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Doc_Surge
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Hi Chris, Thank you for your treatment on this topic. I have responded through my own blog-letter, through the Republic of Bloggers. https://journals.billo.ws/nostalgia-the-chemicals-between-us/ Chris aka Doc Surge
Toggle Commented Sep 9, 2018 on Vintage Collectibles at Only a Game
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Hi Chris, Just a minor point of elaboration that reinforces your point. The Original D&D 1974 rules has an equipment list with the price listed in gold pieces. It makes no mention of a outfitter shop but the mechanic of buying and selling equipment is now established. Also, I believe the first video game to actually have a outfitter shop was Dunjonquest:Temple of Apshai (source: http://crpgaddict.blogspot.ca/2013/02/game-88-dunjonquest-temple-of-apshai.html) where you purchased items before dungeon delving. This video game came out in Aug 1979 so proceeded B2: Keep on the Borderlands which came out Dec 1979. As you've remarked, it is truly amazing the innovations found in D&D - the character sheet, the combining of stats and narrative play, character level progression, persistent campaigns, and now equipment shops. What was in the water they were drinking in the 1970s U.S. Midwest that allowed so many new game mechanics to come together? :-) Chris
Toggle Commented Mar 17, 2018 on Playing with Money (1): The Adventurer Shop at ihobo
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Hi Chris, I've written a response on my blog: https://journals.billo.ws/imaginary-performance-in-playstates/ Thanks so much for your engagement. Chris aka Doc Surge
Toggle Commented Oct 8, 2017 on The Language of Games at Only a Game
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Hi Chris, I believe you have teased out a continuum of how humans interface with each other or solitarily with play. There is little doubt in my mind that Rules are required, but the fidelity they hold depends on what people want to get out of their play experience! Which is exactly your point. I believe that Rules are just one part of what I call the Imnersion Accords. I think you will find the following blog post validates your perspective: https://journals.billo.ws/the-immersion-accords/ As many have said in the comments, Rules are more tightly bound to when competition is a focus of play. What I would argue is that Rules exist to track measurement, which is what is unique to Games. You roll two dice, not three, or one when you play Monopoly. Forcing one player to roll a different amount of dice is unfair. But why is it unfair? Because the measurement of movement is so critical to the game space of a board game and all participants should be treated the same. If you were playing Monopoly by yourself (why would you?) you can go ahead and roll as many dice or not as you wanted. It is the presence of solitary play that makes Video Games special and so varied. Rules exist to formalize player practices, and the fewer the players (and spectators) the less formal rules can be. In contrast Hi-FI rules are a must with eSports and Sports. It all depends on what is your player practice preference, informal and toy-like or absolute and sport-like. Thankfully the rule on that is you get to choose! Thanks for the post. Chris Billows
Toggle Commented Sep 27, 2017 on Are Videogames Made of Rules? at ihobo
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Hi Chris, I forgot to comment directly to this post as a way to link past to my response - so I am doing so now! Please consider when you can my response "New Theory of Play: Playstates". http://journals.billo.ws/new-theory-of-play-playstates/ Warm regards. Chris Billows
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Hi Chris, I've posted a response via my personal blog to this: http://journals.billo.ws/cyberg-applications/ Thanks for your great discussion points. Chris
Toggle Commented Apr 23, 2017 on Top Ten Cybergs at Only a Game
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Hi Chris, This is important work you are doing! It naturally follows your past efforts and your game design background. The technologists will want to tell everyone that AI or VR or AR is the next big thing. They need to since their reputation or money supply depends on it. So I think it will take some effort to demonstrate that while the aesthetics have changed, the tools and outcomes have not. 'Nothing new under the sun...' Warm regards, Chris / Doc Surge
Toggle Commented Feb 8, 2017 on Tip of the Cyberg at Only a Game
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An interesting expansion on your cyborg treatise. There is no doubt that our tools and machines define us as much as we define them. A network of such tools would add more complexity, capability, but also more potential for breakdowns. It's the human fallback mechanism to invent reality when circumstances change or simple human-impishness that has me question that a cyberg singularity will be that much different than what we have now.
