Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dio's public service announcement number 2: Bloggers, please restrict your writing to stuff you actually know about or understand

Do you have a blog?

You do?


Please look at the picture below.

Here's what we want you to try to do:

Imagine that you are the typist in the above image. Think about the pictured typist. Imagine that this typist is a you. Now, think about what this typist knows....think about what this typist understands...what kinds of experiences the typist has to draw on...

Yes, this particular typist probably understands things like what can be eaten in a rain forest, what do live ants taste like, how far can poo be flung (taking into consideration pertinent factors such as fiber in the diet and wind direction and velocity), and how one can tell if a female of the species is in estrus (and what to do about it if she is).

You may also reasonably conclude as a corollary that this typist probably does not know much about things such as the neo-industrial economy, has read relatively little Russian literature in the original language, and does not have any extensive or particularly sophisticated understanding of the complex nature of the customer base in SL and the diverse ways that this customer base adapts to and utilizes the platform in continually evolving ways.

OK, so let us ask you a theoretical question, now that you have imagined yourself in the mind of the typist in the illustration, and pondered what this individual probably knows or does not know.

Here's your question...ready?

Does it make sense for this particular typist to try to write blog posts about subjects such as the neo-industrial economy, Russian literature in the original language, or the complex nature of the customer base in SL and the diverse ways that the customer base adapts to and utilizes the platform in continually evolving ways?

If you answered a definitive "no" to that question, then you are doing just jim-fucking-dandy and can go about your bloggy business.

On the other hand, if you answered "yes," or perhaps you aren't quite sure, we have a second question for you. But first allow us to add another set of considerations into our speculative parameters: let's say that this particular typist had left the rain forest that it started out in, went to another rain forest that was eventually cut down to be made into wobbly Swedish pre-fab furniture, and then returned to its original habitat without doing much to really grasp how that habitat had evolved, except talking mostly to forest rangers who had been fired rather than the majority of the animals who actually made the rain forest their home.

Righto then, have you thought that all through?


Keeping all that in mind, please now answer the final question:

Should this typist be blogging about anything other than how to find green bananas, his mom's live ant recipes, and/or specifics on the lag time between the point where females initially display signs of estrus and the point at which they actually are ready to mate?

Have you answered the question?


Are you dying to know the significance of how you answered the question?

Well, bucko, we're going to tell you whether you want to know or not.

If you answered "no," then you're doing pretty good. You pass. Please continue contributing stuff on the internet.

If you answered "yes," however, then you are a slackjawed wally with week-old rice pudding for brains. You have failed and should not be allowed to reproduce, drive a car, vote, or blog. If you have a blog, it has now passed into irrelevance or pointlessness, and you should go ahead and pull the plug and get a real job. Or you could keep doing it until it has actually gotten so far off the mark that it qualifies as quaint, or some people may even think that you are being ironic.

Oh, wait...that's OUR job.

Have a nice fucking day.


  1. *snerks*

    I proudly stand behind my incoherence. On t'other hand, I think I *am* focusing on the things I know about, and know well--music, fashion, technological oddity, and SL drama.

    I leave the heavy lifting to Axi Kurmin and Dusan Writer, among others. I'm the fluff piece. I'm a muckraker, after all. :)

  2. /me chuckles, and goes back to looking for all the oldest trees in the forest.

  3. Mr chuckles, grabs another butterfly and holds it up for all to see

  4. Emilly, the fact of the matter is that you DO write about what you know, and interpret it through the lens of your very unique experiences. I would consider it a great loss to us all if you did not keep doing what you are doing. It is is not fluff. I think that you approach your writing in much the same way that I do--focusing on things I am actually familiar with--things like rp and immersion communities, historical sims and content, and certain aspects of education and learning in-world--which I have worked intensively with for something like six years.

    I would never pretend that I understand and am capable of intelligently commenting on fashion and diverse social structures the way that you do (in a manner that can only be attributed to your extensive immersion in those aspects of life in-world). You may also notice that being the recovering cyber-luddite I am, I also tend to avoid discussion of the technical issues and possibilities of SL and other platforms, unless it's something so simple and obvious that even I can comprehend how it affects our utilization of the platform (ie, Viewer 2 blows huge purple-veined donkey schlongers). I am happy to leave the advanced discussion of the technical realm to someone like Ordinal who can do so with a concise brilliance and economy of language that I could never hope to equal, even if I did have any fucking idea what is going on with all that shit that she likes to talk about.

    I also generally try to avoid the political stuff that Prok covers with his unique level of passion. Just to be clear, Prok is one of the people whose blogs I regularly read, but in all honesty, I usually only grasp about 40% to 60% of what is being discussed, primarily because I have never gotten heavily involved in governance processes and issues like the Jira, nor the forums, or any of the interaction with the Lindens. I know that Prok would probably tell me that I SHOULD be involved in those things if I really cared about the future of the platform and its diverse communities, but dammit, I lack the mental energy and time to apply myself in those aspects of the life of the grid, and I find it more productive for me to focus on matters within the context of the sub-communities I inhabit--places where Lindens are never seen and seldom heard from.

    I also try to stay away from most of the big picture philosophical discussions. Yes, Emilly you are right, people like Dusan are far better suited than the likes of us to put SL in a much larger social and intellectual context. Again, I often get only about 60% of what he is saying, but holy dog crap on dry white toast, that's because the man is just so utterly fucking brilliant.

    So the bottom line is, I think the platform has so grown in complexity and depth and continues to evolve so rapidly that it takes a wide variety of bloggers, writing about the areas they actually understand and experience, to give us an accurate picture of what is going on and where it could or should be going.

