The Internet -- sky or sewer?

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Pfhorrest
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The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Pfhorrest » Sat May 19, 2018 3:36 am UTC

When I was very young, before I discovered the internet, I thought people generally just sucked, because almost all of the people around me sucked. Then I discovered the internet, and felt as if I had gained access to some kind of realm beyond my parochial peer group, like I had left Earth and gone to outer space and found a vast galaxy populated by more enlightened beings than the surface-dwellers, and thankfully most of those surface-dwellers lacked the means to follow me.

In time more and more people found their way onto the internet though, and for long I lamented that the "galaxy beyond" I had found had been infested with the same vermin that had overrun the Earth. But in recent times I've come to realize that that way of looking at things was wrong all along.

It was never a vast realm in the sky that I found. It was a network of underground tunnels, merely hidden from the rest of the world. I wasn't escaping to somewhere beyond; I was just hiding underground, in what eventually became the rank and putrid sewers of the surface-dwellers after they discovered its existence.

I can still go back to the surface, but that's still as bad as it ever was, even if it's better than what the underground realm has now become. And I could dig a deeper, lonelier pit of my own, and seal it off from the outside world... but even though that's essentially what "hiding underground" on the internet was to begin with way back when, it's not the same when you realize that you're just doing that, just hiding away in a hole inside a world of shit, and not under the delusion that you've somehow escaped to something less shitty beyond it.
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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby ucim » Sat May 19, 2018 4:32 am UTC

The internet is soylent green: it's people. In the beginning, it was a self-selected small subset of people, and thus became a community (I vastly oversimplify for illustration), which its denizens carefully protected. The same thing happens in many other communities (although not all communities do this). A group of people drawn together by a love of theater, for example, has some of the same properties - they are focused on the thing that brought them together, and work to keep the environment that fosters it whole.

But a community can get too big, too diverse, too spread out, and that focus can get lost. That happened to the internet too. When the price of admission (technical savvy) got too low, and the new people who showed up weren't invested in the community they had stumbled onto, all that made it special became harder to find and preserve. But it's still there.

Because the internet was never a community, but a whole slew of many many communities, some of which still value the thing that they are (and the people that make it up). XKCD is one of them. There are others. But they are hard to find (otherwise they'd also be overrun). Even within xkcd, there are communities that especially value and protect the good things that community brings. The OTT comes to mind.

Applying the metaphor of sky or sewer is a false dichotomy and a loaded image. It is neither. You could also liken it to a bunch of treehouses in the woods where people gather, if they know where to go.

And participating is not hiding. It's selecting with whom you want to interact. Same as when you invite people to your home; you don't just open the door and say "come and get it!"

The main difference is that, like driving in a car, the net gives people the illusion of anonymity. Or at least (perhaps this is more important), the sense that people you interact with are not seeing you see them see you. That is a freeing illusion, but has the potential to bring out the worst in people.

It doesn't have to be though. There are lots of good people and good communities. The internet still makes them easier to find than if it weren't there. However, it's no guarantee that all communities will be that way.

Jose
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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Pfhorrest » Sat May 19, 2018 6:03 am UTC

The usefulness to me of the sky-or-sewer metaphor, or really any metaphor contrasting "escaping out" with "retreating in", is that it captures for me the difference in how finding the internet in my youth made me feel about the world, and how the change in it makes me feel about the world now.

I could always just put myself in a filter bubble IRL as easily as can be done on the internet today (like your house-visitors analogy), but back when, finding the internet sort of restored my faith in humanity. Until then, it felt like most of the people in the world were just awful, and the best I could do was hide away from most of them and carefully curate those with whom I shared company. The internet when I first found it felt like discovering that "the world" as I knew it was only a small part of the whole world, and most of that larger world was much better than the crappy part of it I apparently lived in.

But now I realize that all I had discovered was a carefully curated cross-section of a larger world that in general (outside that cross-section) was every bit if not more crappy than the little part of it I live in, that had just been hidden away in its own filter bubble that has since been popped. I can of course just hide away in another smaller filter bubble inside of it -- but knowing that that's what I'm doing doesn't feel at all like thinking that I had discovered that the world wasn't as terrible as I thought it was.