Toggle Commented Feb 7, 2017 on Tip of the Cyberg at Only a Game
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Hi Chris, I think it was a unconscious connection but your explanation is very appropriate! A beaver building a dam using wood, an undisputed organic substance, is creating with sticks and lumber that do not breathe. Breathing is reserved for Earth creatures. The organic/inorganic dichotomy is problematic for me. I see all manufactured compounds still being derived from the earth so factually everything including nuclear waste is organic. I would then cautiously qualify cyborg as being an organic union of breathing and non-breathing entities. It's possible this definition is missing something... Namaste, Chris / Doc Surge
Toggle Commented Feb 2, 2017 on What is Cybervirtue? Version 2.0 at Only a Game
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Hi Chris, What an interesting thought-play! This is why I continue to follow your blog and Twitter. You get me thinking differently. The idea that humans, ants, beavers, and any breathing organism is cyborg because it needs non-breathing (I would not use inorganic) tools to carve out a survivable niche is so cool. I wonder if the lack of this realization for me is because of some anti-technology prejudice that I harbour. Will need to ponder. Your question about what is a proper virtue to practice as it relates to being cyborgs is a welcome and meaningful endeavour. I wanted to provide this encouragement since I know that it can be lonely working with ideas. Please keep up your efforts! Namaste, Chris / Doc Surge
Toggle Commented Jan 31, 2017 on What is Cybervirtue? Version 2.0 at Only a Game
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Hi Chris, Thank you for your blog-letter. Please see my own concluding response at: http://journals.billo.ws/in-a-matter-of-aesthetic-preference/ CB
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I'm in the middle of reading the manuscript and am enjoying it! This book appears to be marking a period of transition for you, which may be a signal to change up how your deliver your work. Self-publishing a free eBook would allow you to establish a form of 'Free To Play' in the literary realm. This could really lead to finding a new audience and a possible expansion to the Republic of Bloggers. I cannot see any downside to the self-publishing route given the current position you are in.
Toggle Commented Apr 18, 2016 on Free Your Book And What Will Follow? at Only a Game
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Congratulations for such a milestone! I've only 230+ posts on my blog so I'm in awe at your prolificacy.
Toggle Commented Apr 18, 2016 on 1500 Shades of Nonsense at Only a Game
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Hi Chris/Spiral, The values of Feminism and Pacifism are worth fighting for, but I refuse to fight under those labels because they get in the way! There comes a point in every social movement that labels need to be cast off and new ideas be invited for renewal. Otherwise corruption sets in. Such corruption shows up in Feminism when agendas get promoted at the expense of values being practiced. I had a colleague tell me that I was a Feminist because I believed in equality for women. What if I don't want to be a Feminist? Don't I have a choice in the matter? Why can't I be aligned in this one value but not need to be part of her mind-camp? The core Feminist values of tolerance and equality of plurality did not get practiced here! I think you have appointed yourself a noble cause. To build dialogue between intractable sides is the only way of reducing tensions and problems. The way to such dialogue is to focus on our common humanity. I have toyed with the idea of forming an interest group that makes the question of 'human nature' central to channeling such dialogue. Perhaps this is something that would interest you? With respect, Chris
Toggle Commented Dec 22, 2015 on Gender in Feminism at Only a Game
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Feminism as it is mostly practiced is a political movement and as such has all of the blind spots that political movements do. Solving women's global issues through the spread of feminism is like solving war through the spread of pacifism. Both feminist and pacifist ideology are thinking systems that preach to the choir and do very little to build bridges with problem-makers. Feminism as it is practiced in your example of Ms. Melhuish vs Ms. Greer is exactly the kind of magical thinking meant completely invalidate one's opponent. It is diametrically opposed to the values of equality which Feminism is supposed to stand for!
