CONVOCATIO De Statu Proiectorum Aliarumque Rerum 8/2/2761

This is the Comitia (members' council) of the Societas Via Romana. While guests may read this forum, only registered members of the SVR may post or vote here.

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CONVOCATIO De Statu Proiectorum Aliarumque Rerum 8/2/2761

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:03 pm

Claudius Iohannes Curatoribus Aedilibus Sodalibus s.p.d. -

I want to take a minute and thank everyone for their attention to the Societas this year so far, and especially those who have caught some of my fumbles with regard to the Fasti and so on. Gratias vobis.

I also thnk it's time for us all to weigh in on where things are at with the SVR. For my part, I am going to list some items for comment or discussion, and ask you all to respond.

I. Templum Isidis. Curator M. Lupinius Paulus is readying his online temple to Isis, his particular saint, and will then post links to it from both the Mons Aventinus project and from the SVR. Quam bene erit. Thank you, Marce, for this contribution to the Neo-Roman world.

II. Collegia Nostra. The SVR was founded largely as an educational site. We have, in fact, a rather nice library of essays, reports and histories on the Site, in the Collegia. Despite my own less-than-perfect track record for finishing projects, I want to take the lead in trying to have new and qualified work added to the Collegia. I fear it may simply turn into yet another nice but no longer vital corner of the Web.
- I have been thinking to try to recruit another Sodalis, and resurrect the office of Rector, not of a specific Collegium, but rather of contributions to the Collegia in general. I was thinking of a duumvir, of myself and this consodalis as the two Rectores to drum up contributions and materials for the Collegia. Any thoughts?

III. Mons Aventinus. What about Mons Aventinus? There is already a thread for this subject, and I will mention it here to promote some further discussion. Is Mons Aventinus developing? Should we, as has been suggested, point our new works and enthusiasms toward it rather than our own Collegia here?

IV. The Census. If I'm not mistaken, the next one will be taken this coming year, in 2009, so it is a topic to be aware of.

V. Status Societatis. And, of course, I wanted to sound out all the attendees of the Comitia on how they think things are going in the neo-Roman world, and the SVR in particular.

Consodales Collegaeque, please take a minute to post. Valete.
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Postby Marcus Lupinius Paulus on Mon Aug 04, 2008 12:29 am

With the Templvm Isidis up and running, now I can go to bed a little earlier and practice my guitar! Next on my plate is getting through the source material for a Mons Aventinus article on the Greazceo-Roman Isis, which I hape to have by the New Year.

Mons Aventinus---I have to confess I have been scarce there. But aside from the founder, not much seems to be happening there, or here, or on Roman Space. But this IS summer, and online forums have a tendency of being pretty quiet during the peak vacation season.

What kind of contribution to the essay section were you thinking of? Is this something you can tell us all about, or are you saving it as a surprise?

I think you should go for the duumvir idea. It isn't something I have time to work on myself, but maybe one of the others here will want to do this project with you? The Isis article I hope to do will be for both MA and SVRs essay section, so you have a contributor here.
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Re: CONVOCATIO De Statu Proiectorum Aliarumque Rerum 8/2/276

Postby Tiberius Dionysius Draco on Tue Aug 05, 2008 1:01 am

Salvete Iohane et Paule,

Valerius Claudius Iohanes wrote:
V. Status Societatis. And, of course, I wanted to sound out all the attendees of the Comitia on how they think things are going in the neo-Roman world, and the SVR in particular.


I apologize if I come across rather bluntly, however, in my opinion, things are going pretty bad.

Activity is at an all time low, almost nobody posts here these days and there have been hardly any new submissions over the past few months.

Granted, we can blame it on the Summer Holidays, but I sincerely doubt that.

I don't think we can actually do anything right now. Not without a healthy dose of new members anyway.

Somehow, I feel like we should have this discussing in real time. Perhaps we should have a chat somewhere, it would make things a lot more direct.

Let me know how you all feel about it.

