While I think there are things here that could do with some tweaking, overall, the Hypnos forum seems fine. It is relatively uncluttered, but I also don't think RM is "cluttered" as much as it is what it is...a NING community. I joined it, and two "new age music" ones but left the latter two when ALL they were was either self-promotional or discussions that started but never went anywhere. RM, at least, seems interesting...although sometimes the variety of people who post is a bit staggering (to me). I'm used to smaller communities.
I also think that, while there has always been ebb and flow in online forums and communities, I think we are in a paradigm shift (I know, I hate that term too
) I have NEVER seen the ambient@hyperreal list so dead. Part of this is that some live wires simply have faded away, both here and elsewhere. But, as Mike stated (I think somewhere earlier), people are re-aligning their online communication relationships, whether it be through Facebook or whatever. Again, the ebb and flow is natural, but I also think if you plotted the traffic here or other venues from, say, 2000 to now, you'd see a steady downward trend, irrespective of the ebb/flow.
Another thing is this...and it's just my opinion...ambient is no longer "new." Meaning it's been around now for over 30 years. I remember how exciting it was when, e.g. Strata and Soma came out, i.e. the first two collaborations between ambient wunderkinds Roach and Rich. Part of that was because it was all so new. I'm not saying that either (a) no one is making great music anymore or that (b) there are no "new" talents around. It's just that the element of "new" is relatively gone. And with it, a sense of excitement which led people to discuss more.
Also, (and sorry this is turning into a Binkelman treatise), with the exception of a few newbies now and then, most of us really KNOW each other pretty well, esp. from a music standpoint. Again, once we know our likes and dislikes, it leaves a lot of discussion moot, IMO.
I think it's VERY telling that one of the most discussed topics over the last few years are people dying, e.g. Jim and Barry. It's almost like we suddenly become aware of a world OUTSIDE the minimal discussions here. I know I am in the TINY minority who misses the contentious days of the Everything and Nothing being no-holds-barred and I understand no one wants that any more. But, again this is only my opinion, I can only read so many "currently listening" posts or posts about new releases that, if I had the time, I would buy and listen to (my reviewing backlog is so monumental at this point that buying anything but the occasional soundtrack is pointless).
Maybe nearly everything relevant to ambient music has simply been discussed..."what is ambient?" "how are new age and ambient different?" "does ambient have beats?" "is Eno relevant any more?" etc etc etc.
OTOH, for me personally, I just am not all that interested in some topics and even when I have opinions, I seldom post them. One is because I feel detached from the entire community anyway, and the other is because I don't see the point....by that I mean, a discussion on the merits or downsides of CD-Rs...I mean, so what? Artists will do what they will, no matter who says what. Sometimes, I think some discussions are almost on the level of whining, but that's just me.
Wow, I am in full on rant mode now and LOL'ing to myself. Sorry to all the old timers who know me well from the past. I don't mean nothin' by it. Maybe I just don't like getting old!
Mike, you have done wonders keeping the Forum alive all these years, with John and Anthony's help. Frankly, with everything else you got going, I say leave it as is. My only suggestion is to consider taking the "currently listening" tab and whittle away the really old stuff. Does anyone go back to page 3 or 4 and read it?
I wish I could get reignited and feel connected to not just here but the ambient community in general...time is just so short but I do hope to once again, at some point, contribute something of worth.
Thanks for indulging me.