Is The Internet Enabling Bad Content... Or Killing Bad Content?

from the can't-hide-behind-marketing-any-more dept

One of the common refrains we hear from the modern Luddite is that one of the awful things about today's internet culture is that it's flooded with too much "crap." One of our regular critics in the comments insists that key point and our failure to realize what this means for the world is why he spends so much time attacking everything I post. He's worried about what all that crappy content means for the world. Of course, that always makes me wonder why he bothers spending time paying attention to crappy content. After all, one of the nice things about the internet is that you only have to pay attention to what you like. It's truly an elitist position to complain about the crap that's out there. The thing is, it's really not a problem.

First, what may be crap to you may be wonderful to someone else. The idea that there's some objective measure of what's great and what's crap when it comes to content for everyone is just silly. As someone who likes a few niche areas of music, the ability for me to find out about more artists from around the globe has been amazing. And, yes, even if I discover some of them aren't very good, it's easy to move on and find the next band that's really fantastic.

But the bigger issue is that even if there's a ton of crappy content out there, this is really a filter problem. And, some are realizing that the reality is that the internet actually helps stop crappy content (found via obhi and the infdist panel). The point raised in the link is that, historically, professional content creators were able to deliver bad content all the time -- and just hide it behind a massive marketing campaign. People would go see awful movies because they didn't realize how awful they were.

But today, that's no longer true. Word of mouth travels fast, and is attached to all sorts of content. Haven't heard of the movies playing at the theater? Just look them up quickly online and you'll get an immediate sense of whether or not people liked it. The fact is that the internet acts as a filter to help you avoid crappy content. It still gets created, but it's even less likely to get in the way than it did before. Back before the internet, when I used to go searching for new obscure bands in a particular genre, half the time I'd be making a total guess about the quality of an album (sometimes based on the album artwork). But, today, I no longer have to do that. I can see what others think, I can sample the music via their own websites, etc.

There may be more "crap" online, because now everyone can get their own content out there, but it's easier than ever to avoid that crap and easier than ever to find the good stuff -- and that's true both at the amateur and the professional level. The internet doesn't cause anyone to be overloaded by crap... unless you're bad at using the internet.


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  1.  
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    Pixelation, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 7:47pm

    If you want to avoid the crap, come to Techdirt.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 7:50pm

    You know what they say. One man's noise is another man's music.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 7:51pm

    Re:

    That's not true, we have so many trolls like TAM propagating so much junk on techdirt that this place is no place to avoid bad content.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 8:14pm

    Culture really ain't that hard.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 8:31pm

    You're incorrect here.

    But the bigger issue is that even if there's a ton of crappy content out there, this is really a filter problem. And, some are realizing that the reality is that the internet actually helps stop crappy content (found via obhi and the infdist panel). The point raised in the link is that, historically, professional content creators were able to deliver bad content all the time -- and just hide it behind a massive marketing campaign. People would go see awful movies because they didn't realize how awful they were.


    But it's not being stopped - your previous article about GQ shows that Hollywood is making *even more* crap and less quality films. "Content producers" (as opposed to artists) are churning out more and more crap because they're being driven by marketers selling a "brand".

    However, this is not a bad thing. As you point out yourself,
    the ability for me to find out about more artists from around the globe has been amazing. And, yes, even if I discover some of them aren't very good, it's easy to move on and find the next band that's really fantastic.


    Clay Shirkey tackled this topic nearly a decade ago in "Weblogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing". While he talks about print publishing, changes in technology and the rise of online video and music publishing sites means it now applies to all types of media, not just print.

    A great snippet:
    Print publishing acts as a filter, weblogs do not. Whatever you want to offer the world -- a draft of your novel, your thoughts on the war, your shopping list -- you get to do it, and any filtering happens after the fact, through mechanisms like blogdex and Google. Publishing your writing in a weblog creates none of the imprimatur of having it published in print.


    This is just as true today as it was in 2002, and it's now just as true with music and video as it is with print.

     

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  6.  
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    xenomancer (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 8:55pm

    Don't Feed the Trolls

    Mike, your first paragraph is TAM bait. Shame on you for not reading the sign on the internets' lawn: "Don't feed the trolls."

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 9:27pm

    What you like is often buried under tons of crappy content. It's the nature of the internet. While there are some really good discussion even on this site, many of them are lost in a crapfest that would make a toilet maker happy.

    When we went from the 3 networks + locals + PBS universe and replaced it with the seemingly infinite channel universe, quality didn't go up, it went down. We got a whole lot more of it, but it's a virtual firehose of crap, recycled junk, and poorly thought out material put on the air to "fill the time". We didn't get more good ideas, we just got more stuff.

    Online, it is even worse. Search google for something that interests you, and you find a wall of crap. Spam sites, junk sites, sites who are trying to infect your computer, opinion sites with no real information on them, and the like. Everyone does it, from "I took a dump" tweets, meaningless facebook updates, and junk freehosted blogs to full on "tech" websites, most of it personal opinion claiming to be fact.

    The sad fact is that most of us (myself included) are nowhere near as talented as the great writers of our time, or the great musicians, or the great artists. In 100 of your friends, you probably only know 1 who could actually qualify as an artists, only a few who should write for a living, and a handful who can really make music beyond playing chopsticks. The rest of us are sort of plain.

    But given the power of the internet, plain rules! All of the rest of us are putting out crappy pictures up, or ugly drawings, our badly shot and poorly edited videos (with great effects, courtesy of pirated software). We pile shit onto youtube, we fill our blogs and our facebook pages with it, we spew endlessly, and wow, the world is a better place for all of our great stuff.

    But the problem is that it isn't great. It's just noise. It's more trash, more of that annoying kid next door playing the tuba and failing, it's more fuzzy pictures of vacations better not taken.

    Most of the talented people were already being talented before all this happened. Yes, some more of them have gotten exposed. But most of it is spew, junk, noise.

    All the movie reviews in the world don't add up to much. I have loved movies that most critics hated, that online people who slam. Other people's opinions about things don't really matter, because unless I want to be a sheep and follow the crowd, I can figure out what I like myself.

    It's really too bad Mike that you can't see what is really going on. You are so focused on the narrow little successes to bother to witness the grand morass, the huge cesspool that is the internet. You should get our more (virtually). Close a few hundred of your self-justifying windows, and actually go out and look around. You will be most disappointed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 10:27pm

    You can't simultaneously argue that you can't tell what crap is, and that the internet is good at filtering crap. That's just...crap.

     

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    cc (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 10:31pm

    Re:

    You say you don't want "to be a sheep that follows the crowd", yet it's evident you can't deal with real choice -- you want to be fed whatever the entertainment industry execs decided to feed you, because they thought it's not "a crapfest". It doesn't need to be good -- just good enough, meaning it's not I-took-a-dump-tweet bad.

    You say that "Most of the talented people were already being talented before all this happened," to which I say [citation fucking needed].

    Then you throw in this bombshell "Yes, some more of them have gotten exposed"...

    HUH??? You clearly admit that at least some new and worthwhile talent is being exposed through the internet!

    The only "downside" is that talent is not making any money for the entertainment industry execs whose artistic tastes the sheep so revere -- hey, perhaps they are even eroding the mind-share of the stuff being pumped out by the execs! Who won the best album Grammy this year? Not a major label band, for the first time in history.

    If you can't deal with the power to discover your own artists, there's always MTV. Just turn off your PC, sit in front of your TV and wait for the execs to tell you what you like; just don't read any user reviews, that would make you a sheep! And god forbid, don't download any cam copies of films before you fork over cash to watch them at the cinema; that's stealing!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 10:32pm

    It even affects the pirates

    My buddy and I were talking about the quality of leaked films. It used to be easier to find good bootlegged movies. Now everyone with a video camera can upload thier lousy torrents. Damn you ameture criminals.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 10:32pm

    Re:

    What you like is often buried under tons of crappy content

    How do you bury a website? Or a song? You seem really confused about how the internet works. I have *no problem* finding amazing new music and websites. If you do, perhaps you need to learn to surf better.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:35pm

    I like to point out that this is one of the reasons copytards get so upset, is that they lost the ability to willfully sell crap, people just look at it before and don't pay.

     

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    sinsi (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:40pm

    Re:

    I agree with most of your points, AC. The ratio of 'useful' to 'crap' is getting out of hand and only going to get worse. I can make up my own mind given accurate data but GIGO and the garbage is growing.

     

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    sinsi (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:43pm

    Re: Re:

    "How do you bury a website?"
    There's your problem. The crap is with us forever.

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:46pm

    Sturgeons Law Has Always Applied

    99% of everything is crap.

    It was given a name about half a century ago, but Im pretty sure its been true all through human history. Yet in every generation, we have a new lot of pundits lamenting it like its something new. Maybe they should spend a bit more time learning history.

     

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    cc (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:53pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Or does the good stuff float to the top, while the crap sinks to the bottom?

    If there are enough people crawling the nets for the good stuff, we basically have crowdsourced filtering that can cater to many different tastes -- and each of us can contribute.

    (implicitly, this is how search engines work)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 1:38am

    Quote:
    What you like is often buried under tons of crappy content. It's the nature of the internet. While there are some really good discussion even on this site, many of them are lost in a crapfest that would make a toilet maker happy.


    You miss something very important, this is why Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others use to make money, they are the new curators of content and that is why they make so much money online.

    This is why the iTunes is so popular, people clump together on those places to find what they want, people are literally paying for others to do the research for them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 1:50am

    More crap to come.

    Xunlei coming to the U.S. movie studios can't be happy about it :)

    Source:
    Chinese File-Sharing Site Xunlei Plans U.S. IPO

     

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  19.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 3:31am

    Re:

    Sorry you are having such a tough time with this reading thing AC. I think Mike answered your comment quite clearly, but since you seemed to have missed it, I'll repost for you.

    "Of course, that always makes me wonder why he bothers spending time paying attention to crappy content. After all, one of the nice things about the internet is that you only have to pay attention to what you like."

    You complain about the channels on cable and how it was better when you had 3 networks + locals + PBS. Newsflash!!! It's still like that. You choose to purchase the seemingly infinite channel universe, even though you have the option to just have what you say you felt was better. I don't like tweets, so imagine this; I don't use twitter. Guess what? I don't get bothered by any "I took a dump" tweets. I have a Facebook page and I've only invited my REAL friends onto it. Imagine that? So I only get updates from the people I actually WANT to hear from.

    Maybe you were not aware that the internet is a communications platform, not a broadcast medium. You don't just turn it on and it spits crap at you, you have to invite that crap into your browser.

    I seriously don't understand complaining about crap that you don't have to look at. Sure I run into crappy content while surfing. It takes about 1 second to close the window on it and resume searching. Even better, sometimes the content is so incredibly bad that I feel compelled to share it with friends so that we can all have a laugh at how incredibly bad it is. I wonder if that makes it good crap.

     

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  20.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 3:58am

    Re: You're incorrect here.

    "But it's not being stopped - your previous article about GQ shows that Hollywood is making *even more* crap and less quality films."

    ...but the movie industry is not simply "Hollywood", and the GQ article shows that a lot of the more cynical and lower quality crap is starting to lose money.

    I personally think we're in something of a transitional phase, where Hollywood is starting to produce a lot more quality films and concentrate less on lowest common denominator crap. Inception and a few other auteur-led movies are leading the way to convince them of this, but things are going that way. But, to recognise that, look away from the blockbusters for a moment, and look at the ones that are really making money.

    According to boxofficemojo.com, the highest grossing movie of the year so far is The Green Hornet - a traditional blockbuster. However, it's not done all that well if you think about it. The stated budget is $120 million - marketing will have been at least 2/3 of that again. Domestic gross: $97 million., worldwide $223 million. Depending on international marketing costs, they *may* have started to break even, but probably not until DVD.

    Now, look at the non-blockbuster movies. Black Swan cost $13 million, currently grossed $104 million domestic, $228 million worldwide. True Grit - cost $38 million, grossed $167 million domestic, $213 million worldwide. The King's Speech - cost $15 million, grossed $117 million domestic, $271 million worldwide.

    These movies were not "Hollywood" movies, but they have been more successful by any realistic measure than the year's biggest "blockbuster" so far - and they were all high quality pieces of entertainment, all Oscar nominated.

    Now, that doesn't mean there's not crap out there, of course - there always has been, always will be. But hopefully the industry is starting to realise that intelligent, lower budget movies do have a very strong market and can be highly successful if properly handled.

    As for Shirkey's comments, they don't sound particularly relevant or insightful to me. The snippet you posted seems to assume that the filter *has* to occur at the point of publishing, and that no blog writer is disciplined enough to filter himself to a useful degree. This is wrong, and a symnptom of some very dated thinking.

    Between the blogs I frequent, film ranking sites (e.g. Flickchart and Glue), and various other online sources, I have some very good filters that remove the crap I don't want to watch and point me to some excellent films I've not even heard of before. Of course, I had to find these sources in the first place, and that's where Shirkey's comments may have been relevant - but don't you need the same "filters" to find relevant print material as well? After all, the fact that your local newsstand sold a particular magazine didn't always mean its content is useful to your personal tastes.

     

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  21.  
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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 4:15am

    Re: Re:

    I dunno, the straight lines they deliver can set up some pretty damn entertaining responses :)

     

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    PaulT (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 4:16am

    Re: Re:

    I'd personally assert that the ratio is exactly the same as it's always been. The problems are that:

    a) you have access to all the crap released everywhere in the world, whereas before you were limited to whatever your local radio station/record store/TV station carried and

    b) it doesn't simply disappear when those sources run out of stock/decide to stop playing it, as would have happened in the past.

    But, the actual ratio of good to bad remains the same, and you can access some fantastic material you would never have been exposed to, from anywhere in the world. you just have to have an open mind and look at something other than the

    Case in point: I have 2 DVDs to watch tonight. One is The Social Network, a massively hyped film from one of my favourite directors. I'm sure I'll enjoy it, and would have watched it with or without the internet. I'll admit that part of the reason I'm watching it is to clear some of the popular top 100 Flickchart movies I haven't seen yet from my list, but I would have seen it anyway.

    The other is Endhiran (Robot), an utterly insane looking Tamil/Hindi sci-fi/action/musical/comedy/whatever that a friend and I tracked down because he stumbled across a Russian promo reel of the special effects on YouTube. I'm not sure how much I'll enjoy the film outside of the effects reel (which I loved), but you try telling me I'm have come across this film in any capacity pre-Internet!

     

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    freak (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 4:35am

    Re: Re: Re:

    haha!
    I also have Endhiran in my watching list due to youtube!

    Those guys were really creative in the SFX, eh?

     

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  24.  
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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 4:39am

    Re: Re:

    Mike, I think a key to this is your last line: "..unless you're bad at using the internet."

    I've been playing around online since the pre-Web days, when we were still taught about gopher in high school and where using a terminal emulator with a 9600 baud modem to get onto a MUD was state of the art consumer technology (i.e. not quite the BBS generation, but not quite a Web native, either).

