By any definition, the 20th Century is an age of specialization. People tend to get better at doing less and less. This dictum applies to military related hobbies, such as wargaming which itself divides into board, miniatures, RPG, CCG, and computer factions. In fact, the easiest way to start a flame war on Consim-L or some other group is to proclaim the innate superiority of one version over the others. In addition, there are many veterans, active duty personnel, collectors, buffs, merchants, current affairs analysts, and historians with a strong interest in military affairs.
The sheer size and scope of the Internet has enabled all of these groups to find comfortable niches for pursuing their interests. While the Web may bring people together, it often does so in discrete groupings. The Military Web Ring attempts to defy this trend. Simply put, the ring is open to any site which has a military theme. Although it only has eighty-one members for now, it offers a wider selection of site types than is normally found in other web rings. Members include virtually all of the kinds of interests mentioned in the preceding paragraph, and no one type predominates. In short, the ring, small as it is, has at least succeeded in attracting a variety of people united only by their interest in military topics.
Such an undertaking defies the current specialized mindset, prevalent both in society as a whole and on the Internet itself. The situation may prevent the Military Ring from ever reaching the size of the 500-member Wargamer's Ring, but contrarians would do well to hope for its success. Society can never have enough Renaissance men, and uniting the smaller interest groups is as good a place to start as any.
Peter L. de Rosa
Note: The original version of this review appeared in Strategist 29 (October 1998):10. The Strategist is the newsletter of the Strategy Gaming Society.
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