Soapbox Part 13

December 2nd, 2011  |  Published in Fiction

Here’s part 13 of Soapbox (unedited, as usual). If you are new here and want to know what’s going on, this is a serialized story that I’m posting as I write, 250 or so words at a time added each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can skip back to part one, or read the entire thing as one page. Enjoy.

“I’m getting there,” David said. “My point was that communities are a function of necessity. And in order for a community to function you need manners. Manners are basically protocols for how to act around someone who you may dislike or disagree with but may have to rely upon in the future.

“One of the goals with the Bazaar is to build a community, and part of that is taken care of by our collapsing infrastructure, we all need each other in ways that we haven’t in generations. But we don’t have the luxury of waiting for all of the forgotten etiquette to figure itself out, we don’t want to be stuck in the middle of pointless internecine conflict as the world falls down around our ears.

“Which is where the obsession with handshakes comes in. If you look at manners as a protocol similar to the ones that run computer networks, then you can codify it. Furthermore, you can treat it as an open source protocol, all you have to do is try a behaviour for a while with the people you meet, and document the results. The great thing is that you don’t even need the other person to agree with you or know what you’re doing.”

“Does that mean that you’re going to go and post that I’m a bit weirded out by all of the handshaking, then?” Ethan asked.

“That was the first issue that we ran into when we posted the handshaking protocol,” David said. “Right now the debate is about whether it’s genuinely weird or just unfamiliar to people, and what benefits it might have.”

“You’ve really spent a whole lot of time on this whole etiquette thing, haven’t you.”

“We are, and I’m also part of the working group that deals with it, but really the credit goes to a science fiction writer a while back who started the ball rolling on this whole thing.”

The ideas here owe just about all of their credit to Karl Schroeder, specifically his fantastic essay on Rewilding Ettiquette, which you should go and read now, if you haven’t already. While I’m talking about him, I also want to say that you should check out his books Sun of Suns and its sequels were some of the best books that I’ve read in the last year, Steampunkish without the romanticization of the Victorian era. The rest of his blog posts are excellent reading, as well.

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