    Managing the information firehose that is the internet *is* an art form, and I don't know how to teach it except through experience. Knowing how to ask Google good questions is step one, but scanning the links and deciding which ones to click on is an art in itself. Assessing the quality of the content behind those links is yet another trick that isn't easy to learn from a class or a book.

    When you've been kicking around online long enough, you build up this huge mental storehouse of "sites to trust" - search on Google, check urban legends and random emails on Snopes or hoax-buster, ask programming questions on Stack Overflow, read Wikipedia with a critical eye, find reviewers with tastes that reflect yours (e.g. AICN and Rotten Tomatoes will work for some, not for others), hit up IMDB if you want the facts on a Hollywood production, hit Amazon/eBay/AmazonUK to get a feel for reasonable prices, check a site's "About" page to get some idea who's behind it, balance up the degree to which you care about a piece of information with the amount of effort you put into verifying its validity.

    Dismissing people that haven't learned those skills as "bad at the internet" really isn't fair. I've been doing this for the better part of 20 years, and spending tons of time online for at least 15 of those. As I said above, I don't know how to help someone acquire those skills quickly, but I try as hard as I can to remember that things I find to be second nature *now*, are actually abilities and techniques that I have acquired over a long period of time.

    There's a big difference between learning to use a few "networked applications" (e.g. email, major web sites) and learning to use "the internet", but it's awfully easy to forget that there are far fewer people in the latter category than there are in the former.

     

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  25.  
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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 4:50am

    Re: Re:

    I find it necessary to mention Sturgeon's Law at this point.

    Just take it as a given that 90% of absolutely everything is crap and learn to live with it. Different people will disagree about the make up of the 10%, and there will always be complaints about all this new crap that is showing up, because we've forgotten the 90% of the old stuff that was also crap.

    It doesn't even matter how accurate (or inaccurate) the law is in reality. It's a tool for adjusting your own attitude and expectations, and very effective at the task.

     

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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 4:53am

    Re: Sturgeons Law Has Always Applied

    Ah, I should have scrolled further down, someone had already mentioned Sturgeon's Law :)

     

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  27.  
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    Richard (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 5:00am

    Re:

    some really good discussion even on this site, many of them are lost in a crapfest that would make a toilet maker happy.

    Just press the "show insightful comments" button and the rubbish magically vanishes.

    Too bad if that always seems to include your comments

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 5:31am

    Re: Re:

    How do you bury a website? You ask this question on the week that Google adjusted it's algo to get rid of sites that were crowding up their results with junk. You know, burying other websites.

    As for "learn to surf better", I could give lessons about it (and I often do, I am the go to guy in my social groups for obscure internet stuff and finding information). It isn't a question of learning to surf better, it's a question of surfing being most meaningless in the high tide of crap.

    What ends up hap penning is that we learn about new sites from our existing contact list - people, sites, and sources that we go to all the time. If all you visit are sites that are anti-copyright, example, you get references only to sites they like, which will typically be in tune with their mentality. Come to Techdirt, you get exposed to great sources like Torrent Freak, Geist, and so on. Instead of becoming more informed, you actually become less informed. The filter actually takes away depth.

    If you only get recommendations from your friends, you will have a small, narrow view of the world because that is all you will get - stuff from people just like you.

    What most people do is that they use Google or Bing or whatever search as their filter. They search for something, and start clicking sites. That works well when the filter works. When it doesn't, you get crap. Google's move was because too many people were complaining about crap.

    The high price of access to market in the past was often a filter of sorts, keeping the crap, the amateur, the narrow minded tech writers from having a pulpit. They couldn't afford to pay for the distribution. So what happened is what we looked at was mostly signal, some noise (or for some, all noise, specific signals). Now we have the same level of signal, but the noise shares the same platform, has the same look, and is just as readily accessible as the signal. Now the filter is all in your mind, and that makes it more work to get to the same thing.

    That is how a website gets buried. You don't have to worry once people know where to find it, but until then, it's just buried in the noise.

     

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  29.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 5:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I know what you're saying but most of those are analogous to offline skills...

    Find critics whose tastes you agree with, shop around for prices, find reliable news sources... Those are skills a canny consumer should have; offline or online. The tools differ, but the concept remains the same.

    If you're completely new to the net, fair enough, it takes time to find your tools. If you've been online since AOL's heyday and still can't use it to filter content you're interested in, you're bad at using it.

     

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  30.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 5:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes indeed! I'll be keeping an eye on thosepeople to see what comes next for sure...

     

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    PaulT, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 6:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "If all you visit are sites that are anti-copyright, example, you get references only to sites they like, which will typically be in tune with their mentality. Come to Techdirt, you get exposed to great sources like Torrent Freak, Geist, and so on. Instead of becoming more informed, you actually become less informed."

    Funny. The sites I've discovered at least partly through coming here are sites like Spotify, Kickstarter and Amiestreet (RIP). I *have* become more informed about the tactics used by certain mainstream companies, which is why I tend to buy through other means.

    Of course, in your black and white world where everybody who criticises the current system has to be a pirate, I don't exist. Else how could your blinkered world view survive?

     

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    cc (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 6:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Cool story bro. In your little world, where do social media and viral trends fit in?

    Accelerated word of mouth is how the good stuff usually spreads on the internet. And you are no longer constrained to a small circle of friends, you can follow complete strangers whose tastes you like. You can even check places like digg to find things you wouldn't normally look for...

    In the olden days, you only got as much signal as 'they' were willing to transmit, and there was still a lot of noise. Today you get all the signal and all the noise, but the tools to discover what you want have improved a thousand-fold. In other words, your ability to find an approximation of the signal that suits your tastes has vastly improved.

     

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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 6:32am

    Re: Don't Feed the Trolls

    its not like there isnt a sign posted somewhere frequently...

     

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    NullOp, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 6:53am

    Good vs Bad content

    Yes the internet is enabling both...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 7:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Are you guys actually denying that the internet has indeed become a cesspool? That Google has become near useless for what its original intention was? That's funny.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, please tell us how Google is nearly useless for finding things on the internet. Regale us with tales of your failed searches. Then leave us be to successfully us it. I'm busy reading behind the scenes information on The Troll Hunter, an entertaining Norwegian movie I saw last night and whose production information I found using Google... pray tell, where else should I have found it?

    If the internet's become a cesspool, it's because of people like you who pollute it with your idiocy.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, please tell us how Google is nearly useless for finding things on the internet. Regale us with tales of your failed searches. Then leave us be to successfully us it. I'm busy reading behind the scenes information on The Troll Hunter, an entertaining Norwegian movie I saw last night and whose production information I found using Google... pray tell, where else should I have found it?

    If the internet's become a cesspool, it's because of people like you who pollute it with your idiocy.

     

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  38.  
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    RadialSkid (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Then don't look at it. Is it really that damn difficult?

     

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  39.  
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    cc (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The internet is no better and no worse than the rest of the world. Are you actually saying it's different?

    As for Google, I think it's doing a pretty good job, sorry.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 8:41am

    Re:

    The sad fact is that most of us (myself included) are nowhere near as talented as the great writers of our time, or the great musicians, or the great artists. In 100 of your friends, you probably only know 1 who could actually qualify as an artists, only a few who should write for a living, and a handful who can really make music beyond playing chopsticks. The rest of us are sort of plain.


    Wow, you must be really shit at everything if you honestly think this.

    Unlucky, it must really suck to be you!

    Me, I'm constantly finding cool new stuff to check out every day.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 9:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Funny. The sites I've discovered at least partly through coming here are sites like Spotify, Kickstarter and Amiestreet (RIP). I *have* become more informed about the tactics used by certain mainstream companies, which is why I tend to buy through other means.

    Ever check out Adbusters? If they are your only point of reference about advertising and culture, you will have a very cynical view of the universe. What you *have* learned is what they are telling you, not always the truth (as we have shown here with Mike recently, there is space between numbers and truth).

    Of course, in your black and white world where everybody who criticises the current system has to be a pirate, I don't exist. Else how could your blinkered world view survive?

    Not at all. You can be critical of a system, but that doesn't grant permission to abuse it. I don't agree with gun laws, example. Does that give me the right to disarm everyone around me, or arm them all with rocket launchers? Nope. Being a critic of something doesn't grant you special rights, beyond the free speech you are using.

    Pirates exist online. So do pedophiles, terrorists, and racist pricks. It's just like the real world. In the real work, I don't support shoplifters, so why the heck would I support the virtual version? My moral compass doesn't get blocked at my modem.

     

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  42.  
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    Gerald Robinson (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 9:08am

    'net crap

    In the real world crap fertilizes plants on the 'net it can fertilize your mind.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    proximity1, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 9:11am

    uh, wrong....

    RE:

    ..."Is The Internet Enabling Bad Content... Or Killing Bad Content?"

    "from the can't-hide-behind-marketing-any-more dept"

    "One of the common refrains we hear from the modern Luddite is that one of the awful things about today's internet culture is that it's flooded with too much "crap." One of our regular critics in the comments insists that key point and our failure to realize what this means for the world is why he spends so much time attacking everything I post. He's worried about what all that crappy content means for the world. Of course, that always makes me wonder why he bothers spending time paying attention to crappy content. After all, one of the nice things about the internet is that you only have to pay attention to what you like. It's truly an elitist position to complain about the crap that's out there. The thing is, it's really not a problem."


    Well, so much for that, then, huh? "Not a problem." So, end of argument. And very conveniently, you haven't had to address in any responsible manner the actual points or claims your critic has presented.

    ..."He's worried about what all that crappy content means for the world."

    and that's a valid concern. Take, for example, a different but quite related kind of lament: in this sample case, it's that the vast, vast majority of the U.S. public, (and, yes, many other nations' people, too) are woefully ignorant of the most essential elements of macro-economics. In other and cruder words, they don't know shit about economics and as a direct consequence of their ignorance the nation is suffering gross and needless harm. You could, by the same token assert as you have above what amounts to a "So what?" The "so what?" is simple: people are suffering terribly from their ignorance or, in the critic's point, from their deeply injurious failures in discernment.

    In a previous essay, you used reason and argument well when you took Scott Turow to task for his positions stated in an article which concerned a question "Could Shakespeare survive the internet?" But here, in this present case, those strengths seem to have abandoned you.

    ..."Of course, that always makes me wonder why he bothers spending time paying attention to crappy content."

    Try and reason it through. Perhaps something will come to you. Hint: He may have a point.

    ..."After all, one of the nice things about the internet is that you only have to pay attention to what you like." ...

    Suppose I said the "nice thing about democracy is that citizens of one may choose to shirk their civic responsibilities and thereby undermine the very foundations of their own liberties' prospects for vitality?" i.e. "One only has to pay attention to what one likes."

    "It's truly an elitist position to complain about the crap that's out there."

    Horrors! "Elitism"! In America that's just about the most damnable charge you can level at someone--right after "anti-semitism".

    At the risk of finding myself targeted with the slur of elitist or Luddite--both of which I prefer to joining the prevailing rank stupidity and knee-jerk defense of mediocrity---please see: Logical fallacies; "petitio principii".

    Because petitio principii is what your reply is all about.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    proximity1, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 9:18am

    BTW, the person commenting in #8, above, has a good point.

    see: identicon Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 10:27pm

     

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  45.  
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    David Muir (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 9:26am

    Infinite Shelf-space

    The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson showed these phenomena in action: the idea of infinite shelf-space and a natural recommendation engine were two of his key points. He also mentioned that very specific and non-mass market tastes could be catered to. The idea that what is crap to one person is gold to another is not new. The Internet just makes it easier to find gold.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Exactly.

    If you had access to a radio and heard one hundred random songs, ninety of them would be 'crap'. If you then went online and gained access to a thousand new random songs, now it'd be nine hundred that are 'crap'.

    The ratio is constant. BUT the advantage of the internet is, instead of having ten songs to seek out and add to your library, you now have a hundred.

    90% of everything is crap. And that's ok. Don't fight it.

     

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  47.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Ever check out Adbusters? If they are your only point of reference about advertising and culture, you will have a very cynical view of the universe."

    ...and what does that have to do with your implication that this site leads to illegal sites? I can be cynical about the current industry and still pay for music - I just happen to be more selective than used to be.

    As for the rest of your post, you just proved my point. It's not a binary world out there. Your very premise is that anyone who disagrees with the current copyright law must be abusing it. By ignoring people like me who abide by the law but refuse to participate in the parts of the system, you're at best misrepresenting us. At worst, you're an outright liar, because the realities of the modern marketplace require that the old system is changed.

    Yes, pirates exist. That's why I promote systems that are resistant to that fact and encourage people to pay for some aspect of entertainment. Stop pretending I'm equivalent to a shoplifter because I despise the major labels and welcome yourself to reality.

     

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  48.  
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    cc (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 10:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Pirates exist online. So do pedophiles, terrorists, and racist pricks. It's just like the real world. In the real work, I don't support shoplifters, so why the heck would I support the virtual version? My moral compass doesn't get blocked at my modem."

    You are conflating morality and legality. For the billionth time.

    Breaking the law is not inherently immoral. Most will agree it's immoral to randomly shoot people, abuse little children and to shoplift... but unauthorised file copying?

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 10:45am

    Re: You're incorrect here.

    The same Clay Shirky that was prasing the raise of the amture culture, transforming the world on a TED talk?

    Quote:
    While news from Iran streams to the world, Clay Shirky shows how Facebook, Twitter and TXTs help citizens in repressive regimes to report on real news, bypassing censors (however briefly). The end of top-down control of news is changing the nature of politics.


    Source: Clay Shirky: How cellphones, Twitter, Facebook can make history
    Upload by: TEDtalksDirector

    Is that same guy?
    Because if it is I think you are misunderstanding his position or you are being deceitful, please clarify your position.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Quote:
    What ends up hap penning is that we learn about new sites from our existing contact list - people, sites, and sources that we go to all the time. If all you visit are sites that are anti-copyright, example, you get references only to sites they like, which will typically be in tune with their mentality. Come to Techdirt, you get exposed to great sources like Torrent Freak, Geist, and so on. Instead of becoming more informed, you actually become less informed. The filter actually takes away depth.


    I heard that before and it was in the 80's, television was making people dumb and they "proved it" by asking dumb questions on the streets and seeing people answer those, it was a blast.

    Now comes you again, with the same rhetoric, I think you are right, people tend to pay attention only to things they like and ignore the rest of the world, and end up with a narrow vision of what the world is, you are the living proof of it I can't deny that, but it is not because of the internet, it is in spite of it.

    JESSE BROWN: Does the Internet Make You Dumber?

    knowledge has never been this accessible before, it comes down to choice now, you can either inform yourself about the world or you can choose not to and that is what people had been doing even before the internet, ask Mormons about it, they choose not to take part, also others have chosen not to care about politics and there was no book, TV, news that would change their minds, I believe your position is just nonsense, and I'm sorry for the use of the word nonsense is not my intention to be aggressive just descriptive.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 10:53am

    For me the internet is enabling content, the bad or good concept is on the eye of the beholder.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: You're incorrect here.

