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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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online chats

Had lunch with Amanda yesterday at the Hospital For Sick Children (where she's working). Bryan and Craig came over last night for dinner (we ordered in Thai food) and to watch Enterprise. Many thanks to Allison for letting us know that Enterprise was on last night and not tonight! Apparently its schedule was temporarily changed to make room for a Temptation Island special tonight.

Dropped by FilkHaven this morning early enough to chat a bit with some of the UK filkers (Hilary and Chris Croughton, Annie Walker, Mike Whitaker) and Terence from Singapore. Online chatrooms have always fascinated me.

I know some people don't like them, find them too chaotic, a waste of time. I find that it depends on your mood and purpose. When I ran Inkspot, we tended to have two types of online chats: (1) Work-related chats, and (2) Social chats. Work-related chats were related to the craft or business of writing in some way, had a definite theme (building characters, for example, or a Q/A session with a particular author), and were usually moderated. Social chats were exactly that...people getting together to just chat about anything.

One of the criticisms I've heard about online chats is that they're a sad replacement for meeting together in person. I have to agree. But they're better than not being able to meet at would take a great deal of effort and money to arrange a get-together with the people I chatted with this morning, for example, whereas opening a chat program for a few minutes was relatively effortless.

I also find that online chatting, though not as getting together face to face, has certain advantages over e-mail. The main advantage is that you're able to have more of a back-and-forth regular conversation than e-mail because of the immediacy of the environment. You can get answers to your questions much more quickly. And it's good for keeping in touch with people who don't e-mail that much (or that quickly :)).

On Sept. 11th, filkers began gathering in the Filkhaven room for a virtual headcount and to exchange news about other filkers, and for mutual comfort. Seanan, Batya, and Merav sang a song about this in a one-shot at OVFF which was really beautiful.

For me, the main disadvantage is that unless you're in a one:one chat with no other people present, or a moderated chat with a specific theme, you don't really get into involved discussions on one topic. You can hold private discussions within a public chatroom (using private messaging), but it's not quite the same as having a really good ongoing e-mail correspondence. Also online chats can be addictive...time passes pretty quickly when I'm in a chatroom, which is why I usually set a strict time limit for myself.

I'd be interested in hearing opinions from those of you who purposely attend or don't attend online chats. Please post in Blatherchat, thanks.


- My friend Andrew took this picture as we drove along the coast in California, on the way back from Monterey.

- One of the highlights of my visit with the Bohnhoffs was finding out that Maya was as obsessed with office supplies as I was, especially pens.

- You can even get flu shots at California grocery stores! :-)

Today's Poll: (Courtesy Terence Chua)

Have you ever worked as a temp?

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