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CONVOCATIO De Statu Rerum SVR

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:39 am

Salve, Tiberii Dionysii, atque Omnes Alii, Salvete -

Yes, it is still and quiet around here! Not terribly encouraging. But not necessarily the end of things, either. I would hope the SVR could survive a quiet spell.

What to do?
- First of all, we can't shanghai people into the SVR - but we can invite them;
- Also, and I'm paraphrasing M. Lupinius Paulus here, we should be as welcoming as we can, maintain a good place for people to be;
- We could revisit recruitment efforts - personally and via the Internet;
- Perhaps as students and vacationers return this Autumn it will bring a better response to invitations;
- And we would need to be, ourselves, as active as we can be, in posting and contributing.

Also, there seem to be new Roman groups and websites popping up all the time -- I'm wondering if the "supply" of fora Romana interretialia has grown to the point where it's thinning out the available pool of enthusiasts too much.

I guess we should also consider how the SVR, now, compares to what it was during a more active period. Our last flurry of activity was occasioned most by the turmoil in NR. The SVR itself was created in response to turmoil in NR. Is there a symbiosis here? :shock: That may matter as well.

Do we still have input and interest from Classics students? Or is the SVR graying too much (vide memet!)? I know that membership and promotion have always been issues. Tiberii Dionysii -- What do you think are the biggest differences between now and then? What do you think, re SVR, 'historically'?

Re my ad hoc agenda, I guess we should add:

VI: Further Recruitment and Promotion.

Bene, it's late and my eyes are rebelling. Let's discuss more hereafter. And Tiberii -- if we can find a common waking hour and a quorum available for it, using chat would be good.

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De Rebus Societatis

Postby Aldus Marius on Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:28 pm

Salvete, Romani Viatores,

So much to think about here. So much to say...

I'll just make a few notes here for now. Don't stop talking.

Ita, the Societas can certainly survive a dry spell; we do it every year. The first really bad one had the Senate (back when we had a Senate) debating whether to petition Nova Roma for readmittance. (The second inspired "Marius' Thread". <smile>) The third gave us the Concilium Reforms. Apparently, like the Mojave, we thrive on a cycle of deluge-and-drought.

Ita, there absolutely is a symbiotic relationship between troubles in NR and gains in membership here. I've affectionately dubbed these extra-motivated Sodales our "refugees", and they are some of our most active and interesting people. Our leadership spans the spectrum: one former Novaromanus, one "dual citizen", and one who has no direct connection with the place. You can be anybody and make a place for yourself in the Societas. That can't always be said elsewhere.

Ita, we need more new blood. I'm doing what I can in Teiana regio; but I don't do hard sells, preferring to make friends and become useful to their groups in the hope that they will check out mine, and that approach takes time.

The question I read between the lines in this thread is "Is the Societas still viable? Is it worth our while to continue?" I'm not a Pollyanna optimist; I've seen our noisy times get quieter, and our quieter times grow deep and long, but...I think it is viable, and worthwhile. And I firmly believe that, whether or not we ever become rabidly "popular", we have something very special here, something not offered by any other Roman group, and it is worth preserving. And Yes, people notice.

We are more than the Board.

People like our Web site.

We have things in the works.

We are regarded by other groups, including NR, as not only viable, but as one of the only other really serious options out there for Romans-in-Spirit.

And neither Mons Aventinus nor anything else can do more than supplement--never replace--our experience as the Societas Via Romana.

There, now you know what I'm gonna say. I'd like to hear from as many more of you as possible before going into Curator Iohannes' agenda in detail.

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Postby Marcus Lupinius Paulus on Wed Aug 06, 2008 6:41 am

I tend to agree with what has been said by Iohannes and Marius. I would a enjoy a realtime chat, but with with us being scatted in various timezones, this would be difficult. {And where is Iohannes anyway}

I've posted about the SVR and MA and RS on a large Isiac forum, and who knows, the links on TI may intrigue a few. But I doubt direct recruitment would work. If you want people to do something, you have to sell them on the idea. I don't know how to do that at all, except by just doing something and talking to interested people. That is why I would NEVER make it in sales.

