Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It is Sociology, not Physics

Fred Clark:

We should note that this Internet “entropy” isn’t random. The downward spiral always leads to the same place: racist, misogynist and homophobic slurs. That’s not really entropy — it’s a concerted attempt to impose order.

About a decade ago, I was briefly considered an expert (as much as anyone was) on social media. I gave some talks at influential conferences (not that I was influential), talked on BBC America radio once. That kind of thing.

I definitely leaned toward systems that would make it easy for people to create decentralized peer to peer conversations within trusted groups, and discourage open-ended commenting. For example, when Gary Hart became the first well-known politician to start blogging, I remember immediately leaving a comment (ironically) arguing that he shouldn't have open comments, that no good would come of it, and he should use trackbacks to other blogs, which is the way geeks thought (hoped) things were going in 2003.

Needless to say, when Twitter took off, it was a major move in the opposite direction. I guess my reaction was, "Apparently I don't know anything about what people want from social media, but there is no way this ends well," and I pretty much stopped talking about the subject.

I'm starting to feel like I was right all along.

1 comment:

garrett said...

Racism is such a great topic of debate. So many different angles.

One such being the portrayal of white men as idiots in TV Movies and commercials. This is talked about in fair amounts with examples on the internet, but the one that comes to mind is the idiot dorks who appear in Flo's Progressive Insurance commercials. Maybe it's payback for all the years of 007s and John Wayne types. I think the Media's racism here is more disgusting than some Twitter battle. The Media reaches a wider audience and is more subliminally hideous than some bloke barking expletives and the N-word.

It would be luck or coincidence if a bunch of bigots conjure "a concerted attempt to -impose- order."
When the Media does it, then you flatly have "a concerted attempt to -impose- order."