Thursday, March 26, 2009

Comment Elsewhere: the life of a blog commenter

Over at Crooked Timber, where I rarely comment, a query on commenter behavior provoked this from me
Once a certain quantity of comments is reached, hardly anyone new to the conversation will read all the comments before commenting. If the purpose of commenting is to have one’s comment read, then it doesn’t make sense to contribute to already-long discussions.

I tend to avoid commenting on heavily-commented posts, because those usually feature well-worn positions without much chance of substantive contributions making much difference, and are usually dominated by a fairly small clique of frequent commenters (this isn’t directed at CT specifically, but it does happen here; I’m a member of the ingroup at some blogs myself, so I see it happening from both sides) who are focused on their ingroup interactions and don’t pay that much attention to comments from outsiders (unless they are flamingly provocative).

This is one of those posts that invites everyone to share their experience without really adding up to a conversation. There's sort of a discussion going on but, as I expected, nobody's addressed my point at all. Eventually, if it goes the way CT discussions often do, someone will make more or less the same point, but ignore the fact that I've made it already.

Update: The comments morphed into a discussion of "comment bait" -- what topics inspire the most comments. My contribution to that was
Declare the “END OF” something. Books, teaching, good television, bad doctors, an era, and epoch, a school of thought, a social pattern, a word, a meme, etc.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Quotation: "We are what we imagine."

"Myth has been called "the smoke of history," and there is a desperate need for a history of the Hindus that distinguishes between the fire, the documented evidence, and the smoke; for mythic narratives become fires when they drive historical events rather than respond to them. Ideas are facts too; the belief, whether true or false, that the British were greasing cartridges with animal fat, sparked a revolution in India in 1857. We are what we imagine, as much as what we do." -- Wendy Doniger [via]

Monday, March 16, 2009

Yeah, I'm liberal.

You can take a 40 question quiz in which you rate policy issues on a ten-point scale to gauge your depth of feeling. archy put his score in comments. I'll do it in white, so you can highlight the post if you want to see just how liberal I am....

295 out of 400

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Comment Elsewhere: Patriotism, Dissent and the benefit of the doubt

In response to a justified but slightly excessive rant at Progressive Historians I wrote:
There has always been something of a divide between liberalism and conservativism on the issues of rights and responsibilities. Liberals emphasize rights over responsibilities except in the case of property rights, which are subject to public need; and conservatives are exactly the opposite, emphasizing responsibilities over rights except in the case of property rights which are nearly absolute.

What's most galling, to my mind, is that the criticism and sometimes blatant anti-Americanism on both sides is rooted in idealism, in the belief that an American which doesn't adhere to certain standards isn't authentic and legitimate, but the left gives the right the benefit of the doubt under these circumstances, rarely questioning the patriotism of secessionists and eliminationists, whereas the right rarely, if ever, gives the left any leeway, questioning the patriotism of even mainstream interlocutors.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Comment Elsewhere: Social Network Cynicism

Terry at I See Invisible People has been discovering that Facebook, for all its utility and entertainment value, also has blazingly insensitive aspects. My comment
Facebook is like a TV station, a cable channel, or a magazine, or a newspaper: they provide a service which attracts an audience. Then they sell access to that audience to advertisers: advertisers will pay more for an audience that is more likely to be interested in their product, so Facebook, which knows a lot about its users, should be able, in theory, to sell high-potential audiences to advertisers for good money.

Someone who uses this prescription gift app is giving Facebook a lot of information about themselves and/or the recipient.

So far, Facebook has been treading a fine line (i.e. a big gray area): trying to be useful to their advertisers without blatantly prostituting their users or violating their individual privacy. But I’m not sure they’re making all the money they think they should be making, yet. So they’re being more aggressive about extracting information, and they’re being more aggressive about finding ways to draw in advertisers, and they’re being more aggressive about attracting the high-value 18-35 demographic (though I still don’t know why that is; they’re not the ones with all the money) by being “edgy”….

Yeah, it’s a little cynical. OK, it’s a lot cynical, but I didn’t make up the business model.