquey.

Of course it is cliquey. Why shouldn’t it be? Go and spend two years writing a book all alone, by yourself, in a world that doesn’t exist (fiction) or mired in the facts of the past and the troubles of the future (non-fiction), then see what it feels like to find an actual person – or ten – who know exactly how you feel. The very nature of being a writer is being an outsider. To have a community is awesome. And why is this clique-factor such a topic? The content is now online, live, available for everyone.

An assumption I have heard more than once: you guys aren’t cool with the Avusa thing at Book SA hey? Er, no. I am cool with it – why do you say this? Well, no one commented. None of the authors have written anything yet …. Er, we don’t post things online anymore because you (sorry, hate to use the “you” thing) make assumptions about what we say and misquote (without recourse), and making no comment is now assumed to show that controversial content and debate is a) being choked by the mandate of AVUSA b) not allowed because it’s not nice enough or c) hell, I don’t know.

This is a conversation I have now had three times with three separate people.

Absolutely no one will ever stop me saying what I want – that is how you land up being published. After your “first book” proudly collated at 7, your first story in the school magazine, your first medal for words, 20 years of kakky diaries, poetry that would make your psychologist laugh, hundreds of thousands of words forgotten in unpublished manuscripts, partners who accuse you of not loving them because you are totally absent (the good ones follow this with a sigh and a plunger of coffee, your fav mug cleaned and presented), etc., believe me when I say: we write what we like.

And in another point – all you have to do is sign your name in and you are welcome to join the conversation. But get your third speaker debating shoes polished, you’re going to need to them …

And remember – be responsible. If you are sourcing content online, quote correctly, and if you are making assumptions and are going to write content around this – phone, ask, email, interview. You know, old school techniques for a new school world.

 

Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    July 26th, 2011 @15:51 #
     
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    Just popped my head out of my cliquish soiree (or actually matinee) where we are discussing the wallpaper design for the new clubhouse, to comment here, just to back your point, Kate. My reasons for not commenting much lately are sundry and mundane, but I do comment sometimes and I'm not damnwell scared of you or anyone, mkay.

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    July 26th, 2011 @17:21 #
     
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    WTF is "Apple C"?

    Apple users are so cliquey.

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  • ar
    ar
    July 26th, 2011 @17:43 #
     
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    In fact I have not encountered a clique here. Or even a Klatsch. And you don't need any writing stripes either, it's even fine if you're just an ornerary reader starved for something other than the usual comment thread drek. Because anyone who says they never read comment threads is either lying or reading the wrong ones. Here are internet people who are polite and intelligent and funny and nice and helpful and just generally menschy? Sometimes also rude and funny and entertaining and thought provoking. Occasionally quite civilised. Is this possible? Yes it is! So I don't know what the sillies who complain are on about, although they are on about it I know for I have heard them going on. Maybe they're afflicted by The Cynicism.

    My own excuse for not participating of late is that I honestly have nothing to say that's not just noise. Surely temporary, heh. I heart Book(s)sa(live)

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  • ar
    ar
    July 26th, 2011 @17:44 #
     
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    Apple users are sociopaths.

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  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    July 26th, 2011 @20:26 #
     
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    Oh come now, ar. We're not all sociopaths. Apple C works across the platforms :)

    Also, if anyone would like to engage on the "Avusa thing" more broadly, it would be my pleasure. Write to editor @ book co za. Thanks!

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    July 26th, 2011 @22:56 #
     
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    Kitty, I've given up having this conversation, so thank you for saying this (esp the part about this space being online and open to all -- contrary to popular belief, no-one has to learn a mysterious handshake or recite the works of Ingrid Jonker before being allowed to comment).

    Maybe the clique charge comes because real relationships get forged here? Without this space, I would never have met Sarah L, and (to cut the subsequent chain of events short) I would never have moved to Noordhoek. So gee, I'm the happiest I've been in a decade -- and BooksLive is to blame.

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    July 26th, 2011 @22:58 #
     
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    Although I still have no idea what "Apple C" is.

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  • <a href="http://www.darlingtonrichards.com/" rel="nofollow">moi</a>
    moi
    July 26th, 2011 @23:19 #
     
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    it's what adam did to eve's after she bit hers

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    July 27th, 2011 @07:36 #
     
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    I can only imagine "Apple C" is equivalent to "Shift+C".

    Everywhere is cliquey, including online fora. Thus the evolution of the lurker. And factions develop.

