Melrose Silver Stringers' FAQ

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Stringers ....

Jack Driscoll

What is the Melrose Mirror?

The Melrose Mirror is an electronic publication produced by the Melrose SilverStringers, a group of volunteers from the Milano Senior Center.

What is the purpose of MIT in sponsoring the Melrose Mirror?

At the MIT Media Lab a consortium called "News in the Future" is doing research for 20-plus media and communications companies. Part of that research involves the role of the communities and the electronic tools needed to enhance their activities. The SilverStringer project is one of about 40 consortium projects.

What is the mission of the members/writers who are called SilverStringers?

The mission is to share their accumulated wisdom and experiences with their own community and with others who might have an interest in the subjects, trends and issues being addressed.

Who finances the experiment?

The Milano Senior Center, a City of Melrose facility that provides a variety of services, and the MIT Media Lab share costs. Generally the Senior Center provides a room, telephone and general supplies; the Media Lab supplies electronic-related equipment and instruction.

How does one go about joining the group?

Anyone interested is welcome to join by inquiring at the front desk of the Milano Center or by attending the weekly meeting at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. There is no fee, and no special credentials or past experience are required.

Is membership limited to senior citizens? To residents of Melrose?

No and no.

Who can submit articles for publication on the internet, under the aegis of MM?

Anyone is welcome to submit articles, the editors of the Melrose Mirror have the right of refusal. Subject matter should be of general interest to readers in the Melrose area or of similar communities. Click on "Feedback" and "paste" your submission to the "Comments" area. It would help if you could send an accompanying note stating to the editors that you are submitting the story for publication in the Melrose Mirror.

I am a former Melrose resident. May I join the SilverStringers and may I submit articles pertinent to the publication?

By all means, yes.

If your editorial theme centers on life in Melrose, how can you justify travelogues to such as Florida and Fiji?

Our rule of thumb is that a story should be of interest to residents of Melrose but not necessarily be about Melrose or the general area. That is a broad definition. Clearly we believe people of all ages are interested in travel. Additionally we think one of the strengths of the SilverStringers is that they have a life experience to share that is unique to them as individuals as well as to their age group.

How much do you pay for articles accepted for publication?

This is a volunteer project, and there is no fee for publication of stories, photos or art work.

Does the Mirror address controversial issues, such as municipal funding, privatization of certain bus routes that affect Melrose, or the dismissal of officials/personnel?

The Mirror at this juncture has no beat structure-that is, specialists who cover government or specific issues or institutions-but no subject has been ruled off limits within the boundaries of general good taste and legal restraints.

Does the Mirror take sides on such issues? If so, what is the governing organization, and do such positions reflect similar policy of MIT's Media Lab or the Council on Aging for the City of Melrose?

Opinions strictly reflect the views of the individual participants. There is no mechanism or desire to develop SilverStringer positions on issues as a group, and there is no editorial oversight by the Media Lab or the Milano Center.

What are the demographics of your readership-both in reality and prospective?

We can only base our answer on feedback. Most of it has been from people who have had some contact with Melrose, either as residents, former residents or relatives. It would appear that a high percentage are senior citizens themselves from as far away in the US as Alaska but also from other countries. We are also getting response from some young readers and hope that will grow, because we believe the content will have educational value.

Do your articles generate comment from readers?

The project started in July, 1996, but really didn't pick up steam until the Fall. We have made no attempt to get publicity but nevertheless have had considerable response to individual articles. As a result, we have developed a mechanism for direct feedback to the writer.

Are SilverStringers proficient with computers? Is proficiency a requisite for membership?

The primary goal of the SilverStringers is publish. How it gets done electronically is totally separate. If a person wishes to write stories using longhand, that's fine. Only a couple of SilverStringers had computers at home when we began; no one was connected to the internet. So proficiency with computers is definitely not a requisite for membership. For those interested in learning how to use the computer, the SilverStringers have developed a mentoring system.

If I join your group, will you teach me (1) to run a computer? (2)...to do word processing? (3)...to write HTML?

For those interested in learning how to use the computer, the SilverStringers have developed a mentoring system. But, again, the project is not designed for computer training. Its aim is to provide an environment for publishing by a community within a community that bypasses traditional media. However, in addition to the mentoring, some instructions is provided by MIT personnell in all three areas on a regular basis. A set of simple instructions has also been developed in writing.

Are your training classes held at MIT?

No, but there have been opportunities for visits to the Media Lab by SilverStringers to hear speakers or participate in seminars. Otherwise, MIT personnel regularly go to the Senior Center. They take part in SilverStringer meetings for about 2 hours every other week and are at the Senior Center just about every week in connection with small and large group activities.

Where and how frequently do you meet?

The SilverStringers have formal meetings every Wednesday at 2 p.m. in a conference room at the Milano Senior Center. The room is also available for them on Mondays and Fridays.

What equipment do you own?

There are three personal computers, two of which are connected to a server at MIT and have a printer and scanner tied into them. There is also a laptop and digital camera that can be signed out for specific periods of time or for use in connection with a story.

Are you associated with any other organized groups?

No, but we have developed informal associations with Melrose schools and a senior center in Revere.

Are you participating in the city-wide effort to install computers in all schools?

The SilverStringers group has kept abreast of Net Day activities, and individuals have volunteers support services.

Do you accept fiction?

No. We do not have the editing apparatus at this time. This issue may be reconsidered at a later time.

May an artist submit work for publication? How about a photographer?

Absolutely. The SilverStringers are interested in taking advantage of all aspects of the internet: computing, audio, photography, art work and eventually video. Photos or drawings may be submitted as stand-alone offerings, but the SilverStringers are also interested in using pictures and art to illustrate stories.

Can photographic prints be turned in or do they have to be digital photographs?

Prints or art work no larger that roughly the size of a legal-length letter can be scanned into the system at the Milano Center. Whether it is written material, photographic or art work, the SilverStringers will strive to adapt it however it is submitted, rather than having the contributer conform to a particular form.

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