Also, more often than not the best I can do is hide in someone else's filter bubble, and play by their rules and put up with whoever they "invite to their house", because while I could just (to ruthlessly mix these metaphors here) host all my own parties at my own house, I'm just some nobody and nobody would want to come hang out at my place when they could be hanging out at Randy the cool guy's place (i.e. here). In principle I can't really see why the internet as a whole would have been different from that back then, but back then I never had the feeling that I was just a visitor in someone else's space, the way that I do pretty much any curated place on the internet today. I felt like a co-equal citizen of a larger world.
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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby commodorejohn » Sat May 19, 2018 6:06 pm UTC

I think both takes here are partly right. The Internet of old was a special thing, but it was less because the people involved were a cut above (dear God, some of the people that I knew back then - I didn't even know there was such a thing as a 34-year-old bratty teenager until I got online) and more because of structural/social factors affecting how people thought and behaved there.

An Internet comprised of loosely-interconnected small communities was about the best of all worlds - a wider, more varied landscape to explore than the mass of disparate BBSes that might or might not ever connect with one another, but not so tightly coupled that it became impossible to escape a bad situation. The nature of things allowed for interaction between people in different communities, but helped prevent the fallout from bad actors or other intra-community crises from spreading too far outside their boundaries and made it possible for people in a community that had gone south to re-establish themselves elsewhere without too much of that baggage following them. And, while anonymity presented its own problems, it made it difficult (and, culturally, almost taboo) to drag online drama into the arena of real life. Granted, that wasn't perfectly true (it was hard to escape the influence of the few truly supermassive sites like SomethingAwful,) but it was still a helpful way of working.

What really screwed things up was the push with "social media" to unify and connect every last gorram corner of the Internet through massive centralized hub sites - MySpace being one of the initial rumblings, until Facebook succeeded it and actually got a bunch of people other than emo teenagers and garage bands to sign on (and other major hubs - Twitter, YouTube, etc. - filled in specialized niches.) Suddenly (for certain values of "suddenly") almost everyone in almost every community was connected to the same place, and worse yet, they were required to do so with their real names. This meant that not only was there a perfect conduit for drama and bad blood to spread from one community to another (and a site culture that in effect promoted just that,) but it was all too easy for that to start interfering in people's actual daily lives to boot. (And the fact that, for a good decade afterwards, people "in" the social-media crowd were conditioned to treat anybody "out" of it as a pariah only helped further the spread of toxicity by exerting social pressure on people who otherwise might not have gotten involved to join the club.) That has given rise to cultural diseases and social failure modes that were hardly even imaginable in Ye Olden Days, and we've only just finally started to see a backlash against it in the last few years. Lord only knows if we'll ever manage to get back to a healthier model for interaction between online communities.
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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby pogrmman » Mon May 21, 2018 2:55 am UTC

Just because of my age, I’ve mostly been in the more modern internet, but I caught the tail end of the smaller sites era. I think a lot of it has to do with size — too small, and it fizzles out and dies (like some listserves I’ve been on, some small forums, and other things) — too big, and it becomes a lot more impersonal, so people feel free to be dicks. I’ve found that, generally, more focused sites can have fantastic communities — but I think a big part of that is just how inherently limiting somethings are. Not all that many people keep ants, for instance. Or grow carnivorous plants.

Sure, some more general sites can still be great (case in point: here), but generally, they tend to get overwhelmed by too many people or fizzle by losing people to other places.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Ranbot » Mon May 21, 2018 1:38 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:But now I realize that all I had discovered was a carefully curated cross-section of a larger world that in general (outside that cross-section) was every bit if not more crappy than the little part of it I live in, that had just been hidden away in its own filter bubble...

I am quote sniping this because I think it's the most important thing you've said. The internet is and always was a reflection of the people using it. People and society are complicated, thus the internet is complicated. IRL and online interactions are two sides of the same coin. The silver-lining here is that if you found something good in the internet community it came from people IRL, and therefore IRL people around you may be less "crappy" than expected, if given the chance.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon May 21, 2018 5:19 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:When I was very young, before I discovered the internet, I thought people generally just sucked, because almost all of the people around me sucked. Then I discovered the internet, and felt as if I had gained access to some kind of realm beyond my parochial peer group, like I had left Earth and gone to outer space and found a vast galaxy populated by more enlightened beings than the surface-dwellers, and thankfully most of those surface-dwellers lacked the means to follow me.

