Round & Round

The Control-Line Modeler at Large

By John Thompson

April 2006

Modeling thought for the month:

"Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star."

- Confucius

Information explosion

The Internet is a wonderful thing. It allows us to be connected to the rest of the control-line modeling world with a few clicks of the mouse.

Recently there has been an explosion of new web sites and message boards devoted to control-line flying, or to one category such as stunt or combat. We have an incredible number of choices of sources of information, discussion, links to product suppliers, coming events, and so on.

To torture the "explosion analogy" just a bit, most explosions have a purpose: Let's say you're trying to blast away some dirt to build a road. Like any explosion, the control-line information explosion generates quite a bit of noise in proportion to the actual amount of dirt moved. Still, with patience, one can find lots of good information out there that can enhance the hobby.

Of course, you can spend all your modeling time clicking around the Internet. Or, it could be even worse: You could spend all your modeling time setting up and running a web site. That's another story, but it does lead to a commercial for the Flying Lines web site,

As you know from having read Issue 213, the Flying Lines newsletter will cease publication a couple of issues hence, but all of its features and many more have been incorporated into the web site. We hope that it will be as useful as the FL printed version - and even more. The FL web site is conceived as a sort of online daily news magazine. So far, it's worked out well. Some aspect of the site, large or small, is changed or updated or added to almost every day. Every time you check in, you will see something new.

As an online "magazine," the FL web site is organized and edited by your traditional FL team, John Thompson and Mike "ZZ" Hazel. However, what makes it work is your contributions of news, articles and photos. The response has been great.

The FL web site also contains a place for more free-flowing exchange of comments, discussion and information, the Northwest Control-line Message Board. It has sections for all CL flying categories. This is an area not so much for articles (which will go on the main site) but for conversation about model airplanes, with a uniquely Northwest perspective.

That brings me to another point, and perhaps a sensitive one for some folks.

If there's a weakness inherent in our modern form of quick keyboard communications, it's that what we write in e-mails and online posts lacks the facial expressions, body language, inflection and instant feedback that provide some checks and balances on our words in face-to-face conversations. Typed notes are open to interpretation and misinterpretation. They can be imprecise and they can be misunderstood, especially by someone scanning lots of messages quickly. And they're virtually impossible to take back once sent.

One of the odd quirks of human nature, lately discovered, is the tendency for some of us to lose control of our "tact governor" when typing e-mails or posting to online forums. In some cases, this has transformed the online segment of our gentlemanly hobby and sport of flying model airplanes into a WWF-style smackdown free-for-all. As a result, some of the recently opened web forums have laid down some strict rules about what can and cannot be said there.

In the FL web site, I haven't laid down any strict rules about content, but I have published a brief "editorial policy" that makes it clear that we're hoping the FL web site will maintain the usual friendly and sportsmanlike decorum that prevails on Northwest flying fields. To put it a little less tactfully, we're asking that the smackdown be conducted in some other ring.

That said, there's still a wide-open field of topics for friendly discussion. Combining the NW-perspective message boards with the daily news magazine, we hope, will be a perfect fit for promoting, supporting and enhancing Northwest CL model aviation.

So, as information about CL flying explodes all around you, and you have to make choices about where to spend your online modeling time, we hope you will bookmark, and make it your first stop in your online tour every day.

E-mail John Thompson

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