June 7th, 2006
Ideological debates appearing on TechMeme are starting to resemble the extreme polarization of political debates on Memeorandum — take this latest dust-up over 2.0 ideology, sparked by the Lee Gomes article in the WSJ.
Here’s where I stand — somewhere in the middle. I think both sides have valid points, but I also think both sides are over-indulging in the extreme ideological polarization that renders “partisans” incapable of seeing shades of gray or valid points on the other side. It’s also the kind of polarization that leads to the ad hominem attacks that I’ve seen in many instances.
To whit, here are some interesting points (at least to me) from both sides:
Every artist has his or her references. Perhaps we call them artists because they are so artful in how they make their mashups and integrate them with their own ideas. Most of the digital mashups that Gomes decries are not yet at that stage. But give them some time. After all, the movie as an art form has been around for a hundred years, and the very first movies were also hobbyist crap.
If you’re not “actively” fiddling around with something, you’re being “passive,” and passive is, of course, bad. But as Gomes points out, there’s nothing passive about reading a good book or watching a good movie or sitting down with a good newspaper.
The other popular false dichotomy is between “static” and “dynamic.” A completed work of art or craft – a book, a painting, a movie, an encyclopedia entry – is “static,” and static, like passive, is bad. A work is only “dynamic” if it’s some kind of open-ended group production – art by committee. Again, though, these terms are fake.
I actually disagree with elements of both Erick’s and Nick’s posts, but I found that reading both with an open mind helped me think through these issues further, rather than approaching it with my mind already made up and then shouting into the echo chamber.
This is a rapidly evolving phenomenon — to chose a side strikes me as intellectually facile and in many ways dishonest — I don’t pretend to know where all this is going and nor should anyone else.
Debate is constructive. Ideological extremism is not.
I would also add that accusing people of “trolling” adds nothing useful to the conversation (as with the ad hominem attacks, I won’t name names, but you know who you are).
For goodness sake, ALL blogging is trolling — if we didn’t want to engage other people in our ideas, we’d write them in a notebook and hide it under the mattress.
Lastly, for the partisans who support user-generated content and for those who deride it, I offer the following — you can debate whether it’s art, but I think it’s immensely entertaining (even mind expanding). What I think is most interesting is that no money changed hands to bring you this entertainment, other than the purchase of Diet Coke and Mentos.