In time more and more people found their way onto the internet though, and for long I lamented that the "galaxy beyond" I had found had been infested with the same vermin that had overrun the Earth. But in recent times I've come to realize that that way of looking at things was wrong all along.


It isn't really anything about people. Or at least, not about the innate quality of people. Just about all sub-groups like to feel superior to the masses, and will portray themselves as such. Getting to select your own sub-group is nice, and coupled with the above effect, it's easy to feel as if one's preferences somehow correlate with being better. Generally, the farther from mainstream a group is, the more they push some sort of outsider/superiority narrative.

But really, being a geek, or a gamer, or whatever else doesn't make one better, and you get all sorts filtered into that pool. Pretty much every community larger than a family is going to have at least a few toxic individuals in it(and shit, if we talk about extended families, probably true there too). Geek culture has gone mainstream, and it's actually been a long time since they've been anything since the maligned group of unpopular losers '80s films depict them as. With that cultural shift, in-group effects have also faded.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Ranbot » Mon May 21, 2018 10:29 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:It isn't really anything about people. Or at least, not about the innate quality of people. Just about all sub-groups like to feel superior to the masses, and will portray themselves as such. Getting to select your own sub-group is nice, and coupled with the above effect, it's easy to feel as if one's preferences somehow correlate with being better. Generally, the farther from mainstream a group is, the more they push some sort of outsider/superiority narrative.

But really, being a geek, or a gamer, or whatever else doesn't make one better, and you get all sorts filtered into that pool. Pretty much every community larger than a family is going to have at least a few toxic individuals in it(and shit, if we talk about extended families, probably true there too). Geek culture has gone mainstream, and it's actually been a long time since they've been anything since the maligned group of unpopular losers '80s films depict them as. With that cultural shift, in-group effects have also faded.


Well put. You succinctly sum up much of what I was thinking, but couldn't put into words. And about geek culture shift, agreed, but my addition that I think gets somewhat back to your first point is that social connection, wherever it happens, has less to do with what specific subjects people are interested in, but how they interact with others in ways that are positive or negative.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby ucim » Tue May 22, 2018 1:25 am UTC

Ranbot wrote:...has less to do with what specific subjects people are interested in, but...
...rather, the fact that there is such a subject, which sets this group apart from the rest. If the subject is obscure, then this group becomes a find, a temple, a welcome place where ("who knew there were other people interested in knitting Klingon bracelets from dog hair during rocket lanuches") a connection that was once thought impossible is normal and accepted. These become protected places - special places. The people that find (or create) them value them and the people in them.

Remember, in those days, the internet was for hobbyists - lovers of whatever they were into. The big change that happened was that the internet became commercial, and was taken over by commercial interests. There's too much money involved. Now much of the internet, and almost all of the big sites on the internet, are places where eyeballs are traded for money. That is dehumanizing, and the results we see are not surprising. People aren't doing what they love, they are doing what they've been baited for, and the one with the bait wants eyeballs, not hearts.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue May 22, 2018 2:18 pm UTC

Well, I agree with Ranbot's point. I disagree with Ucim. The subject itself doesn't really matter, the social patterns take on pretty familiar shapes entirely regardless of what the niche is. The social interactions of Renaissance re-enactment enthusiasts does not appreciably differ from a bunch of hackers(at least, when hacking was niche). All isolated social circles are pretty much the same.

However, popular culture works differently. It isn't about money. It's extremely human for someone to be striving to make money off of something, regardless of if it's niche or not. Yeah, popular things are inherently bigger markets, but the change doesn't stem from finance, but rather directly from popularity. Enjoying star wars and marvel films does not put one in a niche nowadays. For some people, this change is unsettling. Some people prefer to be in a niche, and seek out new niches as current ones become popular. Hipster is the current label for this, but of course, it's not new.

Money largely follows popularity, not the other way 'round. There are some exceptions when money greatly escalates quality, but popularity and money are not the same. If you genuinely prefer the DCU over the MCU, that's likely a somewhat niche opinion, regardless of how much money was thrown at making Justice League.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby ucim » Tue May 22, 2018 2:33 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Well, I agree with Ranbot's point. I disagree with Ucim. The subject itself doesn't really matter, the social patterns take on pretty familiar shapes entirely regardless of what the niche is.
...which is what I said. It's the fact that there's a subject that creates the niche.

