silence of the lambs

Johanna Laakso jolaakso at
Thu Jan 21 08:45:19 UTC 1999

Dear fellow Uralists,

a newcomer on the list just sent me a somewhat baffled query: is it really
so that nothing has happened on this list for at least a week? It really
seems that we are not too eager to participate in online discussions. (Or
should I start hunting the newsgroups - so far, I have decided to avoid
them, simply to keep at least some of my precious working hours to what I
am paid for...)

Thinking of possible reasons for our silence, I found the following

1. There are too many lists already. The Finnish-language lists KITU and
FINNLINK obviously reach a major part of Uralists in Finland and
Scandinavia, Estonia and even other countries. Subscribing to them, and
also LINGUIST (the mother of all linguistic e-mail lists! ;-) ),
a pile of information and "disinformation" on one's virtual doormat every

2. General list fatigue. After subscribing to a list for a time, you will
see the same themes recurring, including the same questions you are
definitely NOT interested in, the same cases of stupidity ("(un)subscribe"
or personal messages sent to the list address), weird ideas and sheer

3. Uralists are not accustomed to list discussions. Things happen and
develop at a slow pace, people meet their most important discussion
partners daily at the coffeeroom table - or, in any case, every 5th year
at the "Congressus Internationalis Fenno-Ugristarum" ;-). Or: things can
be discussed on paper, just by sending a letter (or a copy of your recent
publication) to some of your friends.

4. Or is it so that, to many of us, computers are just a new, tricky kind
of typewriter, and all our attention is absorbed by problems with
producing special characters? Are we afraid of computers? Do we all have
free access to them, or the Web (still a problem for many colleagues in
Russia, obviously)?

5. Are Uralists quiet and modest people in general, are we all happy with
working peacefully in our personal ivory towers? Why should people in
Paris or Munich or Tokyo know what is going on in Helsinki? Why should we
start advertising ourselves, isn't it enough that we work and publish the
results of our research?

Please consider these questions for a while. No. 5 leads on, to the
subject of my next posting...

---------- Johanna Laakso <Johanna.Laakso at Helsinki.FI> ----------------
--------- Helsingin yliopisto, Suomalais-ugrilainen laitos ------------
----------------- -------------------
-- "Feministi on nainen, jolla on mukavat keng├Ąt."  - Robin Williams --

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