Kicks Condor

LEECHING AND LINKING IN THE HYPERTEXT KINGDOM

I FIRST DISCOVERED
THE 【TECHS-MECHS】WHO
ARE A CLAN OF SOUTH
OF THE BORDER GUNDAM
BREAKING DOWN
IMMIGRATION FENCES
WITH THEIR
IMPRESSIVE MANOS
MECANICAS

PLUNDER THE ARCHIVES

This page is also on dat.

Reply: Arduous Interfaces

L.M. Sacasas

I feel compelled to say that this version of the “global village” was not exactly what Marshall McLuhan had in mind when he coined the phrase. When one interviewer begins to say to McLuhan, “But, I had some idea as we got global and tribal we were going to try to—” McLuhan interjects, “The closer you get together, the more you like each other? There is no evidence of that in any situation that we have ever heard of. When people get close together, they get more and more savage and impatient with each other.” He added a few moments later, “Village people are not that much in love with each other. The global village is a place of a very arduous interfaces and very abrasive situations.”

Might we be converging on hatred?

This is a very good quote, very crystallizing. I’ve mentioned a few times in various writings here that I see a blog as a ‘home’—your design, your thoughts, away from everyone else—and that the current ‘news feed’ or ‘timeline’ trend has everyone living in the street together.

h0p3 recently pointed to this link The Gentrification of The Internet which draws a comparison between housing offline and online—but much of it covers the struggle of trying to live productively outside of the corpypastas (or CorpASAs). Life within is hellish, too, though. Everyone is just so packed in; the feed travels at such a rapid rate.

Finding your people implies, quite strongly, that there are those who are not your people. And, I suspect, the more powerfully (and more narrowly) we identify with our people, the more powerfully we are tempted to distance ourselves from those who are not our people. Differentiation and boundary work, both within and without the group, become the order of the day. If I may extend the territorial analogy, we find ourselves constantly involved in a war of unremitting skirmishes, which is how I would characterize life online in the more recent past.

Yes, but I think there is a difference between a group and a group that has an opposing polarity. Left versus Right is clear. However, if I am in an embroidery group, then—who exactly are we against? The knitters? Is there a cohesive anti-embroidery league?

For an embroidery group, this work of ‘differentiation’ and ‘boundary’ setting just doesn’t consume the same level of effort, does it? I mean if you’re hanging out in our group and you don’t embroider, I’m still somewhat tempted to let you stay, just to avoid a dust up.

I think that, again, a problem with the tightly-packed corpypastas is that you’ve kind of lost your people again, because they’re hidden in the landslide of the feed. Groups are fine—and they work well on Facebook and Reddit—but these groups become so centralized and massive that it becomes difficult to discover newcomers. Who are drowned in the noise. Who don’t have anyone to upvote them.

The thing, of course, is that while we might have gained greater access to groups of affinity, we have not ceased to belong to groups of necessity. Political life remains a matter of membership in groups of necessity, the town, the city, the state, the nation. And the habits and virtues formed in often digitally mediated groups of affinity seem not to serve us well when we inhabit groups of necessity (some of which may also be digitally mediated). We are, in other words, in the midst of a painful recalibration of the delicate balance between self, our people, and those who are not.

I like this point. I don’t have any argument with it—I do have something to add about the difference between physical and virtual groups that we still need to address.

We’ve long had some equivalent of Robert’s Rules of Order—now we see codes of conduct or forum guidelines. When we think of running an online group, we think of ‘moderating’ it. Policing the conversations, cleaning up spam and so on. And this is fine: probably necessary and I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea of how to do it.

But I think we also need a librarian ethic somewhere among these groups. Maybe there are moderators out there who have this kind of commission. You are dealing with a community of writers, who are all filling the community up with their verbose output—this is all data that needs to be grappled with.

So, think of a librarian at work: putting books back under the proper heading, referring readers to specific titles, borrowing books from the outside—in fact, I wish communities were better about knowing what other communities are in the topical vicinity—to help everyone find themselves a home. (I do see this, though, in the Indieweb community—a person might be told to check out micro.blog or maybe TiddlyWiki. However, I think we’re lucky to be a meta-community.)