Tyndmyr wrote:Money largely follows popularity, not the other way 'round. There are some exceptions...
Money follows popularity and amplifies it. In doing so, it crowds out the niche (less popular by definition) areas. It's this that I'm referring to. Case in point: YouTube.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby SecondTalon » Tue May 22, 2018 6:35 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:In time more and more people found their way onto the internet though, and for long I lamented that the "galaxy beyond" I had found had been infested with the same vermin that had overrun the Earth. But in recent times I've come to realize that that way of looking at things was wrong all along.

Are you familiar with Eternal September

It sounds like you are experiencing that with a dash of X Always Sucked - the realization that your nostalgia for a thing is misplaced, that it always had problems but you were able to ignore them way back when because it was new or the problems didn’t affect you.
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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby dg61 » Tue May 22, 2018 7:22 pm UTC

What is the difference between the internet as a form of social activity and other forms of social activity?

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Ixtellor » Tue May 22, 2018 8:03 pm UTC

dg61 wrote:What is the difference between the internet as a form of social activity and other forms of social activity?


Access and Anonymity?

I can't join an all female crossfit club in my city (I'm neither fit nor female) , but on the internet I can.

Also, people can be WAY more evil on the internet and not suffer any real world consequences which is much harder to pull off in real life.

Its why you dont' see the behavior of gamers in RL games that you do in online ones.
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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby dg61 » Tue May 22, 2018 8:51 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:
dg61 wrote:What is the difference between the internet as a form of social activity and other forms of social activity?


Access and Anonymity?

I can't join an all female crossfit club in my city (I'm neither fit nor female) , but on the internet I can.

Also, people can be WAY more evil on the internet and not suffer any real world consequences which is much harder to pull off in real life.

Its why you dont' see the behavior of gamers in RL games that you do in online ones.


And yet people do suffer social consequences for internet behavior, even if not RL ones-they can be censured, warned, told off(or as tweeters apparently put it, "ratio'd), have their posts deleted, or banned from a site. And sometimes they do in fact suffer non-internet based social consequences if for example they express views that alienate their real-life social circle online.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue May 22, 2018 8:58 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Are you familiar with Eternal September

Yeah, I was referring specifically to that, just not by name. I just barely predate Eternal September, so my experience of the internet has been a long slow decline from the heyday state I found it in to how it is today.

It sounds like you are experiencing that with a dash of X Always Sucked - the realization that your nostalgia for a thing is misplaced, that it always had problems but you were able to ignore them way back when because it was new or the problems didn’t affect you.

I'm not so sure about that. I don't think the Internet always sucked. People always sucked, and I originally thought they sucked, but when I found the internet way back when, I thought that it had proven that wrong -- that "most people" "out there" in the larger world accessible through the internet didn't suck, and I was just in a little local bubble of suck. The change that's happened to the internet since then was initially perceived as suckage spreading where it hadn't been before, but I've come to realize that it was "out there" all along, just hidden from me, and what I thought was the "larger world" "out there" was in fact its own kind of tiny filtered enclave, and the larger world in fact all sucked the way I had initially thought it had. That the restored faith in humanity I briefly had was misplaced, the suckage isn't just around me, it's everywhere and there's no escaping it. There never was, but for a time I had false hope to the contrary.
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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Ranbot » Tue May 22, 2018 9:19 pm UTC

I agree with Tydmyr again. Ucim's focus on the specific subjects a society coalesces around and monetization [which may be interesting in their own right] miss the bigger social picture they are part of. Whether on- or off-line people always form social structures and apply them to define themselves as individuals, as a group, and/or "others" outside their group. We've been doing this since apes descended from trees; and the internet is just the latest medium for social structures to play out in. There are some unique aspects to how society operates on the internet, just like there were unique ways societies operated when they developed oral language, the written word, the telegraph, etc., but the base social forces are always the same. If you try to hold the internet as being something apart from the rest of society, you will miss seeing the forest for the trees.

Ixtellor wrote:
dg61 wrote:Also, people can be WAY more evil on the internet and not suffer any real world consequences which is much harder to pull off in real life.

Its why you dont' see the behavior of gamers in RL games that you do in online ones.

Also called "Internet Fuckwad Theory" coined by the Penny Arcade comic. :)

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Ranbot » Tue May 22, 2018 9:40 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:It sounds like you are experiencing that with a dash of X Always Sucked - the realization that your nostalgia for a thing is misplaced, that it always had problems but you were able to ignore them way back when because it was new or the problems didn’t affect you.

