Whenever any new medium of communication appears, there’s some debate in the SCA as to whether to use it or not. In the early days, of course, there was Usenet and there was email, and that was about it, really. Now, we have new social media appearing every ten minutes or so.
The SCA has a lot of people who like to look backwards. And despite the portrayal as a geekish, nerdy hobby, there aren’t as many technical types around as you might expect. So there are few early adopters, and quite a bit of resistance to new media. This came up again over the weekend, as people who weren’t at Coronation growled (good-naturedly) about not seeing any news from the event, and others protested against the use of Twitter, Facebook, mobile phones, or other modern technology from events.
Email is the proper official communication method of the SCA. Many members are still terrible at replying promptly, and some are terrible at replying at all. But then there’s Facebook. The proliferation of SCA groups on Facebook has to be seen to be believed – just about every shire, canton, barony, region, principality, kingdom, guild, special interest gathering and many households have their own group. The official SCA Facebook Page, when launched, went from zero to a thousand “likes” in a matter of hours. By now, it’s above 4000, and still rising. And there’s plenty of activity, too; it’s vastly easier to connect with the SCA now with Facebook than it ever was with mailing lists, for instance. And indeed, the discussion about Coronation and news above was on the kingdom group.
So some social media are seen as being useful. There’s a resistance to Twitter, though, which puzzles those of us who connect with the world on lots of different networks. Perhaps it’s that Twitter is seen as being trivial, or overly technical, or simply not analogous to anything in the medieval worldview. And most people simply haven’t heard of Google+.
Dun in Mara maintains a presence on all three social networks, though, as well as the old-fashioned mailing list, and the website you’re reading this on. Because, as far as I’m concerned, social media for an organisation like this has two purposes. One, certainly, is to facilitate communication between members. But the other is to find and bring in new people, to pique their interest and make sure they have something to follow up on. It’s far easier to find the SCA now than it was even ten years ago – I know, I was trying, and not succeeding. But every other hobby organisation out there is similarly easier to find, and if we don’t compete properly, we’ll be left behind. The SCA runs on newcomers, and without finding the newcomers in the places they’re familiar with, we can’t keep going.
Tweeting from events should be a rarity, certainly. But when there’s a new peer, or some other bit of important news, it helps the society in general to get the excitement of that out into the public view. And between events, we really should make as much use as we can of social networks – ALL social networks.
Aodh Ó Siadhail, Chatelaine.