Toggle Commented Dec 18, 2015 on Gender in Feminism at Only a Game
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Dear Chris, Your response gave me a strike of insight about how I view Philosophy. I finally wrote a bit of a potboiler in summarizing my thoughts. It took me months of editing because I vacillated about my tone and intention. In reading your work I believe that you wear your informal title of 'outsider philosopher' with some pride, so I hope that you find my letter to be in some alignment with your views. Just because I have a bias against Philosophy, I don't mean to pick a fight with rebel philosophers like you. ;-) You can find my letter here: http://docsurge.com/blog/2015/modern-philosophy-and-its-loss-of-wisdom/ Once again, thank you for the opportunity to engage in virtuous discourse and the republic of bloggers. It has become a source of meaning and enjoyment for me. With affection and respect, Chris Billows
Toggle Commented Nov 19, 2015 on Knowing That We Know at Only a Game
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Dear Chris, It has taken me some time to write this response to you about facts and knowledge. It is an involved topic that has had me rewrite this letter multiple (40 and counting) times since to write something about knowing means you need to have a conviction you know something! Let me start off with a relatively famous and grammatically twisted quote about what it is to know: "… because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know." – Donald Rumsfeld This quote captured my imagination. It identifies three different kinds of knowing from known knowns to unknown unknowns. Taking those three, I added a fourth to extrapolate a scale that combines the two redundant values: 1) Known Knowns – these are “facts” that we believe to be true. 2) Known Unknowns – these are concepts that we believe to exist, but do not know if they are true. 3) Unknown Knowns – this is my creation not referred to in the quote; these are concepts that were once understood but have been forgotten or discarded. It is a volitional practice where we ignore past “facts” that no longer serve us. 4) Unknown Unknowns – these are concepts that we don’t even believe to exist. This is true and profound ignorance. Gravity is a known known. Physicists use gravity to sling satellites around our local solar system. The gravitational pull of a Black Hole is a Known Unknown as we are aware of Black Holes but cannot perform tests with them because of their vast distances from us. Unknown Knowns would be discarded concepts of the universe as found in Hindu Cosmology, while Unknown Unknowns would be our ignorance of other galaxies before the arrival of telescopes. The wonder of it all is that we can still function quite effectively despite not knowing. While your blog serial spoke of knowledge’s cogitating and practical aspects, I think that this demonstrates a lack of acknowledgement of knowledge’s emotional aspect. In my sense of things, emotions are the Unknown Knowns that we are aware of but we tend to give little if any validity to. (While this blog-letter will share little of the tone of your serial, I feel compelled to reply because your posts inspire me to think and contemplate. Please do not feel a need to reply if my response is too lateral or tangential for you, as my talk of emotions may not factor much in your realm of philosophical practice.) Knowledge leads to Validation In your conclusion, to possess knowledge is to possess a practice, which is substantially different than finding facts found on Wikipedia. The term ‘practice’ was initially curious to me, but as I thought about it, it made lots of sense. Your point is that knowledge and the act of knowing is very much a living thing that we carry around inside of ourselves. This knowledge is always with us, its practice guides us in the things we do. It is like an internal compass, telling us where we are headed. This compass’s instant accessibility, just like the Wikipedia, becomes a part of our practice, something we refer to frequently. Such convenience naturally leads to an emotional attachment to it. This coupled with the centering quality of knowledge’s compass, leads me to conclude that knowledge is inherently validating to us on an emotional level. “Intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second.” ― Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion I refer to Haidt’s proposition that the emotional knowing of intuition comes before strategic reasoning. We believe first through our emotional intuitive brain, and then rationalize it with our strategic brain. In my estimation, intuition and validation are closely related, they are two sides of the same emotional coin. Intuition means ‘immediate understanding’, while validation means ‘immediate recognition'; both being forms of knowing. So while we can agree that knowledge is a practice, I think that its attractiveness is due to its emotional immediacy. Conviction from Emotional Immediacy The emotional immediacy of knowledge tends to lead to the precarious stage of Conviction, which is the most powerful emotion of knowing. It is so powerful that it causes humans to act in political, religious, and social arenas with behaviors that can stun a rational or cautious person. Most of us may have convictions. They can range from the mundane, to the altruistic, to the heinous. Hitler had conviction, as did Gandhi. If knowledge