Saturday, July 26, 2008

Some thoughts on the community

This month marks my 14th year in the inflation community. I'm proud of that. And now I will probably ramble.

The best thing about the community is that nobody owns it. I know I've told the story about how I set up the first inflatable fetish mailing list on AOL for a whopping 12 people; even that, I don't really get too much credit for, because, well, how about those other 11 people? It was my list but it was never more "my" community than it was anyone else's. That's kind of the point of a community -- it's a group thing.

Voices and sites have come and gone. I've met some spectacular artists and writers and thinkers; some have stuck around, some have passed through. I've got evidence of most of them on my hard drive in one form or another. I remember when it was all about ACotto's FTP site. Then the BE Archive appeared and -- gasp! -- charged money. Soon it was all about WrenSpot. For a time, my Video Vault was a happenin' place. And ultimately, LVKane set up There are others, too -- whatever happened to DanielSan and the IC/B2E? Where did Ylandra and Champagne Moon go? And why can't Helia come back for good? Ah, well, There's always tomorrow -- anybody could resurface at any time.

The point is, people come and go, variations on our common themes take new forms from time to time, projects appear and disappear...but the community remains. That's because the idea remains. That's more powerful than anything -- and the idea that we're all into the same weird idea is even larger. We're not alone because, at the very least, we have each other. That's kinda sacred to me.

Nobody owns us. Nobody runs us. And while I sometimes sound protective, I don't mean to claim ownership; nobody can actually take credit for the community. In fact, the only time I really get angry is when I see people trying to suggest that the community cannot exist without them, or they are indispensably important to it and/or primarily responsible in some way for it. Sometimes it's just immature outbursts from people looking to belong; other times, I think people really believe it's true, or at least want to make it appear true for egotistical reasons. No; you're nothing without everybody else. We're all shareholders in your stock in the community. Get in here in the soup with the rest of us.

See? I told you I'd ramble. Anyway, here's to 14 years.


MadMacs2010 said...

Hi Dan,
I've been a member of the community for so long that you feel like a friend that I meet down the pub occasionally. I was reading your blog recently and this post got to me, I've been a lurker for a long time, and only recently felt comfortable enough with our mutual fetish that I was able to discuss it on 'tinternet. I know what you mean though about the community and it's transience, but I think that might be the key to it's strength because most of the fetish is mental imagery there is very little (if any) stagnation.

You did get me thinking though, I had a number of favorites that too seemed to have fallen by the wayside, Nostromo! The Engineer and The Inflator - I loved their cartoons, and Dr Ivan's artwork too, as you said I wonder what happened to them.

Lastly, your post got me so nostalgic that I remembered that I had a story from way back when that actually kindled the BE spark in me, I have no idea who wrote it as it was unsigned when I downloaded it but in a vain attempt to find the author and return the story-ette to the community I have posted it on my deviantART page (it's the only thing there so shouldn't be too hard to find) and uploaded it to the overflowingbra, if you're curious, it's called Bathtime. I thought you might like to know.

Anyway I've waffled long enough, have a fun, TTFN

HiMike said...

In the beginning. That was a long time ago.When there were just 12, the excitement was discovering that others existed at all! It was a big revelation facilitated by the developing internet. You are not alone.

After that stunner, it became about the discovered variety, the different forms of the interest. Followed by inevitable dispersion into various subgroups.

But what was really important was discovery of others, the variety of interests each had and the resulting community that came from exchange of information of all types, experiences, stories real and fiction, photos both real and fabricated, drawings etc.

The available information online has grown and grown through the efforts of many, with many different talents and resources and with many diverse interests centering around inflation.

It would be hard to list all the subgroups and variations that resulted from split after split from the original group, and then subgroups as each grew.

Now anyone can search the web and find out quickly that they are not alone in their interests. That is something that has been changed, probably for ever. That change is "owned" in small part by everyone who contributed in some sincere way.

Of course someone had to cast the first stones that began the avalanche. And the time and technology had to be right.
But everyone who contributed from then to now has some "ownership" of the result.

But what is really important is the resources now online which ensure against a return to the pre-1990 period when isolation and being alone was the norm.

I remember when we worried about "critical mass" and what that point was, 40 members, 80 members? Would it survive this split or that split?

Well there is little doubt now about critical mass. I think it has spread so far and wide we can label it "self-sustaining" in all its resulting variations.

Helia Melonowski said...

I'm still around. Just not pumping up and pumping out stories like I used to. Still, literally and figuratively, a BIG BE fan, and always am gracious to the BE community and friends and fans.