    To make it balance out, you have to look at the non-blockbusters that went bust. The classic of 2010 is the horrible movie MiddleMen, with 30 million of expenses and less than 1 million box office and an early grace. There is no assurance that a Hollywood blockbuster will really make money, and there is no assurance that a small budget deal will either. They often just fade away and nobody noticed. You just have to look at the movies that turn up at major film festivals and never get a major release.

    Filtering happens at all sorts of levels. When you remove the barriers to entry, you also remove the filters of entry. The untalented convince themselves they are relevant,and you get hundreds of tech blogs full of nonsense and junk. What good is that?

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 11:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Paul, one of the easiest mistakes is to assume that the masses will have the same skill set as the elite. Most people pay too much in the stores for products, they buy crap that fails in short order, they buy out of fashion clothes, and so on. The masses aren't doing a very good job. The filters aren't there for the brainy 10%, they are there for the average 90%.

    AOL is a "johnny come lately" as far as I am concerned. Remember punch cards or 45.45 baudot connections? The filters are there, but even the best filters in the world (such as the mega algo at Google) are being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of crap.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 11:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    See, that is where you end up with the problem. Morals aren't something you put on someone else, it's on yourself. You object morally to shoplifting, but not to "file copying", but for you, the results are the same: you have something you didn't pay for. Legally you don't have the rights.

    That is why I think many people lose their moral compass at the modems, they don't seem to apply what they would do in the real world to what they do online.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 11:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Except what happens when you have a wider exposure online is that you are more likely to find crap, because there were fewer filters up front. Your radio station example has a whole bunch of filters up front: The labels, the producers, etc on the content, and then the program directors as to what makes it on air.

    On the internet, you get 1000 random pieces of whatever, with no pre-filtering. You have way more chance of getting crap online because there isn't any initial filtering.

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 11:08am

    Re: Don't Feed the Trolls

    Mike is a master at baiting, all for getting page views. Call him a master baiter :)

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: You're incorrect here.

    but the movie industry is not simply "Hollywood"


    In America, it is.

    the GQ article shows that a lot of the more cynical and lower quality crap is starting to lose money.


    But it's still being produced, isn't it? Which is really my point.

    I personally think we're in something of a transitional phase, where Hollywood is starting to produce a lot more quality films and concentrate less on lowest common denominator crap.


    Eventually we will enter such a transitional phase, but I don't think we're there yet. It might be coming very soon, or it might take another few years for the Hollywood money machine to peter out, but I'm not convinced that we're there yet.

    As for Shirkey's comments, they don't sound particularly relevant or insightful to me.


    Then I don't think you read the article, or understood it.

    The snippet you posted seems to assume that the filter *has* to occur at the point of publishing, and that no blog writer is disciplined enough to filter himself to a useful degree.


    I'm not sure where you got that from - but it appears that you didn't read it in the context it was intended. Shirkey is making the exact opposite stance - that giving the reader tools to filter themselves (rather than using a gatekeeper) is a better solution to the problem of overload. It has *nothing* to do with the writer at all. In fact in the context that Shirkey provides, writers - by definition - *can't* filter, because if they did, they wouldn't be writers (eg. for a writer to "self-filter" would be to not write - which means they're not a writer.)

    This is wrong, and a symnptom of some very dated thinking.


    Yes, it is. So it's a good thing you agree with him then, isn't it?

    Between the blogs I frequent, film ranking sites (e.g. Flickchart and Glue), and various other online sources, I have some very good filters that remove the crap I don't want to watch and point me to some excellent films I've not even heard of before. Of course, I had to find these sources in the first place, and that's where Shirkey's comments may have been relevant - but don't you need the same "filters" to find relevant print material as well?


    And this is *precisely* Shirkey's point - which you appear to have missed, as you're saying his stance is wrong while making the exact same point.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 11:38am

    Speaking of crap, anyone ever read the privacy policy on Techdirt. It's freaking amazing!

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Because they really are quite different.

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Have you listened to the radio lately?

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, sorry, they're not.

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous a-hole, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Are too! (See, even an Anonymous a-hole can play that game)

    As has been said countless times, shoplifting (theft) prevents the sale of an item. Piracy (Copyright infringement by using a unpurchased copy) does not.

    Where 100% of shoplifting is a lost sale insofar as the item no longer exists for sale, not even close to all piracy does - and if you've been a literate reader of Techdirt for more than ten minutes, you'll have found links to studies, business methods and people who work around the purported damage of piracy to make themselves bette known and LO AND BEHOLD! sell more products.

    Get the fucking idea in your head that neither shoplifting or piracy is going away, and no matter how idiotic, draconian or due-process breaking a law you make, it's not going to stop. We WANT to buy things. Please, by every god and their mother let us give you our money for what we clearly want!

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous American, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Except what happens when you have a wider exposure online is that you are more likely to find crap, because there were fewer filters up front. This is why I was born with a brain. It's not like it takes a lot of clock cycles to determine a video, link or blog that Yes, This is Shite.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    As has been said countless times, shoplifting (theft) prevents the sale of an item. Piracy (Copyright infringement by using a unpurchased copy) does not.

    You are looking at it from the wrong end. The effects of shoplifting or piracy for the end user is the same: they have something they didn't pay for and don't have rights for. The rest of your explaination (the one commonly used here) is called "justification" and amounts to a pile of horse hockey.

     

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  65.  
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    Ranzear (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 1:52pm

    Just jumping on the headline:

    I would say the internet preserves bad content but does not serve to promote it. The internet would be 'killing' bad content if such places like Youtube deleted the bottom-rated 1% of their content every month or so.

     

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  66.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: Don't Feed the Trolls

    and if you think its 100% just to get hits, then i guess you took the bait then didnt ya...

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    DS, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 3:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: You're incorrect here.

    "The untalented convince themselves they are relevant,and you get hundreds of tech blogs full of nonsense and junk."

    Ok fair enough. But how do people FEEL they are relevant when they are not? One measure of relevance could be number of hits, and another could be number of comments.

    You've added to both at least once on this post alone.

     

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  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 3:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Quote:
    As has been said countless times, shoplifting (theft) prevents the sale of an item. Piracy (Copyright infringement by using a unpurchased copy) does not.


    Now you just have to prove it without a doubt that what you said there is true.

    From what I saw already you can still sell, it could theorectically reduce sales but it doesn't stop anybody from selling it and certainly don't stop people from "renting"(a.k.a. buying imaginary property) anything.

    Proof of that concept can be found on CC Commons and open source, that don't lock down things and still "sell" things.

    Are you dumber than open source folks?

     

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  69.  
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    Chargone (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    lots of people are bad at those things Offline too.

     

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  70.  
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    Chargone (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 4:09pm

    Re:

    you know, all these '-tards' insults, from both angles, start to blur togeather after a while... if only because i've seen most of them used in both directions...

    none the less, your point is valid.

     

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  71.  
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    Chargone (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 4:11pm

    Re: uh, wrong....

    *got distracted by the fact that most economists don't seem to know shit about economics either*

     

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  72.  
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    Chargone (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 4:12pm

    Re:

    *ponders* so... less killing, more ... demoting? (as opposed to promoting)

     

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  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 4:12pm

    I love how when the Internet does something potentially good, it's opening up brand new and disruptive business models the likes of which have never been seen!

    But when it does something potentially bad it's the same old moral panic we've seen dozens of times before; nothing to see here; move along.

    Fox News : Democrats :: Techdirt : The Status Quo

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 4:41pm

    No way free can pay anything right?

    WTF! and indie author that never had a book deal with a publisher is doing 300K a month?

    The top sellers for the Kindle are all making something between 30k ~ 50K a month.

    And the shills want us to believe the internet is bad?


    Source: The Very Rich Indie Writer (by Eli James, February 27, 2011 2:24 am)

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 4:43pm

    Web only indie author is making 4 million dollars a year.

    Source: The Very Rich Indie Writer (by Eli James, February 27, 2011 2:24 am)

     

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  76.  
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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The key difference though is that, offline, if you don't do those things, you really can mostly ignore the results. About all you need to do is find one radio station you like, maybe a TV station and throw out the junk mail every few days.

    There are analogies to those things online, sure, but they're significantly less mature, and the variety of choice available is unimaginably wider.

    Note that it isn't the sub-25 age bracket that is having these problems, or even most of the 25-35 age bracket (that were still in their teens when the Web was born, and in their twenties when things like Youtube started). When you have 3 decades of "knowing how the world works" to contend with, shifting gears and recognising that the world has changed around you is not an easy task.

     

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  77.  
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    Darryl, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 7:12pm

    Crappy content - Welcome to Techdirt

    The experts on crappy content.

    I love it when mike makes comments that confirm that he does not have a clue, or that talks about poor quality information on the net.

    Mike you have been creating crap for years, and look where it has got you !!!!..

    Im sure you are very happy to be stuck in your own little rut, and not making ANY difference, year after year after year.

    I guess it beats working for a living.

     

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  78.  
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    RipVanWinkle (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 8:52pm

    Filtering problem: tyranny of majority

    Google's PageRank algorithm is tweaked hundreds of times every year to reduce crap and increase the quality of results, but it's essentially a majority rules result that is subject to a tyranny of too much crap.

    What is needed in the internet search world is the automated sorting of results into groups that are correlated with each other. I have a dream that someday the search engine will sort the results by embedded ideas. In other words, automatically sort the results into N groups. I see this as a "senatorial" result that balances majority rule. This might or might not be really hard - look at IBM's Watson computer for something along those lines.

    In the mean time, we rely on trusted sources like TechDirt to provide filters relevant to various groups. Thus, TechDirt is one of the de facto "states" in my senate of filters that help me hear the messages coming through the cacophony.

     

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  79.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Mar 5th, 2011 @ 9:27pm

    The Great Conversation of humanity

    Whether it is crap or not doesn't matter, since it is all relevant to the actual reader, since one persons crap is another persons ambrosia of the mind.

    The amazing thing about what is happening in todays current climate of information is not that there is crap intermingled with the non-crap, it is that you, me, everyone can now access what was only available to the few. It's all about access, its all about the exchange of ideas.

    Philosophers have a phrase called "the Great Conversation" which is the exchange of ideas about religion, Earth, existence, relationships, truth, purpose, knowledge, hope, despair, love - or basically, who we as humans are and why we are here.

    I would go so far as to say that everything that is now published, blogged, filmed, or has the inkling of an idea whether it is published/created by the worlds greatest author or Mrs Joe Bloggs down the road is now all part of the great conversation that is humanity.

    So it is not crap, in fact I don't count it as crap at all. I count it as a conversation about all of the failings, achievements, hopes, sadness, dreams, and above all experiences of humanity that is available for anyone to wonder, cringe and marvel at, and more to the point.. contribute too.

     

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  80.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 10:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "they have something they didn't pay for"

    There is nothing wrong with this. You don't pay for the air you breath. Just because someone has something they didn't pay for doesn't make it wrong. and the only thing they have is information. They paid for the hard drive required to store the information. The only thing they have is a changing of the sequence of bytes on that hard drive.

    "and don't have rights for."

    Perhaps not a legal right, but an inherit right. The founding fathers even agree here. It is my inherit right to copy what I please. The law doesn't dictate morality and the law has no inherit right to take my right to copy away. In fact, it is immoral for the law to do so but the idea behind allowing the law to do so is to allow it to do so only to the extent that it promotes the progress. The idea is that the promotion of progress is justification for allowing the law to take away my inherit rights. The governments/institutions that are required to instate laws that violate my inherit rights do not exist in nature, copy'right' requires an institution to implement and institutions do not exist in nature. Copying exists in nature apart from government and there is nothing wrong with it.

    But copy'right' isn't serving its purpose. In fact, I have decided that copy'right' and patent laws have no business taking away my inherit right to copy allegedly in order to promote the progress. My right to copy is more important and valuable to me than the progress that these laws allegedly promote and it is my right to demand these rights back. Heck, if I choose, it's even my right to exercise these rights in spite of what some out of control government decides. A lack of these laws will provide me more short term and long term utility than their existence and, in fact, the reality of the matter is that these laws only seem to hinder progress far more than they promote it. They don't even seem to do much, if anything, to promote the progress at all and even to the extent that they do promote the progress, I no longer care because their economic harm and my utility that they take away from me far outweighs any benefits they cause. and if this is true for me, it is highly likely true for most others just as well, and hence their justification is negated. I will seek to have these laws substantially retracted or completely removed and the abuse of these laws is part of the reason for that.

    and besides, the government/corporate/monopolists complex have no right to steal my right to copy from me in exchange for nothing. They are getting something that is rightfully mine for nothing. The same thing goes for cableco and broadcasting spectra. The govt/corporate complex have no right to steal from me, in exchange for nothing, my right to record content on any spectra I choose, to broadcast content on such spectra, to redistribute, store, modify recorded content on such spectra, or redistribute modified content that was recorded from such spectra. They are getting something for nothing and I want that something back, with interest equal to the value of what they took from me all these years.

     

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  81.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 11:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    See, your problem is that you don't want anyone to have anything that they didn't pay you for. Hence the government artificially reduces competition by grating monopoly power over broadcasting spectra and cableco use to a select few, so that those who want their products and services advertised (even free products and services like CC released products and services) have to go through a monopolist gatekeeper and hence the gatekeeper gets paid for adding absolutely no value beyond the value that would freely exist without them. That's stealing. They are stealing the extra money they gain to provide a service at monopoly prices, a service that could be provided much cheaper without them, and they are stealing the economic benefit that consumers can gain by having wider access to the free and cheaper content and products that could be otherwise available on those information distribution channels and they are stealing the value of what producers could have made if they were allowed to much more cheaply or freely benefit from a wider distribution of their cheaper, perhaps superior products (and a wider distribution of information about their products). The open source community could make more money through donations and ad revenue, for instance, if they were given a more level playing field to compete on instead of having to deal with government imposed monopolist gatekeepers that almost insist on only distributing content that they control or 'own'. Not only does the government now grant monopoly power on information distribution channels (and not only does this result in the censorship of many ideas that disagree with big corporate interests, like ideas criticizing patents and copy'rights'), but they grant a monopoly on the content delivered on those channels. This displaces content that isn't restricted by such monopolies and hence denies the public such content. These gatekeepers, and the government, are stealing from the public and I demand they return what they have stolen with interest.

     

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  82.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 11:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "The rest of your explaination (the one commonly used here) is called "justification" and amounts to a pile of horse hockey."

    My inherit right to copy requires no justification, it is your copy'right' that requires justification. and, so far, I see none. It certainly doesn't promote the progress.

     

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  83.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 11:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Piracy (Copyright infringement by using a unpurchased copy) does not."

    Even if piracy prevents the sale of something, it doesn't make it wrong. Competition can prevent someone from selling something. The availability of free air prevents the sale of air. Doesn't make it wrong. Piracy isn't inherently wrong, our laws to prohibit it are, and those laws needs justification.

