January 18th, 2006

Clickety Clack

This is a meme that actually interests me -- thank you, art_thirst -- because it reveals something real and gets me thinking about social networks, set theory, the history of personal relationships, and whether there's a difference between a virtual clique and one that begins in "meatspace":

I am a member of 5 cliques of size 6

Find the largest clique containing:

(Enter your livejournal username here).

Some observations are in order:

• The first clique listed consists of people I met through my job at the University of Arizona. Most are graduate students. The first one I met was siyeh, whom I got to know in the spring of 2003.

• The second clique developed through LiveJournal, though I met bitterlawngnome and danthered here in Tucson during the 2004 Fiesta de los Osos before I added them to my "Friends" list. But I was already reading them through kdotdammit at that point.

• The third clique is in a sense the urclique, because it includes the person who introduced me to LiveJournal, cpratt, and his partner danlmarmot. When they came to visit us in December, 2001, before their long trip to Australia, cpratt used my computer to post an entry and then showed me how LJ works. I began to follow along in his journal after that. When my longtime friend Steven Rubio started a non-LJ blog in January, 2002, I started to read it as well. I followed cpratt and danlmarmot's expedition around Australia through their LJs that year, but there were long gaps between entries and I didn't yet understand how LJ accounts worked. By reading Steven's near-daily updates, I got hooked on the process of reading blogs and decided that they were worth researching for my academic work. Eventually, I decided that I had to start my own in order to have a participant observer's perspective. And now I can't stop, even when I get the urge to go away for awhile.

• The fourth and fifth cliques are comprised of people I befriended through Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life. I met jsterne at a conference at the University of Illinois, but only got to know him well once he'd joined the once glorious "Bad List." I've never met driscoll in person, but also got to know her through the Bad List. The rest of the people on the list I saw regularly at Bay Area functions involving the Bad Subjects crew. masoo, by the way, is the LJ identity of Steven Rubio: he signed up for an account in order to comment.

• The first person I met among those listed here was cpratt, with whom I shared German literature and French I courses at UC Berkeley in the fall of 1988, not to mention a memorable stick of Beeman's gum. We started talking early in the semester, either the end of August or the beginning of the semester.

• The second person I met was cpratt's younger brother tpratt, who came to my place in El Cerrito for a December, 1988 holiday party and amused himself by listening to Who's Next on my boombox. He later introduced me to grunge and the joys of 924 Gilman Street.

• The third person I met was Steven Rubio, a.k.a. masoo, whom I would see at Kip's after Mitch Breitwieser's graduate course on American literature, which he was taking with my recently-become-ex-girlfriend Annalee Newitz and her future Bad Subjects co-founder Joe Sartelle in the fall of 1989. I didn't really talk to Steven, though, until the Giants were playing the Cubs in the playoffs, during the first week of October.

• The fourth person I met was kdotdammit, whom I met at Spat's on October 30th, 1989, in a monumental encounter that I have previously documented in detail here and here.

• The three people listed here whom I have yet to meet in person are chrisglass, art_thirst and driscoll. I'm eager to meet them off-line, though I suspect that in driscoll's case it may not happen for awhile, since she is in Australia.

• I suppose the length of many of these friendships is a testament to my investment in maintaining ties, even when there are geographic or generational obstacles to doing so. There are very few relationships that I have "written off" in my life. A few people have written me off, but I can count them on one hand. Is this a good thing? I'm not sure. There are certainly people in my life whom I have been tempted to dispense with, because they seem to bring more pain than pleasure into my world. Perhaps it would do me well to clean out my emotional closets for once. But even if I did, I suspect that I would just box the troublesome relationships up and store them in the garage in the hopes of one day excavating them under more sunny circumstances. Throwing anything away makes me terribly anxious.

Evening Out?

I'm pondering what to do when Skylar is at her Kid's Night Out on Friday. I'll be alone and free from around 6-9pm, as was the case during our summer sessions at Congress. Anyone out there interested in getting together for food, drink, and conversation in a relatively smoke free -- outdoors is fine -- environment?