This writeup is here because, a long time ago, someone specifically asked me to do it. I kind of thought I had said my piece on it already, and Bobby said just as much that's just as useful. However, after rereading those nodes, I realized there's still a lot I want to say, especially after seeing the differences between the two events. This year's installment promises to have its own flavor, and we encourage that. The hope is that noders will still be referring to this thing decades from now, on Mars. So, here I go, and I'll try not to repeat myself too much.WHAT IS IT?
Basically, it's a poetry slam, using existing nodes as works read aloud, and therefore not limited to poetry. Factuals and fictional stories are both allowed. ANY type of writeup (other than a nuked one) is allowed, though one type seems to dominate, as we'll see in a bit.
Lucy was the first one to coin the term "node slam", though this isn't fully accurate, since we don't have time limits and we don't judge readers with a score. The original idea was that the audience would be composed solely of readers, split off from the majority of the gathering. But then I found that most people wanted to hear, and suddenly those silently listening were the majority.
HOW MANY RULES ARE THERE?(If you are hosting a node slam in the near future, NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO USE THESE RULES. However, they do help, and I will give you the reasons why.)
It was very important to base this idea on mutual appreciation and not ego preservation, otherwise it could easily degenerate into a dramafest. So I let others choose which node someone reads. Not arbitrarily; by majority vote. This is another way in which a node slam differs from a poetry slam: ideally (if everyone has done their homework), everyone already knows all the pieces about to be read. This often leads to excited whispers of "I love this one!" before a speaker begins, which I enjoy. Again, it's about performance, not news.
So the first thing you would do, as a host of a node slam, is to post a writeup in an upcoming gathering node. Be sure to check with the host of the gathering beforehand, and clear aside a time and place.
Next, get your readers to volunteer. I had them pick 5 of their own nodes, Bobby said 4-6 was okay. These days I'm thinking the number three smells healthy. Your readers know which ones they are proud of and which ones they would never want to do. Maybe too personal, maybe too dry. There is plenty of potential for being uncomfortable here; we don't want to make anyone more so. So then you link to all those nodes in your own writeup.
Then you have to get people to vote on the writeups. I'm not sure why, but this is a difficult task to achieve. I imagine it's because of the sheer amount of reading involved. But you have to beg and plead and whine and cajole and scream basically until your damn mouth falls off. Bobby and I let voting be open to everyone on the site, not just those attending, and guess what? NO ONE CARED. Well, like two people.
What comes in extremely handy in both cases, nominating and voting, is declaring a definite date past which you will accept no more submissions. The second date should be a couple days before the gathering, to give you enough time to tally. Then you can msg the participants to give them time to prepare, or you can surprise them. (Which I did, since I didn't tally till the day of the reading. HA!) The first date should be about a week before the second date, to give everyone time to read without fear more people will be added to the list.
However. You're going to get more readers the day of the reading anyway. You'll get cute people coming up to you and batting their eyes sweetly when they see how much fun it all is. Can you say no to these people? I can't. I don't like to be in the business of denying pleasure and acceptance to warm-hearted folks.
So what can you do? Just trust that based on what they have seen, what they will bring to the group will be thought provoking and fun. Does this work 100% of the time? Unfortunately, no. In Ohio, at a certain point in the night we ran out of list and wanted to keep going. As some people went for a second reading and others who hadn't "registered" were reading things I wasn't sure should be shared, I stood up, thanked everyone for participating, announced that the formal event was over and politely excused myself from any authoritary or organizational position. I was just an audience member. You may find that drawing that type of border helps keep patience in check. After all, first come first serve is only fair.
WHY WOULD WE DO THIS?
It was an idea I had after Boston and before Ohio. I realized we were going to have over four days to hang out together. Eat poop you cat is fun and all, and so is drinking, but I thought it would be cool to have an activity based on our own hard work.
When we get together, a lot of us pretend the site doesn't really exist. Well, we don't want to be petty. We don't want to start comparing numbers. Because they are meaningless and ineffective in person, and that's as it should be. Friendships link all up and down the Other Users list, and through different ages and amounts of time spent here.
All the same, I wanted to see you become the other you, the one without an audible voice. Would the one have to defend the other, or would the two intermingle? As a theory, it was more about the work, and giving it new life -- I remember back when I heard Neil Gaiman read "Chivalry" in person, it exposed a wealth of gentle humor I might have missed. And when I read a node in public, many people laughed at details I hadn't considered jokes - but hey, that's cool.
What you'll find is, people pick work they are proud of. More often than not, personal stories. No one commands this distinction, but in this forum the thread selects itself. We're getting to know each other, and that's the point. It's not wasted time.
EVEN THOUGH I AM TOTALLY ASLEEP BY NOW, IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE?
Yes! But it's fun. The slam is best scheduled for an afternoon start. Because afterward is when we make party. THIS IS NOT OPTIONAL. No slamming then quick hopping onto the Greyhound. Uh-uh. You stay, you chill, you reassert your friendly non-public speaking self. You revert to your original identity.
Because I'll guarantee you, the trust will be deeper and the conversations will not be quite the same. You've shared something most strangers haven't seen, and we've all passed through this ordeal together. Now relax. You've earned it.
Dis noad be goin out to all my homiez up in da pdxcb 1 luv yall west sieeeeeeeeeeed