Monday, October 30, 2006

Interesting stuff you said this week

provides the class with tonight's slogan
No matter who put it there, the fact that we can hear the real voices of Alvin and the Chipmunks makes us feel more powerful.

There are two "interesting" things about the Alvin guy. This is one of them: Cousin of author William Saroyan, with whom he collaborated on the song "Come On-a My House," Rosemary Clooney's all-time biggest hit

Scott rocks Eminem I:
hot - mechanical, structured, requires little participation, extends one sense in high definition. ex: radiocold - electrical, requires lots of participation. ex: telephoneThis conception got me thinking about sites like metafilter and slashdot, others, and blogs in general. Are they hot or cold?Unfortunately, McLuhan doesn't do a good job of defining "participation" - whether it is group participation or individual, so I can't really make a judgment. The computer itself is an electrical device, but I don't know, either, whether the web falls into another classification - the digital - perhaps.These sites, do, however, live off the participation of their communities. In reading, responding, and supplying new content. They bring in many pieces of information from many sources, but are also very, very, high definition. Is all this an area that goes beyond McLuhan's ideas about media, or at least my remedial understanding of it? Thoughts?hot - mechanical, structured, requires little participation, extends one sense in high definition. ex: radiocold - electrical, requires lots of participation. ex: telephone

Jim on Cred: The web is different than many other mediums in that newness lends credibility while experience and history almost seems a negative trait.

Caitlin on Cred:
Metafilter is pretty accessible to all and allows anybody to sashay on in and add a link or a comment. I like the site's articulated goal: "This website exists to break down the barriers between people, to extend a weblog beyond just one person, and to foster discussion among its members." Sounds a little less kumbaya than Wikipedia's "We're going to create a space for THE SUM OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE!" (grin). Metafilter makes you rack up a little street cred before you get to post on a main page and be a lofty contributor. You've got a waiting period of at least a week (oh God! A whole WEEK!? A veritable cyber LIFETIME!), plus postings, before becoming eligible for this honor.

Read BoingBoing's linking policy. It's terrific.
but then NewsCloud has the thing abnout YouTube stripping out all its copyrighted stuff.

Jim to Steph: I think I've written more in the past few weeks than at any point in my life. I've also had to think a lot more about what others are saying and how to respond in a concise, clear fashion.

Steph and Jason on Hacking!

Kirsten on Steph and Jason and the indelibility of speech!!!
I thought this was an interesting policy regarding the comments:
We believe that discussions in Slashdot are like discussions in real life- you can't change what you say, you only can attempt to clarify by saying more. In other words, you can't delete a comment that you've posted, you only can post a reply to yourself and attempt to clarify what you've said.In short, you should think twice before you click that 'Submit' button because once you click it, we aren't going to let you Undo it.Jason Scott mentioned something along these lines on another blog when the blogger deleted a post, but he had saved it. Blogs and the internet in general, containing the great ability to hit 'delete,' do give the illusion that you can say something without having to accept any serious consequences. Many times you can accomplish this, but on some occasions you honestly cannot have total control. You have to always worry about what you put out online. Many people are learning that the hard way when they get fired/suspended/reprimanded for something they put on a blog, myspace, etc. To some extent, this isn't as true in real life as slashdot claims. You can always lie about saying something, as long as it wasn't recorded and only a few people heard you say it. You can always claim they misquoted or misunderstood. It is much harder to deny what it is in print. You also can't be an 'anonymous coward' in real life, for the most part (by the way, what is with the hostile language?).

JSqP on ... stuff
Maybe I haven't poked around enough, but I think that many of these sites require user accounts to communicate, so that trolls are shot and killed before they cause too much damage. The effect, I think, is that these sites tend to gather together "like minds" that are receptive to the common viewpoint and resistant or combative to rogue views. Reading the Metafilter description about what makes a good post and what makes a bad post kind of struck me that way. I'm not sure what to think about Newscloud and maybe after I poke around a little more I'll understand it better, but it seems to be more of a thread-generation site than any kind of news service. Slashdot's threads are like a tree with a thousand roots, and in regard to reading any one thread through to completion I refer to my earlier "colossal waste of time" comment.

Sara doesn't feel so good:
I've never pushed it one step further into what Teilhard calls a "vast thinking membrane...containing our collective thoughts and experiences." Since infancy, we're taught to work in groups, to share, and to listen. But to me, these things always seemed confined to classrooms and homes and office spaces (in other words, confined to person-to-person contact), but in thinking of the internet as a membrane wherein our collective thoughts and experiences lie brings a new dimension to the concept of "teamwork." And when we join together, when we collaboratively blog and create sites like MetaFilter, are we building something that will soon take its own course, have its own "life" no longer under our control? It certainly seems that way. Let's look at MetaFilter. It was created by "bloggers" but now seems to sort of exist on its own, morphing as the users and their ideas multiply. Though I love The X-Files and have a geeky penchant for the Sci-Fi channel and horror movies, I've always found the idea of life in computers, within the internet or on blogging sites impossible.

Jim: I would like to discuss and learn more about the importance of visual appeal for sites. Some attract me and seem easy to use, while others turn me off and I find them confusing. I liked digg but not clipmarks. I'm sure its a personality, age, culture thing, but one worth exploring.