    Anyone who thinks they can be THE overall guide to the sum of what's happening and shit in SL is either delusional or desperate, or both. So, no Emilly, what you do is most definitely NOT fluff. The hacks paddling around in the shallow end of the pool like Hamlet--THEY are the fluff.

  5. Hey Lalo,

    Thanks for stopping by. I am really looking forward to that in-depth muckraking investigative piece about the oldest trees...and just what they had to do to outlast the competition *dunh, dunh dunnnnh!!!*

  6. Fogwoman Gray painfully pulls herself from the floor where she has been lying laughing hysterically.
    Well said :)

  7. I demand to know where you got my picture with me at the typewriter!

    It's always a mixed bag when bloggers - hell, anyone with a column - go out of their areas of expertise. Sometimes you get an interesting perspective; if the columnist knows a lot about subject X and applies that to subject Y, the result might be something that hadn't occurred to many readers. Most of the time, though, I agree with you, the result is just mushy-headed thinking.

    The sad part here is that we all know who you're talking about, and what he was discussing was *not* outside what I'd consider his core competency. He blogs about SL and The Lab that May Not be Named, he knows people at TLtMNbN, he gets a lot of reader comments (not necessarily representative of SL at large, but still...), so you'd think he would have some reasonable basis for his opining about the future of SL and the current problems with the platform. Instead, we got... well, you know what we got. A big ol' pile o' crap.

    (I'm late to this commenting party - Miss Riven has the butterfly net out.)

  8. A wonderful expose... if only I could figure out who you were talking about... ;)

  9. *shrug* I'm proud of my ignorance and generous in sharing it.


  10. Hey Riven,

    Good to see you, as always, Hon. Yeah, hang on to that butterfly....hold it up for public scrutiny...because those insidious little buggers, with their flighty, fluttery ways, using up our precious primmy resources with contributing anything except lag (and, and joy) They are the REAL cause that SL will fail!

  11. Hey HB,

    yeah, real subtle, I know...especially when I mentioned him by name in one of my comment responses. But hey, when you go into vaudeville, some nights they love ya, and some nights they're gonna throw tomatoes.

  12. Hey Crap.

    Oh roadapples. You're not ignorant, you just have a unique niche that you choose to meander around in. Nothin' wrong with that. Bottom line that makes it work is that you don't pretend to know any more than what you do, and you go ahead and have fun with that.

    Like grandma always said, "take what you do seriously, but yourself? meh, not so much...".

  13. Hi Rhia,

    Yeah you're right, I misread who had commented about butterflies and I have fixed that with the proper salutation on my reply.

    That said, I appreciate your long and thoughtful response, and you make a really good point:

    "It's always a mixed bag when bloggers - hell, anyone with a column - go out of their areas of expertise. Sometimes you get an interesting perspective; if the columnist knows a lot about subject X and applies that to subject Y, the result might be something that hadn't occurred to many readers."

    I think that is a very important idea: that someone commenting from a different perspective can provide useful new ways of seeing things. It can also fall into the category that "every now and then, even a blind squirrel finds a nut."

    But it can also just as easily end up being arrogant and insidious cocktwaddle (see "Glenn Beck").

    As for the individual we are actually discussing here, that is the one point on which I am gonna have to respectfully disagree with you on.

    I don't think SL was a core competency in this case--it was simply something which he focused on (for pay), and having the imprimatur of the Lab on his work gave it a veneer of percevied expertise. But the platform has really evovled in astonsihing ways since the days when he may (or may not) have been actively exploring and interacting directly with the user base.

    He talked a lot with labsters, but hell, most of THEM had no real understanding of the actual user base or how our uses of the platoform were evolving, or if they did, they were embarrassed by it. The results of "your world, your imagination" baffled and perhaps even frightened them.

    As for the "expert," you would have to be completely and woefully ignorant to make the kind of pronouncement that he did. Look at how learning, arts, content creation, and the development of shared narrative has evolved on the platform; look at things like the wildly popular new money-making social activities centered on breedables that have has sprung up from grass-roots sources; look at how different people select--or make--different tool sets to carry out the things that they want to do with the platform...not what the Lab thinks they should be doing with the platform.

    It's not the user base that is afraid to change, it's the labsters and the pundits like the Hamster who are refusing to admit that that the user baser are bright, creative people with the will and the motivation to use the platform to accomplish things that the lab staff and the so called experts never conceived of.

    You know, it's nice that the Lindens and the "experts" had plans or thought they knew what direction this all would take. But part of the deal with an experiment (and SL first and foremost has been and remains an experiment) is that you have to accept the fact that things most likely won't turn out the way you expect--then you have to try to understand what's going on and adapt to it. As my green machine friends say, "no plan survives intact following initial contact with the enemy."

    Frankly the blogger in question does not seem to have made a real effort to keep up with what was really going on in the wilds of SL. He wasn't doing his homework.

    Just calling yourself an expert doesn't make you one.

  14. Money and deadlines change everything bloggish, Dio.

    You and I write for neither of those, so, in my case, when I'm being a dumbass, it's easy for me to eat the crow I get served.

    When one makes a living or part of it as a "pundit," being misinformed or just plain old wrong is a career liability.

  15. Hey Iggy,

    I'm not entirely sure that money and deadlines are the determining factors, as there are plenty of casual blogistas who are as far off the mark as the paid hacks.

    As my friends in the military history biz used to say "Any idiot can get a book published...and most of them do."

    The same concept can be applied to blogging. Is being wrong a liability? I haven't seen any evidence to that effect.