As many of you know, I’ve had a newsgroup over at sff.net for, well, years now. How many years? I’ve lost track. We’re up about 59,000 posts so it has been a while.
Over those years, some folk have become permanent fixtures there. They are true friends, fans and readers, yes, but true friends as well. They are from far away places and from just down the freeway. And over those years, as I’ve traveled, I’ve had the great pleasure to meet many of them in person. Via that newsgroup, I’ve heard of sick kittens, witnessed a marriage proposal sung to the light of his life, shared videos of spiders gone crazy, and we’ve discussed many topics. Many topics, indeed, and very often they were topics that ignited flames and ended friendships in other places on the web.
But the rule we have adhered to, with very few exceptions, is that my newsgroup is my virtual kitchen table. While you are seated there, you must treat my other guests with the same courtesy you would if we were actually all seated face to face at a table. And so we have been able to have those discussions, and with a very few sad exceptions, we’ve been able to treat each other respectfully and walk away from the table still as virtual friends.
At the beginning of this month, I received a mysterious package in the mail. It was labeled Do Not Open until March 5th! My birthday. So, for several days it tormented me, and then very early on the morning of the 5th, I opened it.
Inside was the Robin Hobb Virtual Kitchen Birthday Book! It had photos of many of my friends from around the world, in their various kitchens. I think it was among the very best things I’ve ever received for a birthday gift.
You are invited to view the Virtual Robin Hobb Virtual Kitchen Birthday Book here.
I will be taking my Virtual Kitchen Birthday Book on my tours with me. When I encounter my newsgroup friends, I’m going to get the photos autographed. And I hope to add an empty photo album to my luggage, to collect photos of other readers in their kitchens to add to my collection. Not just the newsgroup people who missed the deadline, but any of you who would care to contribute.
And, as always, new visitors to my virtual kitchen are welcome! You can post there without joining sff.net, though I’ll urge you to join just so you can explore that wonderful site more thoroughly! Best tech I’ve ever had lives there!