     

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  84.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 2:13am

    Re: Crappy content - Welcome to Darryl

    Translation: Ive given up trying to argue rationally, because I always get beaten back. So Im sticking to good old passive-aggressive sniping instead, nobody can pin me down to anything specific that way.

     

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  85.  
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    herodotus (profile), Mar 6th, 2011 @ 6:59am

    Re: uh, wrong....

    "and that's a valid concern. Take, for example, a different but quite related kind of lament: in this sample case, it's that the vast, vast majority of the U.S. public, (and, yes, many other nations' people, too) are woefully ignorant of the most essential elements of macro-economics. In other and cruder words, they don't know shit about economics and as a direct consequence of their ignorance the nation is suffering gross and needless harm."

    How exactly does the supposed ignorance of almost everyone concerning the very inexact 'science' of macro-economics cause the nation financial harm?

    Are you saying that in the great economic boom years of the past (e.g. the nineties, the great postwar economic boom, etc.) when our economy was thriving, people were less ignorant about these matters? Do you have proof of this? If so, could I see some of it?

    "Suppose I said the 'nice thing about democracy is that citizens of one may choose to shirk their civic responsibilities and thereby undermine the very foundations of their own liberties' prospects for vitality?'"

    Suppose you did? A government has power over everyone, whether they want it to or not. The internet is in no way analogous to this.

    "At the risk of finding myself targeted with the slur of elitist or Luddite--both of which I prefer to joining the prevailing rank stupidity and knee-jerk defense of mediocrity---"

    I hate stupidity and mediocrity. That is why I hate major label music, and have done so since 'Come on Feel the Noise' was in heavy rotation in the mid-eighties. And I agree, the internet certainly hasn't reformed mass culture in any meaningful way.

    But what it has done is allow people who don't like mass culture to find the often obscure music that they actually like, and to form international communities with other people with similar interests.

    The internet has allowed the music of bizarre geniuses like Conlon Nancarrow to find a substantial international audience for the first time. The fact that most people don't know who he is doesn't change the fact that he is regarded by an educated minority as the greatest American composer since Charles Ives. And while interest in his music might be a mere blip in the vast ocean of the internet, that doesn't keep anyone with internet access from finding his music in about 10 seconds.

    This is the thing that everyone seems to miss about the net: if you look at mass culture, the internet seems to make things worse than ever. But it also allows people to bypass mass culture. The main function of the net in my life is bypassing this mass culture.

    If very few people are interested in bypassing mass culture crap, you can't blame it on the internet, because these habits of passive consumption are a product of twentieth century lowest-common-denominator publishing practices.

     

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  86.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 7:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: You're incorrect here.

    Comments != relevance.

    This site is more like a video game than a blog anymore. Mike writes posts aimed at a certain market, they all come in with the virtual "hell yeahs!" and the rest of us slowly pick away at the logic until the truth is exposed, all the while the loyal subjects toss insults and try to come with with bizarre one off situations to prove that the laws are just not right.

    It is as relevant to me as a game of chess. A good play, but not exactly world changed.

    A site can be relevant to some people and still be full of crap.

     

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  87.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sorry, Nick, but that is a failed piece of logic as well.

    My online experience means that I am use to the firehose. I was here when it was only a trickle, and I have seen it grow. What I know from experience is that as the pressure has gone up, what has come out is more and more crap, and the quality stuff really doesn't increase in proportion. Since the arrival of personal blogs, facebook, my space, and so on is that more and more people are putting content out there that just isn't very good, and is often very wrong. It is however good enough to trip up search engines, which means that most results are clogged with crap.

    To use your analogy, it is like everyone who lives within 100 miles of you puts a flyer in your mailbox every day with their latest adventures. It uses exactly the same format letters, bills, or even the sales flyers you actually want to check out. Signal to noise got worse. With enough of it, most people will just stop checking the mail altogether, because it is meaningless (which is one of the reasons fewer and fewer people use e-mail for anything serious).

    The only different in age groups is that the sub 25s grew up with the firehose on full, and they think it is normal. But outside of sites their friends told them about, in a narrow social system, they aren't out there looking around. It's one of the reasons the "latest hot thing" and "going viral" is the current hot buttons online, because people aren't finding anything by searching, it's all "someone told me".

    All the filters are gone. That is why Rick Rolls work.

     

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  88.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    ee, your problem is that you don't want anyone to have anything that they didn't pay you for.

    See, this is why it is so hard to have a decent discussion here.

    There is nothing stopping the rights owners from giving things away for free. The concept of "pay" doesn't mean money, but can also mean "visit this site to get it" or "fill your email address here" or "listen to the commercials on the radio". All of these are methods for "paying" for what it is you want.

    Piracy is the shunning of all benefit for the creator or rights holder, and the taking of all rights for the pirate.

    The rest of your post is a rant that sounds mostly like a 14 year old spewing the nonsense they heard online without really understanding it.

    Fail.

     

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  89.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 9:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Piracy is the shunning of all benefit for the creator or rights holder, and the taking of all rights for the pirate."

    The whole point of having IP to begin with is to promote the progress for the public, and to increase the amount of works in the public domain. The 'rights' holder has no inherit right to a monopoly, the public has an inherit right to copy as they please. By making copy'right' last effectively forever through constant extensions and the fact that any legal copy of the works will probably fall out of existence by the time they do make it to the public domain, if they ever do, the government has allowed monopolists to take all the benefits for the public that copy'right' was supposed to provide the public and give them to the monopolists. The purpose of copy'right' was to promote the progress of the science and the arts and the laws are not doing that. The public gives up their rights in return for absolutely nothing.

    and piracy doesn't necessarily take all the benefits for the creator. Heck, most people who work for journalistic publication don't even have the copy'right' over their own works, that gets given to the publication. Yet, despite that, they are still willing to write. It's still advantageous for them to, even when the 'rights' are given to someone else, sometimes even perhaps without pay. They get recognition, recognition is valuable because it allows you to sell other things, like your skills towards other jobs and products. So to say that all the benefits have been 'transferred' through piracy is simply not true, it is copy'right' that transfers the benefits that the public has a right to through its lack from the public over to monopolists (who often also have a wrongfully govt imposed monopoly on the distribution channels necessary to distribute the content as well, which further transfers benefits away from artists and the public into the hands of monopolists that contribute absolutely nothing of value beyond what would exist without them as gatekeepers).

    "The rest of your post is a rant that sounds mostly like a 14 year old spewing the nonsense they heard online without really understanding it."

    If I don't understand what I am saying, instead of simply making unsubstantiated assertions, why don't you actually address what I am saying with an actual response. It should be easy.

    "Fail."

    Proof needed.

     

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  90.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 9:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You're incorrect here.

    Despite the fact that what you're saying is mostly false, at least this site allows you to attempt to refute your opponents. You are given the opportunity to respond to Mike and others. The mainstream media, on the other hand, almost only argues in favor of intellectual property without allowing hardly any criticism to enter. Mike and others would never be allowed to go on a mainstream media television station and criticize intellectual property, despite the fact that our current IP laws are outrageously indefensible.

    and that's another problem with our system. The FCC et al have managed to wrongfully grant monopoly power over so much information distribution to a hand full of private interests in a way that effectively locks out dissenting views that criticize what is in the corporate interest.

    "with bizarre one off situations to prove that the laws are just not right."

    95+ copy'right' protection lengths are wrong, which is why the media hardly ever even mentions it. They don't mention it because they don't want the public to be aware of how ridiculous our laws are, because they know our laws are ridiculous, so instead the only thing they focus on is on the unsubstantiated harm caused by piracy.

    The laws are wrong, we have proof, and just because you choose to ignore that proof doesn't mean that others should. I'm sure you've been here long enough to be familiar with the proof.

     

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  91.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You're incorrect here.

    over so many information distribution channels *

     

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  92.  
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    IPGeek, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 10:25am

    This seems to me to be the era of the penny press, just in digital form.

     

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  93.  
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    Desire is not an Occupation, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 10:26am

    You can't fix stupid.

    As I write this I'm listening to a new CD (yes, CD!) from my favorite band. I just bought two CDs (YES, CDS!) and a t-shirt from the band directly via their website. They got all the profit from that sale. I just received a 4 CD comp from a Belgian label that included 72 + bands and over 100 songs plus more as downloads and a t-shirt. Without the internet I would not have been able to connect with my favorite band like that and give THEM my money. There is no chance I would have ever heard about the compilation at all. That comp exposed me to 72 bands that I never had a chance of hearing at all. I didn't like some of those 72 bands. Not because they sucked but because their style or genre isn't one that I like. Fair enough. Over 90% of the bands I DID like and I WILL be researching them further. They'll see some of my money.

    Thanks to the internet I can hear Israeli Funk, Serbian Jazz, Russian House and French Hip-Hop. (The thug stuff is hysterical - nothing sounds intimidating in French.)

    I've found classical composers and musical traditions that I had no chance of every experiencing without the internet. Not only has this brought me great listening pleasure, it has also expanded my own understanding of music as a player and producer.

    Honestly, the only crap I see on the internet is the mass marketed consumer culture "crap" that I automatically filter out. I lost the "firehose of crap" when I turned off the radio and unplugged the television.

    Computers and the internet are tools. A craftsman never blames his tools for his lack of skill in using them.

    And "crap" is a subjective term. One man's wife is another man's whore.

     

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  94.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Fail.

    Seriously, 2008 called and they want their "meme" back.

     

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  95.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 6:21pm

    Re: Re:

    It's amazing how he complains about the content on Techdirt yet here he is to complain about the content on Techdirt. Seriously, how does it make sense. No one is forcing him to stay if he doesn't like it here.

     

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  96.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 6:27pm

    Re:

    "The sad fact is that most of us (myself included) are nowhere near as talented as the great writers of our time"

    So then why are you making the problem worse by contributing more junk onto the Internet. Based on your own logic, we would all be better off without your comments.

    and if your comments are rich in quality (though they're obviously not), then we have found high quality content, which just negates your point that it's difficult to find high quality content, which makes your content less accurate and hence diminishes its quality.

     

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  97.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 6:29pm

    Re:

    I think bad content is content that's irrelevant to what people want. If I search for cars, I don't want airplanes, I want cars. The Internet is good at filtering out airplanes and showing me cars. If I search for cars and get airplanes, it's junk to me, but good to someone searching for airplanes.

     

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  98.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 6:31pm

    Re: Re:

    (so the Internet is good at giving each individual the tools necessary to filter out what s/he doesn't want, to filter out what is junk content to that specific person at that specific time, though which might be good content to others searching for other things).

     

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  99.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 6:33pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    (so the Internet is good at filtering out bad content for each individual based on each individual's unique definition of bad content).

     

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  100.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 6:57pm

    Re: uh, wrong....

    "The "so what?" is simple: people are suffering terribly from their ignorance or, in the critic's point, from their deeply injurious failures in discernment."

    You're assuming that the availability of more content that you deem to be bad makes it harder for people to find content that you consider good (they become ignorant of 'good content' and that this causes so much suffering).

    Even if the availability of so much 'bad content' causes people to become ignorant of 'good content' I think the amount of suffering this will 'cause' them is minimal at best and most likely non - existent. It's not like not listening to a certain song is going to cause anyone to starve.

    But who is better able to determine what content I consider to be good content than me? Who is better equipped to determine my best interests than me? The government? Big record labels? No, I think not. The availability of more content doesn't make it more difficult for anyone to find high quality content any better than it makes it for the previous record label gatekeepers to find high quality content. If anything, we are now much better equipped to find high quality content than those record label gatekeepers were and we are better equipped than we were when those record label gatekeepers were our only option and individuals are especially better at finding content that's of higher quality to each individuals personal tastes than any record label gatekeeper. I do not buy the argument that some record label gatekeeper is better able to filter out content that I don't like, leaving the content that I do like, better than me. If it really is so difficult to filter out bad content then it's equally as difficult for the record label gatekeepers to do the same and hence they will not find content of any higher quality than the content that I find even if all the bad content is not available to me. and people who are talented at finding good content, people who are at least as talented as the record label gatekeepers, can start their own blogs and help others find good content relevant to those who visit their blogs. and if they really are talented, people will naturally go to them and use them to find good content. and if people who are good at finding good content is such a scarcity, who is to say that the record label and information distribution gatekeepers themselves are any good at finding good content? Because the government has practically appointed them to do so through all the monopolies that the govt grants to broadcasters and cableco monopolists? Like the government is somehow better at finding good content producers and good content filter authorities than I am? I think not.

     

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  101.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 7:05pm

    Re: Re: uh, wrong....

    So, to sum up, if filtering out bad content is so impossible then who are the record label gatekeepers to do it? If it's so impossible, why should I reasonably expect the record label gatekeepers to do a better job of filtering out content that I don't like better than me? Why should I even reasonably expect them to be able to?

     

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  102.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2011 @ 7:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: uh, wrong....

    So if filtering out bad content is impossible then the record label gatekeepers can't do it, which negates their purpose; and if they can filter out bad content then filtering out bad content is possible, which negates the argument that filtering out bad content is impossible.

     

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  103.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 2:34am

    Re: Re: Re: You're incorrect here.

    "The classic of 2010 is the horrible movie MiddleMen, with 30 million of expenses and less than 1 million box office and an early grace."

    I'm not trying to imply that only Hollywood movies can be bad, or failures. It's just that so many people concentrate on "blockbusters", while smaller movies are usually much more profitable even if they appear below the blockbusters in terms of pure gross.

    "You just have to look at the movies that turn up at major film festivals and never get a major release."

    This has nothing to do with quality of marketability, and everything to do with the fact that cookie-cutter blockbusters tend to have the most screens bought for them. Unless a movie picks up some traction on a limited release like Black Swan did, it's very difficult for them to be noticed, even if a distribution deal is found.

    "When you remove the barriers to entry, you also remove the filters of entry"

    There's nothing to stop filters from appearing at other points. But, a talented musician or filmmaker or writer who would have found the barrier to entry too high in the old system is suddenly able to create and market his work to a global audience. I fail to see the problem with that, even if a bunch of hacks start doing the same thing.

    "The untalented convince themselves they are relevant,and you get hundreds of tech blogs full of nonsense and junk. What good is that?"

    Assuming that other people who are not untalented get the same shot, I fail to see the problem.

     

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  104.  
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    Clint Boulton, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 4:29am

    FB Won't Allow You to Avoid Crap Content

     

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  105.  
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    Clint Boulton, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 4:31am

    FB Won't Allow You to Avoid Crap Content

    It would be great if the premise was that simple... Internet is loaded with garbage, but we can filter it... Unless, you're on Facebook with 100 friends who share links from shows and other things you hate. FB is constructed such that people can post what they want and if you're friends with them, you're subjected to it. You can "unfriend" them at your own risk and tell them via text, e-mail or phone: I like you, but I don't like your crap. Of course, that would fly in the face of FB's unilateral sharing mission.

     

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  106.  
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    nasch (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 6:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Speak for yourself. I still search for and find things I want. All you're relating is your own personal experience. That's fine, but you shouldn't present it as some kind of universal truth.

     

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  107.  
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    nasch (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 6:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "You are conflating morality and legality. For the billionth time."