is like a compass, Conviction is like the engine that drives the “human vehicle” forward. When combined with a knowledge-compass of politics or religion, the power of Conviction can be a source of inspiration or destruction. Hitler witnessed and interpreted events in his youth as being the workings of a vast Jewish conspiracy. Gandhi witnessed and interpreted events in his youth as the workings of British Imperialism. Both had remarkable impacts on the world. But our treatment of them is radically diverse, with almost universal condemnation of Hitler contrasting with the world wise praise given to Gandhi. Both acted according to their Convictions, so how can it be we know they or ourselves are doing the right thing? By That Which We (In)Validate Conviction is like possessing a magical power. We become so sure of what we know that we begin practicing the power of invalidating those things that we refuse to accept. We magically annihilate another opinion by believing it is fundamentally invalid. After all, why bother caring about another person’s opinion, feelings, lifestyle, or culture, if their position is not even valid. This is the committing of the highest insult and offense possible, having recently witnessed this kind of behavior in the “Gamer Gate” brouhaha. The magical thinking of Conviction granted both sides the “justified true belief” to carry out their actions, leaving a devastated social landscape that has yet to recover. Yet, I believe that that acceptance and validation of others (and ourselves) is the path to greater happiness. This is why Gandhi was right and Hitler was wrong. Gandhi never denied the validity of the British people, while Hitler did deny the validity of the Jews, Homosexuals, and others. It then becomes obvious why Gandhi is still widely regarded as a saint while Hitler is demonized. The cautionary message here is: We must be careful about the things we choose to ‘know’! Carefulness asks us to practice a sensible doubt. The Value of Doubt To doubt is like applying a braking mechanism to slow down Conviction’s velocity. Balance is the key here, as I am not talking about self-doubt that leads to low self-esteem, but a noble doubt where one emotionally accepts that its okay to not know. We know that the unknowns exist, and accept that through patience and humility what we need to know will be revealed. The patience found in Doubt invites us to see new facts and options, and provides the space to accept the validity of another position. The paradox of Doubt is that it invites us into a new layer of knowing because it is an emotional signal that tells us to slow down and take in new information. (As an aside, the presence of doubt proves to me the existence of free will which could be the subject of another blog letter. The existence of doubt is generally avoided because it is uncomfortable. Doubt goes against our animal, Skinnarian desire for comfort and solidity. Being doubtful about what to do next actually invites possibility and choice). So knowing the time to practice Conviction, and the time to practice Doubt, returns us back to your original point that knowledge is a practice. Indeed it is. But a much more nuanced practice than we typically recognize. Many thanks for your post and warm regards, Chris
Toggle Commented Jun 14, 2015 on Why the Wikipedia Knows Nothing at Only a Game
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(Originally posted at http://gamestori.es/2015/05/why-rpgs-matter/) Dear Chris, I really enjoyed your serial on the Essence of RPGs where you elegantly explained the tension of the game’s duality; that of Role-Play and of Rule-Play. I remember struggling with these two aspects; The obsessive-compulsive side of me did not want any rule to be neglected, while the creative-imaginative side wanted me to witness an epic adventure unfold. I never did resolve the two and have come to accept that I am a divided individual. 😉 Perhaps it is this internal conflict that has generated in me some insights about the tension of Role-Play and Rule-Play. Based on my interpretation of your writing, Role-Play appears to be the champion of narrative, story, and the performance art of acting, while Rule-Play is the champion of simulation, preciseness, and power gaming. They appear to have little in common with each other. I believe that this is a surface level conflict. Role-Play and Rule-Play may have tensions with each other, but that is because they come from the same place; That place being human imagination and its need for understanding. Games have a special purpose in the spectrum of humanity’s imagination. Unlike their siblings of philosophy, technology, and art, Games are about the creation of and quest for understanding. This differs from philosophy’s quest for truth, technology’s quest for efficiency, and art’s quest for meaning. Games provide this because they incorporate rules, choice, and randomness. Games in their Tabletop, RPG, and Video Game incarnations are fundamentally simulation engines, which you reference in your second post on Rule-Play: “… But rule-players did – they craved more details, more tables for simulating very specific situations (even if they never actually used them), bigger treasure tables, more monsters, more equipment, more, more, more!” It is this paragraph that led me to the insight (and thus this post) that Dungeons & Dragons was the world’s first paper based world simulator in addition to