A get together would be good, just as the people in Europe have managed to do a few, maybr in a year some US members can meet in an off-season {to keep air fare down}. I kind of envy Priscus having a living history group down there.

But es, I agree with Maruius that this is a worthwhile endeavor, even if it seems it is only for a few of us. Maybe we should just not care about numbers much. If only 5 people are active, well, those five can say thay have a societas.

I'm painfully aware this does not offer much constructive input. It is just the berst I can do right now. But I am happy to read other ideas!

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Thu Aug 07, 2008 11:45 pm

Salvete sodales,

I do not post here often these days. In fact, almost never, even though I helped founding the SVR back in the olden days, and I was one of its most active members for its first few years of existence.

Like Marius said - don't stop talking. It's what keeps things alive.

The discussion about the low-key level of activity here has hampered the Societas for as long as I can remember. I think there are two major reasons why SVR has never been as active or as lively as other online communities:

- Our image and the way we discuss is unattractive to people with just a passing interest in Rome, or people who are interested but uneducated. They may feel overwhelmed, they may feel our level of discussion is above their heads, or they may simply think it's boring. At the same time, academics do not have time to devote to our website, which hampers our development as a community that could be taken seriously by academia. In turn, this may lead to the fact that academics probably think (and not entirely unjustifiably so) that most of what we have produced is, in their eyes, sub-standard, often lacking footnotes or giving just broad impressions of broad topics.

- The second reason for the relative inactivity here I think is that this is generally a community without conflicts or animated discussions. Most people here are intellectuals who tend to seek compromises, who try to empathize with another person's point of view, or who have mastered the art of shades of gray. While this is all fine and dandy, it leaves little room for really sharp-edged discussions. Added to that, I've always found the effort that people put into the SVR to render it a community by doin silly community things, rather disappointing.

Okay, if you went through all these words, thank you. If not, no harm done.

I'm sure the Societas will keep existing. It has been in existance for many years now, and soon the bulk of its lifetime will have been spent without any of its founding members, which I think is a very good thing. It shows that others have taken control, have assumed the mantle of leadership and feel connected to the Societas and its principles.

If you want to attract more members, or people who stir up discussions, what you can do is post teasers on other Antiquity-related forums, draw people in your own circle of friends to this place, create banners to be exchanged with other websites, join webrings, etc. Don't be afraid to unabashedly promote yourself. While we aren't selling anything, we are inviting others to a nice, good community FOR FREE. I am a copywriter and a public relations officer at my work, so I'd like to think I have an understanding of how stuff like this works.

Improve the content of the website. Make is user-friendly. Provoke thought. Create controversy, maybe. Let friendly academics or people with a similar grade of knowledge and experience review essays. Don't be afraid.

This all sounds like dreadful catchphrases, but it's true.

For now, that's all I can say. I hope it helps to further discussions here.

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Postby Tarquinius Dionysius on Fri Aug 08, 2008 12:16 am

Since Tiberius has granted me the right to post on this forum in the mean time, my two cents on this issue:

At present, I think inactivity is seriously hampered by the complexity of the forum. In other words, for a community of this size, there are just too many subfora. For one, I don't think it looks entirely inviting to newcomers, and two, by fragmentazing discussions by topic so much, individual threads tend to get isolated, thereby increasing the sense of inactivity.

So my proposition (radical as it might be) would be to merge the subfora into a general ancient Rome discussion forum. If the user count increases, we could consider expanding the subsections again, but right now, I don't think the size of the population requires such a complex thread management.

The main site might benefit from a slight overhaul as well, but of course, I'm not a webdesigner myself, so easier said than done. Personally, I would suggest a more simple, sleek design for the main page, and importantly, one that advertises our content a little (with featured articles, review of the week, etc), so that casual browsers get a sense of activity right away.

We could also expand the review section to attract a broader crowd. I for one am willing to write new contributions for these sections (or transfer some of my old forum posts to the essay section).
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Concilium Convocatioque

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Sat Aug 09, 2008 3:58 am

Salvete, Sodales - Bene mihi est, omnes Dionysios loquentes uno in loco habere! But we're still missing Servilius Priscus!

