FAQ: Salon Threads

Monday, June 3rd, 2013 11:12 am
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
[personal profile] jenett
[last edited 1/28/13 for the second round]

Back again! A lot of people really enjoyed the initial round of salons, so let's try this again. They'll take place on Wednesdays. Note that my current work schedule means I'm working until 11pm (and therefore getting up mid-morning), but if you don't see a post by noon ET, feel free to remind me it's Wednesday.


Who are you?
Hi, I’m Jenett. I’m a geeky librarian in my late 30s, living in rural Maine. (I live with a cat, a folk harp, several computing devices, books, and a lot of yarn.) Jenett is pronounced like Janet, only with ‘Jen’ as the first syllable.

What’s this?
This is an intro to the weekly salon conversation threads I’m trying out.

What are they?
I know a bunch of awesome interesting people. They know a bunch of interesting awesome people. So my thought is “What happens if I host a public thread once a week with some kind of conversation starter, and see what happens when people hang out and chat?”

What’s the setup?
The conversation will be on Dreamwidth, with a public post in my personal journal on Wednesdays. (Depending on when I wake up, but probably sometime between 10am and noon ET.)

How can I join in?
Show up. Read some stuff. Comment on whatever strikes your fancy (it doesn't need to be related to our topic for the day.)

I’ll start each thread with some conversation starters (this will always include a couple of paragraphs on some topic or another, but will likely also include several other things, like an interesting recipe, music I’m listening to, links to other intriguing conversations or content, stuff I’ve been reading, etc.)

From there, it’s up to everyone who wants to chime in. Point your friends at it, if you like. Wander off onto side tangents. (Side tangents are the point of the exercise.) You can drag people back to your own bits of online space if you really want, but don’t feel like you need to.

You can comment using a Dreamwidth account, an Open ID account, or anonymously. (If you do the last, please sign with a name other people can use during the conversation: it doesn’t need to be your legal name or even a name you use elsewhere online.)

[personal profile] jjhunter has a nice summary of different ways you can follow conversations on Dreamwidth.

What are the rules?
Leave the conversation better than you found it, or at least not worse.

Stuff that makes conversation better: Questions. Engaging with people about what they’ve said in ways that open up new lines of conversation. Sharing recommendations, ideas, and other cool stuff.

Stuff that makes conversation worse: Bigotry. Insults. Assuming you know more about someone’s lived experience than they do. Putting someone down. Dismissing someone’s thoughts because they’re not what you want to hear.

My own access lists have a people from a huge range of perspectives, identities, and backgrounds. Please don’t assume you know someone’s Stuff from what’s publically available about them, or what’s in the comment they just made.

Larger questions

Why your journal, not a community?
Because I want this to be the equivalent of a party at my house, and it feels weird to set up a community to do that. At least at the moment. Because there will be some unabashed “Here’s awesome stuff I like” in there (but also stuff I hope other people will think is awesome.) Because it’s going to be quirky, and I feel more comfortable being brave about my quirks in my own spaces.

Why Dreamwidth?
I have many fond memories of interactions on LiveJournal (and in most cases - everything except these specific salon threads - crosspost and leave comments open on both sites.) However, I want to centralise conversation for this particular thing in one place for two reasons.

The first is logistics: I don’t want to manage two sets of comment threads, and there’s some spam-management considerations. And there are some features for long threads that work better for me on Dreamwidth than LiveJournal. (Among them, the fact you can make much longer comments on DW and the expand-all options for long threads for paid users.)

The second is more about my personal ethics: I want Dreamwidth to continue to be a vibrant, exciting, interesting place for conversation for a long time to come. (I’ve known D and Mark, the project’s co-founders for years and years). However, for various reasons, community conversations have never really taken off on Dreamwidth. These threads are a way to see if a different way of interconnecting people might be worth trying.