I'm not so sure about that. I don't think the Internet always sucked.

You can't go back in time to experience it again with what you know now, so no one can prove that right or wrong. From my personal experience though, nostalgic things I have been able to re-experience often don't stack up to my memories. YRMV.

Pfhorrest wrote:People always sucked, and I originally thought they sucked, but when I found the internet way back when, I thought that it had proven that wrong -- that "most people" "out there" in the larger world accessible through the internet didn't suck, and I was just in a little local bubble of suck. The change that's happened to the internet since then was initially perceived as suckage spreading where it hadn't been before, but I've come to realize that it was "out there" all along, just hidden from me, and what I thought was the "larger world" "out there" was in fact its own kind of tiny filtered enclave, and the larger world in fact all sucked the way I had initially thought it had. That the restored faith in humanity I briefly had was misplaced, the suckage isn't just around me, it's everywhere and there's no escaping it. There never was, but for a time I had false hope to the contrary.

If you're having this realization, then I think it begs the question, if people from the larger world created the internet communities you enjoyed, then does the larger world really suck as badly as you perceive it? Or the trite way to put it...is the glass as half-full or half-empty?

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby dg61 » Tue May 22, 2018 9:49 pm UTC

Alternately, the intelligence of a crowd/mob/large and questionably organized group is inversely proportional its size.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue May 22, 2018 11:43 pm UTC

From the premise that an average member of said group is even ever so slightly less likely to be right than wrong on a given question, that conclusion follows analytically.
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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Ranbot » Wed May 23, 2018 1:34 am UTC

Ixtellor wrote:
dg61 wrote:What is the difference between the internet as a form of social activity and other forms of social activity?


Access and Anonymity?

You could argue that humans have had access and anonymity since whenever they developed a written language and a means to share their words with people far away. Papyrus scrolls or stone tablets didn't have block chain or IP addresses to track the authors. For thousands of years there has been little stopping any writer from hiding their identity, and many people did hide identities for good or bad reasons, because humans are human. The internet merely makes the communication faster.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed May 23, 2018 12:39 pm UTC

People have indeed written a lot of pamphlets, books, etc for all the same reasons anonymity is used online. Sometimes it's a social good. Sometimes they're just bashing some dude.

The big advantage of the internet is mostly in the speed. Information can spread quite rapidly compared to more traditional methods.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby ucim » Wed May 23, 2018 3:20 pm UTC

...and it's not just quantitative. If speed of transmission exceeds speed of consideration, you have a qualitative difference too. The internet enables a massive multiplayer gish gallop (MMGG?) that print media can't compete with.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby dg61 » Wed May 23, 2018 6:02 pm UTC

ucim wrote:...and it's not just quantitative. If speed of transmission exceeds speed of consideration, you have a qualitative difference too. The internet enables a massive multiplayer gish gallop (MMGG?) that print media can't compete with.

Jose


But that's not speed of transmission, that's amount of content-and that combination seems to me at least limited to a limited number of websites, and then only to certain uses of those website. And of course nobody or not everyone at least tries to read everything. Which has always been the case(to an extent).

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby ucim » Wed May 23, 2018 6:34 pm UTC

dg61 wrote:But that's not speed of transmission, that's amount of content
No, it's speed. Yes, there is a lot of content, but that's true of libraries also. The difference is that content in a library moves at the speed of traffic, and content on the internet moves at the speed of light. Also, content on the internet is copied and multiplied every time it moves, and content in a library is not. A gish gallop isn't just hitting people with lots of (bogus) points, it's hitting them faster than they can respond.

That's what the internet enables that other media don't. It's a DDOS on the human brain.

You are right, it's not everywhere; it's mainly a limited number of websites. But they are big websites, and they make money on traffic. So, it's in their best interests to encourage this, and pretty soon their noise seeps everywhere.