being the first Role Playing Game! I originally thought that D&D was the world’s first paper simulation, but in actuality it was Strat-O-Matic that was released in 1961. Simulations do not have to be just rule based (or rule-played); there can also be dramatic simulations, mythical simulations, and munchkin simulations. I found my passion in the BECMI D&D mythic setting, yet you found passion in dramatic role playing. There are players who love having rules for everything while there are different players whose tonic is the grind of frequent combat and treasure collecting. Regardless of the want, the ability to simulate the experience that the player finds meaningful is why RPGs have had the amazing impact they did. So thank you for your post. I have taken great liberty in the interpretation of your articles, but it has really helped me to think differently about Games. Best regards, Chris
Toggle Commented May 21, 2015 on The Essence of RPGs at ihobo
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(Originally posted via http://docsurge.com/blog/2015/blog-letters-values-and-more/) Dear Chris, Thank you so much for your blog-letter, 'The Merit of Letters'. I do not intend on getting the last word on this discussion, but do hope that by continuing to demonstrate and practice the Blog-Letter, it will continue to attract interest (which it appears to have). I want to touch on your point: 'Yet at the same time, the practice of virtuous discourse is informed by its values, so perhaps you could turn those into principles if it were strictly necessary. Those values include, but cannot be restricted to, politeness, insightfulness, fellowship, eloquence, and wit.' This is interesting. I agree that Values are something different from Principles. Perhaps they are the unspoken or less organized aspect of Principles? Values can be passed on to us by family, society, or invented by our own volition. To value something is both a goal and an action, while Principles tend to be an explicit statement and thus less dynamic. If I may be so bold, I am going to also suggest the additional Values of Openness and Transparency. The former being your stated intention to welcome all, regardless of status or standing, the latter being the practice of writing these letters in the open so that any can be witnessed (and thus be invited to participate). It was my intention was to formalize the concept of the Republic of Bloggers, and while it shall remain a more informal entity, I believe that your establishing a set of Values can attract others seeking the same things we do. This appears to be the case with your commenter Luke. So it is my view that our first experiment with the Blog-Letter and the Republic of Bloggers has accomplished something. The Values you have cited are sustainable and virtuous, and in review I find the transformation of our original question to be pretty remarkable. 'The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. — Carl Gustuv Jung Thanks and warm regards, Chris
Toggle Commented Mar 8, 2015 on The Merit of Letters at Only a Game
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Dear Chris Bateman, I am writing in response to your blog post "Prolegomena to Any Future Manifesto". What you write resonates with me as I used to be actively involved in electoral politics and had my hand in the formation of a provincial political party. Your post captures the human tension found in all modern organized entities, regardless of sector, human intention is captured in the trio of Principles, Policy, and Practice. I know this trio through my professional line of work in health care where I help families navigate through a complicated, limited system while trying to address an ever-increasing need. My colleagues and I struggle with the interpretation of Policy, how it is resolved through our Practice, and all under the public scrutiny of the Principles set out by our political and executive masters. A manifesto's nature is to set out Principles, which become a movement's rallying point. Principles, like an artist's broad paint strokes on a canvas, can capture high-level notions of democracy, free markets, and public healthcare. Meanwhile the Policy level becomes the "devil is in details" that is meant to inform us how to live, essentially being the laws of the land. These laws are forever open to the subjective interpretation of a society's Practice. This subjectivity is inescapable, dangerous, and is our burden. Subjectivity and Practice share a critical quality, being they are the default lens that we all must work from! I have witnessed good Policy being ignored by bad Practice and inversely bad Policy being ignored by good Practice. By my logic, it is with people and their Practice where the proverbial rubber hits the road. Which brings me to your main point that you do not wish to establish a manifesto or set of Principles, but a Practice. It appears that you want to just do and to see where it takes you. A mind open to possibilities. I approve, but do believe that all Practice is informed by Principles whether they are intentionally established or are instinctual. My question to you is: What Principles inform your Practice of Virtuous Discourse? Even with a commitment to Practice, we can expect mischief as the Trickster is built into our very fiber. The desire to solidify said Practice into a rallying manifesto will likely creep back. I should know since the political animal that is part of me craves this. But I will at present tame my political animal by retrenching our Republic of Bloggers to become a Band of Bloggers. A Band whose loose, flat hierarchy will carry on the business of blogging ideas through the practice of virtuous discourse. Such a plan is good enough. Regards, Chris Billows (Posted via http://docsurge.com/blog/2015/retrenching-a-republic-to-a-band-of-bloggers/)
