[Air-l] re: Lachlan's CV (or stepping OVER the line)

Mary L. Gray mgray at weber.ucsd.edu
Sat Mar 16 14:31:09 PST 2002

Hello folks,

I'm reluctant to draw this list anymore off-course than it appears to be
careening, but I feel a line has been crossed that (to me) should not go

A member of the list (Susan) asked Lachlan Brown about his academic
background (which, reasonably could have been requested in a personal email,
but hey, it didn't seem to be an inappropriate question--just possibly a bit

Mr. Brown chose to respond in what I take at points to be an unprofessional
tone that to my U.S. sensibilities smacks of (hetero)sexist sarcasm. I am
hoping there are at least a few people who find it
inappropriate/unproductive to write something of a mock personal ad that
states things like "I like Russian women presently" and "I am single and I
am looking, but I am very picky. Any pics, 'susan'?  hmmm.." If you were
checking out AIR-L for the first time and came across these comments (or any
of Brown's postings for that matter), would you 1) have a sense of what this
list was for and 2) would you want to bother joining it?

I think AIR (and AIR leadership) should have some interest in maintaining a
professional, respectful atmosphere associated with the AIR list. There was
a brief discussion of the dynamics of lists and whether moderated lists
squelched productive, vibrant communication flows. Theoretically, in an
unmoderated group, everyone can have their say. But, practically speaking,
(just as in the off-line world) if there are a few loud voices that take up
the speaking space, other voices are essentially silenced (or silence
themselves by leaving) in the process. I think we're assuming the idealistic
Habermasian "public sphere" transfers neatly to online spaces...and that's
an assumption worth critiquing (see Nancy Fraser's smart critiques of the
offline possibilities). Brown's unchecked involvement in this list has
certainly left me (for one) feeling steadily less interested in
participating in the list or recommending AIR-L to colleagues.

We are all here to learn from and with each other. Brown's past list
submissions have added very little to this learning and his last posting was
nothing short of an affront to the list's intentions IMHO. (I should say, I
am learning quite a bit from the exchanges and developments of this
list--and from Brown's participation...but, honestly, I can learn about
sexism, insecurities and egocentrism within academia anywhere. I'd rather be
able to turn to this list for more intellectual conversation re: the
internet/new media research).

So, now that I've vented on that, I'd like to ask the AIR members and
leadership to rethink/reconsider our stand on guidelines for posting to this
list (I really appreciated Geert Lovink's comments re: the value of
facilitation on this point). I'd be happy to work on the drafting of such
guidelines (I've been the co-moderator of a thriving USENET newsgroup for
queer and questioning youth [soc.support.youth.gay-lesbian-bi] since 1994
so, I'd be glad to share what I've learned along the way).

Mary L. Gray

Mary L. Gray <mlgray at ucsd.edu>
Department of Communication
University of California, San Diego
mail:   PO Box 4004, Louisville, KY 40204

> From: "Lachlan Brown" <lachlan at london.com>
> Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 12:27:33 -0500
> Subject: [Air-l] Lachlan's CV
> I like horseback riding (most weekends), impromtou skiing and winter fun,
> winter activities in general, log rolling,
> walks through the snowy woods, bracing winds, contemplating the many, many
> different patterns of snowflake, I like Russian women
> presently.

> I am single and I am looking, but I am very picky. Any pics, 'susan'?  hmmm...
> [I think this list needs a resource containing
> research interests and institutional locations of members and contributors, as
> well as a 
> photo of each member. I mean, identity and
> bodies kind of matter don't you think?].

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