Monday, February 4, 2013

On to greener forum pastures

It was almost two years ago that I bid indefinite farewell to reddit's /r/"philosophy" forum, and I'm doing so again now.  I've inductively determined that the very comments format of reddit - involving anonymous upvotes and downvotes - is inherently corrupt and anti-philosophical.  The desire for reddit admins and users to maintain quality content is going to have to be done some other way for it not to be the equivalent of mob rule; mob rule is incompatible with philosophy as such.

I suppose that were reddit not so overwhelmingly left-wing in its user base, the problem from the standpoint of political-minority users there would not be so manifest, but it is inductively manifest what happens when an ignorant mob does get its mitts on the approval and disapproval buttons whatever the popular opinion.  The very notion that ignorant mob rule does not respond well to satire should be the first tip-off of the inherent problem with such a format.  I had thought that perhaps something good might come from an earnest return-to-reddit effort to calmly and rationally defend unpopular opinions there, but evidently it is not to be.  So much the worse for reddit's credibility as far as intellectual content goes.  In principle it differs not at all from Gail Wynand's Banner.

(I'm just amazed that its admins have yet - after all this time, after all the damning evidence they cannot have failed to see - to revise the comments format appropriately.  Every which excuse that might come up for not doing so is not good enough.)

Think of it this way: if you are a reader of reddit threads - not even a commenter - the mob gets to determine for you what content is deemed worthwhile enough to reach your attention first and foremost.  How precisely does that differ in principle from the Old Establishment Media where it's the broadcast media people who decide what's to be of interest to the audience?  Their decisions there are based on ratings and therefore advertising revenue, after all - once again, the mob deciding for the individual.

And that, of course, means the lowest common denominator.  Ever wonder how the History Channel ended up stuffing "Pawn Stars" down the viewer's gullet?  The fundamental underlying problem here is, of course, the state of the culture, to which the Corporate Media Establishment is responsive based on bottom-line concerns.  So what exactly has really changed since before the internets in this regard?  Same shit, new media.  How, do you think, is it that Sully is the leading (by mob rule standards) figure in the blogosphere despite his demonstrable ignorance on key philosophical matters affecting the cultural discourse?  How else does a similar un-Jeffersonian ignoramus occupying the Oval Office get elected twice?


And, so, I am moving over to web-based formats where the the primary determinant of content-exposure is individual interest in responding to it, the way it should always be - the way it was in the days of Usenet.  An added advantage over reddit's format is the lack of a "hot" 24-hour-news-cycle that decides for the user that once a story is more than a day old, it's no longer of interest.  Threads on web formats go on for as long as the individual user is interested in participating.  That might otherwise make sense for a news outlet, but from an intellectual standpoint it encourages short-term-focused, concrete-bound methods of thinking.

So.  In this blog's headline banner I've switched from having a link to my reddit user profile, over to links to my profiles for newly-created accounts on web-based philosophy forums.  I had to shorten the links to tinylink URLs due to a Google Blogger character limit for header text.  The links are, in order, to: Online Philosophy Club, (my account here has been active for a couple years now, actually), and I Love Philosophy.  The first and third of these require a registered-user login to view the profile, but none of them requires logins to view the main forum discussions.

I do, again, thank /r/"philosophy" for steering me in a better direction. ;-)  I wish there were something I could do as an individual to help out those poor young souls on reddit being intellectually-stunted to the extent that their viewing is shaped by the hivemind's mob rule, but I've tried my best twice now over there; over here, on this blog, I can only identify and explain the problem in the hopes that the message gets out.  There may well be a perfective mode of navigating the "social media" format that has become the internet, but I am still in the process of figuring out what that might be.  Large as reddit's subscriber and viewer numbers, I've decided that I'll probably have more success in my aims on the web forums.  My only hope is that out-and-out mob rule formats such as reddit's current one will be widely discredited in the long run in favor of something rational.

Which raises the question: why did Usenet fall out of internet prominence to begin with?  Does it have to do with early users being more, ahem, intelligent on average than the latecomers?  What sort of mentality does the mob-rule version of social media appeal to, anyway?  And what are the professional educators doing about it?


I'd thought I'd take this opportunity for a reminder: two and a half months till my Ultimate Cliff deadline, 4/20/2013.  All of my demands are no-brainers, but I just might - might - whittle it down to the cannabis-legalization one given the date of the event (whatever that event is to be - it'd make for a neat dramatic narrative whatever it is, am I wrong?), and move the ultimatum for the other demands to a later date.  Seeing legalization happen by 4/20 would be awesome in its own right, wouldn't it?
The Face of Billions and Billions on 4/20?
EDIT: "Greener." ^_^