Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Laid to rumor

Lay's death sends Wikipedia reeling

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- The death of former Enron Corp. chief Kenneth Lay on Wednesday underscored the challenges facing online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which as the news was breaking offered a variety of causes for his death. CNN

Here I thought the hooha was going to be that Ken Lay was the Angel, the secret partner, responsible for funding Wikipedia. Or, that the demise of Mr. Lay was a heartfelt blow to his secret lovers, all 13,000 of them, at the online encyclopedia.

But no, it's merely another instance of Print rushing to judge Online Media, without having the faintest clue of what is pertinent. Print thinks that because it is encased in matter and consigned to the morgue, that other media must be as well. Eternal standards we bear.

Print is experiencing Anxiety of Advertising. (CNN, for all its "multimedia" apparatus, is Print.)

In fact, the speedy turnaround of information spurting onto Wikipedia moments after word of Kenny Boy's death is exactly the sort of elated combination of wild guesswork and nasty gossip that occurs in every newsroom, every day, behind every story.

Someday Print, when it is no more, will comprehend that what is necessary to, what is wanted by, the sliver of public that still pays any attention to it at all, is that spirit of adventure, of uncertainty, of humor and wide-open calculi of possibilities that could only be captured if Print took off its leaden cloak and opened its editorial priestliness to the zingers its own people love and suppress every day, every way, for every Lay.


Blogger Arkady said...

As rush hour passes, stunned experts observe that traffic often eases, reports the Washington Post, yet at other times it gets worse. Wikipedia, though well out its depth, nevertheless continues to cover the controversy, amidst uncertainty . . . and sometimes fear.

They have a knack for infusing their view of the quotidian with a sort of spiteful narcissism. I couldn't go out drinking with them. The editors would pick fights and then take it on themselves to offer an expansive group apology, in a fit of generous blame sharing.

7/06/2006 5:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Print hates Wikipedia for Darwinian reasons.

Roy Belmont

7/06/2006 6:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scruggs: It's a question whether narcissism gives shape to media or whether media necessitates narcissism - or at least, spite. Psychologistic terms might mislead more than help. CNN and Wikipedia are sufficiently distinct that it's difficult to find common terms with which to talk about them. Regardless of what CNN and the rest of Printoria think.

7/06/2006 8:18 AM  
Blogger Arkady said...

I fully agree that CNN and Wikipedia are distinct. There's no competition between them and Wikipedia, unless they insist on it. Two separate fields, really. There are plenty of people who do not want any participatory information sharing, or even participatory entertainment. They're happy to consume and call it good. There's no stress to it, other than the barrage of perception management.

The ex cathedra media could open up all their archives, give away computers and sell millions more eyeballs to advertisers. They wouldn't even notice the cost. An insistence on competition will eventually make something along those lines manifest, but it's artificial.

I reach for a psychology-like perspective because I think it's nuts to maximize strife. What the authoritarian media will achieve is a need for further government protection, followed by a Spencerian M&A squabble amongst themselves, increasing consumer dissatisfaction and eventual loss of money when force has taken them as far as it can. There's an easy way out right now and much money to be made. But they prefer to keep up the corporatized status games. Actual accomplishment doesn't appear to matter. It's relative accomplishment -- i.e. winning by keeping someone else down.

7/06/2006 9:44 AM  
Blogger Arkady said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/06/2006 9:44 AM  
Blogger Arkady said...

To clarify that middle paragraph:

By insisting on competition, they will eventually get people to start pushing back. That could be forestalled; it needn't happen at all, if they so choose. It would be simpler and easier to facilitate the consumption of what they're good at producing. Whatever decline in market share they're experiencing is entirely their fault.

7/06/2006 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd be curious about your take on this. The link came from K(l)au(ua)s. I'm very intrigued, and might just quote the whole damn thing en blurg.

7/06/2006 9:34 PM  
Blogger Arkady said...

It depends, I guess, on what is being produced. Wire mediated communication works pretty well for people who have an affinity. Wire mediated persuasion less well and education is hit and miss. I don't know how much the quality of isolation people bring with them to their efforts. Quite a bit, I suspect, if they're used to producing on their own. To date, FWIW, I've found it easiest to collaborate in production with Ray Sweatman. We both normally like to fly solo.

This -- to assume that the mere use of the technologies is enough to liberate the old audience is unwise, and not warranted by the majority of the current examples -- is what brought me to Jon Husband. I know few other people who work as hard to overcome the isolating factors of the tech. Frank Paynter is very good at subverting the attention economy to establish, if not exactly community, then a broad sense of conviviality. I'm about to move on to extolling the virtues of the bloggers I've met, and with whom I've spent some time. I've met one who remembers the art of knowing how and when to stop over at my house without calling.

Production as a means of consuming attention, done in isolation, reminds me the graffiti artists I knew as a kid. Eventually they wanted to meet. Some formed clubs, for the company or for larger projects. The diaspora into jobs and committed relationships eventually put an end to the clubs.

What hinders the formation of community more than the isolation facilitated by tech are the same things that play out in any ad hoc, relatively anarchic community: people want to know where they stand compared to others. It's similar to the fretfulness of Printoria over Wikipedia. They want to drag them into a familiar pecking order. It's like producers of Muzak and glurge soundtracks getting irate at amateur pick up bands.

7/06/2006 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the people you mention, Jon, Frank, Ray, enrich any interaction. I've met Jon and can attest to his commitment. I've read Frank, and own Ray's book. They're doing, with and without Cons.

How does anonymity affect community formation?

7/07/2006 10:21 PM  
Blogger Arkady said...

Bad faith is more annoying with anonymity. Glenn Reynolds manages a comfort zone in it under his own name. Some people need a fig leaf or two. For others, it's a valuable adddition. T.V. has two good essays on pseuds here and here.

You can actually go pretty far in pseud depending on what kind of collaboration you're doing. I prefer to eventually meet people, at least the possibility, even if only once or just once in a while.

7/07/2006 11:30 PM  

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