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Saturday, October 29, 2005

My SPEED mailing list is dead, I guess. Long live the SPEED mailing list.

The age of mailing list is over, message boards and forums are perhaps the best way to build a community these days. Or is it?

Six years ago, (6th of June, 1999) I created a mailing list for a now-disbanded Japanese 4-member pop group called Speed, and for a while, it was HUGE. In mere weeks, the amount of membership surpassed a thousand, and it averaged more than a thousand posts a day. A community was there, with people around the world discussing about their idols, their music, the girls everyday. Hell, some even went to organize outings of their own.

But then, like most online communities, there were ugly conflicts, flame wars, newbies who made themselves look too stupid, older members who were too condescending, and I had to ensure that everything was under control. I thought I was pretty impressive, considering that I was only 15 then. None of these factors were able to ruin the mailing list, in fact, it continued to bloom and expand.

Ironically, the mailing list's downfall was brought forth by the very people it was created for. On October 1999, Speed announced their plans to disband on the following April. People started worrying, wondering whether I would close down the mailing list or not. But I was a naive and headstrong boy, I assured the members that it would remain alive no matter what. Lots of poignant and inspiring speeches were given, the 'as long as we remember them, they'll never die' type, or the 'some bands managed to remain big decades after their disband, we'll make sure Speed will be the same' type.

Alas, mistakes like this were made when you are too obsessed with something, causing you to lose objectivity. I was young and stupid. Speed may have been big during its time, its album was among the top 5 best-selling of the year, ditto with their singles, but that was it. There's no sense of timelessness about them. And by the time they announced their disband, their record sales were flagging, it all coincided with the rise of Ayumi Hamasaki and Utada Hikaru. In truth, they ended their careers with a whimper.

It was said that they disbanded because their recording label's main intention was merely to have this group to groom each of the four girls so that they can embark upon solo careers. It was a grievous miscalculation, neither of them could make a DENT at the music charts. One managed to appear in the Onmyoji films, both huge blockbusters, but hers was a minor role, she is now married and has a child. One was a good dancer, but a poor singer, thus she never released a single after her first album. Another was pretty, thus she had some modelling stints, occasionally appearing in magazine covers, but nothing more than that. The last one had a modest solo career at first... then she just faded into obscurity.

There was a reunion album for charity two years ago. No one gave a shit. Another financial failure. Another clear sign that their era has ended. Time was passing too quickly in the world of Japanese pop for any of them to follow. I doubt any of them can resurrect their singing careers.

My mailing list? I changed it, allowing people to discuss about anything they want to, and for a few years, it managed to sustain itself. But I was merely prolonging the inevitable. My mailing list died a slow lingering death, with members gradually disappearing, the number of posts per month dropping each month. Nothing I did could save it, every single attempt I tried to stimulate discussion was met with indifference.

Earlier this year, I decided to allow all entries from this blog to go to the mailing list, hoping that it can revive it, but I doubt it's working. A few posts from a 2-3 members a month, but no more than that. I could've just put it out of its misery, but I guess I am too stubborn to really give up on something. (After all, my Chinese name does mean 'perseverance')

I seriously have no idea what can I do with it now. I won't mind handing its reins to anyone who wants it as long as they don't mind that the name of the mailing list remains the same (PSML), I can hand it to all kinds of bloggers who want to have their entries appear on a mailing list, and these bloggers can recruit people into this mailing list so that people can easily retrieve and read these entries from their own inbox. Perhaps interaction will cease in this mailing list, but it can still serve as a 'portal' of sorts.

What do you people think? Anyone interested?

(Goddamn, there I was, posting an entry, wondering how I would revive my mailing list, and I managed to come upon a solution of my own, I'm such a genius)