Jose
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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby dg61 » Wed May 23, 2018 8:21 pm UTC

I feel like that's less a point about the internet per the internet than a point about really Twitter and Facebook. And possibly Google.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed May 23, 2018 8:33 pm UTC

FWIW the garbage culture I'm thinking of is not that of Facebook or Twitter with which I have almost zero familiarity, but more that which started on 4chan and spread through Reddit and (my most direct experience of it) Imgur and now seems to have echoes all across the internet from places as mainstream as YouTube comments on down to TVTropes discussion threads about obscure webcomics.
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The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

dg61
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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby dg61 » Thu May 24, 2018 1:33 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:FWIW the garbage culture I'm thinking of is not that of Facebook or Twitter with which I have almost zero familiarity, but more that which started on 4chan and spread through Reddit and (my most direct experience of it) Imgur and now seems to have echoes all across the internet from places as mainstream as YouTube comments on down to TVTropes discussion threads about obscure webcomics.


Honestly, Chan is before my time. Or rather from when I wasn't paying attention to it and my time online was devoted to the blogosphere and specialized forums.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu May 24, 2018 1:51 am UTC

4chan is after my time, and in my time it was considered a noobish ghetto for trolls and the other dregs of eternal september. i never posted there, i just knew it existed and could recognize when the sludge from there was spilling out elsewhere. now not only is it everywhere but it’s normalized (and taken control of the white house ffs) and that rotten noobhaven is somehow seen (and self-promoted as) the old school internet and anyone who isn’t onboard with their toxic culture is looked down upon as a clueless noob themselves when the opposite couldn’t be more true.

reddit meanwhile is what happens when 4chan makes their own slashdot with blackjack and hookers and then just forgets the slashdot.

and imgur is what happens when reddit devolves to primitive cave paintings memes for communication.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby ucim » Thu May 24, 2018 3:04 am UTC

So, you've discovered a lightning rod. Dregs will go there instead of elsewhere. For a good time, go elsewhere. :)

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu May 24, 2018 3:06 am UTC

That's the thing, back in the day us oldies in the know dismissed 4chan as a lightning rod, or as some called it a honeypot -- a place to attract all the pests, away from everywhere else.

But now, they're (mostly) everywhere else anyway, so it's not such an apt metaphor anymore. It's more like the few places they aren't at are inside mosquito nets, or faraday cages to go back to your lightning metaphor.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby elasto » Thu May 24, 2018 12:41 pm UTC

The evolution of the internet in many ways seems like the evolution of the universe (bear with me...)

In the beginning, niceness, like low entropy, is seemingly everywhere, and mutual attraction coalesces groups founded on common interests.

But, quite quickly, the low entropy of the initial universe devolves into high entropy trolling - first in a few areas - but then everywhere. For there's nothing that feeds the energy of a troll like a rich seam of niceness.

Now the low entropy areas are becoming few and far between, and it takes more and more effort to keep them clean and well-ordered. Most have simply given up and let the place decay away.

From dust we came. To dust we must return.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Ranbot » Thu May 24, 2018 4:13 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:FWIW the garbage culture I'm thinking of is not that of Facebook or Twitter with which I have almost zero familiarity, but more that which started on 4chan and spread through Reddit and (my most direct experience of it) Imgur and now seems to have echoes all across the internet from places as mainstream as YouTube comments on down to TVTropes discussion threads about obscure webcomics.

Have you [or anyone else reading this discussion] listened to the NPR/Gimlet podcast called "Reply All"? If not, you may enjoy it. It's a podcast about interesting subjects related to the internet, which I know sounds kind of dumb, but it's actually really good, informative, and sometimes really funny depending on the subject. Among other things, Reply All often [respectfully] discusses sub-cultures that develop online, which is why this thread reminded me of it. I don't think Reply All will answer your questions or concerns raised here, I just think you may find it interesting given your background and interests. (I think Episodes #109, #110, #99, or #83 are good ones to start on)

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby reval » Thu Jul 05, 2018 11:14 pm UTC

Finding a place where you can talk to people is heaven. And the destruction of that conversation is the work of the demons of hell. And the place where this is playing out is neither above nor beneath the Earth, but on the Earth itself.

Averages are beside the point. What "most people" are doing doesn't have to affect you. What matters is the motivation of the person you're talking to. Either they're playing in the Darwin Bowl and competing to control everyone else around them - or else they're *not* competing and they're *not* trying to control you. Then your problem is just blocking the trolls (who are) so you can carry on a conversation.

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Re: The Internet -- sky or sewer?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:41 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:reddit meanwhile is what happens when 4chan makes their own slashdot with blackjack and hookers and then just forgets the slashdot.


Reddit really varies, depending on the sub. Some are focused and useful, and may even have a healthy community. Some resemble a cage of howler monkeys.


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