Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Mimi and danah both refer to Erving Goffman's book, "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" so I've started reading it with digital identities and blogging in mind.

It should be understood that the cynic, with all of his professional disinvolvement, may obtain unprofessional pleasures from his masquerade, experiencing a kind of gleeful spiritual aggression from the fact that he can toy at will with something his audience must take seriously.
This TOTALLY reminded me of Dvorak. He always as a gleeful look when he talks about his performances.
It is not assumed, of course, that all cynical performers are interested in deluding their audiences for purposes of what is called "self-interest" or private gain. A cynical individual may delude his audience for what he considers to be their own good, or for the good of the community, etc.
Dvorak again. By the way, I love Dvorak and think he's hilarious, but it's watching the performance that I love.


Joi - can you expound on Dvorak in this context? I only know of his design decision to limit typing speed because of jamming keyboards....

Hi Zephoria!
Joi is referring to John C. Dvorak, Technology Columnist and "Provocateur par Excellence". ;)

I think Joi's talking about John Dvorak, the curmudgeonly PC Mag columnist, rather than August Dvorak, the namesake of the more-efficient keyboard. :)

Rats. I typed too slowly, and Boris beat me to it!

Ah but Liz your reply was much better, givingmore context and background. Mine suffered from being typed too quickly in a bid to be first! ;)

Yup. I was indeed talking about John Dvorak. He is a curmudgeon. I think he even had it on his business card once. (Rumor I heard. John, correct me if I'm wrong.) Anyway, he recently wrote an anti-blog thing that has sparked a bunch of debate. I think it depends on the article, but I once had a dinner conversation with him where we talked a lot about journalism. He walked me through the process of and the necessity of curmudgeoning. I remember the look of glee that he had when was explaining all this to me. He said that there were some things written about how this is done... I'll see if he'll tell me where they are. (I'm not sure he'd like me talking about this here...) But basically, the idea is that you say something pretty negative about a community. Say the Macintosh community for instance. They get all upset at you and start flaming you. Then at some point you switch sides and say something nice to balance it. Suddenly they're all your friends... I definitely oversimplified it, but something like that. He knows his audience, or should I say, "target" quite well and is very very smart. I think most of the stuff that he writes that pisses people off is written to get a rise out of them, not because he's stupid or hateful.

We also talked how disarming it is when people meet him in real life. He's a really funny nice guy in real life. His written persona is different (not completely different) than his real identity. This helps keep it sort of a game, whereas many bloggers are writing in a very personal voice so are much more easily offended I think. Basically, Dvorak, and many professional journalists can turn the trolls off after work since they're getting flamed for a facet of their personality that is not very personal.

"He walked me through the process..."

Wow, so basically you're saying he's a completely dishonest Journalist who really only writes to gain popularity/eyeballs for his work. Really, even if you are his friend, that's a pretty scathing, and scandalous, indictment. Particularly if people decide take what you said here seriously. This would indeed explain why you've been so passionate regarding your position on his position -- because, you know, for a fact, that he's a complete liar!

Although, it would be easier to believe that this was an instance of him trying to diplomatically calm you down in the midst of a simmering exchange over dinner, rather than him actually telling you 'the emperor has no clothes.' i.e. He falls on his sword during a debate-turning-into-argument in the interest of keeping you as a good friend. Why do I say this? Well, even if you are right and he 'is' a deliberate liar, I still think what he's saying about blogs is true. So I guess we either have to believe he's being honest with us, or believe that he's just a great Method Actor. Bravo Dvorak.

(would I really want to be 'friends' with someone that dishonest and manipulative towards his readers??)

Hi Joi, long time reader, first time poster.

Every writer has his 'personality' that is separate from the actual person that he is. Call it 'schtick' if you want to be dismissive, but 'a complete liar' is a too harsh. The Picasso line is 'Art is a lie that reveals the truth'. In Australia, I believe the term is 'stirrer', a person who keeps things lively. We've always needed these sorts of people in the community. Kings had court jesters who would wrap up some jibes with a 'hey, but don't take me seriously'.

This notion of "all truth, all the time' is pretty much a western value and always threatens to descend into simple minded games of 'gotcha'. Not only should we realize that we don't always tell the truth to protect feelings, we sometimes don't tell the truth to prick the conscience, or to highlight a bigger truth. (as well as the usual reasons of making ourselves look better than we are, etc etc)