And I want to do that somewhere that values creative content, is not using my content for advertising, and that has a strong commitment to accessibility, usability, and varied ways of looking at the world. Fundamentally, I have a hard time saying that about LiveJournal anymore. Much as I hate writing that sentence, and much as I still have friends who are on LJ only, who I still love talking to. Just not these threads, maybe. (But I’m trying to make it as easy as possible for people to drop by whose online homes are in other places.)

Can I borrow the idea?
Please! If you think this kind of thing sounds fun, I encourage you to do it yourself. There should be no artificial shortages of awesome conversation.

From the salon threads so far, here's a few things I've discovered:
* It is easier to keep conversation going than I was afraid it might be. (Yay!) I'm currently following a practice of following up to the first handful of comments relatively quickly (and I aim for ways that encourage other conversation, though not all comments lead to that). And then I try and slow down a little, and not answer everything myself. Definitely an art rather than a science.

* Multiple questions are good. (This is part of why I am including food/drink/music/etc. type questions in there, by the way.)

* A mix of personal and generally-applicable seems to get the best responses. ("Tell me what you think about X" hasn't worked as well as "Here's this thing I'm currently fascinated by. Ok, now what like that are you thinking about?", in other words.)

* People *love* to talk about what they do and swap ideas and tips. (The line between this and unwanted advice still feels a little tricky to me, but we seem to be managing it okay.)

* People (and not always the people I'd have guessed) have privately expressed places where they feel weird bringing up a different perspective. Sometimes I've nudged the conversation slight (usually by commenting in a way that makes it easier for them to bring up whatever they wanted), sometimes I've looked at it and gone "Well, that sorta sucks." Still working on more solutions to this one.

* Comments trickle in over time: we're getting about half of them in the first 12 hours or so, and the other half later than that. Which is fascinating to me, actually.

(no subject)

Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013 06:27 pm (UTC)
hobbitbabe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hobbitbabe
This sounds like fun! Thanks for offering to host.

(no subject)

Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013 06:53 pm (UTC)
eiblyn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eiblyn
This is intriguing. I'll be sure to try and show up.

(no subject)

Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013 07:09 pm (UTC)
woggy: A frog, probably of South American vintage (Default)
From: [personal profile] woggy
Intriguing and awesome and I shall endeavor to be participatory.

(no subject)

Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013 09:22 pm (UTC)
redbird: Me with a cup of tea, in front of a refrigerator (drinking tea in jo's kitchen)
From: [personal profile] redbird
I'm looking forward to this.

(no subject)

Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013 10:59 pm (UTC)
stormyhearted: (Default)
From: [personal profile] stormyhearted
I'm looking forward to this! I'll have to drag myself out of lurk mode.

(no subject)

Date: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 12:31 am (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
Looking forward to the conversation.

(no subject)

Date: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 02:42 am (UTC)
pj: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pj

(no subject)

Date: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 02:47 am (UTC)
pj: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pj
And - I've said your name wrong in my head ALL THESE YEARS!

(no subject)

Date: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 03:12 am (UTC)
pj: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pj
Someday when we meet you'll just have to forgive me. Ha!

ETA - yes, the explanation works!

Edited Date: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 03:13 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 02:55 am (UTC)
kyrielle: A photo of kyrielle, in profile, turned slightly toward the viewer (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyrielle
I love this idea - thank you for doing this!

(no subject)

Date: Sunday, June 16th, 2013 11:27 pm (UTC)
kyrielle: A photo of kyrielle, in profile, turned slightly toward the viewer (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyrielle
Okay, since I'm taking my own run at this...may I crib heavily from your FAQ, rather than reinventing the wheel? Yours is lovely and round, I fear to create something with corners if I try to pointlessly redo.

(no subject)

Date: Saturday, July 6th, 2013 03:52 am (UTC)
st_aurafina: Rainbow DNA (Default)
From: [personal profile] st_aurafina
Here from [personal profile] lizcommotion's Follow Friday post - what an awesome idea with the salon posts!

a thought, a thinky thought

Date: Monday, July 22nd, 2013 11:44 am (UTC)
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
N.B. people may find it easier to keep track of which conversations are which if the use of subject line titles are encouraged.
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