The first poll posted on the new site has now garnered somewhat over 400 replies. Each person could click any number of “labels” to indicate ways they are happy to be identified. The results are sort of interesting, in a few ways.
First, there should be many more respondents. Suppose the polling system would routinely get 1,000 or better 10,000 responses. It would potentially, in that case, be quite informative, often, about many issues. And even more important, in some cases it could generate momentum behind possible programmatic ideas. So I hope people will start relating.
Second, the actual responses so far are interesting. From replies by about 400 replies – not random but self selected – we certainly can’t confidently extrapolate to the whole online Z community, but it is at least somewhat indicative, I think.
2.5% see themselves as capitalist. A little less than 25% call themselves social democrat and 15% take on the label reformist. 25% call themselves pareconist and 50% call themselves anarchist – a gap that irks me, I admit. About 65% call themselves socialist.
15% consider themselves gay liberationist. A little over 25% picked the label feminist and a little over 40% picked anti racist while 45% picked environmentalist.
It would be surprising, at least to me, if they above is highly accurate for the whole audience even if it is accurate for teh 400 to reply so far. But I suspect it may be way off even for the people who replied due to a good many of them mistakenly clicking one or two, or even three or four labels, when, in fact, they see themselves as many more. For example, suppose I went to take the poll whle in a bit of a rush. Let’s say I was in a parecon and anarchist mood, so to speak, so I click those two, but I click nothing else. In fact, however, I see myself as also socialist – at least for this kind of pool – gay liberationist, feminist, anti racist, and environmentalist. So, I would have given a false impression with my quick response about four indicators. And then, of course the poll doesn’t reveal intensity of commitment. In other words, polls can be revealing, but they can also horribly mislead. Thus I would be profoundly surprised if, a random selection of 400 users of Z weren’t overwhelmingly – 90% or higher – feminist, anti racist, and environmentalist, yet that does not come through. On the other hand, maybe they are in some objective sense, but don’t welcome the labels as identifiers – who knows?
Z Forums, another new addition to the system, are about individuals posting comments, queries, or whatever else in pursuit of discussion, feedback, answers, or whatever else. They are, in other words, a tool people can use to engage with other people – who, like you, use Z online. With Forums too, however, the overall value depends greatly on levels of participation. If Joe has a question, asks it, and gets an answer, then it has value for Joe even if he is one of a tiny number of folks who is paying any attention. Likewise if Sally has an opinion and gets feedback, the same holds for her. So the early commentary in forums, even relatively sparce as it now is, certainly has value. But, if 1,000 or 5,000 or 25,000 people engage, then things will change very dramatically. First, there will be people who can answer nearly anything. With a handful of users, a theoretical physicist already weighed in on a non physicist’s question. The audience of Z includes, no doubt, a very wide spectrum of backgrounds, experiences, knowledge, etc. Since the venue is conducive to serious engagement, rather than putting a premium on vapid volume, much could be achieved by people relating. Second, debate and exploration of ideas could be rich and varied, leading to innovative relationships and projects.
Also, we are happy to put up forums for writers to engages with their readers and, indeed, there is already a forum with some topics in place in which I am participating in that manner. It would help the whole system a lot, I suspect, if some other writers would contact us to set up venues for them, too.
So, what can I say? I really do hope Z users will start to relate in far larger numbers to both these facilities. You don’t have to be a Sustainer, though of course we do need you to consider becoming one.
I hope to see you in the system!