    But many of us also know each other offline, whether as actual friends or as familiar names. So our online interaction carries the fabric of that familiarity, which consolidates the clique. I can well imagine how we may appear as a more tightly-formed clique than usual to an outsider/lurker. Add that to the history of our community of regulars - as early adopters, we become regulars who then put our various but community-forming stamps on the place - and, yes, it can be intimidating to break into the place. But, as I said, this kind of thing happens everywhere online, as it does offline.

    There have been times where regulars at BookSA have been taken by the fervour of mobbing, whether in favour or disfavour, which would also consolidate the culture of the clique to the outsider, who may well hold interesting counter-views but lurks because, well, the posters know each other, each other's views and habits, and have formed a mob around X or Y topic, etc. Who wants to be beneath the underdog?

    It's in the interest of any online forum to attract more users and commentators, whether the forum is commercial or not. It's like writing - whether you keep it in the drawer or publish it, the word once written wants to be read, irrespective of what its writer admits. A forum, once established, wants more members.

    Of course, the evolution of online forums follow a pattern. The successful ones, in terms of numbers, go through the stages of early adopters; regulars; growth; more growth; regulars moaning about how the place has been changing; growth; new generation regulars who bemoan the changes, delete their accounts, establish new fora with similar aims but which never quite get off the ground, and thus return sheepishly, but surprised at the new dominant faction; etc.

    There's not much I have by way of proposing how these comment threads can be more attractive to bookish people. I wish more bookish people would sign on to comment here. I'm not sure how quickly and easily a stumbler is made aware that they can join as a commenter.

    BookSA is clique-ish structurally, by its genetic code: it provides blog space to published writers, which then allows that writer to also comment. It's not unclear why a stumbler might form the opinion that this is an exclusive space. Is there any prominent information inviting a stumbler to join in commenting?

    I'm not hair-shirting here about cliques. In objective terms, there is much that makes BookSA clique-ish, but it's in the nature not only of online fora in general, but of BookSA more specifically. And to say this I do not wish either to dismiss readers' reluctance to join in, but I do feel that, quid pro quo, one might want to be more inviting to the lurkers. BookSA works to promote our books, after all, so it might be problematic for our own promotion should we come across as a haughty clique.

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  • <a href="http://kelwynsole.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Kelwyn Sole</a>
    Kelwyn Sole
    July 27th, 2011 @10:00 #
     
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    Cliquey people have taken one too many bites out of the cabal.

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  • <a href="http://www.modjajibooks.co.za" rel="nofollow">Colleen</a>
    Colleen
    July 27th, 2011 @10:11 #
     
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    I also don't know what Apple C is I even googled it, and am none the wiser. Ah well.

    Clicking my heels and saluting you all back to the grindstone of my Windows laptop.

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  • <a href="http://www.justinslack.com" rel="nofollow">Justin Slack</a>
    Justin Slack
    July 27th, 2011 @10:33 #
     
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    Apple C is the Mac equivalent of Control C.

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    July 27th, 2011 @10:55 #
     
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    Sorry yes thanks Justin Ctrl+C.

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  • <a href="http://www.darlingtonrichards.com/" rel="nofollow">moi</a>
    moi
    July 27th, 2011 @12:10 #
     
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    @ colleen: google, like facebook, is just for old ladies - to find the g+ type answers you gotta dig out the urban dictionary

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Apple-C

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  • <a href="http://mayafowler.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Maya</a>
    Maya
    July 27th, 2011 @13:18 #
     
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    And come to the Apple clique. It's a happy, happy place to be, and you'll never look back! As in, ever.

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  • <a href="http://kathrynwhite.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Kathryn</a>
    Kathryn
    July 27th, 2011 @14:45 #
     
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    Stand by for a very highbrow joke ....

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  • <a href="http://kathrynwhite.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Kathryn</a>
    Kathryn
    July 27th, 2011 @14:46 #
     
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    Click-ee-ness.

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  • <a href="http://www.darlingtonrichards.com/" rel="nofollow">moi</a>
    moi
    July 27th, 2011 @14:56 #
     
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    click-C-ness

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  • <a href="http://www.modjajibooks.co.za" rel="nofollow">Colleen</a>
    Colleen
    July 27th, 2011 @16:39 #
     
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    Thanks moi! Yes well I am almost an old lady and hey I'm kind of proud to have survived this long

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