From: Denise Meier and/or Michael Jacob (
Date: Tue, 21 Jan 1997 11:28:12 -0600
Another case of synchronicity (plate of shrimp!)...I was just thinking
about posting something asking if other groups were meeting in cyberspace
as we often do. All of our members and most of our prospectives are on
some sort of email service.

We have found it both helpful and problematic.

It is extremely useful for:  
- setting dates
- making last minute changes and/or announcements
- gathering information (survey on food preferences, bike ownership, etc)
- issuing committee or taskholder reports in anticipation of discussion at
a meeting
- committees coordinating tasks and sharing information.

Personally I have found it useful for discussions on thorny issues - as
you say, people can write out well-thought-out opinions and others can
respond to them at leisure, and a thorough discussion can take place. 
However, some in our group object strongly to discussions over email -
they feel that if an issue is at all emotion-laden, that much of the
emotional content is lost or distorted by the medium of email. I feel
we've worked through several fairly charged issues over our email, but
perhaps this was without much involvement from those who are uncomfortable
with the medium. Some people are not as careful with their words as they
might be, or too quick on the send key when they're upset, and feelings
have been hurt. 

Another problem we have encountered is that some of us LOVE email - do a
lot of it with friends, co-workers, and co-cohousers. Others do not enjoy
it, and when we've had something big going on, the amount of mail
generated can be daunting. Those of us who are really comfortable with it
will dash off notes whenever so moved, which is not appreciated by those
who log on because they want to make sure they don't miss anything
important, but would rather not at all. I've gone away on vacation and
come back after a week to well over 100 email messages just from our
group. We've worked out a system of codes which gets used probably 50% of
the time (a code is placed in the subject line of the message -
RSVP=response needed, PERS=personal, ANN=anouncement, SOC=social,
RPT=report, DIS=discussion, etc). We've asked people to make sure that all
the people receiving the message NEED (or want) to, and to be sure to use
informative subject lines. These things have helped some, but some members
still feel overwhelmed. 

We also recently found out that not everyone knew how to do flash
sessions, or otherwise compose off-line, and thus were feeling rushed
while reading and writing, hearing money clink away every minute. It's
helpful if some people in your group are willing to help out the less
techno-literate get set up properly with address lists, flash sessions,

I'm curious to hear how other groups have worked with this. Clearly it is
a great tool, but there are some problems to work out!

Denise Meier
Sebastopol, CA

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