    Morals aren't something you put on someone else... Legally you don't have the rights.

    Do you really not know the difference?

     

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  108.  
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    proximity1, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 6:59am

    Re: Re: uh, wrong....

    @ [Mar 6th, 2011 @ 6:57pm]

    You write,


    ..."Even if the availability of so much 'bad content' causes people to become ignorant of 'good content' I think the amount of suffering this will 'cause' them is minimal at best and most likely non - existent." ...

    ... "Who is better equipped to determine my best interests than me?"

    And there's my case made for me. Thank you. If you don't see the point here, then maybe, .... No, I think rather than explain this to you--after all, who knows better than you!?---I'm going to leave you there wondering what it is that has escaped you. The suffering is "nonexistent"? And you post from the U.S.? At some point, you're going to discover that turning up the volume on your headphones just won't suffice anymore.


    And, by the way, not directed to you, but to all those who brought up "Sturgeon's Law": why, I wonder, is there always an idiot with a "law" named after him for every trite and _wrong_ platitude subscribed to by millions of morons who can't think past the nonsense they parrot?---

    why should there be even 10% so-called "quality"? Why not 9%?, 8%? or 4? or 3? or, come to think of it, how about .00000000000000000000000001% of the "content" "quality"?

     

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  109.  
    identicon
    proximity1, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re: uh, wrong....

    "If very few people are interested in bypassing mass culture crap, you can't blame it on the internet, because these habits of passive consumption are a product of twentieth century lowest-common-denominator publishing practices."

    Miss the point much?

    "If very few people are interested in bypassing mass culture crap,"

    and

    then we hear someone (again!) (such as is the case here with the author of this thread and most of those commenting in it) post a lame argument
    "One of the common refrains we hear from the modern Luddite is that one of the awful things about today's internet culture is that it's flooded with too much "crap." One of our regular critics in the comments insists that key point and our failure to realize what this means for the world is why he spends so much time attacking everything I post. He's worried about what all that crappy content means for the world. Of course, that always makes me wonder why he bothers spending time paying attention to crappy content. After all, one of the nice things about the internet is that you only have to pay attention to what you like. It's truly an elitist position to complain about the crap that's out there. The thing is, it's really not a problem...."


    and then, rather than finding that in this supposed garden of blissful diversity even a 4% response in favor of the critic opposing the status quo (as you yourself announce you do) we hear instead in so many words almost a unanimous chorus of "Oh! It isn't "crap" if I like it!" or "So what if there's a lot of crap anyway? We just filter," then, that is an open, avowed defense of "these habits of passive consumption." It's a regurgitatio of "Yeah, whaatever, I like what I like, and so, hey, chill out, dude," i.e. "So what?"

    And I'm not--contrary to your supposition--"blaming that on the "internet". I'm "blaming that" on the people who so foolishly reason, argue and defend "these habits of passive consumption."

     

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  110.  
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    proximity1, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 7:41am

    Re: You can't fix stupid.

    You can criticize it. You can point it out. You can lament it. You can oppose it. You can present examples of the contrary of "stupid". You can encourage resistance to it. You can defend quality and oppose "crap".

    Or, you can "filter"---that is, you leave "stupid" unanswered, unopposed, unresisted, free to work its mischief and gain larger and larger parts of the public. And, in doing that, if you imagine that you leave a special elite subsent of society free to pursue and promote finer tastes and discernment untouched by the general decline of these in all other areas, you are very very much mistaken. The so-called "elite" standards of taste and discernment, too, can fall into a correspondingly deplorable state--its analogous version of "Whatever, dude."

     

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  111.  
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    Ryan Diederich, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 8:02am

    Crappy Content

    Just like Mike said, the crappy content on Techdirt is also because of a filter problem.

    Theres always going to be crap, as a matter of fact, there always WAS crap. Now, its just easier to find.

    Back in the day, people would start random businesses, bad startups, stupid products, whatever. But their audience was limited to local folks or who they could reach.

    Now the same crappy startup can garnish a million hits before anyone realizes its garbage.

    But for all means, lets destroy the system because of its few flaws. Shut off the internet because it contains 5% useless information.

    Same goes for piracy too. Lets be short-sighted and ban it because of a few negative effects, avoiding the massive gains.

    Guns too, and cars, cause sometimes they kill people.


    /sarc

     

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  112.  
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    herodotus (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 8:18am

    Re: Re: Re: uh, wrong....

    I'm sorry, is this a response to what I said?

    Because you seem to have quoted a couple of sentences of mine before arguing against someone else completely.

    In any case:

    "Miss the point much?"

    Well one might point out that the point was rather vague to begin with.

    "and then, rather than finding that in this supposed garden of blissful diversity even a 4% response in favor of the critic opposing the status quo (as you yourself announce you do) we hear instead in so many words almost a unanimous chorus of "Oh! It isn't "crap" if I like it!" or "So what if there's a lot of crap anyway? We just filter," then, that is an open, avowed defense of "these habits of passive consumption." It's a regurgitatio of "Yeah, whaatever, I like what I like, and so, hey, chill out, dude," i.e. 'So what?'"


    Who are you arguing with?

    What are you arguing with?

    Are you saying that there is no cultural diversity on the web? Are you saying that no one cares about this diversity? Are you saying that people shouldn't be allowed to make up their own minds about what they like without guidance? Are you saying internet access should be a privilege and not a right?

    I'd love to argue with you, but I need a coherent position to argue with, and I can't find one here.

     

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  113.  
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    herodotus (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 9:12am

    "Or, you can "filter"---that is, you leave "stupid" unanswered, unopposed, unresisted, free to work its mischief and gain larger and larger parts of the public. And, in doing that, if you imagine that you leave a special elite subsent of society free to pursue and promote finer tastes and discernment untouched by the general decline of these in all other areas, you are very very much mistaken. The so-called "elite" standards of taste and discernment, too, can fall into a correspondingly deplorable state--its analogous version of 'Whatever, dude.'"

    You see, I think that even a modicum of historical knowledge proves you wrong here. People have always been stupid. Romans amused themselves by watching slaves kill each other, and yet they were the apex of civilization at the time: Juvenal and Tacitus and Marcus Aurelius all continued writing and researching and thinking. And the Great Cat Massacre took place even as Voltaire was writing his History of Charles XII.

    You'll have to admit things are a bit better these days.

    But if you don't see improvement in the human condition, if you really think that the problems of humanity are getting worse, not better, the way to deal with isn't to deplore what you hate. That's all that Bill Bennett did, and look what it got him.

    The way to deal with a decline in standards is to establish your own standards, and give voice to people who embody them or live up to them. You might not be able to purify the internet, but you will at least provide a safe haven for those who seek what you seek.

    But seriously, I think that the glories of Western Civilization are strong enough to survive the internet. They survived the dark ages; they survived the printing press and the Reformation; they survived the Sack of Rome. They will still be around when all of us are dust.

     

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  114.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 9:50am

    Use the filters ******

    The firehose got you down?

    Then just use the full potential of modern technology to filter things. It's pretty easy and the tech has been around for 10+ years now.

    Cable is a poor example of the "firehose of crap" problem despite how everyone likes to hate on it.

    There are other ways of dealing with this sort of information overload on the web. You just have to bother to find and use them.

     

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  115.  
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    chris (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 12:04pm

    Re:

    What you like is often buried under tons of crappy content...When we went from the 3 networks + locals + PBS universe and replaced it with the seemingly infinite channel universe, quality didn't go up, it went down...

    tl;dr

    if you hate the internet so bad, turn off your computer and go buy a newspaper. bestbuy still sells CDs, and network television is still free. knock yourself out.

     

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  116.  
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    nasch (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: You can't fix stupid.

    So you're saying if we just seek out the good content we like and ignore the rest of it... then the good content will disappear and people will only make bad content? Am I getting that right? I hope that's not what you're saying, because that makes no sense at all.

     

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  117.  
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    chris (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Paul, one of the easiest mistakes is to assume that the masses will have the same skill set as the elite.

    if someone can't do research then they deserve to pay too much for crap. it's the closest our society will ever come to a tax on stupidity.

     

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  118.  
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    chris (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    outside of sites their friends told them about, in a narrow social system, they aren't out there looking around.

    that's a filter and it works. it's the most effective filter there is.

     

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  119.  
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    chris (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Morals aren't something you put on someone else, it's on yourself. You object morally to shoplifting, but not to "file copying", but for you, the results are the same: you have something you didn't pay for. Legally you don't have the rights.

    wow dude, so we can't put our pirate morals on you, but you can put your IP monopoly morals on us.

    if you don't agree with file sharing, don't share files. if you don't agree with other people file sharing, keep bawwwwwing about it, it's super effective.

     

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  120.  
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    nasch (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    if someone can't do research then they deserve to pay too much for crap. it's the closest our society will ever come to a tax on stupidity.

    Other than the lottery. ;-)

     

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  121.  
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    chris (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Re:

    I don't like tweets, so imagine this; I don't use twitter. Guess what? I don't get bothered by any "I took a dump" tweets. I have a Facebook page and I've only invited my REAL friends onto it. Imagine that? So I only get updates from the people I actually WANT to hear from.

    i'm not sure i understand this. if you decide that you don't like something, you just turn it off? and with that thing turned off, it doesn't bother you by alerting you to things that you don't like?

    i'm very new to this concept, so bear with me, are you saying that if i don't agree with a given practice, like polygamy, i can just decide to not do polygamy? and not only can i, myself, not engage in it, i can then choose to not engage other people who do engage in the practice? is that even physically possible?

    and if i dislike something, like sports, i can just ignore sports? is that even legal? are you some sort of criminal mastermind?

    so what if i don't like a person, like a former co-worker? can i just not have contact with that person? how will i find out what new and annoying thing he or she might be engaging in? if he finally screws his life up, how will i find out?

    i'm not saying that you're wrong, i'm just so unfamiliar with the idea that i don't have to get involved with things that upset me. can i just stop eating foods that don't taste good as well?

    does this insane thing that you practice have a name?

     

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  122.  
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    chris (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 12:44pm

    Re: It even affects the pirates

    It used to be easier to find good bootlegged movies. Now everyone with a video camera can upload thier lousy torrents. Damn you ameture criminals.

    sort the list of torrents by seeders. "quality" (cams are almost always lousy) films get seeded by lots of people, crappy ones do not.

     

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  123.  
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    chris (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: uh, wrong....

    And there's my case made for me. Thank you. If you don't see the point here, then maybe, .... No, I think rather than explain this to you--after all, who knows better than you!?---I'm going to leave you there wondering what it is that has escaped you. The suffering is "nonexistent"? And you post from the U.S.? At some point, you're going to discover that turning up the volume on your headphones just won't suffice anymore.

    lol whut?

    is this a setup for some tinfoilhat-wake-up-sheeple screed where you yell about how 9/11 is responsible for the amero?

     

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  124.  
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    Kirk (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    See, that is where you end up with the problem. Morals aren't something you put on someone else, it's on yourself. You object morally to shoplifting, but not to "file copying", but for you, the results are the same: you have something you didn't pay for. Legally you don't have the rights.


    That is a nifty little trick there. By that logic, taking a CD from a store and throwing it in the trash would be OK, but copying a file would not. It doesnt hold up to scrutiny.


    That is why I think many people lose their moral compass at the modems, they don't seem to apply what they would do in the real world to what they do online.

    I certainly would if it were possible in the real world. If I could instantly copy a baritone saxophone, I would not think twice about doing it. Think it through.

     

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  125.  
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    Kirk (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Mike: I need a couple of extra "funny" votes, please.

     

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  126.  
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    Desire is not an Occupation, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Re: You can't fix stupid.

    "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that."
    -George Carlin (1937-2008)

    The above is NEVER going to change. Ever.

    So why waste my time pointing out the obvious to the clueless??

    I'd much rather spend my time and cash championing the things that I care about to the people who count to me than berating others for their choices.

    Stupid is like a troll; you ignore them and they go away. If you ignore the stupid then it too goes away. It stops being relevant as soon as you stop paying attention to it.

     

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  127.  
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    Desire is not an Occupation, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 3:17pm

    Re:

    Thank you.

    I had to cut my reply short because it was becoming a long-winded diatribe.

     

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  128.  
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    MGA, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 4:48pm

    subjective

    It is a subjective assessment...

     

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  129.  
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    proximity1, Mar 8th, 2011 @ 5:02am

    Re: Re: Re: You can't fix stupid.


    "So you're saying if we just seek out the good content we like and ignore the rest of it... then the good content will disappear and people will only make bad content? Am I getting that right?"


    Nope. I'm definitely not saying that so your hope is vindicated.

     

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  130.  
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    proximity1, Mar 8th, 2011 @ 5:35am

    Re: Re: Re: You can't fix stupid.



    "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that."
    -George Carlin (1937-2008)

    "The above is NEVER going to change. Ever. So why waste my time pointing out the obvious to the clueless??"



    The point only partly concerns the degree of the
    prevailing general stupidity--a short-hand term for what is really much broader and takes in mediocrity in all forms rather than just some vague notion of the level of general intelligence.

    Just as important as the degree of mediocrity is the breadth of this prevailing mediocrity, that is, how pervasively it is found in the culture. So, yes, while I'm interested in the issue raised by George Carlin's--that towering intellect in social criticism--point, again, you miss much of the point.

    Imagine, for the sake of illustration, two very different societies as an example. In one, there's a very widely shared habit of elective reading, and not reading which is predominently of the very worst quality but, rather, reading which is characterized by a very high quality in fiction and non-fiction. By contrast, in the other society, extremely few people, no matter their level of formal education, electively read anything at all let alone read what could be fairly described as high quality fiction and non-fiction. And, while this latter society's habits continue over decades, the very idea of what constitutes "quality" versus "dreck" becomes so degraded that everyone, from the most untutored to the supposed cream of the society, bathes in a soup of advancing mediocrity.

    In which society would you prefer to live? Why? And, if you prefer the one where standards of intellectual taste are arguably higher (as I contend that they must be in the first sample case,) then what, if anything, do you see yourself as having in practical responsibility for helping to maintain or restore such a better society? Nothin' at all? Just cross your fingers and hope?

    And you quoted George Carlin to me?! Think about that. George Carlin for pity's sake! Please!

    "The above is NEVER going to change. Ever,"

    That is the very picture of the now-reigning ethos in U.S. society: abject fatalism. In addition to quoting George Carlin, you're apparently clairvoyant as well.

    "So why waste my time pointing out the obvious to the clueless??"

    Because these things aren't obvious and not everyone in the audience is entirely "clueless" --i.e., what you realy mean as beyond reach or hope.

     

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  131.  
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    proximty1, Mar 8th, 2011 @ 5:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: uh, wrong....

    herodotus (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 8:18am


    "I'm sorry, is this a response to what I said?"

    Yes. And that's indicated, as if you didn't know, by the fact that, just as in this case, I cited your own words directly at the top of my reply.

    "I'd love to argue with you, but I need a coherent position to argue with, and I can't find one here."

