Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Intention, pain and webs

Rumor next, and Chance, And Tumult, and Confusion,
all embroiled. --Milton.

In view of today's curious furor, I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't say something regarding my role in two blogs that are currently receiving intense interest.

I was invited to participate in Meankids back in Feb. by Chris Locke. I saw Jeneane and Frank were involved, both people I have come to know, admire, and like.

I trusted these people, and still do, regardless of what is being insinuated. One of my strongest memories of Frank is his compassion when I blogged about my dog having to undergo surgery for a potentially cancerous growth. He, Jeneane and Chris have soul, and souls.

Others participating I did not know at all, or knew only from their blogs.

The formative idea, if there was any, seemed to me to be an effort by genuinely imaginative people to do something other than the dreary lockstep efforts to be remarkable that characterize a good deal of bloggarhia, especially the marketing and political sectors thereof.

I recall a post about Twitter provoked the most comments and a bit of conversation. It was playful.

I didn't know who Kathy Sierra was until someone linked to her.

There is hysteria, a good deal of facile judgment-before-discovery, and a whole lot of interpretive labor being set aside in what's now being said with regard to Ms. Sierra's allegations.

It might be hard to see this now, but the people, the postings, and the concerns of Meankids and its short-lived successor were diverse, undirected by any single agenda, and more about the claims made by and for blogging per se than about any single individual.

And there were posts that I found ugly, objectionable, scurrilous. Disturbing, because they seemed utterly gratuitous. I don't know why they were deemed relevant, but that's the problem. The web is a thing that creates complex motions of reference and relevance, new momentums and disruptive energies that displace intention and authority.

Real pain -- coming from anywhere, incomprehensible -- is altogether regrettable. Today it seems to be widening into something reductive, something swarming and sticky with its own bigness, that is not interested in facts, but simply spins in the same tedious lockstep unthinking modality that was being mulled and satirized by many of the posts on these blogs. The relevance of everything is now skewed, spun, taken up to a level of abstraction and refraction that's all predicted, if one listens, in the reverb of the old latinate rumor.

The complicated conditions, the open, webbed spaces of experiments in writing are being overlooked, dispelled. Jihad seems to ride on the fashionable air.

For what it's worth, my contributions included Nietzsche, certain politicians, and Twitter among other people and things. Kathy Sierra and other bloggers were not on my radar. I continue to trust the people I trusted. But now I'm less confident that one can so lightly enter into open, creating spaces with others whom one does not know. Jeneane put it well.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But now I'm less confident that one can so lightly enter into open, creating spaces with others whom one does not know."

Oh, certainly it's possible. I've been on a group blog with twelve writers and two other editors for two years. The creative staff has to communicate, and they have to set parameters for what will fly.

If you set up a community, you need to be one. You seem far more concerned with the growth of story than you do about the frightening threats that happened in your house. It doesn't matter that you're hiding behind Nietzsche and Twitter, as MLK said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Condoning violence and sexual abuse matter.

3/27/2007 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You use the word "community" as if it has one sole sense for all. Or that it was the only possible word to describe the configuration of an ad hoc group blog.

Do all group blogs necessarily fit the same template, cohere around the same core meanings and values, in your way of thinking?

As for specifics of MK (not MLK): Did you read the blog when it was up? Did you openly take issue with it in comments or on your site at the time? Links please? How much of it have you read, if at all?

Where did you get the idea anyone was condoning violence and sexual abuse? Some facts please? Some evidence you are not merely the caboose to a very long parade of moralizers du jour?

Has it occurred to you that there might be at least as much aggression in your anonymous sententiousness as in anything that appeared on MK?

3/27/2007 10:03 PM  
Blogger Kia said...

You had a furor? And you didn't invite me? What am I, the dog's dinner?

3/27/2007 10:23 PM  
Blogger Arkady said...

Jet, I agree with what you say about a need for creative staff to communicate. In fact there was communication in that group, even though the structure was anarchic, and when it was clear someone was terribly hurt, and there was no way to maintain the site properly, or prevent other occurences of that, the webmaster pulled the plug on it and apologized generously.

To what extent should the occasional and casual contributors, who did not engage in harmful behavior, be held responsible for the activities of the one(s) who did? More bodies in the dock doesn't make for more justice.

Separately, Tom, I share your misgivings about anarchic spaces. The metaphor of the commons on the web overlooks the depth of tradition, the extent of binding agreements and the long term acquaintance with the others using that space. Anarchy is hard work.

3/28/2007 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please see this:


3/28/2007 1:07 PM  
Blogger Arkady said...

The worst of the recounting at Doc's is it usually turns out to be someone close and trusted enough to access the machine.

3/28/2007 1:57 PM  
Blogger Juke said...

See, you get this democracy, see? And the rules're everybody gets to, right?
So everybody does, but then there's those that don't, I mean do, but don't, meaning want to.
See, they don't believe in everybody gets to, but because everybody gets to they get to too, and so long as there's only a little bunch of em then that's the price of beans, but they grow like Topsy, they what you call it meta-stas-tisize, and then when they do, get big enough to, they get the rules to say not everybody gets to, just them. So we pull the plug before then, right? So that not everybody gets to, because then they will.
It was a experiment, but it didn't work.
Or you could think of it as a steady drumbeat of sabotage, coercion, and effective dismantlment, against the ragged bands of the still-aware and the yet-glimmering-but-beleaugured nodes of the opposition.
People who use the word "vile" to reject certain behaviors will use the word "anti-Semitic" to reject certain political positions, even and especially when it's inaccurate and inapropos. "Scurrilous" and "bigoted" are a couple of perfectly serviceable words that don't get used nearly as much now, mostly because they don't serve the opaque motives of the erstwhile championing wielders quite as well - those first two example words are what you call em, signifiers.
That's directed at that "Bert Bates" guy at Sessums'.
There's another agenda - at least one - in operation underneath this dust-up, but I can't or haven't got to it yet. It stinks of the underhanded and false-flag duplicities so common in the outer realms.
J.Husband, good and gallant work over at Allied; Tom, as always, here. There's a ways to go yet, pards, cinch up.

3/28/2007 5:24 PM  
Blogger fpaynter said...

I think they're wheeling the tumbril out of the barn right now...

3/28/2007 11:05 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

i personally found your Nietzsche post very racist and cruel to animals. i will be taking a leave of absence in protest, like that famous food-blogger (almost) did.

4/02/2007 3:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The furious mustache's sister sez he's been on a proleptic break for a century or so. Something about he meant to say The Pill to Wow Her. He's dining on fens and pet food. You might want to get with him and hash it out.

4/02/2007 8:25 AM  

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