Of the current items of discussion:


II. Collegia Nostra. There are suggestions that we:
    Make the Site more user-friendly
    Show or advertise the Site's content up front
    Expand the Review section.
    Improve the content of the Collegia materials.
Gnaeus also points out that while the gravity of the material may turn away the casual browser, one the other hand from an academic's point of view, the relative levity of it may move them to pass us by.
I second all these, except that I don't think we have to improve the quality of the materials - they are, after all, home-grown. We should maintain a standard of quality, in any event.

My own notion of the things we should ask of ourselves is this:
- Rome and Roman topics, of course;
- But work, play or inquiry that is a product of our own minds.

The examples are already there in the Collegia and the in the Fora - bear with me through another list:
    Histories and essays on aspects of Roman history;
    reviews of histories and essays by major academics and popular history writers;
    reviews of Rome- or ancient world-related movies or novels;
    educational tongue-in-cheek like Marius' "Life with the Legions" essay;
    many discussion-threads that could be edited into mini-symposia;
    many of the posts from M. Horatius Piscinus;
    Q. Aur. Orcus's many postings on various of the Gods;
    and lately, Tarquinius's review and critique of the involvement of Nerva in the death of Domitian.
So this is what I would hope to foster in terms of contributions.


V. Status Societatis. It seems to me there's some solid agreement here:
    That a low level of activity is a chronic condition for the Society, and it comes and goes, that it's sort of seasonal;
    The SVR is a valuable place;
    The SVR is welcoming, it's for Romans, for seekers and enthusiasts;
    The SVR allows certain kinds of interaction that NR doesn't;
    That "We are inviting others to a nice, good community for FREE" (Gn. Dion. Draco's words);
    That we should not "stop talking", ie, continue to communicate (argue, even);
    And Gnaeus Dion. proposes that, while the SVR folk may be more into harmony and compromise than contention and strife, It would not hurt to stir things up now and then with some controversy.
These are all good points, ut aestimo ego.

Tarquinius Dionysius came forward with some more critical notions. He contends:
    That there are too many sub-fora which hamper posting and finding the pertinent threads;
    That we should merge all the subfora into a single Ancient Rome discussion;
    That the main site could use an "overhaul"; he suggests :
    - simpler but sleeker design for main page
    - up-front advertisement of content ("featured articles", "review of the week", etc.) so those merely browsing get a sense of our activities right away.
    - Work up our Review section in particular as an active and attractive element.
Atque etiam, Tarquinius promises to provide some reviews to fill that section up.

My own reactions to Tarquinius's comments:
- The Sub-fora vs. single Forum discussion: I agree that it is quite a thicket, fora-wise, but I don't see it as an insuperable problem; other sites, instead of subject-oriented partitions, often have just a single sprawl of threads, which is no fun to search through, either. My thought: this isn't a critical problem, especially given a search function.
- Overhaul of the main site: Makes sense, but we'd have to (a) form a committee to make the plan and (b) find people with the time, know-how and energy to do the work. My thought: This could be valuable, but we'll need some major commitments of get it off the ground. I would certainly keep it on the agenda.


VI. Further Recruitment/Site Promotion: That we might gain some "new blood" and activity by promoting our site and offering it to prosepective Sodales. Gnaeus Dionysius had this to say regarding all that:
    Site improvement - "a more sleek design" and more user friendly
    Put teasers on other related-content sites
    Make personal recruitments
    Create banners to be exchanged with other folks sites
    Join a Webring (do we belong to one? Seems to me we certainly should...)
New item: VII. SVR Gathering for 2762/2009
M. Lupin. Paulus suggested this: A (physical) get-together for USA sodales - on the OFF season, for plane fare reasons.
I certainly support that; so I'm adding it as an item. The problem, of course, is the $$ from our pockets. Still, it would be a great excuse for some travel out of town. We'll see what develops. (And I do hope that some day most of us can gather in Roma herself.)


