Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

This is not interesting unless you're tuned into the blogsphere sit-com so I'm posting my thoughts on my Live Journal.


Joi = Wrote about this ... it's really complicated I think and has important ramifications in the study of what social software is and is not. See "The Star You Are" on my site. It was good to see you in San Diego.


This is nothing new at all.

This is the same thing that happened for years on usenet, before it was all spam. These are the things that have led to stupid stupid flamewars since the 70's.

It's junior-high stuff. I can't believe I'm even posting about this, but I guess I'm really trying to procrastinate.

It's a sit-com that no one other than the starring characters really cares about or watches.

Ho hum.

Unfortunately, some people have focused on the example I used rather than the discussion about being a community member as compared to being a writer. They tend to read the sentences where there name is located, and ignore the rest. I find that rather interesting, myself.

I guess if you want to classify this discussion as a 'sit-com', and somehow 'demean' it by discussing in Livejournal (that's my take based on your words and actions, which provide an interesting story about your opinion of these spaces), your choice.

But thank you for telling me what I wrote wasn't interesting. I find this more ably demonstrates the points of my writing, even better than the example I provided.

I took Joi's use of the word "this" to mean this whole imbroglio (the Marc Canter matter). And he's right; this is *not* interesting unless you're following the ongoing saga of Orkut and friends. I do find it interesting because it brings up a lot of questions that are important in online life - how to express judgement and stay civilised. So much harder online because we don't know the levels of peoples anger, humour, etc over any given comment. I can safely say I feel totally neutral about the MC matter - I can see both Danah's side and Marcs (although I'm more leaning on Danah's side because I'm a woman and I felt some of the same things looking at that image!).

I never know what to think about these things. Bloggers offend too easily, sometimes.

Shelley, I did not mean to imply that your discussion about community vs writer was uninteresting. It's a broader issue that I am interested in, but one where I would probably have an easier time discussing when I wasn't tangled up in like this incident.

I put it in Live Journal, because I'm going to play around there writing more personal stuff where I'm going to think less about the audience. I don't think it's demeaning. Just want to keep winey stuff off of my main blog.

The main thing I was reacting to was Dave's comment about the "right to be offensive" which seemed silly to me. Also, I thought it was sort of silly characterizing my comments on danah's blog as an "attack" or some sort of obstruction of free speech. Does that cut both ways? What about my right to say what I feel about what I read?

I think it is sit-com-like, because unless you know danah and Marc, it's really difficult to understand the context and how it's just part of an on-going thing...

Anyway, if it sounded like I was belittling or deaming the bigger question you ask about community vs writing, I'm sorry.

Well, of *course* there's a "right to be offensive." Popular speech never needs defending.

The problem appears to be a claimed "right to be offensive without offending anyone."

I've held and espoused my share of offensive views. I never expected that they wouldn't offend anyone.

Free speech ethos protect *debate* about opinions, but are neutral as the to the relative value of this opinion or that.

When someone espouses an opinion and meets with opposition, that's free speech in action.

To say that the "right to be offensive" is abridged by those who take offense is to miss the point in a pretty fundamental way.

Interesting comments. Deja vu, all over again. And in this order, too...

Mel, I agree with you in your assessment of 'this', but I have no idea why Orkut would be involved.

Joi, whatever personal squabbles are involved with this are incidental to what I wrote. However, when I see what I carefully wrote lumped together with offhand remarks, and then you address only the offhand remarks, I can only interpret this to mean that what I wrote, or my opinion, does not weight as much in this discussion. I'm sure you didn't mean to belittle what I wrote, and the larger issue -- but as it stands now, at least within your circle of aquaintenances, I don't see any hope of salvaging the larger discussion.

Cory, the issue is not people being offended -- good lord, this is weblogging. Have you read LGF?

The issue is when people adjust what they write in order not to offend community; or more strategically, to not risk offending the more influential members of the community. People with more influence because of higher link ratings. Such as Joi. Such as you.

Taking this to another context, we say that weblogs are the new 'honest' medium, without the external influences that Big Media experiences. I say that incidents of this nature demonstrate that weblogging has its own external influences that interfere with a writer's honesty.

Joi, you say you want to address this separately. But you can't, because I used the Marc/Danah/comments thing as an example, and that makes it difficult to separate the two. You can't draw attention to that which you found interesting, without also drawing attention to that which you found personally distasteful. There is a community element interfering with a broader issue, and this impacts on what you write.

That is the core of my essay.

And as I said, I'm sure you didn't mean to belittle, Joi. I can understand with the nature of some of the comments addressed about you why you would want to push back.

While not necessarily satisfying, this has been a very enlightening conversation.

So, the right to offend is only abridged when offense is taken and noted by some people, and not others? And it is reserved to the "uninfluential?"

The last time I checked, the Internet and its many blogs were chock-a-block with things that offended me. I've been pretty vocal about some of those things. Sure hasn't seemed to make a dent in the prevalence of those sentiments.

More to the point, though: Is the argument here that before venturing an opinion or criticizing someone, I should first consult Technorati and make sure that my subject and I share similar linked-to-ness? By this metric, it seems that Marc (who is a prominent figure in the history and present day of the net) should take a back seat to danah (who is a graduate student) -- after all, his influence surely trumps hers.

It seems to me that measuring one's "influence" is a silly way of evaluating one's argument.

(I don't know what LGF stands for, so I'm not sure if I've read it)

Orkut and friends -- shorthand for the ongoing canter/boyd dialogues (that pre-tech invitation photo scandal backstory..).

Shelley: re; Orkut and friends ... it was shorthand for the ongoing canter/boyd dialogues (that pre-E-tech invitation photo scandal backstory..).