Steph was wondering where to find the history of metafilter

Rene: Metafilter's pull
As I reviewed the broad range of topics, I was compelled to read the article on performance enhancing drugs, computerless e-mail printer, etc, I realize that the site titles tend to draw the reader in to review archive articles and to ultimately register and start posting comments as well. There are numerous links even more comments in response to the weblog.

Caitlin to Jim
So the blog gives us distance and yes, by nature is analytical (or, in the words of my father, who now reads this blog as well as most of yours ((*Hi, Dad!*)) "seems like a whole lotta navel gazing to me, Cato.") but does it make us LESS human, or rather frighteningly moreso? Perhaps this'll mean me outing myself as something of a cynic, but I think that deep down inside, past the layers of kindness and rational justice, we're all just a little bit assholic--the blog just happens to lend itself so nicely to showcasing this basic human snarkitude. Also, aren't we always passing judgment on the people we meet, though it may be on some unnoticed, unconscious level? As a culture we've become so preoccupied with political correctness that it's hardly appropriate to breathe too heavily in someone's general direction, much less tell them what we think of them. I think that out of instinct and desire to be a) polite b) liked and c) cover our asses, we're far more apt to smile pretty and call people nitwits in our heads than we are to simply behave indifferently or express actual antipathy. So I don't know, Jim, if the blog makes us crueler by removing a level of humanity or if it makes us more honest by ripping off the bullshit colored mantle of proper social protocol. For the record, I hope it's the former, but I can't help but play devil's advocate and entertain the possibility of the latter.Also, I'd like to think that with carefully chosen words and clearly communicated ideas, blog intent can't be missed by too huge a margin. Text DOES communicate that which the author wishes--it's really a matter of careful diction and thorough cogitation before one gets to the point at which he hits "publish," and the words are up there forever. With that said... I think it's unlikely that bloggers often ARRIVE at that "thoroughly cogitated" point before hitting "publish" (I know I often don't). Therefore, intent is frequently slightly off-center and people, being slightly assholic at the core, love to be offended, so will naturally vault up onto their soapboxes and start a fight at really any given little time.

Slashdot's Commander Taco to Me:
I think Slashdot works quote well. What it does is disseminate the
days major tech/geek news, distilling out the cruft, and providing a
reasonable stab at the most important news of the day. Then it gives
people a place to discuss that news. People can participate as
observers viewing filtered subsets of the data, or use it like
newsgroups getting themselves neck deep in the debate.

Slashdot has changed in subtle ways over the years... I think in the
early days our stories were more inflammatory in tone. Now we tend
to let the users have the inflammatory discussion and let our stories
provide more of a starting point than an opinion. Initially I
selected almost every story, but today a staff of several help.

As far as troubles we've had over the year, I guess some general
axioms worth considering would be to be as open as you can be, as
transparent as possible. But when the line needs to be drawn to
obscure certain things, you must draw that line as opaque as possible.
For example we keep our moderation system fairly private to prevent
certain kinds of abuses. You mention wikipedia, because of the nature
of their system, it makes sense for them to provide in depth historic
logging information about every nitpicky change because a wikipedia
entry might last for months or years. Slashdot stories last only a
few days. They are more impulsive, so we find it advantageous to hide
some information because else people react with a kneejerk and hours
later the jerk may be all that is left ;)

Aldon, so necessary!Colin raises the interesting distinction between moving information and considering information. Various people looking at MeFi end up talking about how overwhelming the amount of information is. Some of this may get to the information overload that Toffler talks about in Future Shock. So, how do we deal with information overload and future shock?We look for tools to help us filter our information. The filters might be very sophisticated and spend time considering the information, yet this produces more information needing to be filtered. Or, the filter might be fairly simple, in terms of people simply flagging other information that they consider important; simply moving information.The latter, it would seem, moves us closer to emergent swam activity, where the swarm is smarter than the individuals in the swarm. The ants moving material back and forth are not considering the material that they are moving.This leads me to the discussion about Civilities. I’ve known Jon for quite a while and it seems as if his biggest hurdle, and the biggest hurdle of many online efforts, is to get critical mass. I’ve been involved with many efforts that never came close.One of the big issues is the role of the leader. DailyKos has achieved critical mass. Markos provides a strong leadership that encourages people to participate. Jane, at Firedoglake, does that herself in her own particular way. The question is, can a community emerge without a strong leader like that? What would it look like? That takes us, I believe to de Chardin. It seems as if the Noosphere is conceived of much more in that manner. Related to this is what Tom Atlee, author of The Tao of Democracy, calls Co-Intelligence.To tie this all back together, when you go back to Future Shock, our friends at Wikipedia tie this to the Technological Singularity.
6:18 AM


lednik said...

Coffee is Back. Just thought everyone would like to know. I guess once you become addicted to blogging, it's hard to stop.

Aldon Hynes said...

apropos of nothing: I thought I would highlight Lawrence Lessig's blog entry about Jimmy Wales Jack O' Lantern.

I leave it as an exercise to the class to discuss the role of Creative Commons in blogs, journalism and Jack O' Lanterns.