Anything else, Quirites?
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Marius again

Postby Aldus Marius on Sat Aug 09, 2008 7:49 am

Salvete iterum, omnes Sodales,

Mi Iohanne, I thank you for the summary of the discussion thus far. It makes things a lot easier for someone resuming or just joining the debate to follow and build upon what's already been said.

Time and again we ask ourselves what we want the Societas Via Romana to be, and time and again the consensus seems to be "If we soup up the Board and the Web site, we might see some action around here." Perhaps we would; but that doesn't answer the original question. We are more than the Board, more than the Web site. What do we want for this gathering, this community, this entity we've created? What do we want the Societas Via Romana to be?

I've been a part of that discussion since before the beginning (go ahead, click on it). And in that time I have enjoyed witnessing the development of this community into its present form. We describe our Society as, among other things, organic...that is, like a living thing, and all of a piece. Living things grow, sometimes in ways not anticipated by their parents. We thought we'd evolve into a blend of the SCA's Arts and Sciences division and the Academia Thules. That would've been neat. But you know what? --If I was ever disappointed about that not coming to pass, I got over it years ago. I've learned and embraced a lot of things about the Societas since then, and the chief one is that what we have now is a Good Thing, too.

We have, right now, a smallish and friendly gathering of Roman enthusiasts and Romans-in-Spirit. We are spread out all over the world, though too thinly in most places for face-to-face gatherings. We meet in our Forum, which is lazy in the summertime, like most of us, and waits patiently during the holidays for us to return from our family doings. We almost always have people studying, people travelling, people launching projects in the offline world; and, however long they've been gone, most of them come back here to tell us about it. Most of us have been friends (online or off-) for years; the rest of us will be if we stick around long enough. We've seen each other through all the kinds of crises that affect our individual human lives; in my case, everything from losses of pets and a major psychiatric episode to cancer surgery. We are Romans, and we are friends. And no matter what, the essence of the Societas is in the way we sit at each others' feet and teach, and learn, all we can--not just about Ancient Rome, the scholars have that; but about being Roman, which for us is the same as being a decent human being, in this day and age.

I don't know how much of that special feel, that groundedness, would survive any major push to make us the most popular, most exciting and/or most-visited Roman destination on the Web. I think we should not worry about the Board and the Web site too much. I am willing to discuss site issues and improvements in the Comitia->Aediles topic, if our membership feels that such are needed; I even have some things to share. But the things that bring people to the SVR and that encourage them to participate have less to do with the site than with our numen, our basic nature as a group. I'm not sure we should change how we relate to one another (assuming we could) just to try to be more interesting. I thing we should play to our real strength, which is being a kinder, gentler Roman community, where nobody's going to get roughed up before they have a chance to work out their own Roman Way, wherever it may lead them.


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Conclusio Iohannensis Pro Hac Vice

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Sun Aug 17, 2008 4:08 am

Salvete denuo, Sodales -

I'll try to be brief, this time, Quirites. Marii - Yes, I do those summaries because they simplify everything, or push it toward simplification, at least.

Notitium: Tomorrow, amicii, I leave for Oregon and parts north, and will be gone - probably without connectivity - for some 10 days. Please take care of the posting of the Fasti in the meantime.

My summing up -

I think (prejudiced as I am) that the SVR Website is a lovely thing, both graphically and also in terms of the decency of its Fora.

I do like Tarquinius's suggestion that we show some of our Website content right up front - something like Wikipedia's daily blurbs (ours could be monthly, I dare say). The feasibility of this, then, is a question to pursue over in the Aediles forum, so I'll take that over there.

Re articles, etc. I intend to go forward with the Duumvir Rectorum idea, assuming I can find another Rector to work with. Obviously, I'll start canvassing after I'm back.

I think those of us active with the SVR can profit from the discussion's defense of the site's value and its evolving purpose in this discussion. And the ebb and flow of membership, being a chronic fluctuation, is a non-issue until it gets more severe.

Okay. Thanks for the input and everyone's time. Let's enjoy "our numen", and our group, and go from there.

Valete.
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