Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kudos to Philip!

So... kudos to Philip the Guide. We all said it at the time, but I don't know if we were heard. Our praises and gratitude back then could be taken as posturing. We were losing the forum. Everybody got sentimental ~ even gushy. Praise was bandied around right and left to one and all. Philip was praised, but I don't know if he really 'heard' it. It's depressing to be dumped, but to be dumped when the forum was hot on the griddle... Philip was a good guide! I've seen forums come and go. I even tried my own hand at building a forum (it died on the vine). Forums are hard to keep going. It takes a good host (Delphi was great). It needs backing ( was paying their guides). But it really helps to have a good guide. Philip was the man who made the Art Forum what it was. He posted regularly and kept the threads going. If a discussion was going strong, he let it have its head and run its course. If things started lagging, he started a new topic. Yet when I look back, he kept his remarks brief. Just enough to stimulate the conversation, really. He did all this in addition to maintaining The Artist's Exchange's huge directory and writing tons of articles. Kudos to Philip and the old Artist's Exchange Art Forum. On this day, I want to set it in stone.

Topics: Philip the Guide, The Artist's Exchange Art Forum,

Philip DeLoach: Picture This

A bit of information gleaned from Philip's website shows that he was a content provider for the Artists' Exchange at for six years. The Artist's Exchange website was included in an article entitled "29 Must-See Web Sites for Artists" in the October 2000 issue of The Artist's Magazine. That year, the Art Forum was going strong. That was just before the dot-com bubble hit the fan.'s bubble didn't burst completely, but it became mighty thin. Our beloved Art Forum was in the part that evaporated altogether. I've barely touched on forum, and the demise of it really belongs in a later post. But while I'm thinking back on it, and before I get started on another topic, I wanted to give due thanks and praise.

Reference: Philip DeLoach.
Philip's art on RedBubble:

Topics: Miningco. Philip the Guide. Art Forum.

An Aside to the Guide

I was amazed that the guide of the art forum was a southerner, one who had lived in the North Georgia mountains at one time, and had Alabama ties, as well. It isn't important to know a guide's biography, but meeting a friendly face with a familiar story in a sea of tech-talk added a whole new dimension to Internet technology for me. It made the world smaller. So occasionally I e-mailed Philip or sent him an update, and he would do the same. He was perhaps my first on-line human/cyber contact, outside of friends and family. At one time or another, over a several-year period, I corresponded with him and others did too. This was not a case of our taking his forum 'guidance' so personally that we thought we should direct correspondence to him instead of posting on the Forum. It was more in the nature of an 'aside' to the guide. Sometimes a subject might go off topic, so we went outside forum to keep from boring the rest of the crowd. Southern stories, for instance, didn't really belong on Art Forum, but it would be silly to go search out a new forum just to elaborate on a thread or reminisce over old times.

But what started this friendly chit-chatty kind of off-topic conversation was when, early on, I'd made the off-hand remark to Philip, 'Hey, weren't you the same guide who ran an old art forum on MiningCo? I was that person PauperWitch who used to post. We e-mailed once.'

And Philip said (my paraphrase), 'Oh, yeah. I remember. I like your new nickname better.' Because by then I had settled on what would become my true web presence, humble and obscure though that presence may be. I was, by then, Southern Muse.

Topics: Philip the Guide, southern, MiningCo, North Georgia mountains, Annals of Southern Muse.

Philip the Guide: Zizzer Buttons.

So now I knew Philip the Guide was southern. But a couple of other posts made me realize just how much we had in common. One day, for instance, he mentioned zizzer buttons in a post. I quickly tossed him a 'Zizzer buttons? How-on-earth-did-you...? Because I knew of zizzer buttons. Comparing notes, we decided that this must be an Alabama thing. Silly coincidences like that. (I now have a tidbit about zizzer buttons on Southern Muse Journal blog). Another coincidental crossing of our paths was when he told OsoTBear (one of the regulars and a really talented, successful sculptor) about the Weinman Mineral Museum.* "Philip!" I replied. "As I live and breathe! I was at the Weinman Mineral Museum just last week! How did you know about the museum?" Once again, a coincidence. Philip was an old Georgia boy. I knew he had painted a mural of The General, so this shouldn't have come as a surprise. But The General is well known, while the Weinman Mineral Museum is a little off the beaten path. So that was unexpected. My own visit to it was still fresh in my mind.

