[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 
of clarity.
	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 
or so.
	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.
-Lon Rombough
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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