Toggle Commented Feb 5, 2015 on Prolegomena to Any Future Manifesto at Only a Game
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Dear Chris Bateman, I am replying further to your reply, The Virtue of Discourse: A Clarification Thank you for informing me that the Republic of Bloggers is not a concept that you personally founded. While I do not intend to embarrass you with an undeserved title, I do believe that any good idea needs its champions and it appears I projected this onto you. Not only do good ideas need champions, they also need a good story. Perhaps this is what is missing from the Republic of Bloggers? While the Republic itself may be a valuable concept, it is only made meaningful when it becomes something we can relate to, which is best done through the form of a story. Given your extensive experience in game design, narrative, and authorship, I think that you are uniquely qualified to help author the story of the Republic of Bloggers. Yet, this does not need to be a restrictive, one-way narrative. Perhaps some of us could engage in a roleplaying game that recreates the virtual founding and beginnings of the Republic. Not only would this serve to create a imaginary and fictional history for the Republic, I anticipate it would be a source of fun. For example, we could cheekily adopt the trope of how the Republic represents a rebellious pod of unconventional thinkers seeking unity to resist against the oppressive forces of social media. Imagine if you dare, how the Republic's Dr. Beta Man (you) could be our version of Dr. Who fighting against the Twitterleks. What fun! While any form of campaigning does put one in a us versus them dynamic, the presence of conflict, setbacks, and progress are crucial foundation stones of stories. The romanticism of participating in a movement, no mater if it is artificial, does create a feeling of unity and a sense of direction and scope. To blog about anything we want (I am paraphrasing your 'far more beside' comment) is both inviting and intimidating, but mostly intimidating. It is the equivalent of ordering off the menu, but for many of us menus are a safe way to invite exploration. Champions like yourself should not be embarrassed to provide a menu to the rest of us to help the Republic slowly bootstrap itself. I recognize that you have many personal and professional obligations so can understand if you express reluctance or refusal to take on such a role. I myself do not have the confidence nor ability to take this role on but would lend whatever support I am able. Thank you for your warm greetings. Whatever form the Republic takes and whatever direction it goes, I look forward to further engaging with you and others through our blogs. Best regards, Chris Billows (Posted via http://docsurge.com/blog/2015/how-discourse-needs-a-course-of-action/)
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Dear Chris Bateman, I am reaching out to you about your post “A Republic of Bloggers“, which I found to be a refreshing take on a medium that has become far too associated with content marketing and search engine optimization. I am putting forward my intention to join you in your venture. What I found so appealing in your concept is the invitation to engage in a exchange of ideas, thoughts, and perspectives in a format that requires a greater effort and thus the possibility of greater reward. To exchange letters via our blogs is to engage in a practice that is becoming less and less attractive in a time where people prefer to be entertained by the latest tweet or feed. But we do not need to be popular to be meaningful, and perhaps it shall become the mantle for the Republic to do that which need not be popular. It only takes two to have a conversation, so perhaps with enough examples from a few of us, we can gather others to our Republic to expand our company. So I would like to engage with you to discuss some parameters for such an experiment. You mention that the Republic would discuss “philosophy, politics, media studies, and far more beside.” Given your research, literary accomplishment, ability to articulate all of these, and initiative to propose the Republic I feel that it is these topics that should be the Republic’s focus. I will further leave it to you as the initiator to contemplate if the Republic would benefit from a code of practice to help others understand how to participate. Thank you for your bold proposal. I have been seeking such an opportunity to find fellowship in sharing ideas and topics. While I will continue to use my blogs for commercial and hobby purpose, I relish the idea of expanding my blog’s purpose to engage a neglected part of myself. Warmest regards, Chris Billows (Originally posted Jan 15, 2015 to http://docsurge.com/blog/2015/rooting-for-a-republic-of-bloggers/ It appear that Typepad does not accept trackbacks from a personal Wordpress install)
Toggle Commented Jan 20, 2015 on A Republic of Bloggers at Only a Game
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Jan 20, 2015