Published in Goan Digest Issue 4.4
October 1996 by Eddie D’Sa

[Thanks to John D'Souza, Canada for sharing. ]

The Goa-net, a mailing list on the Internet run by US student
Herman Carneiro, entered its third year last month. Though
there are some 650 subscribers, the regular contributors are
probably under 20, several of them from North America. The
low participation rate is a serious shortcoming.

A mailing list is really an extended e-mailing facility and
those with access to it (the 'netters') are able to make
immediate contact with other netters and e-mailers. Some
users may even believe they belong to some palpable entity
called the internet community. The net is a quick source of
news from Goa, thanks largely to the postings of Fred Noronha
and wife Pamela DeMello. It also serves as a talking shop for
netters who would like to share an opinion, inquire about the
whereabouts of an old friend, make some appeal or proposal.

Lonely overseas students probably find the net a much needed
link to distant Goa. To one netter, airing views on the net
was like reviving the old Balcao Ghozali (balcony talks).

          But can the net have a more serious role? One that
          comes to mind is the discussion of current issues,
          with added insights from the perspective of Goans
          living in the West. Input from Goa is very sparse,
          with just two or three active netters. (The medium
          is too expensive there at the moment.) So dialogue
          with Goa is rather limited.

Discussion on the net tends to be of uneven quality. Since
anybody can join in and views are unmoderated, a netter may
be tempted to offer an unresearched opinion and believe that
it must carry the same weight as another statement supported
by evidence or authority. Being undirected, the flow of the
discussion can be erratic and netters may tire of the topic
before a consensus is reached. The topic may well be
resurrected at a later date and one is treated to much the
same arguments again.

The answer of course lies in moderation and there have been
calls for it from time to time. The moderator will need to
have sound judgment and wide knowledge. His/her task will be
to set the terms of the debate, excise inconsistencies,
lapses in logic, non sequiturs and keep a constant update. A
daunting task with a mailing list. Yet without some form of
moderation, discussions might lack the quality and rigour
expected and add little to what is already known.

Eddie D'Sa.

* * *

A Swipe at Goa-Net
By Marlene D'Souza, Manchester

Published in Goan Digest Issue 4.4 October 1996. Editor Eddie D'Sa

I am surprised that there is no section on the Goa-net in the
Digest. Not that the net is some repository of wisdom to be
taken seriously; rather it seems the perfect foil for the
phlegmatic Goan ego. One just sits back before the monitor
and keys off fanciful thoughts on whatever topic.

Netters profess undying loyalty to Goa and believe it their
solemn duty to defend, save or improve the place. It is no
matter that the nobody in Goa has asked for help or advice.

          The netters will offer it regardless and in copious
          quantities. They consider themselves zealous
          guardians, astute observers, cognoscenti -- with
          solutions at the ready for all manner of problems.
          You can picture them sitting in deep thought, with
          furrowed brow (and at a safe distance) in Europe or
          North America working out strategies for their
          beloved Goa. They will air views and dispense
          advice generously but not, mind you, part with
          their money!

Not all their schemes are well conceived. Early this year,
the child sex issue in Goa made the headlines and became a
rallying cause for most netters. A petition (a form of
protest familiar to most Goans) was proposed and one well
meaning Tim from Toronto decided to take charge. In a burst
of patriotic fervour, he set a target of a million
signatures, yes, a million. How was this figure decided upon?

Was there a consultation with other netters or was the advice
of seasoned campaigners sought? The bulk of those targeted
was surely going to be Catholic Goans and there are less than
half a million of them worldwide, I think. By the deadline
(end of August), we are told that 21,000 signatures had been
collected -- a remarkable achievement but far short of the
target. What's the lesson to be drawn? Set targets
realistically and after due consultation. Another netter has
decided to donate a computer or two to Goa. When he divulged
this scheme to me, I asked him a number of questions:

 • are computers a priority for Goa schools or is it improved
science labs, sports facilities and libraries?

 • did he have the backing of the Education Dept for his
project, had he seen the computer curricula? And so on.

I hope his scheme succeeds but shouldn't netters be
organising projects to fit in with Goa's priorities?  Marlene
D'Souza, Manchester

          [Marlene 's comments (taken from a longer piece)
          are no doubt tongue in cheek. Would she consider
          writing a critical commentary on the Net from time
          to time? Ed]

Via John J. D'Souza * Visit Goan Voice Canada *

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