Weblogging Writing

Listening to you

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I’m not sure what happened. I was writing about a personal revelation I had and then somehow the writing became filtered and morphed until some people see echo chambers and other people – too many other people – see it as an attack against an established (pick one: elitist/egalitarian) person/group.

At first I thought the original problem was the example I used, but no, from many of the comments left with my writing, I could see that people were understanding what I said. But then somewhere along the way, the tone changed and each person came along and picked out the pertinent bits and tossed the rest away.

(Tell me, if you’re served a stew at a friends house, would you dig out the beef and toss the potatoes on the floor?)

I thought, well maybe it’s my writing. Maybe my writing really isn’t that great, or I am not making my points effectively. Where before I was talking about a personal revelation– that whole writer/community member thing– perhaps people were reading attack. I made an error in my writing by somehow putting to much focus on the incident rather than my own personal ruminations.

But then there was this little tidbit, left by Dave Rogers:

Now, an interesting question would be to wonder if Don Park would have offered his comment, which he subsequently withdrew because he felt it would distract from another message he wished to convey, if he hadn’t perceived that Marc had pulled the invitation? And, if he had not, would Shelley have offered this essay?

As to the first question, my guess is probably not. As to the second, my guess is Shelley probably would have addressed the issues in this essay at a later time in response to a different event, similar in kind to this one.

Bang on, Dave. The incident was nothing more than an impetus to write something on my mind. What I didn’t realize at the time, though, was the absolute and complete damaging effect mentioning certain names would have on the preception of what I wrote.

This has left me frustrated, not because I care that much whether people or agree with me or not; but because I’m left feeling that people didn’t even bother to read what I had to say. They saw “Danah”, “Joi”, “Cory”, and “Marc” and that was the end of the story for them.

Now this morning, somehow what I wrote about has become mutated even further to not only an attack on Joi Ito and his group, but conferences as well. This has not pleased me. No siree, not pleased me at all.

It was in a bitchy frame of mind that I wondered over to Dave Rogers weblog this morning to read what Dave had to say. I found:

I’ve been sort of participating in a discussion over at Shelley’s Burningbird Weblog and Grill about community, one of my favorite topics. I say “sort of” participating, because mostly the things I write just seem to vanish into the ether. I did get a nice comment from Stavros the Wonder Chicken, and Shelley even quoted large sections of my comments. But nobody ever bothers to stop and tell me I’m full of shit, which would at least suggest somebody read what I wrote.

Anyway, it doesn’t really matter.

But it does matter, Dave. Especially when you gave me a pretty good idea of why I got hit by a 2 x 4 last night:

Anyway, I’m starting to get all pedantic again. Most of the discussions about “echo chambers” and “group-think” and “community” are carried on within a very narrow set of beliefs which have been cherry-picked to make us feel as good about ourselves as possible, even if they don’t adequately describe the phenomenon they’re trying to address. As long as we can feel “good,” whether that’s advocating for “emergent democracy” or “smart mobs;” or railing against sexism, elitism, or whatever other “-ism” that has provoked a response, then we’re not going to be inclined to look much further into our own behavior, our own beliefs, our own reasoning. It is superfluous to the goal of maintaining an interior state of homeostasis – usually a feeling which can be described as “good” if only by noting its absence as in “I don’t feel comfortable with…” Or, “I’m offended by…” Which is ultimately why we do the things we do: Because it feels “good.” For the most part it works. But at the edges, it doesn’t, and more and more we’re finding ourselves living at the edge. And woe be unto he or she who challenges what makes us feel “good.” They will be made to feel “bad!”

Jeneane wrote a post this morning on this whole thing, but one sentence stood out because it was all in caps:


Fuckin’ A, I do. Especially since that was the phrase echoing through my own mind as I tried to work through my frustrations today without a) deleting every last page of this weblog; or b) declaring war on Joi Ito, purely as a desperate declaration of independence; not because I have anything against Joi, but because I’ve been slapped with a brush and painted as such.

Excuse me, but you always write ‘red’.

I do not always write, ‘red’.

Yes you do. You’re dripping with ‘red’.

But that’s not me, that’s how I’m painted. I was painted ‘red’.

You’re just making excuses.

No! No! I’m actually more ‘blue’ than ‘red’.


No! Really!

Then why are you dripping ‘red’?

I forgot to duck.

This whole thing reminded me so much of that song from the rock opera, Tommy. Remember the one? Sure you do:

See me.
Feel me.
Touch me.
Heal me.

Listening to you,
I get the music.
Gazing at you,
I get the heat.
Following you,
I climb the mountains.
I get excitement at your feet.

Right behind you,
I see the millions.
On you,
I see the glory.

From you,
I get opinions.
From you,
I get the story.

(Lovely version of Listening to you from Michael Cerveris web site)

Looking at these words one way, you see a lone figure demanding to be seen, to be heard.. But, looked at another way, you see a crowd, about to run over and crush the object of their affection. I love the conflict behind this song.

Listening to you, I hear the music.
Gazing at you, I get the heat.

Following you, I climb the mountains.
I get excitement at your feet.

Right behind you,
I see the millions.

          On you,
I see the glory.

From you,
I get opinions.

From you,
I get the story.

The mistake I made was not in my writing, or using certain peoples’ names or a specific incident as an example; it was to give into the sucking vortex that happened afterwards. People will read what they want to read and if they want to read ugliness into the words, that’s their head, that’s their problem. But once I snapped at the bait, then it became my problem.

It started with being a writer or being a community member, and it returns to wence it came. Or as BlogJazz wrote:

I get to do that here. Without benefit or restriction of audience. There are power-elites in every plane I move. I can’t be touched. I don’t register on their radar. While their gravity influences me, I am fully-powered and able to make my own path. I can’t be cast off since I wandered away long ago.

I’m not joining any battle, or any war, or even paying attention to any more of the bullshit. The reason for this post is to point out the words that Dave wrote and that Jeneane wrote and that BlogJazz wrote, and suggest that you go read them.

See them.

Hear them.

(…and did someone volunteer to have me re-design their weblog?)


And geez, I almost forgot the Wonder chicken. You know if you don’t go see and hear him, he molts all over the server. It’s a mess.

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