Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.
Another insulting right-wing asshole, I guess

Richard Bennett posts inaccurately and insultingly about me

Mr. Bennett has a very dismissive and insulting way of engaging and is a good example of "noise" when we talk about the "signal to noise ratio". Adam has recently taken over the fight for me on my blog. My Bennett filter is now officially on so I won't link to his site or engage directly with the fellow any more. At moments he seems to have a point, but it's very tiring engaging with him and I would recommend others from wasting as much time as I have. A few of my favorite Bennettisms just so you get the general idea:
Richard Bennett
"Given that many of the advocates of "emergent" systems are also supporters of Saddam Hussein's government, I suppose this claim shouldn't be surprising."

"Geeks probably do think they understand these things despite the fact that they've never really studied them and couldn't give a coherent account of how any of these things work at a significant level of detail."

"The Well is a pay-to-play gated electronic community for Marin County-esque hot-tubbing, partner-swapping left-wing Democrats who thrive on self-deception."

In defense of House Majority Whip Tom Delay's comment: "John, we're no longer a superpower. We're a super-duperpower." he says:
Frankly, I don't see what the fuss is about. America does have a unique status in the world today, and DeLay's term captures it a lot more elegantly than "sole remaining super-power".
About an article in the Mercury News:
Editorial nonsense from Silicon Valley's paper of record is routine and unremarkable, but this seems to set a new standard of stupidity and arrogance.
IP ban warning has been served.


Now wait for his ritual complaint that "it's ironic" that those interested in democracy would ban him. What he doesn't understand is that he'd be invited to the table if he could proffer arguments rather than childish smears-by-association.

You should see what he says about the minimal compact paper. (I'm glad the sad-ass bastid has found something amusing to lighten the burdens of his middle age.)

To try to extract some value from this discussion, the IP Ban issue is an interesting issue that I've been thinking about. I'm obviously not banning him from his own site, just threatening to ban him from writing on my site. It's kind of like not inviting someone to a party in your own living room. So the question is whether the comments section of my blog is a public space or my living room. I've had this discussion many years ago when I considered banning people from a mailing list that I ran. I decided not to ban because the mailing list felt a lot like a public space, even though I was running it on my machine.

The interesting thing is that as the comments section of my blog becomes more lively, it looks more and more like a public space. In that sense, I'm glad I called this weblog "Joi Ito's Web" instead of "platform for emergent democracy" or something. ;-)

Sorry I didn't know about this debate sooner. I've weighed in on my blog here.

Joi, I don't think you should ban him.

Although his comments with regard to the war are flippant and derogatory, most of his other comments are in fact to the point, even if he doesn't 'get' the gedankenexperiment nature of this paper...

But I think that this is the sort of criticism that will make you really consider what you're writing, and whether it's really worthwhile. Some people work on artificial languages like Esperanto for a long time before deciding that the effort wasn't worthwhile, or was misplaced.

Such criticism, while it may be unwelcome, is certainly something that you should think about. It pushes you to justify your ideas on this project at a basic level more coherently and succinctly than before.

The most serious opponents of an idea are usually offensive at least some of the time. If Bennett is willing to spend his time rebutting something he feels is useless, it should be much easier for proponents of the idea to spend their time honing their arguments and soundly trouncing those rebuttals.

Of course, the worst comments should be deleted, and their poster banned, but I don't think Bennett is really at this level. He's more like a talk-show guest who has a lot of sound points, and a lot of bluster to go with them...

Joi, it is entirely your perogative if you invite someone in your living room. Your blog is your space, not public space (IMHO). If someone comes into your living room and dances naked on the coffee table or pollutes the punch bowl, you have a right to ask them to leave.

That being said, I find it admirable that your respect for democratic dialogue is so healthy as to cause you to debate whether or not to implement an IP Ban.

Since part of the original discussion of Joi's paper was about tools, here's a thought that's been rattling around in my head for quite a while:

For the blogosphere to evolve, we're going to need to develop some more sophisticated method of carrying on discussion, allowing people to have input on other people's sites and finding ways to interlink related material. Comments are a good start, but they don't really support productive public (or quasi-publis) discourse. Obviously it's your choice who you allow into your "living room discussion area," but it helps to have tools to keep people on good behavior.

I don't think that blogs need to become more like communityware (e.g. slash, scoop, etc) but rather, there needs to be some way for people to carry on discussions and debates across multiple sites. Currently, cross-blog discussion is dificult to undertake and to follow. The question of "identity" would be ideally be solved by everyone participating having their own "home" site. This is similar to how diaries work on scoop, but people working within the framework of a lager communityware system don't have the freedom of expression that blogs provide, and the signal to noise ratio can be rather unfavorable.

The "Trackback" function shows promise, but is currently not widely used or easily supported. It needs more development. Also, I think what google has done with blogspot sites (creating targeted text ads based on blog content) could be adapted for interesting results. Also, a meta-system to manage reputation might also be of use in tuning discussions towards productive results.

Of course, it's always good to heed old wisdom: don't feed the trolls. That can mean ignoring people entirely, or simply ignoring parts of their statements which are off-topic or inflammatory. Above all, do not be discouraged. Some people wish to communicate. Some wish to simply argue. As the French say, c'est la vie.

I also weighed in on the
original discussion
, perhaps too late.

Josh -- I agree wholeheartedly. These are the sorts of things I was thinking about when I posted this idea.

Thanks for all of your feedback.

Trevor, I guess that if the only feedback I was getting was from Richard, I would agree with you, but there are a lot more thoughtful people giving a lot of critical feedback that has questioned many of the things Richard has touched on, but with in a constructive way and with suggested readings. (I have SO MUCH TO READ now. ;-) ) So, he hasn't added to my understanding of the weakness of the paper.

Also, I didn't IP ban him and at this point I won't. It was a thought, and in reflection, probably a bad one. As I said in a previous post, I will only delete comments from anonymous posters slandering people other than myself. I'll stick to those principles.

Josh, I like your thoughts. How can we change the tools to increase signal to noise. Noise will increase and will give us an opportunity to test tools.

This is a test. Frank Boosman claims Emperor Ito hasn't banned me, and is only thinking about it. This is a test.

Congratulations Mr. Bennett. Your test was successful.

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Poor little Joi Ito admits that his ideas about the so-called "emergent democracy" are incoherent and indefensible, and concedes defeat. Read More

I Tried from pseudorandom
March 19, 2003 10:49 AM

This is an exchange between Richard Bennett and me in the comments for an entry on Jeff Jarvis' site: Richard, it's hard for me to comprehend that, after all that has been written, you either don't understand or refuse to... Read More

Joi Ito recently posted a paper on emergent democracy, as well as writing an op-ed on the subject for the South China Morning Post. ("Emergent democracy" refers to the concept that decentralized, collaborative Internet-based structures, blogs being an ... Read More

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