elftaint: FRANK. N. FURTER. (Default)
This post over at Buckeye Surgeon (who I kind of have a hard-on for in the general and in the specific case, and who is one of the only people who can write about conservative thinking and philosophy without making me run for my logical knives) was great as usual, but particularly this:

Maggie Mahar does great work analyzing the intricacies of health care policy and reform but in this particular post she has written irresponsibly. If you're going to use a wide platform like Healthbeat to write about actual medical practice, then you have a journalistic obligation to do so in a much less capricious fashion.

One of my ongoing philosophical examinations is What Is Allowed In Conversation, publishing being a form of conversation. For a long time I've been politically on the side of "you're allowed to say anything, and the burden of proof is on other people if they feel the need to object." I knew it was wrong, but it was also extremely defensible; on this sort of basis - which is the fundamental basis on which every sort of online forum works, like it or not - I was in a position to develop the idea of the Most Defensible Internet Poster.

Rational-sounding
calm
a little funny (not too funny)
authoritative but apologetic whether
right (apologize for maybe coming on too strong) or
wrong (apologize for being wrong in any way, there is no need to change what you actually say or think though)
ready to let the argument go at all times
constantly ready to pursue your audience and speak at their level and nothing but their level
Failures of communication are your failures, nobody owes you a platform or understanding.

Notice that there's nothing in there about the ethical or informational content of what you actually say. You can say anything as long as it's acceptably pitched. BTW this is a tested profile, and on its basis I have put some amazingly inflammatory content out into forums for webcomics, video games, American politics, womens' magazines, martial arts etc. If you want to change the minds of a huge crowd online: that's how you do it.

PUT YOUR PITCHFORKS DOWN: Of course, I developed this profile because I was having trouble getting people to pay attention to very ethically sound statements - I had to learn how to do this in order to be an adept communicator of ideas that I felt passionately about, beliefs that mattered to me. I was motivated by a desire to see and share in more humanism and tolerance than less. But it doesn't matter what you say as long as you say it the right way.

The concept that there is an innate responsibility in communication is remarkable to me. I'd spent so much time developing a delivery mechanism for the content I believed in that I had no concept that there was any sort of external obligation regarding what that content might be. Yet I knew as soon as I read it that it was correct: the mass communication of ideas should and does carry an inherent charge of responsibility.

The quandry is:

What constitutes responsible communication
and who decides this, now and in the future?

Because these questions cannot be simply resolved, because there is no body that does or reasonably can sit in authority over them, and because there is no readily identifiable negative to irresponsible online communication - the charge of responsibility for communicating online still exists but cannot be assigned or policed. So, functionally, it's like it's not there. It's a haunting.

None of that is the case in the example that Buckeye was discussing, so it's quite possible for him to discuss a medical journalist's irresponsibility. But can these issues be resolved in, say, public political communication?

(And, of course, as always, to me this reduces to a logistical problem - irresponsible communication is bad because it's an undue burden on people to obligate them to constantly sort and evaluate the rightness and wrongness of statements in an environment supersaturated with statements. There's just no fucking time. An algorithm, a new delivery mechanism, anything that would reduce the obligation load would also have the net effect of reducing the responsibility of the communicator.)

elftaint: (fuck shit stack)
Uho~ found volumes 6, 7, 8, and 9 of Love Mode in 50% Off bin at bookstore today. Brought home and devoured. After discussion with brother over multiple tajines, also got Rapidshare account and immediately downloaded a dozen albums from various blogspot sites.

It's easy to find stuff on the internet. I don't have to go to record shops anymore and rifle through their stacks and racks, taken by this or that album cover or promise of bonus tracks. All albums are reduced to identical accessibility and viability (nobody posts albums that they dislike after all.)

Is it or is it not silly to be nostalgic for browsing for stuff in shops. After all, browsing is all that one does on these blogs - but there's no sense of place, no romance of context. One does not try to impress the blogholder by downloading the "right" things any more than one steels one's self, as I did today, to hand four volumes of geicomi to a Japanese cashier a foot shorter than me who got nearly as red-faced about it as I did.

The retail experience is not lovable, neither for the tasteful nor the tasteless. Palatable only to the ignorant. And yet it is an experience that one does not control, and so it informs in a way that all this ready music and website surfing does not.

The heft of real life and the intrusion of other people's rules, etiquette, aesthetics, interests.

To have to get along and to deal with that perpetual tension of social interaction.

No, it is not pleasant. But I think when it is removed, an enormous segment of culture stops making sense. Not just shop scenes in movies, but the minds and motivations of people in movies who have, inevitably, been in shops: a tissue-fine analog veil, wood-grained, draped over one's character. To make yourself more palatable to others for that purchasing instant, since money is on the line, and to have borne those decisions and stresses, to interact with those clerks, to find the thing one is looking for in a small collection of available objects.

A new anxiety rises up to take its place: being lost in superabundance, having to build a line of interests and sorting systems that enable browsing on increasingly vast scales. And every purchasing system on the internet makes recommendations to you, as if that's any sort of a favor...

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elftaint: FRANK. N. FURTER. (Default)
Elf, the horrible degenerate

September 2010

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