    My points are quite clear. If you can't grasp them that's your failing and your problem, not mine. I think your problem is not in a failure to grasp my points but one of your lacking anything valid to counter them, hence your lame appeal.

     

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  132.  
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    nasch (profile), Mar 8th, 2011 @ 6:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: You can't fix stupid.

    And, while this latter society's habits continue over decades, the very idea of what constitutes "quality" versus "dreck" becomes so degraded that everyone, from the most untutored to the supposed cream of the society, bathes in a soup of advancing mediocrity.

    I don't get where you're coming from with this. You accuse others of abject fatalism, but where are you pulling this pessimistic nugget from? Why would the best quality things decline in quality because there's a lot of bad stuff?

    Has that happened already? Do you have trouble finding good books to read for example, or good music or movies? I find there's way too much good stuff to ever hope to see it all. Among all the bad books, movies, TV, music, news, and web sites, I still couldn't consume all the really good stuff if I worked at it 24 hours a day. So I wonder how you're drawing this conclusion.

     

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  133.  
    identicon
    proximity1, Mar 8th, 2011 @ 6:38am

    Re:

    RE: herodotus (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 9:12am



    "The way to deal with a decline in standards is to establish your own standards, and give voice to people who embody them or live up to them."


    No kidding? What a concept! In fact, that--an attempt to assert and defend a notion of a standard of taste, discernment--is exactly what the critic who's been mocked and denounced in the opening of this thread--




    "One of our regular critics in the comments insists that key point and our failure to realize what this means for the world is why he spends so much time attacking everything I post. He's worried about what all that crappy content means for the world. Of course, that always makes me wonder why he bothers spending time paying attention to crappy content. After all, one of the nice things about the internet is that you only have to pay attention to what you like. It's truly an elitist position to complain about the crap that's out there. The thing is, it's really not a problem."



    Our critic in the thread's opening post, right from the outset, is denounced as being an elitist. Well, that implies his having taken a position--against the mediocre conventional and popular views urged and defended so lamely by so many here--and what is that except to "establish your own standards, and give voice to people who embody them or live up to them"?

    And that, too, is exactly what my posts have been doing as well. I ought to ask you: "Who are you arguing with?" !!!

    Sheesh!

    In reply to



    " (A) Are you saying that there is no cultural diversity on the web? (B)Are you saying that no one cares about this diversity? (C)Are you saying that people shouldn't be allowed to make up their own minds about what they like without guidance? (D)Are you saying internet access should be a privilege and not a right?"



    (A) I'm saying that what "diversity" of opinion there is "on the web" --and, in that, what we're really referring to, of course, is the typical chat-room discussion forum---is in my opinion too meagre and too confined to a too narrow-set of extremes in safely conventional opinion, but, worse, as a matter of strict cultural diversity goes, practically, speaking the "diversity" in that respect is even more pinched--and very much resembles the corresponding lack--- other-than-superficial---of range of opinions in the general public off-line, where that can be found to exist at all these days. The prevailing trend in all so-called advanced western industrial nations is a straighted conformism to conventional received opinion and those, like the critic mentioned in the opening come in for immediate, severe and sustained rebuke. Which is mainly what this thread shows, too. But "cultural diversity" is a misbegotten term and concept here. U.S. "culture" is practically by definition top-down, wealth-driven-&-directed. The various little examples here and there of independent initiatives are barely noticable 'blips' lost in a vast expanse of bland, commercial drivel which seeks to find and out-do the lowest common denominator in imagination.

    (B) Of course not. But that "care" in this thread apparently is expressed in such comments as

    "You can't fix stupid", "This will NEVER change," and, notably, "It's truly an elitist position to complain about the crap that's out there. The thing is, it's really not a problem"

    (C) Certainly not--as though that were even an "option" in matters of taste. The whole, the very, point is precisely that in matters of tastes, in discernment of quality in arts, the sole alternative to attempts by those who care to state and defend critiques is to do what's been urged here, accept what you quite aptly described as "these habits of passive consumption," a phrase which describes the issue rather well, I think.

    (D) Again, no, not at all. I'm not, nor am I advocating there be, a cultural dictator. People should exercise discriminating taste and seek to be critical thinkers and observers in art and politics--and while I maintain that they can and must be urged to practice those habits--including reading books, an essential, a sine qua non... of cultural vitality--they cannot be effectively or usefully forced to do these things; and, even if they could, I would object to that.

    Speaking of force, what's been lost sight of here is the immense power of a market( in publishing, film, television, radio, internet (also thoroughly commercial in nature and motive), everything contained in "culture"--its capacity to drive tastes and discernment down to deadly minimal levels where what survives of "culture" hardly deserves that name. That is going on and it, despite the gamut of tiny exceptions which could be cited, really ecapsulates what U.S. mainstream "culture" is and means. And, to that, we're told, "There's not really a problem here."

     

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  134.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2011 @ 7:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You can't fix stupid.

    RE: nasch: Mar 8th, 2011 @ 6:31am


    "Why would the best quality things decline in quality because there's a lot of bad stuff?"

    Well, as in most cultural matters, "the best quality" is a relative thing and it waxes and wanes with a general trend, either toward improvement or degradation. Now, within the generally prevailing trends there are of course always exceptions which can be found and cited. While there is practically never a complete and utter desert in terms of quality, while one can usually find, if one looks for them, examples which buck the trend, those exceptions "test" ( exceptio probat regulam ) the "rule", they don't refute it. So, when tastes decline in general, the "best quality things" typically decline with them--the minor exceptions apart.

    "Has that happened already?"

    And how! Depending on your departure point, of course. But yes, it has happened, it is happening still and it's going to in all likelihood go on happening more and more (what in particular would operate against these trends continuing until some as yet undiscovered saturation and revulsion point is found in the general public?).

    "Do you have trouble finding good books to read for example, or good music or movies? I find there's way too much good stuff to ever hope to see it all."

    New music, movies and books? You do? In reading, I'm fortunate. I'm finding lots and lots of interesting and worthy reading --but that is practically confined to non-fiction. In fiction, though, I'm not finding much (in English language original work). You might cite an example of a relatively recent novel (or novelist) which for you is very good. It's quite similar for films. From english-language directors, I'm not seeing much which impress me while I see a great many which I think are really awfully bad. Your recent quality films?


    Among all the bad books, movies, TV, music, news, and web sites, I still couldn't consume all the really good stuff if I worked at it 24 hours a day. So I wonder how you're drawing this conclusion.

    where, I wonder are these marvelous web sites? And, still more, for news, what have you found to recommend? In news reporting, I think that you touch what is, for me, the very worst of the lot. For quality news, there is basically nothing, in any language, period. Everything I see and hear in news reporting I take with extreme scepticism.

     

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  135.  
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    proximity1, Mar 8th, 2011 @ 7:45am

    Re: Re: uh, wrong....

    " *got distracted by the fact that most economists don't seem to know shit about economics either* "

    In that judgement you of course set yourself quite apart from the "vast, vast majority" I referred to above. And therefore, it's quite beside the point I'm making. If you have enough awareness to consider "that most economists don't seem to know shit about economics either" then you're already either speaking from a postition of a informed observer--in which case, as I say, you are clearly outside the cohort I'm desrcibing--or, in the contrary case, (i.e., if you aren't any better informed yourself) you're nevertheless ready to assume on this or some other basis that if you *DKS* about economics yourself, neither, then do most of the (professionals) in the field.

    The profession of economics is deeply (furiously) divided over the most basic concepts and how to define and understand them; so in that sense I very much agree with you that "most economists don't seem to know shit about economics either".

    But their differences could represent less a matter of what various essetnial terms and concepts mean and more a matter of whose interests should have priority in defining what they should mean. In that sense, what's disagreed about is the relative primacy of those who have the most versus those who have much much less or have the least.

    No matter what the state of professional (academic) economics is, the general public needs and must have some sort of organizing set of precepts on which to form opinions about social needs and the best ways to define and address social problems--health, education, the distribution of wealth, of resources and of opportunitites for gain and advancement.

    Currently, this vast, vast majority--of which you probably aren't a member, given your comment--are prisoners of a very viscious and destructive economic ideology which is so powerful and prevalent that it has so far completely dominated and overrun all contrary opinion. It gives the neo-conservative political and economic beliefs the scope to wreak havoc on society--including, most of all, the same ignorant popluace which unwittingly accepts and follows the conservative scorched-earth view of a "free marketplace".

    So, as far as my example is concerned, your retort that "most economists don't seem to know shit about economics either" is quite beside the point. The point is that perhaps unlike yourself, most people, that vast, vast majority, are far too uniformed to form, let alone hold, such a judgement concerning economists as a profession. They simply swallow( and act and vote, to the extent that they vote,) according to a particular dogma and they do that lagely without even the awaareness that they are doing so. The dogma forms their most basic (qnd thus unconscious) set of assumptions about society and, as such, unlike you, they are for all practical purposes helpless to critique it--or the professional economists themselves.

     

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  136.  
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    herodotus (profile), Mar 8th, 2011 @ 9:08am

    Re: Re:

    "No kidding? What a concept! In fact, that--an attempt to assert and defend a notion of a standard of taste, discernment--is exactly what the critic who's been mocked and denounced in the opening of this thread--"


    You misunderstand me. By 'establishing standards' What I mean establishing positive standards. To do this, you must point out, not what you think is execrable, but what you think embodies or defines excellence. Otherwise, you don't sound like a critic, but like a curmudgeon.

    "Our critic in the thread's opening post, right from the outset, is denounced as being an elitist. Well, that implies his having taken a position--against the mediocre conventional and popular views urged and defended so lamely by so many here--and what is that except to "establish your own standards, and give voice to people who embody them or live up to them"? "

    See above, regarding positive examples. These are even more necessary here, because your negative assertions are so sweeping and vague.

    And why so offended by the tag 'elitist'? If you think that most people have horrible taste, you are an elitist, just like if you think that people are generally wise and just you are a populist. The word isn't an insult unless you take it as one.

    "And that, too, is exactly what my posts have been doing as well. I ought to ask you: "Who are you arguing with?" !!!

    Sheesh!"


    I am arguing with someone who is failing to see that dreck has always been around; that the taste of most people has never been any better than it is now; that the internet merely makes ancient human tendencies more visible than they were previously.

    But more than that, you are failing to see (or at least are being silent about) the power that the internet puts into the hands of proponents of the very cultural excellence that you are defending. That's why I brought up Conlon Nancarrow and Charles Ives earlier. Their music is getting a much larger audience now than it did before the internet. You no longer have to wait until the one copy of the scratched up cd down at the library becomes available. You can listen to it instantly. How is this bad?

    As long as people like you talk of the internet as if it were nothing but tons of amateur crap, without ever mentioning the fact that it is also the best way of exposing yourself to cultural greatness; as long as you gripe about how many things suck without once providing a link to a single one of the millions of canonical public domain texts that you can download at the internet archive; as long as you fail to acknowledge that the web improves the communicative abilities of everyone, whether geniuses or idiots, I will continue to argue with you.

    Sorry.

    I argue with Mike all of the time too. I disagree with him about all kinds of things. But in this case, I share his optimism, perhaps because I remember how difficult it was to find interesting cultural artifacts before the internet. I used to read histories of music thinking 'boy, I sure would like to hear some of this music that I have been reading about; too bad I can't find any of it at my library or at any of the crappy local stores'. Music students today have access to so many more resources than I did that it boggles the mind.

    And again, how is this bad?

     

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  137.  
    icon
    Kirk (profile), Mar 8th, 2011 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re: Re: uh, wrong....

    I concede most of your well-laid points. Thank you for taking the time to explain. I agree that education is key to a thriving, free society (thats the essence of what I think youre saying). Ignorance is dangerous. But what is the solution?
    The Internet brings good along with bad. I dont see the Internet as being essential to the perpetual problem you describe. It brings more crap, and it brings more opportunities for learning. I mean, here we are having this discussion because of the Internet.
    Having said that: we now have a communications platform that connects people and ideas from around the world. Its a powerful tool. As a wise man once said, With great power comes great responsibility.

     

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  138.  
    icon
    Kirk (profile), Mar 8th, 2011 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: uh, wrong....

     

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  139.  
    identicon
    another comment, Mar 8th, 2011 @ 10:46am

    Perhaps ...

    The spectre of "crap on the Internet" is not surprising given the Jack Ass and tabloid culture we find ourselves in. Just look at what Charlie Sheen is doing.

    The concern with all this is that at some point, fiction becomes reality. Worse yet, panic can be invoked. I submit to you the "missile launch plume" story from a few months back; a story replete with inaccurate facts that spread like wildfire (it was a plane from Honolulu to Phoenix, not a missile).

    So long as mobs of people don't react to "crap" and create more problems, then fine. I could argue at one end of the spectrum, the existence of "god" which is devoid of observable and verifiable facts, is similar to this argument. What was and is mostly fiction (not withstanding the question of faith), has now turned into billions of people believing in something that can't be verified. A story run amok.

     

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  140.  
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    nasch (profile), Mar 8th, 2011 @ 7:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: uh, wrong....

    Herodotus is not alone; your post didn't make sense to me either.

     

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  141.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 2:56am

    Re: Re: Re: You're incorrect here.

    "In America, it is."

    No, it's not. Even if you're just talking about mainstream movies, it's not - especially if you include non-theatrical releases.

    It also depends on what you call "Hollywood". Is The King's Speech "Hollywood"? If so, why? It's a British production distributed in the US by an independent studio. How is that "Hollywood"? If not, then the fact than non-Hollywood films are still capable of making over $100 million in the US means that the movie industry is not simply Hollywood.

    "But it's still being produced, isn't it? Which is really my point."

    It always has been, and always will be. The mere fact that it's produced proves exactly nothing - what matters is the amount of quality product, and I believe the ratio is changing for the better. You simply seem to have a differing opinion on whether the bigger shift is currently happening. That's fine, but don't try pretending your opinion is some kind of objective fact.

    "Then I don't think you read the article, or understood it."

    No, I didn't read it, admittedly. But, the snippet you posted did not say what you claim it to in the context you presented it. I apologise if my reading was incorrect, but I was responding in the context in which it was posted here.

     

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  142.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 3:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Paul, one of the easiest mistakes is to assume that the masses will have the same skill set as the elite."

    That's why I agreed with the "bad at using the internet" comment. If you've been online for any length of time and still can't manage to filter decent content in some way, even if it's just via IMDB ratings, a blog that matches your tastes or Pandora, then you fail.

    "The filters aren't there for the brainy 10%, they are there for the average 90%."

    No, the filters are there for everybody, and we all use them all the time. You just have to know how to use them, and that's where anyone who complains about a lack of quality content online is failing.

     

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  143.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 3:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You can't fix stupid.

    I'll butt in here with a couple of points...

    "In fiction, though, I'm not finding much (in English language original work). You might cite an example of a relatively recent novel (or novelist) which for you is very good."

