Sunday, February 26, 2006

Hi all

Consider this a request for views and advice to be shared with all interested parties.

This seems to indicate to me we all have things to say and are trying to communicate with as many people as possible. So here we are an extremely varied and inclusive group of individuals all united in our disgust at the banning of smoking. We sit at our computers tapping on our keyboards for hours on end looking for the answer. We know precious little about each other except that which we infer from snippets of prose. A tremendous amount of effort is being input into a system (The Internet) about which very little is understood and which seems to get more complex by the second. We indeed are making our contribution more complicated by setting up blogs, forums and anonymous or campaign email addresses. We regularly "vote" or "sign" petitions electronically to what avail. We spend our time trying to visit numerous different internet locations just to keep up. Belinda set up a Yahoo Group whatever that is?(not meant as disparaging). More than one of us is looking into web hosting services. I have to admit to having already paid money for my newsletter facility, I have registered the domain gasdoc.org.uk and am looking for a suitable domain name for ASSETS (assets.com has gone..poo). I've just signed up to a webhosting service as my efforts on my own PC server although free lack some expertise, don't panic I'm still working on it!!

This posting and its responses further complicate the issue because although I thought of doing it seconds before, a similar discussion with slightly narrower remit has commenced on The Big Debate. Someone asked about a leader and someone offered skills in Internet nerdism (no insult).

In the category of advice I ask if anyone understands the Internet better than me. For example we may post comments on a "newspaper" website but not get it in the hard copy of black and white ink. The Internet if you like doesn't seem to get us noticed.

Also in the category of advice I ask if someone can help me understand the proliferation of campaign, voting or anonymous emails? We seem to be setting up lots of different unrelated pockets of people, information or nodes for sharing thoughts. Is this not potentially divisory?

People express fear of the anti-smoking lobby finding out about us, why should they not? I'm a bit fed up with talking to my computer screen and wander if it would be better talking to something with a face and a voice. Surely this debate would be better off attracting some publicity? I know that may be difficult but should it not be our aim?

Now don't get me wrong here but I may seem to criticise. The fox-hunting debate and legislation is an example which keeps coming up in my head. The comparison is fairly similar in that the antis seemed to get all the publicity. The pros then organised petitions, marches, the Countryside Alliance etc and failed to influence opinion as far as the legislators were concerned. We have reached this point, although naive people think the Lords can now be influenced. The fox-hunters are now looking at how to continue by looking at the exact letter of the law and carrying on without breaking the law. Should we not be approaching our issue in a different way?

It strikes me we have enough people to create a more organised approach that might include election of leaders, committees, fund raising, and employment of public relations advice or administrative staff. If we cannot create this structure are we not bound to fail? Where do Forest fit in? They have this structure already. Is the fear of their Tobacco Industry link exaggerated?

Even as I sit tapping this note in to a window on my computer my inbox signals a note from Belinda from the UK Smokers Rights Yahoo Group. Now I know Belinda set this up on the advice of Michael. Is this not a good example of us flailing about trying harder and harder to communicate our message and getting no where? I do like all our little nodes of communication but I for one do not have the time to visit all of them enough to remain in touch. I certainly like the forum style of The Big Debate as you can be reminded if new posts on a thread appear, but even then forums allow many threads and that means a certain amount of browsing has to be performed to keep up. Now I just started using "Internet" speak about "posts" and "threads", what the fuck does that mean? I tell you what, I as a member of our holy alliance would love a one off update in my inbox which brought me up to speed (management speak) perhaps on a daily basis with all our efforts.

Does it seem to you that the contents of this email are simply born out of frustration?....

By the way I went out to eat last night and after first booking a smoking table at our local Dexter's we arrived and found out this had somehow failed as they no longer had a smoking area in which you could eat. We visited the surrounding establishments who had long queues and eventually located a smoking table that would become available in 20 mins. The smoking area in this more expensive restaurant had shrunk and moved close to the cold air of the front door which remained open as a queue formed through it. Several people sat down and sniffed the air in an irritated fashion only to get up again. The waiter removed our ashtray during courses, some form of etiquette I believe, so I ended up trying to direct my ash into an empty bottle and failed creating a mess on my table. I do believe this got to me. We don't go out much and it was my wife's birthday.

I think I'm also in need of a leader!