Reminders of quality

Anchor for this item  posted Sunday, June 10, 2007 at 2:25 pm MST

Something I saw reminded me that I had a customized Google Search Engine on the go, and I checked it out. *plop-plop fizz-fizz* (Gotta luv TextPad macros!) I created a blogroll with something over 100 of my fave blogs in it. Neat?

First thing I peeked brought me to an item by Cory Doctorow, over at Information Week: "How To Keep Hostile Jerks From Taking Over Your Online Community"

[enter prosaic depiction of harmonious online activity here] "Then, almost without warning, your community goes toxic. Someone in your group undergoes a radical personality shift and begins picking fights, or someone new comes to the party with an agenda. Or, worst of all: Your little clubhouse achieves some small measure of fame and is overrun by newcomers who don't know that Liza is a little bit touchy on the subject of hamster balls, or that old Fred gets into a froth anytime someone asks about retrofitting a bud vase into a vintage Beetle, or that everyone here actually kind of knows Wil Wheaton from reading his blog and he's a total mensch, so jokes about shoving Wesley out the airlock are frowned upon.
Sometimes, you rebound. More often, you tumble. Things get worse. The crowds get bigger, the fights get hotter. Pathologically angry (but often funny) people show up and challenge each other to new levels of vitriol."
But, you know, I gotta say ... as I wrote elsewhere (LJ rocks steady!) just today: codes on conduct on the part of A-list bloggers just perpetuate the self-verifying sense of sanctity and elitist purity. Ehr sum'ut like that. In short: I don't think we have a handle on this yet. (My *!stealth mode!* is all about increasing SNR ... SNR? "Signal to Noise Ratio". Making a few even stronger is *caff-caff* one way to do that ... sort of. Meh.)

The very next thing I found brought me to Doc Searls. Dang, that's fine stuff! The item of his that caught my eye was "Beyond search and rank ...

"The longer answer is that [Vendor Relations Management] has never been about just the Web, much less measuring anything with clicks and links. Instead it is a concept that seeks (among other things, but significantly) to bring to modern networked markets some real-world market virtues that are hard or impossible to see through the prism of electronic communications, or were forgotten by the "developed" world after industry won the Industrial Revolution. Since then "market" has to synonymize a mess of things (bulls, bears, invisible hands, demographics, regions, categories, pushing products, demand...) other than what it was in the first place — and should become again."

And this is where things get right symbiotic ... Doc's post introduced me to Stephen Lewis and his blog. Lewis' "Technorati Authority, Google Juice, and a Hand-Painted Piece of Peach-Shaped Soap" ...

"There are many bloggers and users of the web who are more interested in generating, spreading, and gathering worthy material and solid information than in posting and gleaning links or engaging in closed-end meta-discussions. There are also many people who still use the web as one source amongst many and who manifest their identities and engage in conversations in more traditional offline forums — print publications, meetings and conferences, and within the contexts of their individual work, peer group and personal relationships — as well as online. Some do this by choice and others by necessity. The further one moves away from North America, Western Europe, and the wealthier countries and cities of Asia, the fewer the numbers of people who do or can blog or who even have access to serviceable internet connections enabling them to interact on the web."
... wow, that's good eatin'!

The bit of Stephen's post that got me to comment was this, the bit Doc cited: "I would like to ask Doc Searls and the Vendor Relations Management group at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School whether they have ever considered a project to examine what could be called “Information Vendor Relations Management” i.e. ways of rating (or, better yet, influencing, controlling, and harnessing) the worth, reliability, and impact of information and content posted on the web using criteria other than metering of links and clicks."
Here's the comment I crafted there:

"That’s what I’ve been working since uhhh-ehr 1975. (Ok fine, call me slow … that don’t mean I’m stupid! *grin*)
I think folk get bewildered (read: dismayed and turned-off) by what amounts to post-structural modernism … everything squirms and shimmers and, well, what’s the point of anything? Seems to me that’s the stuff of conspiracy theory … or deep social-anthropology … can’t you see it? “The Dumbing and Numbing of the Body Politic” or something.
My notion is that where there’s enough sh*t there’s bound to be a pony. Or a beef-cow. Or a goat. Or, well, you get my idea.
So I’ve been turning some of the hammer&tong tech_doc techniques I picked up along to way to discourse … Habermasian discourse … discourse as though human individuals matter, as though persons’ subjective narratives count for something. (What else bases our voting decisions?)
Long / short I sum up (since 2AM yesterday) as “normative relativism”; maybe you like your lampchops pink, and maybe I like mine cooked grey … but neither of us are likely to go to war for that quibble. And, basis for concensus, neither of us will eat a lambchop whose scent triggers our gag instinct.
There are lots of ways to skin a cat … all roads lead to Rome … “Make a plan, make it work!” (That a got from a friend who’s ATC.) If a distinction is substantian and salient then there’s data to establish / verify / confirm or disprove. Or a path to get that data. And if that distinction isn’t … if it squirms and shimmers … then it’s a matter of human values and should be accorded appreciation as such.
Sooo I’m working on 2 test-cases: 1) how to you deal with a “mad dog” (i.e. “non-rational agent” e.g. Hussein), and 2) how do you decide on resource allocation e.g. virtualization."

Sooo ... a pretty rewarding few minutes!


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