The h2g2 Post 09.10.08

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Posted: 9th October 2008



Autumn is here...

...and I make no apology to our southern hemisphere-based readers for the UK-centric nature of the title of this Editorial. I know spring is coming over there, and that your short days are at an end. Part of me refuses to accept that, somewhere in the world, beers are being drunk on hot, sunny beaches, and I'm sure this will be pointed out to me regularly while my journals over the next few months talk of little but drizzle. And given the 'summers' we seem to be having over here, it's highly unlikely that I'll be able to reverse the leg-pulls. I'm afraid that, if you are looking forward to summer in the next couple of months, you'll just have to indulge me. Again.

I digress. I always used to think of autumn as a sad time: the trees are shedding their leaves, wildlife is migrating or hibernating, and our days are shortening rapidly. The first big storm of the autumn hit Devon last week, and we felt it even on the calm east coast. I don't mind admitting that, at this time of year, I often used to hit a bout of depression, and I think that's perfectly natural. Perhaps our evolutionary ancestors would have been preparing for hibernation in the autumn, and I know a few people who tend to feel uncharacteristically lethargic around October and November, as if humans are not built to stay active through the winter. Then I found out that someone had given it a name, Seasonal Affective Disorder—something people get antidepressants and counselling to 'cure'. This clearly debilitates some people, but the idea that I could go into work in a bad mood and blame it on SAD seemed totally ridiculous to me. I decided to just ignore any negative autumn feelings and just get on with things as normal, and the season has been a pleasure ever since.

My summers are now just too busy for me to enjoy properly, so walking through a glorious woodland is both a relief and a joy. I'm also lucky enough to get paid to do that now and then, which still astonishes me. I find autumn invigorating; I spend hours planning new environmental schemes, scouting out potential outdoor education sites, talking to people about how we can work together in the following year, writing up ideas and webpages and getting kit together. The days of moping feel well and truly over.

h2g2 seems to work in reverse. We tend to have fairly quiet summers, but Researchers come back with a whole load of good ideas and enthusiasm, and it's a great time to be around the site. The biggest problem seems to be finding ways of keeping the momentum going; so many innovations seem to fall by the wayside. The site is also so enormous that plenty of 'new' ideas already exist somewhere onsite; perhaps they were run by Elvised Researchers, or existed only in journals or conversations tucked away on dusty old entries. There isn't really anywhere we can go to find them. I like to think of h2g2 as a massive sprawl of anarchic villages with no real central control rather than a huge metropolis and, while that makes the site unique, it also means that good ideas take a long time to spread. Alex Ashman's Help Page Update Project is a case in point; people only usually get to know about something like this through word of mouth or plugs in journals or The Post. The basis of Tufty's rather brilliant idea is that the site isn't very user-friendly, and that certainly applies as much to us old hands as it does newbies. For example, people still ask me where to find the Aviators onsite, and when you consider that the old Photographers group was born out of a conversation on the old Aviators page, that's a pretty sorry state of affairs. It's a fine idea, and one that needs your support.

In fact, it's interesting that we have homes for all types of writing, for photographs, art and AV, for chatting, silliness and technical help; but we don't actually have a place to find the ideas themselves.

So, without diverting your time from Tufty too much, I'd like to make a proposal of my own. I'd like to suggest that we come up with a home for them: a kind of ideas factory, a Named Entry where you can let the site know what you're up to and keep everyone up to date with developments. We could keep it updated with current projects such as Tufty's, find collaborators for University projects or let people know about new or revived community groups. I often feel that the last thing we need is yet another page, but I think it's about time we united individual projects under a big umbrella. The more I wander with my Post hat on, the more I feel this is necessary if we're to make real progress.

Ideas about the ideas factory idea would be welcomed below!

So on to this issue, and we have a real cracker for you once again. Last issue, I reported that we'd lost a few of our Regulars, but I'm pleased to say that all three are now back with us. I'm particularly grateful to Icy North, who has taken over the reins at Entry of the Month from Mu Beta—and again, my thanks to B for all his hard work in getting EotM running in the first place. Our new proactive approach is really paying dividends, too; in this issue, you'll find a number of articles that we've found lurking in AWW and on people's journals. I'm particularly grateful to the UG editors, because without their help our plans would have never got off the ground.

Welcome too to JHawkesby, a new Researcher making his Post début with a cracking poem this week. We also have a short story competition for you organised by the irrepressible Psycorp, so please take a look and have a go if you're feeling creative. Finally, don't forget that next issue will be our Halloween issue, so any scary stories or themed articles would be very welcome. The deadline for the next one is Sunday 19th October; we'll see you then!


POSTSCRIPT: While we were putting this issue together, we received the sad news that Lady Chattingly, sister of Hypatia, died on Monday. Lady C was a much-loved member of the community, a wonderful person, and will be missed by her friends here, of which she had many. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Hypatia and her family at this sad time. If you wish to participate in her memorial service by lighting a candle on Friday, please let Hypatia know on this thread.
















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