I used to write code, and when you write code, you talk a lot about iterating. This means that you write an early version that’s not perfect but that sort of works. Then you keep improving it. It’s like revision, in a way.
When this site kicked off officially on Bloomsday of 2009, it was a spur off of the popular Infinite Summer project. There was a fair bit of hype for that project, and we were lucky to sort of cruise along in its slipstream, so we had pretty lively discussion in the comments for that read and some of the ones that followed. I suppose there must have been Reddit or Slashdot or maybe Digg for discussion sites back then, but I think it also wasn’t all that uncommon for people to comment on sites like this. I suspect a lot more people use Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram to discuss things now. But then we stopped discussing books for a few years, the hype died down, and I suspect people moved on to other ways of engaging with the web. Heck, these days a lot is happening on Zoom or Discord.
Before I say more, I’ll say this: What follows is not a complaint, though I worry that it’ll sound a little like one. But it’s not. Hear me out.
I’ve felt a little so far like I’m just broadcasting about Bubblegum. And that’s fine — I’m happy to do it if it’s interesting to whoever’s reading. It’s rewarding to me to read the book carefully and to organize my thoughts about it, and having declared publicly that I’ll do so gives me some useful accountability and helps me read with more focus than I likely would otherwise. So these projects are good for me personally. But I suspect that there are people reading who might have really neat things to contribute, but who aren’t doing so because it seems sort of old-timey to comment on a blog, or there’s a barrier to entry (creating an account, etc.), or this just isn’t their discussion platform of choice.
So I thought maybe it was worth considering iterating on the approach, to see if the bigger community of readers here might engage more if there were a different way to engage. I don’t think I’m super interested in moderating discussions across many different platforms, but if I got the sense that more people might speak up if we opened up discussion elsewhere, I’d consider it. So, if you’re reading along and feel like you might share your insights, questions, etc., if we opened up discussion elsewhere, I’d be grateful if you’d leave a comment, reach out to me at @infinitezombies on Twitter, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how or where you’d be more likely to jump in with your thoughts. We’ve got six more weeks of reading (with the prospect of doing other books in the future if there seems to be interest), and if we can stir up more discussion, I’d love to, as I know it’d enrich my reading further and might do the same for others.
If you’ve just been shy about commenting or wasn’t sure what protocol was, I’d like to encourage you to jump in. Point out things we’ve missed, riff on things we share, reach out to me if you’ve got an idea for a post you’d like to write, and so on. And if you’re really just not interested in discussion but are reading anyway, thanks for reading!