    Here's the problem in a nutshell, of course: define "good". Your tastes may differ from mine, greatly. I don't read a lot of new books, personally, as I tend to buy a lot of second hand books and I've recently been reading a lot of translated works (best of these recently: Larsson's trilogy and Let The Right One In).

    But, as a recent example, I loved Stephen King's Under The Dome. Some people dislike his writing style, and some could easily dismiss the book as pulp nonsense, but I thought it was good. Another great book I read in the last couple of years was Max Brooks' World War Z, but if you're not a genre fan, you might not appreciate it.

    You might have a different idea of "good" to me, and dismiss them. That's fine, but if you reject most work like this you may indeed be an elitist.

    "From english-language directors, I'm not seeing much which impress me while I see a great many which I think are really awfully bad. Your recent quality films?"

    Again, what are you watching? Are you seeking out new movies, or just restricting yourself to the local multiplex (in which case, the filter - the cinema's owners - is wrong for you, choose a different filter). Which genres interest you?

    Personally, I'm a big horror fan and I saw 3 movies that impressed me at the Glasgow Frightfest a couple of weeks ago. One (I Saw The Devil) was Korean, but the other 2 (Mother's Day and Rubber) were in the English language. If the genre doesn't appeal to you, you might disagree, but I feel I saw some high quality content over that weekend, and only one film I would outright dismiss as "crap".

    You might also consider that other countries have their share of crap as well. It's just that whatever filter you're using to access the foreign language content is shielding you from it in a way that your own country's content is not blocked.

    "where, I wonder are these marvelous web sites?"

    All over the internet. They can take the form of sites that allow you to discuss with people who share your tastes, filter specifically to a particular taste or which just evalute content and it's up to you to work out if the reviewer's tastes match your own. Recommendations from similar-minded people are still the best filter, and the internet allows you to communicate with such people no matter their physical location.

    Here's a few focussed sites I like to use, but feel free to find your own. For books, goodreads.com. For movies flickchart.com, as well as multiple podcasts (largely genre-focussed, Outside The Cinema, Mondo Movie and The Gentlemen's Guide To Midnite Cinema are my current favourites). For music, Spotify and last.fm. I often find Lifehacker a useful tool to introduce me to new applications. and so on...

    Now, you may disagree with me on those sites, and fair enough if you do. But, there will be sites out there that filter to match your tastes, you just have to find them.

    "Everything I see and hear in news reporting I take with extreme scepticism."

    Indeed. But you're comparing apples and oranges. Reporting on objective facts (which is what news organisations are supposed to do, even if they rarely do it) is a very different kind of activity to evaluating subjective art. It's not a relevant comparison for this discussion.

    Personally, I get most of my non-tech news from the BBC and The Guardian, but I'm aware of certain political biases and take with a pinch of salt accordingly. Unlike, say, the Daily Mail and Fox, they at least get the basic facts correct most of the time mand do provide intelligent context for certain events. But, every new source is biased to some degree, always have been, always will be.

     

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  144.  
    identicon
    proximity1, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 8:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: uh, wrong....

    RE Kirk,
    Mar 8th, 2011 @ 9:18am

    There's no solution or, in medical parlance, no "cure," but, using the same analogy, there is "treatment".

    Several things would help, among them,

    vigorous opposition to "taboo topics". There are simply too many very important issues which raise red flags and prompt readers to respond by asserting without any effort at consideration that "you can't, mustn't, discuss that". While this hasn't happened here in the present case, it happens all the time all over the internet in discussion fora. SO, one improvement would be to encourage people to vigorously resist those who'd simply bar any and all discussion of topics declared "out of bounds".

    Second, in this issue, it would help a lot if people would bear in mind--to use another analogy--that "weather" is one thing and "climate" is something else. My points have concerned the general trends--that is, the "climate" side of the issue. Meanwhile, nearly all my objectors have pointed out what would be analogous to "weather" in their replies. But a cultural "drought" can occur even as occasional scattered "rain showers" take place. In line with this, then, is that it would help if people would begin to focus on indications of long-term trends of decline, touching, amoung other things, reading habits, reading time, quality of publications, their availability (about which much of this site is devoted, and I applaud that!); the quality and accessibility of teaching and, not least, the enormous importance of technology as a motor of the trends toward decline.

     

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  145.  
    identicon
    proximity1, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re: Re:

     

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  146.  
    identicon
    proximity1, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 9:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    RE : herodotus (profile), Mar 8th, 2011 @ 9:08am

    For the moment, I just want to respond to your question,

    "And why so offended by the tag 'elitist'? If you think that most people have horrible taste, you are an elitist, just like if you think that people are generally wise and just you are a populist. The word isn't an insult unless you take it as one."

    In my experience, "elitest" is usually intended as a cricism, though I grant you that this isn't always the case. What I maintain is that one can be--as I claim to be--entirely "populist" in sentiment while also arguing that that "most people have (rather) terrible taste." For right at the heart of my argument is the firm conviction that "most people" have not always had such terrible taste in so many important respects at the same time. (I recommend your reading my comment above to Kirk

    (see : Re: Re: Re: Re: uh, wrong....
    proximity1, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 8:35am
    RE Kirk,
    Mar 8th, 2011 @ 9:18am

    There's no solution or, in medical parlance, no "cure," but, using the same analogy, there is "treatment". )


    relating to the difference between "weather" aan "climate". You cited a number of discrete instances ("weather") as though they amount to a rebuttal of my arguments (which concern "climate" change (in culture) for the worse). And, as I tried to point out, instances of variable weather do not refute a larger encompassing trend in climate. What I contend is that we are now in the midst of a very large and very serious culture decline the scope of which goes far beyond the relatively tiny realm of the "blogosphere" and that this has been many decades in the making and that only some very fundamental changes in the general awareness and thinking habits of very large parts of the general public can ever offer any reslistic hopes for an eventual reform, improvement.

    The fact that past civilizations, past epochs, survived great social upheavals and cultural unravelings does not and cannot vouch for this generation's likely prospects for survival of what (most of us here) consider the cultural heritage worth preserving and the loss of much of which is now a real possibility.


    But I've digressed from my initial intention: I want to urge that my views about "quality" versus "dreck" are to be understood not as an elitist claim that 'the poor ignorant masses can't ever get this stuff'. On the contrary, as I began to point out, it's my firm conviction that in the past we have examples of the poor 'ignorant masses' having done really appreciably better in the tastes they exhibited. Again, this means "climate," not "weather", so, as Shakepeare would say, "It boots nothing" to bring me various examples from the past, ancient or more recent, where the supposed cream of society has exhibited truly abominable taste. Of course one can find such. But that's not the point in my view.

    Finally, (for the present post) I want to mention that in line with the foregoing comments, central to my concerns are, indeed, not the state of the cultural health of any elite subset of society but, rather, that of the very broad (un-elite) general public. What strikes me strongly about so much in the replies here about the salvation of "filtering" is that this simply implies and presupposes (as I don't doubt is true) that such writers assume that, in effect, "If the general public's tastes sink into a mire of crap, that's neither concern nor any skin off my nose or my ability to find and enjoy "quality".

    I assert and insist that, rightly seen and understood, it very much is and ought to be their concern and, whether they grasp it or not, it will sooner or later mean a difference in the quality of their own (supposed separate and unequal) cultural lives.

     

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  147.  
    identicon
    proximity1, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "You misunderstand me. By 'establishing standards' [w]hat I mean [is] establishing positive standards. To do this, you must point out, not what you think is execrable, but what you think embodies or defines excellence. Otherwise, you don't sound like a critic, but like a curmudgeon."

    (I contend that) Insightful criticism (so rare today) helps in establishing standards just as much when it is focused on a negative example (of whatever the artwork may be) as when focused on a positive example. So, I very much disagree that one "must point out, not what [he] think is execrable, but what [he) think embodies or defines excellence. Do you actually apply such a narrow prescriptive rule in practice? ---rejecting an otherwise insightful criticism simply because it has focused on a "bad case" and criticized it for its faults without also somewhere presenting a model example of "good work"? My approach is that I'll welcome any good, insightful criticism which leads me to better see and understand something of value--whether its focus is on a holding up for review and examination a "good" model or a "bad" work. I believe that a bad example is just as instructive as a good one (actually, in most ways, a bad example is far more instructive than a good one), that one can presume that a lesser work's faults, if avoided, help tend toward the production of a better work. In addition, your view seems to suggest that what critics should do is hold up examples for emulation so that others will be able to, well, emulate them and in that way avoid work of poorer quality. That's fine I guess if one's idea of the goal is to promote and encourage copyists, emulators, who are concerned first and foremost with following models.

    We're talking about standards of taste here. That means helping educate and promote a better, finer practice of perception, of appreciation in the public generally---and that's as much needed among the so-called "elites" as the rest of us (a dichotomy to which, frankly, I don't subscribe). Elites aren't born, to the extent that they exist at all, they're made, formed, brought up through long practiced instruction. Anyone who's determined to do so can join such a course of development in his taste.

    The most arresting high quality works to come , while springing from the same impulses and motives as earlier works of quality, won't necessarily outwardly resemble much if at all what was previously typical of the best work. So, how are people supposed to recognize it if the criticism they've studied had largely been devoted to the praising of models of the best current work?

    In making an example of quality work the point is not to recommend to others to follow---as audiences or as artists---"other stuff like that" but to look for and recognize work which is drawn from the same springs in other artists, namely, their creative, and thus very personal and peculiar inner impulses to expression. Many fine artists may be obscure, but obscurity by itself is not necessarily indicative of quality work. However, in our culture, which is dominated to a crushing extent by an all-consuming commercialism, best-selling work is typically going to be work which is emulative, derivative, and which panders to a low, if not the lowest, common denominator; my view, however, is that this common-denominator, while it always exists, and exists "somewhere," is not fixed and immutable. It can rise or fall relatively, as people gain or lose generally in the quality of their perceptions and capacities to appreciate quality.

    You assert that, "...the taste of most people has never been any better than it is now." ...

    And I say that's rubbish. Either you're arguing that average taste is and must remain at some immutable level, never appreciably better or worse at one time than another or, otherwise, the upshot of your assertion is that we are today at what has to be seen as a "summit" in taste relative to the all times past. In either case, such a view strikes me a wildly absurd.

    Browse the best-seller lists of the New York Times from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s and, into the 50s and compare what people (average readers, not Oxford and Cambridge professors of literature) were buying and reading with what is on the best-seller lists today.

    Or, take another example: compare for literary quality, the Early Modern English Bible, particularly William Tyndale's landmark translation, on which the King James Bible is based--Bibles which were the daily reading (or listening)-matter of millions of English people with the most commonly read Bible today--The New International Version. The point in making the comparison is based on the fact that the Tyndale Bible, once it overcame authorityfs attempts to suppress it, and, later, the King James Bible, comprised the formative reading of their time. Even illiterate people were steeped and formed in it, in the rhythms, the vocabulary, the figures of speech--which remain in use today. Today, its analogue, the most widely-read English Bible is the New International Version. Compare them for literary quality and then please try and make the case that the taste of most people has never been any better than it is now. I notice that you're no more generous in examples than you assert I ought to be. You don't point out which of today's best-selling novelists compare favorably --or simply outshine--the acknowledged best-sellers of earlier decades.

    Let's look particularly at the last thirty years of the 20th century:

    for each year, we have the #1 best-seller:

    1970
    Love Story, Erich Segal
    1971
    Wheels, Arthur Hailey

    1972
    Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach

    1973
    Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach

    1974
    Centennial, James A. Michener

    1975
    Ragtime, E. L. Doctorow

    1976
    Trinity, Leon Uris

    1977
    The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien; Christopher Tolkien

    1978
    Chesapeake, James A. Michener

    1979
    The Matarese Circle, Robert Ludlum

    1980 - 1989

    1980
    The Covenant, James A. Michener

    1981
    Noble House, James Clavell

    1982
    E.T., William Kotzwinkle

    1983
    Return of the Jedi Storybook, Joan D. Vinge

    1984
    The Talisman, Stephen King and Peter Straub

    1985
    The Mammoth Hunters, Jean M. Auel

    1986
    It, Stephen King

    1987
    The Tommyknockers, Stephen King

    1988
    The Cardinal of the Kremlin, Tom Clancy

    1989
    Clear and Present Danger, Tom Clancy

    1990 - 1999

    1990
    The Plains of Passage, Jean M. Auel

    1991
    Scarlett: Sequel to Gone with the Wind, Alexandra Ripley

    1992
    Dolores Claiborne, Stephen King

    1993
    The Bridges of Madison County, Robert James Waller

    1994
    The Chamber, John Grisham

    1995
    The Rainmaker, John Grisham

    1996
    The Runaway Jury, John Grisham

    1997
    The Partner, John Grisham

    1998
    The Street Lawyer, John Grisham

    Now, how does that list, which I rate as pathetic, compare to the thirty years from 1930 to 1960?

    1930 - 1939

    1930
    Cimarron, Edna Ferber

    1931
    The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck

    1932
    The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck

    1933
    Anthony Adverse, Hervey Allen

    1934
    Anthony Adverse, Hervey Allen

    1935
    Green Light, Lloyd C. Douglas

    1936
    Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

    1937
    Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

    1938
    The Yearling, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

    1939
    The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

    1940 - 1949

    1940
    How Green Was My Valley, Richard Llewellyn

    1941
    The Keys of the Kingdom, A. J. Cronin

    1942
    The Song of Bernadette, Franz Werfel

    1943
    The Robe, Lloyd C. Douglas

    1944
    Strange Fruit, Lillian Smith

    1945
    Forever Amber, Kathleen Winsor

    1946
    The King's General, Daphne du Maurier

    1947
    The Miracle of the Bells, Russell Janney

    1948
    The Big Fisherman, Lloyd C. Douglas

    1949
    The Egyptian, Mika Waltari

    1950 - 1959

    1950
    The Cardinal, Henry Morton Robinson

    1951
    From Here to Eternity, James Jones

    1952
    The Silver Chalice, Thomas B. Costain

    1953
    The Robe, Lloyd C. Douglas

    1954
    Not as a Stranger, Morton Thompson

    1955
    Marjorie Morningstar, Herman Wouk

    1956
    Don't Go Near the Water, William Brinkley

    1957
    By Love Possessed, James Gould Cozzens

    1958
    Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak

    1959
    Exodus, Leon Uris


    1960 - 1969

    1960
    Advise and Consent, Allen Drury

    Please remember: my case concerns "climate," not "weather." I don't deny that there are some "clunkers" to be found in each of the thirty-year lists, as well as the rare item of worth in the 1970s-1999 list; though, really, from the end of the 1960s the "drop-off" is truly dramatic. The bottom falls out of the "quality" field and we're given a list of the top-selling fiction which is truly miserable in its quality.

    links :
    http://www.abebooks.com/docs/Community/Featured/bestSellers20thCentury.shtml

    For better detail, look into the best-seller lists year by year, which give not only the single top-selling title of the year but the top ten best-selling titles in each year. While many are now long forgotten, I'll wager that many of these forgotten titles and authors put the near totality of today's best-sellers in the shade in terms of their quality. Of course some of them will be relatively poorer in quality; but, you've asserted that average tastes are simply static, immutable--a stupendous claim.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publishers_Weekly_list_of_bestselling_novels_in_the_United_States_in_th e_1920s

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publishers_Weekly_list_of_bestselling_novels_in_the_United_S tates_in_the_1930s

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publishers_Weekly_list_of_bestselling_novels_in_the_United_States_i n_the_1940s

    from 1940 alone we have, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Louis Bromfield and Christopher Morley--all of their works cited, best-sellers, at a time, mind you, when to reach that accolade, you had to sell huge numbers of copies, unlike today. What's a best-seller's minimum qualifying sales? Do you seriously suppose that anything like the sales of a best-seller today could have placed that title on the lists of the 1920s, 30s, 40s or 50s?

