Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Ripples in a Pond of Words

Following: The Game Ranch: Blogs vs. BGG, Naturelich: Who needs board game blogs?, and The Game Shelf: The Geek.

One of the truisms of life is that someone, somewhere is always moaning about

- things just aren't like they used to be,
- people grow up and move away,
- nobody respects the elder's traditions.

You would think this pattern would be obvious after recurring again and again over the last ten thousand years.

I work hard at building a synagogue knowing full well that my children will NOT be part of it, because they are going to grow up and move away. Nevertheless, sometime after attendance in my synagogue declines, new people will move into the neighborhood. They may rejuvenate the synagogue I built, they may transform it into something new, or they may make their own.

You don't notice when a new best friend comes into your life; you only notice when they leave. You don't notice when a great leader is born, only when he or she dies. Just because we notice when things die and change, doesn't mean that new things just as good aren't being born or started. It's just the nature of something new: it isn't old and established, yet.

What is happening with BGG is so natural that it deserves no comment; the only difference is that this change is happening in Internet time, ten times as fast as it used to happen in the real world.

BGG was new, once. When people started moving to BGG, people on rec.games.board and Spielfrieks complained that all of the activity on their forums were being stolen by BGG. A few years later, after so much growth, people leave BGG and create board game blogs, and people on BGG complain that activity on BGG is being stolen into the blogs.

With the explosion of blogs, people set up RSS readers, such as bloglines. Then along comes Best of Boardgames which takes (not pejoratively) one group's opinion of the best articles from these blogs and presents then in one index.

Guess what? Five years from now it will change all over again. It may look the same as something we had in the past or something entirely different. That's how it goes.

BGG serves several purposes: board game information, board game articles, board game community, board game rankings, board game marketplace, and so on. It is entirely natural that all of this was lumped into one site when the barrier for creating web sites was high and the amount of people with information was low.

Now we have a low barrier for website creation and a lot of people who have something to say. Some of BGG's functions are now duplicated by other means; in some cases better. As time goes on, maybe BGG's database of game information will be available via SOAP. Maybe better forums will exist; these blogs are like a forum. Just look at the links on top of this post.

Maybe Aldie and Derk will pack it up one day. Or maybe they will reinvent themselves and make something new and better, more focussed or maybe more general. What they have is still amazing. But even BGG has to roll with changes.

I won't say anything in particular about the complainants; they, too, are a tradition. Where would we be without people complaining about the new and waxing nostalgic about the old? Just remember: the only time things really stop moving is when they die.

Yehuda
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