[NAFEX] POMONA and the E-List
Lon J. Rombough
lonrom at hevanet.com
Sun Feb 17 21:41:58 EST 2008
Before POMONA, there was a small group of fruit enthusiasts who
exchanged surface-mail letters. Enough of them knew of the others that
they started trading letters. These grew into "Round Robin" letters
where a letter went from one person to the next, with each recipient
adding their own comments. Usually they copied the letters so they
would have the whole exchange, up to the point they received it. As
more people got involved, the system got so cumbersome and slow that
Milo Gibson gathered up a collection of the letters and printed them up
into a little booklet that was mailed around to the members of the
group. Thus was born POMONA.
In it's own way, this early method was the surface-mail "e-list" of
it's pre-internet day. The main difference was that additions and
replies were more detailed. When you wrote something, it might not
reach you again for months, so you tried to include as much information
as possible so the later readers wouldn't be confused about something
you said. You weren't trying to be fancy, just thorough, for the sake
So the NAFEX discussion list serves much the same purpose as the early
round robin letters did. The big difference is that when someone
writes something, the writing may not be very complete. With
essentially instant feedback, a writer can add comments as needed
rather than trying to assemble everything at one time as the round
robin letter writers had to do. If something it unclear, no problem.
Shoot another e-mail back.
The effect on POMONA is that a much smaller percentage of people write
articles for it now, even though the by-laws contain a clause that
members are expected to contribute something at least every other year
Most members are afraid to write for POMONA now, thinking they aren't
"good enough" and this attitude has stifled the magazine. The point
of the magazine is just to be a place for members to write letters to
each other, while sharing the letters with the rest of the group. But
so many people who probably have something worthwhile to say don't
write because they think they aren't "good enough" and the information
is either lost, or goes somewhere else.
This is mostly a re-cap of the situation. I'm not sure there is a
real solution. We have a partial one now in having a sharp
editor-in-chief who has been able to collect e-list threads as
articles, but if the journal is to continue we need a change. One
possibility might be for members who write for POMONA to have their
articles posted on the e-list first so that others can add information,
if needed, or otherwise "edit" the article, much as the early round
robin letters were amended as they traveled from member to member.
The simplest change is just for each member to realize that they are
just writing a letter to a friend who shares an interest, and not try
to create a masterpiece.
I hope POMONA and NAFEX will continue, however this turns out.
Grapes, writing, consulting, my book, The Grape Grower, at
http://www.bunchgrapes.com Winner of the Garden Writers Association
"Best Talent in Writing" award for 2003.
For even more grape lessons, go to http://www.grapeschool.com
For all other things grape, http://www.vitisearch.com
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