    Others, best-sellers, from the 1940s, include

    James Hilton, A.J. Cronin, Margaret Mitchell, Edna Ferber, Pearl Buck, Daphne DuMaurier, Somerset Maugham and Sinclair Lewis. Who have we got? John Grisham, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Tom Clancy, Stephenie Myer, for crying out loud!

    regarding the best-seller, Twilight, by this author, it happens to be




    "One of Publishers Weekly's "Best Children's Books of 2005;
    One of School Library Journal's "Best Books of 2005";

    ...


    "Initial reviews for Twilight were mostly positive, with Publishers Weekly called Meyer one of the most 'promising new authors of 2005'. The Times praised the book for capturing 'perfectly the teenage feeling of sexual tension and alienation', and Amazon.com hailed the book as '[d]eeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful'. Hillias J. Martin of School Library Journal stated, 'Realistic, subtle, succinct, and easy to follow, Twilight will have readers dying to sink their teeth into it', and Norah Piehl of TeenReads wrote, 'Twilight is a gripping blend of romance and horror'. Publishers Weekly's starred review described Bella's 'infatuation with outsider Edward', their risky relationship, and 'Edward's inner struggle' as a metaphor for sexual frustration accompanying adolescence. "

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight_(novel)




    I intend to leave the following for a more detailed reply, but, till then, I'll confine my observation to pointing out that this misses the point---it's not so much what people could, or might find among the millions upon millions of resources buried somewhere on the internet, it's rather what they generally do find and stick on, and, in consequence, take as a model or guide. One is hard put to look for and find what one doesn't even imagine might exist in the first place.



    I am arguing with someone who is failing to see that dreck has always been around; that the taste of most people has never been any better than it is now; that the internet merely makes ancient human tendencies more visible than they were previously.

    But more than that, you are failing to see (or at least are being silent about) the power that the internet puts into the hands of proponents of the very cultural excellence that you are defending. That's why I brought up Conlon Nancarrow and Charles Ives earlier. Their music is getting a much larger audience now than it did before the internet. You no longer have to wait until the one copy of the scratched up cd down at the library becomes available. You can listen to it instantly. How is this bad?

    As long as people like you talk of the internet as if it were nothing but tons of amateur crap, without ever mentioning the fact that it is also the best way of exposing yourself to cultural greatness; as long as you gripe about how many things suck without once providing a link to a single one of the millions of canonical public domain texts that you can download at the internet archive; as long as you fail to acknowledge that the web improves the communicative abilities of everyone, whether geniuses or idiots, I will continue to argue with you.

    Sorry.

    I argue with Mike all of the time too. I disagree with him about all kinds of things. But in this case, I share his optimism, perhaps because I remember how difficult it was to find interesting cultural artifacts before the internet. I used to read histories of music thinking 'boy, I sure would like to hear some of this music that I have been reading about; too bad I can't find any of it at my library or at any of the crappy local stores'. Music students today have access to so many more resources than I did that it boggles the mind.

    And again, how is this bad?



    An interested, motivated, curious reader could, or yes, might, find any number of fascinating things available on the internet. But the internet, in and of itself, and especially by its routine influence and use, not only won't encourage a person who isn't already that sort to become that sort of person, it will more likely tend to discourage one's becoming that sort of person.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  148.  
    identicon
    proximity1, Mar 11th, 2011 @ 7:56am

    "Onward and downward with ' Generation "Filter" ' 2011 by proximity1

    Onward and downward with Generation Filter 2011 by proximity1

    RE



    I am arguing with someone who is failing to see that dreck has always been around; that the taste of most people has never been any better than it is now; that the internet merely makes ancient human tendencies more visible than they were previously.

    But more than that, you are failing to see (or at least are being silent about) the power that the internet puts into the hands of proponents of the very cultural excellence that you are defending. That's why I brought up Conlon Nancarrow and Charles Ives earlier. Their music is getting a much larger audience now than it did before the internet. You no longer have to wait until the one copy of the scratched up cd down at the library becomes available. You can listen to it instantly. How is this bad?

    As long as people like you talk of the internet as if it were nothing but tons of amateur crap, without ever mentioning the fact that it is also the best way of exposing yourself to cultural greatness; as long as you gripe about how many things suck without once providing a link to a single one of the millions of canonical public domain texts that you can download at the internet archive; as long as you fail to acknowledge that the web improves the communicative abilities of everyone, whether geniuses or idiots, I will continue to argue with you.

    Sorry.

    I argue with Mike all of the time too. I disagree with him about all kinds of things. But in this case, I share his optimism, perhaps because I remember how difficult it was to find interesting cultural artefacts before the internet. I used to read histories of music thinking 'boy, I sure would like to hear some of this music that I have been reading about; too bad I can't find any of it at my library or at any of the crappy local stores'. Music students today have access to so many more resources than I did that it boggles the mind.

    And again, how is this bad?



    I'll come to how it's not so good below; but first I must again point out your amazing obstinacy in missing the point. You're determined to try and make the point turn on the repeated observation "I am arguing with someone who is failing to see that dreck has always been around."

    That's flatly wrong. I see quite well that dreck has always been around. That it has is too obvious and too much a truism to get us anywhere in this discussion. Again, pointing it out is completely beside the point. And you seem unwilling to grasp that.

    While it's also true that the "average" always falls between the extremes of "high" and "low"--thus in mid range, that, too, is trite and gets us nowhere interesting.

    The issues here concern what constitutes "average" in the public taste and how, if at all does this and has this varied over long stretches of time? Further, the point concerns, what part does technology, and in this discussion, particularly internet technology, have on the matter of what constitutes average public taste?

    Other key issues include "What are the social implications of a trend by which generations come to practice from early youth a reflexive 'filtering' of practically all the cultural phenomena which reaches them?"

    I flatly dispute what you assert as a "fact": "the fact that it [the internet]is also the best way of exposing yourself to cultural greatness" even as I recognize that this extraordinarily nave idea is very likely to join other similar nonsense as the prevailing conventional view.

    When each and every ill-informed or quite simply uninformed person has come to assert his internet-given right to be his own Authority on the Alpha and Omega of what's true and what's worthy of praise and admiration, and when these people grow up and arrive at what will pass for adulthood by having spent their lives filtering-out of their contacts with culture all that doesn't suit their young prejudices, then of what possible value could the very concept of "cultural greatness" hold?

    At that point, the conventional wisdom will not only insist that that "No one cares if it's 'great' or not" but it will impatiently add that it's no longer even possible to come to any consensus on such a matter so we're all much better off to just drop such ideas. Some, perhaps yourself among them, will even assert that there has never been any such consensus over cultural greatness anyway.

    I don't mean this in an unkind way, but it seems to me that you bring an astonishingly nave view of technology to this discussion. It seems not to have occurred to you that the very meaning and import of key cultural terms and concepts have been or are being transformed out of all recognition from meanings and imports they once carried. "Reading", "book", "study", "knowledge", "culture" and "great" will all suffer the trivializing degradation of this technology, the internet, with its blogs confined to not just to instant-and-trivial analysis but "bite-sized" instant-and-trivial analysis.

    The internet brings us the wonder of "Everything-at-your-fingertips-Now" and at the same time sets it all upon the same sole undifferentiated level: that of the trivial. The momentous, like the banal are treated with the same monotone indifference for the simple reason that when "everything is included" context is lost, or, more precisely, "context" loses its meaning. At that is the great pervasive implication of a world filtered through "Everything-at-your-fingertips-Now", a world without contexts, where life is lived in a perpetual state of psychic vertigo, no 'up', no 'down', no 'left', no 'right' and no direction home.

    Now, that's a truly terrible 'price to pay'--though you don't seem to have noticed. In effect, society relinquishes the contexts which used to serve us in ordering and discriminating in making cultural judgements--that is, in exercising our critical faculties in culture's offerings. And what does society get in return for such a terrible price to pay? To hear you tell it, we get this:



    "Music students today have access to so many more resources than I did that it boggles the mind.

    And again, how is this bad?"



    and this,



    ..."Conlon Nancarrow and Charles Ives... Their music is getting a much larger audience now than it did before the internet. You no longer have to wait until the one copy of the scratched up cd down at the library becomes available. You can listen to it instantly. How is this bad?



    I guess you're a music student. I guess that the Sun rises and sets for you in the wonderful and internet-given ever-expanding capacity to find and instantly download the latest most obscure piece of music from those who'd otherwise suffer (and leave us suffering) in their obscurity.

    If this entails at the same time the an ever-expanding triviality of content---which logically can't and won't spare your much-cherished Conlon Nancarrow and his work---and means the continual degradation of meaning and the loss of contexts, of standards and reference points from which our cultural bearings may be taken, can you recognize that and why it should matter very much to us?



    "The distinctive feature of American middlebrow* culture was its embodiment of the old civic credo that anyone willing to invest time and energy in self-education might better himself. Many uneducated lowbrows, particularly immigrants, cherished middlebrow values: millions of sets of encyclopedias sold door to door from the twenties through the fifties were purchased on the instalment plan by parents who had never owned a book but were willing to sacrifice to provide their children with information about the world that had been absent from their own upbringing. Remnants of earnest middlebrow striving survive today among various immigrant groups, but the larger edifice of middlebrow culture, which once encompassed Americans of many social classes as well as ethnic and racial backgrounds, has collapsed. The disintegration and denigration of the middlebrow are closely linked to the political and class polarization that distinguishes the current wave of anti-intellectualism from the popular suspicion of highbrows and eggheads that has always been a part of the American psyche. What has been lost is an alternative to mass popular culture, [i.e. a mass popular culture which is] imbibed unconsciously and effortlessly through the radio and video portals that surround us all. What has been lost is the culture of effort."

    -----------------

    p. 104, The Age of American Unreason, revised and updated edition, by Susan Jacoby, 2009, Vintage Books, Random House, New York.

    [(*) Here the author intends "middlebrow" in a thoroughly complimentary way.]


    Rather than Jacoby's term, "polarization", I think it's more apt to describe what is happening as an "atomized tribalization" and one which is gaining in pace and extent. While, yes, our society and within it our "culture", such as it is, is characterized by polarization--particularly evident in political affairs--the poles themselves are comprised of atomized tribes of attachment to various and sundry fetishes- cult music bands,
    film directors, science-fiction authors, etc. Such is the world promised us by the hyper-filtered tribal internet, where what counts above all else is membership (or not) in whatever tribal-cult interest takes highest priority in our sorted-and-filtered cultural lives.

    So, for you, the cohort of fans of Conlon Nancarrow may or might instantly win a favored welcome or a readier recognition--unless they spoil it by exhibiting a preference for something of importance on your list of tabooed inclinations.

    What's "bad" is obverse of the coin in the gains of instant and easy filtered search-and-retrieval. That's a highly atomized world of cultural cults of impassioned fetishists who divide the world up according to those who are their in-group peers as opposed to the out-groups beyond. This runs a gamut from the pierced and tattooed and T-shirt emblazoned socities of youth trends to other realms including the Super Linked-In set of upper corporate management. I'll be told, (unless this post is simply 'filtered', i.e. ignored, "There've always been such things!"

    The current combination of technology and marketplace power are new and unprecedented; so, no, there has never been anything quite like the dangerous confluence we now observe.

    ● Worldwide instant communications as never before possible

    ● highly linked powerful networks of interests with global reach,

    ● immense wealth and insider influence, and a

    ● balkanized world of specialty knowledge and lexicons which knows and favors its own tribe members and subordinates

    All these working against and at the expense of unifying contexts, varied consensus views in social and cultural heritages to be promoted and preserved, the more universal, more communal and more open and shared outlooks and interests that underpin and make possible a liveable and desirable society.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  149.  
    icon
    xenomancer (profile), Mar 12th, 2011 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re: Don't Feed the Trolls

    i lol'd

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  150.  
    icon
    Nick Coghlan (profile), Apr 2nd, 2011 @ 1:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I don't think you're really disagreeing with me, given that one of the things I said was "Managing the information firehose that is the internet *is* an art form, and I don't know how to teach it except through experience."

    Consider what I pay attention to online:

    - anything that gets past GMail's spam filter (which is 99.9% stuff that I have explicitly signed up for, or which comes from friends/family)
    - stuff on sites I regularly visit (including FB and Twitter)
    - stuff that comes up in my RSS reader (all of which I have explicitly subscribed to)
    - stuff on sites that I don't regularly visit, but trust due to past experiences or offline knowledge (e.g. large company sites, government sites)
    - stuff that comes up on a Google search (which is usually at least arguably relevant to what I searched for)

    I don't care that huge amounts of what is posted online is irrelevant to me, as, not only am I not their target audience, I generally won't even learn that it exists unless it comes up in one of those above windows on the 'Net.

    But learning how to create and manage effective windows on the 'Net isn't something that is easy to pick up without a lot of coaching, and without those filters, you're going to be overwhelmed by irrelevant drek and learn to hate the thing in fairly short order.

    Your last paragraph basically echoes my own points. The younger generations are growing up with this, and managing their filters on the 'Net is as natural to them as choosing a preferred newspaper or TV news channel was for older generations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  151.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 4:55am

    could just agree with him

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  152.  
    identicon
    ano, Aug 21st, 2011 @ 10:30pm

    Need to remove password for content advisor ?

    If ever happen to want to remove the password from internet explorer without knowing it, here is a nice video tutorial

    http://vid4.us/free_video_tutorial/85/windows-7-ultimate-64-bit-how-to-disable-internet- explorers-content-advisor-without-knowing-the-password-www-vid4-us/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  153.  
    identicon
    ano, Aug 21st, 2011 @ 10:30pm

    Need to remove password for content advisor ?

    If ever happen to want to remove the password from internet explorer without knowing it, here is a nice video tutorial

    http://vid4.us/free_video_tutorial/85/windows-7-ultimate-64-bit-how-to-disable-internet- explorers-content-advisor-without-knowing-the-password-www-vid4-us/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  154.  
    identicon
    Robert, Dec 15th, 2011 @ 4:55pm

    the internet is crap

    This is all nonsense to excuse the crap of the internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  155.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2012 @ 9:36am

    Yes but you have to swim through a load of rubbish before you get there

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  156.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2012 @ 9:36am

    Yes but you have to swim through a load of rubbish before you get there

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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