Put another way: I suspect that the relative truth of, "It would be easier to express myself if the people who disagree with me would keep their mouths shut," is completely unrelated to the number of people who've linked to your blog -- and is a poor principle for fostering free expression.

Joi, the mention in this entry might seem a bit of a barb, but please don't take it so. If it wasn't for you and the blogging pioneers, none of us would be doing this. Just don't forget the rest of us, OK?

Tie-Dyed: No worries. I'm not really upset or anything. Just trying to understand the logic at this point. Cory's already said it, but I guess my question is how people expect us to behave? Hanging out with friends, reacting to comments about me and commenting about how I feel about things that other people have posted seem like pretty normal things to do. I don't see why I shouldn't be allowed to do this.

Anyway, this is kind of a rathole. I would also rather spend my time marching against cancer than arguing over the right to be offensive.

I think the cancer thing is a gigantic red herring, FWIW. Wil -- whom I count as a friend -- is doing fantastic work and good on him, but he's hardly a monk who has devoted his days and nights to doing good deeds. He, like all of us, spends a fair bit of time having fun, socializing, and scratching his butt. None of that detracts from the goodness of his good deeds, but it's completely moot in respect of this discussion, which is populated by people of equal goodwill, selflessness and devotion who happen to be doing something other than good works just at this very second.

Now, as to whether there are more productive discussions we could be turning our focus on, it's probably true. So what? We'll have those discussions some day, too. The fool who told you that your work at Davos was immoral due to the planetary cost of aviation was making the same kind of puritanical dismissal: "Having found one way in which what you're doing is imperfect, or having found one way in which what you're doing could be replaced by something better, I damn you and dismiss what you do." It's the ne plus ultra of double standards: for Christ's sake, how much breast-cancer is cured by writing about someone who's working to cure breast cancer?

Joi, my friend Teresa Nielsen Hayden once told me, "You are not responsible for what you do in the dreams of others." If someone whom you didn't know was disappointed that you failed to trade some moments of sleep, work, or life-affirming connections with your too-often-absent friends for interaction with him, that's his problem and not yours.

The cries of elitism are simply bogus and hardly deserve dignification with a response. Every single person in the world -- no matter how many or few links point at her blog -- has more potential demands on her time than she can possibly do justice to. I'd love to spend more time speaking with my grandmothers on the phone, and volunteering at my community drop-in center, and corresponding with old friends, and renewing my first aid certification, and giving blood, but I haven't done any of those things nearly recently enough. Instead, I've done other things that are just as important, based on a calculus that I will only account for to myself and my conscience.

Saying, "getting enough sleep tonight is more important to me than having a conversation with you," is not elitism. Saying "meeting my work obligations and not letting down the people who depend on me is more important to me than having a conversation with you," is not elitism. Saying, "being a good friend to my friend right now is more important to me than having a conversation with you," is not elitism.

They're not dismissals, either. Taking care of your health, obligations and friendships are sacred duties. Coming in second to those things indicates no deficit or defect. Holding anyone to a standard that does not afford him the freedom to prioritize these over yourself is unforgivably immature and selfish.

My apologies. The comment and the trackback were simply posted as a courtesy since I mentioned the Marc Canter thing in my blog. I meant no offense. Perhaps I was clumsy in my attempt to come to grips with what I perceive as differences in the blogging community and the community at large. I certainly didn't mean to impugne anyone's honor, or invalidate anyone's feelings or choices; nor do I wish to loft someone onto a pedestal over anyone else. I don't know any of you personally, and if you knew me you would know that I'm not the judgmental sort. Please forgive me if I came off that way. I certainly don't want to alienate anybody. I'm really not trying to poke the bear or inflame an argument or put anybody on the defensive. I'll be quiet now and back slowly out of the room, trying not to look any of you directly in the eyes. Sorry to have bothered you.

Thanks Cory.

And you Tie-Dyed! Stop apologizing! ;-)

Cory, I can't believe that you and Joi are that obtuse. Is is that you're trying to undermine the discussion by undercutting the nature of it? Or that you can only see those aspects of your participation?

The question is not how you behave, it is how others behave around you or because of you.

As for the claim there is no elitism in weblogging, seriously, you jest.

Oddly enough, I think I understood tie-dyed quite well.

Hey, guys, you wanna fight, take it over to LiveJournal.

Shelley, calling the people you're having a disucssion with "obtuse" isn't any more productive than wishing that the people who disagree with you would just shut up.

Ironically, though: if you call the people you disagree with "obtuse" instead of substantially addressing their arguments, they will often decide that that what looked like a discussion is actually a name-calling event and wander away, which has the same effect of shutting up.

Enjoy the "victory."

Is there a yet?

I think bloggers could devise their own social contracts that they could put up on their blogs. I can't really think of anything else other than that we freely post our thoughts and have discussions - however convoluted. I'm personally learning a lot about the different assumptions people bring to their online expression. My own and others. Happy Valentines! ;-)

Cory, that's the first time I felt you actually listened to what I had to say. An effective lesson in getting your attention.

You're right, this conversation does no good -- I don't think there's the smallest possibility of shared communication here. It's become nothing more than an exercise in frustration. (With an occasional quip from someone who can't read beyond the tone to the words and throws in useless barbs, probably to try and impress you or Joi.)

In particular, all I'm doing is frustrating Joi, who sincerely wishes to find a common meeting point. But one doesn't exist.

To you and Joi, community and writing are intertwined, at least within weblogging; but I am even more convinced that you can either be a writer, or be a member of a community -- but it's impossible to be both.

Mel, you've been gracious all throughout this thread, which must have been difficult at times. Thank you.

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Strength of Wil from Tie-Dyed Brain Rays
February 14, 2004 3:32 PM

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