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  • This is probably my last Cowbird story, both sort of an elegy and a goodbye-is-not-farewell missive. In a few days the remains of Cowbird will be frozen in amber. We’ve known that for only two weeks, and already flocks of Cowbird writers have gathered to perch at several places around the Net. Several dozen have taken up residence at in a community called Friends of Cowbird that anyone can join. A number of writers have set up shop on and there’s still a Cowbird group hanging out on Facebook that’s been going for a long time.

    Of course, Cowbird isn’t going away. We’ll be able to visit the museum anytime. And authors will be able to download anything and everything they’ve put there, to have and to hold or to post in other places. That’s what I’ve been doing on my new writing blog, recirculating certain of my stories by embedding print versions of them in blog posts. I was planning to set up a site anyway to promote my recent novel, but when I learned Cowbird would soon become comatose, I hastened to get it online. You can find it at Progressive Pilgrim Review. I'll be glad to see you anytime you choose to visit.

    Within days after Cowbird’s creator Jonathan Harris posted that Cowbird would soon become read-only, a group of regulars started talking over email about it. Soon a proposal to create a live sister site was sent to Jonathan. A place to continue what we’ve been doing, it would use Cowbird’s code and be given enhancements over time. Also, like Cowbird, it would be run as a nonprofit and contain no ads.

    It doesn’t look like “birdcow” will happen. Jonathan’s reaction was swift, sweet, and unenthusiastic. Besides feeling that having two similar sites out there would be confusing, he reiterated that beyond the day-to-day difficulties and diminishing returns of running the site, he wanted us to focus on interacting on the physical plane. He himself would be doing that by turning his family’s farm into sort of a retreat and invited all Cowbird authors to gather there (in Vermont) this summer. I really hope that happens. I'll be there. Hope you will too.

    Even though I (and folks in general) became less active on Cowbird as time went on, I hate to see it stop breathing, but I suppose removing life support is better than having it wheeze on. Maintaining the site will be a lot easier once it stops accepting stories and enabling interactions with them and their authors, and so should fail less often. As a repository of more than 90,000 stories, it’s a priceless electronic artifact, a gift to the world brought to you by the Cowbird team and almost 15,000 authors.

    I hope that all of them who have something to say will find new writing homes. And I also share Jonathan’s sense that it’s healthy and helpful for us to take breaks from mousing around. It wouldn’t hurt us to stand up, walk around, and get out to mix it up and make the physical plane a better place.

    So long, write on, do well, and thanks for all the fish.
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