Monday, June 23, 2008

Personal Democracy Forum 2008 - 6th Post

How much are well willing to sell ourselves?

A lot of these webtools beg the question: Just how much are you willing to sell yourself in order to be popular? I mean, I believe that the more people jump in on it, then the more competition you have, which then means you have to do more crazy things in order to get more attention. But how much is too much? As much as I am intrigued by all of this, I can't help but wonder about all the negative applications. One of the things that a panelist here said was that while there are negative content out there, there is also positive content and the market shall naturally shun whats overly questionable.

But still. As one women asked, what would happen if you get addicted to everything and then try to take a break for a week? What would be the psychological effects of the withdrawal? And thats just the tip of the iceberg.

What you guys think about this? What possible negatives can you think of and do you think that limits should be put in place? Or should we just let it grow rapidly?


  1. I once went to a talk by James Burke where he said that innovation is like handing a loaded machine gun to a gorilla. It may play with it a bit, fire off a few rounds by accident, possibly causing some casualties, but ultimately it will get bored and put the thing down. His point was that technological change causes disruption at first, but then the world adjusts to it, and it becomes normal and safe (until the next innovation).

    So I think, along those lines, that some people will act like idiots to try and get attention with new online tools for a while, but in the long run blog audiences will ignore the noise and gravitate to quality, however they define it.

  2. Great point. I just hope that what they call quality itself is not completely retarded as well.

    The next question I have is whats going to come out next. I love watching everything grow and advance, it forces me to do the same as well.

  3. One of Burke's other points in that same talk was that any democratization of communication - that is, any innovation which gives powers of communication to people who did not have it before - will cause a drop in quality or standards as perceived by those who were already empowered to communicate.

    This is a natural thing, since people are being introduced to the conversation who do not have the same values.

    Again, the world adjusts and people gravitate to pockets of quality as they perceive it. And perceptions change gradually as a result of communications which were not previously possible. The change can be quite disruptive, even deadly, in the short run.

    He gave the example of the printing press. When it was first introduced, the Catholic church thought it was great because it allowed them to print more indulgences to sell (if you're not familiar with this but of history, priests would basically write up and sell "Get out of Hell for free" cards). But then Gutenburg started printing the Bible for common people, allowing them to make up their own minds about things instead of relying on priests. That led to the Reformation and centuries of deadly religious warfare in Europe.

    I'd give the issue of Mohammed cartoons as a much more recent example, too. Twenty years ago if a Danish newspaper published something Muslims found blasphemous nothing happened. Very few Muslims were in the communications loop. But now with the internet and increased immigration, the offense spread like wildfire and caused riots in places where nobody has ever seen a Danish newspaper.

    I even saw a very small-scale disruption of this sort when I was visiting England this week. There was a small fuss in the media about the annual Glastonbury rock music festival. The festival is a tradition for some people, and some of them were concerned that Jay-Z was inappropriate as the headliner for their little rock festival, since he's not a rock'n roller. But most of the hundreds of thousands of fans there were newer and less tradition-bound, and he was apparently well-received.

    So, getting back to your concern, is it a drop in quality to go from having T-Rex headline a festival attended by 1500 people in 1970 to having Jay-Z headlining a festival attended by several hundred thousand? I don't think so, but a few vocal people apparently did.

  4. I guess I should always aim to question and keep myself in check and open to things, hmm?

    Hey man, do keep your comments coming. You have a good way of adding more dimensions of thought around here - I really do enjoy that.