*The Weinman Mineral Museum closed for renovation and expansion in about 2006 and later reopened as the Tellus Northwest Georgia Science Museum. The URI is
It's bigger than the old Weinman Mineral Museum. The Weinman Museum had some wonderful specimens, mostly natural geological minerals and gemstones from North Georgia and around the world. They also have some nice artifacts and exhibits such as carved urns and other pieces.

Old/transitional URI, still extant as of January 2009:

Topics: Philip the Guide, Art Forum.

Philip the Guide: Mountain Man.

Philip had been hanging around the Art Forum as a guide for several years. I'd learned that he was an artist and a southerner. An offhand post here or there would result in another coincidental crossing of our paths. I began to realize that Philip was not just from the South ~ he was truly Southern. That carries a lot of baggage. Philip wasn't city southern, he was hill-country Southern. There's a persistent theme of legend, myth, familial tradition and poverty that runs deep in the blood of those who come from the mountains. "You can take the man out of the mountain, but you can't take the mountain out of the man." Stray remarks or a certain turn of words gave him away. I tend to lapse into southernisms in my own remarks. A few of the others on Art Forum did, too, and Philip responded in similar fashion. Internet technicians don't take to dialect too well ~ they always scold against its use. Technically speaking But it's all part of a long tradition, and is a casual, fun, friendly kind of banter. It comes as natural to some of us as talking, and is a representation of actual conversation. In fact, dialect has a life of its own, and these slight variations in usage can make all the difference in the world in the connotation of our spoken words. To stifle the use of it is to censor words and ideas, but there are some who would do it. The South is pretty well homogenized now, and ours is the last generation that links to the land. Our parents' generation is the last of those who tilled it. Philip and I both recognized that. So in Philip the Guide, I'd met a friend and a kindred spirit. Not to mention he was a poet!

Topics: Philip the Guide, The Artist's Exchange Art Forum, Southern.

Philip the Guide: a Southerner!

As I said, the pure genius of About's "guide" program was that no-one felt as if they were interacting with customer support. It was more as if you'd happened to sit next to a nice fellow at the corner pub, and struck up an interesting conversation while you finished your beer; or maybe you'd bumped into somebody at the bus stop, and a boring, 30-minute wait turned into an easygoing, casual conversation that made the time go faster. Philip the Guide provided a light and informal exchange that added the needed touch of humor, philosophy, wisdom, and continuity to the discussions. Sure, the conversation might go off topic, or the threads might start to lag, or the occasional troll would pop in and do his dirty work. That's when the guide would step in and perk things up or smooth things over. Our guide had just the right mix of humor and homespun philosophy... a philosophy, in fact, that turned out to be southern., Art Forum, Philip the Guide.

Southern Tech?

An offhand post here or there would result in another bit of information about the Internet and how it works. For instance, one time Philip mentioned that he had painted a mural of The General in Kennesaw, Georgia. I had visited that museum and seen the mural. This made me curious ~ he'd been hanging around the Art Forum for several years by then, and I just thought he was one of those techie guys. I thought he and a bunch of guys had started MiningCo dot-com, and that they all were sitting together in a brick-and-mortar building in California, hacking away like Bill Gates or something. And he explained that such was not the case, he was just a paid guide, a plain old joe and an artist, not a dot-com owner or anything. It was just a new bit of information for me to digest, about how Internet and file-sharing work, and how a dot-com owned by a corporation in New York City has a guide who lives in Smalltown, USA. And not a real tech guy. In fact, another artist. Kind of like me. It's not as if the concept of remote work was new to me. For several years now, my job had been as a local interviewer (North Georgia) for a corporation that was located in Maryland. But finding a "local" (sort of) guide on the Art Forum was just another funny coincidence. It was another bit of data to add to my growing understanding of what the Internet is. What it might become.

New Forum, Old Faces

I was a little puzzled about the new forum with the old faces. One of the old faces was Philip ~ the same Philip who had sent me off on my early quest for scanned images of my art. The first time we crossed paths in a discussion, I asked him about the resemblance of the two forums, and he told me about MiningCo's new name, Like MiningCo, had "guides," and Philip was the guide of the art forum. Most customer support on the Web is a frustrating, robotic interchange of impersonal forms. guides were different. Part of their task was to keep the threads of discussion open, while keeping the forum running smoothly. In other words, they were "customer support," without seeming to be support. When you think about it, it was pure genius, and MiningCo ~ now doing business as ~ had been the first to think of it. Guides put a human face on the cold, impersonal technology of the Internet. Later I would run across articles on About's "guide" program, and found that it was considered an edgy and creative concept among tech gurus; or at least, it was's claim to fame where brand marketing was concerned.

MiningCo,, Philip, and The Artist's Exchange Art Forum.