I’m not doing a good job describing this position—I’m only just trying to put it into words right now, though, so forgive me. Perhaps the best way to put it is, again, I feel like I say this all the time: as a human algorithm. This person (or group) acts as the community’s recommendation and relations engine. It’s not inferred by upvotes but is much more active than that. (In the same way that I have absolutely no algorithm doing my work of curating href.cool.)

We so despise this task—we find it so painful, having never had to do it before—that we are pouring money and time into building software that will do it for us. But it actually can be quite enjoyable and can feel purposeful.

  1. @kicks "Familiarity breeds contempt."

    That's the first aspect that comes to mind. It doesn't matter if its a small town, where everybody knows each other and what they are doing or a small group online. The difference is, in a small town or at work, is you can't just leave, so you learn to tolerate the differences and, percieved, faults of others and still remain civil. It takes a mental discipline we have trouble extending online. Maybe in part, because we don't feel accountable.

    When I first joined forums and later social networks I purposely used my name, because I wanted to hold myself accountable with anything I posted online. It was common practice back in the forum days to use a nickname. It was my way of forcing self discipline that I wouldn't say anything online that I wouldn't say to somebody face to face.

    Moderating forum communities is something I've done a lot of and it's a task I'm glad to be rid of now. A couple of features of some forum scripts that I miss:

    1. The ability for mods to either combine threads (we don't need 20 threads about blue widgets, let's splice them all together.) And the ability to seperate off topic portions of a thread.

    2. The ability to in some way archive particularly good useful threads or posts into a sort of knowledge base for others to use in the future. Both of these hit on the librarian function.

  2. @bradenslen Well said! I’m old enough to have been in the forums as well.

    “It was common practice back in the forum days to use a nickname.”

    And it was also common to have a sig.

    Slightly off topic: I remember Outlook Express got a lot of heat because they used “—” as a sig separator instead of “— ”…

  3. @odd I used to love that thing, so I'm frankly surpriseed I don't remember it at all.

  4. Funny you should mention knitting as part of your example, because the online knitting community has recently been going through an enormous row about racism and white privilege. See here for a primer from a few months ago (as I understand it is broadly ongoing): https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/2/25/18234950/knitting-racism-instagram-stories
  5. Reply: Very Real Names

    Brad Enslen

    When I first joined forums and later social networks I purposely used my name, because I wanted to hold myself accountable with anything I posted online. It was common practice back in the forum days to use a nickname. It was my way of forcing self discipline that I wouldn’t say anything online that I wouldn’t say to somebody face to face.

    To me, using a real name to hold yourself accountable is kind of like using religion to make yourself behave. It gives you a good feeling of being on the right side—but imagine how much more meaningful it could be to act well without that external incentive. You really can behave just as well with a psuedonym if you mean to. (I tend to think of this as bonhomminity.)

    Still, you might be right. I’m not going to defend pseudonyms too deeply—I just think they are fun. They do remind us that this is not really us. It’s just a virtual representation and is different somehow. I still think online handles are as relevant as ever in these times.

  6. Reply: Knitting Rows

    furtho

    Funny you should mention knitting as part of your example, because the online knitting community has recently been going through an enormous row about racism and white privilege. See here for a primer from a few months ago (as I understand it is broadly ongoing).

    Ok, wow—I guess there is quite a bit of ‘differentiation’ and ‘boundary work’ going on among crafters. Thank you for the citation! Even still, I can’t help but feel that this is a temporary situation—or, more likely, cyclical—that is afflicting all communities right now. We’re experiencing a global meshing of all kinds of cultures within communities—and there is a struggle to sort out the rules.

    I do think that once everyone has had it out, you’ll either have communities permanently splitting along these lines or finding a way to coexist. (It also depends what global situations arise—we might be in for serious strife before we become nauseous of war again.) And, well, every community has its heyday, followed by its own dissolution.

    I still feel like there is a difference between communities that have no natural enemy (or are built for conflict) and those that do. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe all groups are formed to both include and (perhaps more importantly) to exclude. God, I hope not.

This post accepts webmentions. Do you have the URL to your post?

You may also leave an anonymous comment. All comments are moderated.