Thursday, December 06, 2007

Long Live the Internet

An interesting comparison.

Read this stream of comments, responding to a rather tepid claim I made about Rove's right to speak, and an audience's right to hear.

Then, read this post, and the comments that follow it. Then this follow-up, and comments.

Some thoughts:

1. The internet has become a place where a lot of people are sure they know things that they don't know.
2. Then they feel entitled, even obliged, to act on that knowledge.

None of this discourse is very enlightening. But to see such a weak, everyday argument (people should get to listen, interruptions aren't that big a problem) attacked with such vitriol from both sides.... Interesting.

19 comments:

Fundman said...

Well the internet also connects people and gives a forum for folks previously marginalized. I think the opportunity costs are lowered for those at the extremes to get their views heard. Or perhaps it just brings out anger because it's pretty costless to express it and then deny it in other settings.

Shawn said...

...especially when you're not using a real name. :)


another thing i thought of, while watching the secretary in our office absolutely freak out if you didn't have her your fed-ex package slips by 4:30 so she could have them typed by 5:00--people will take whatever issue they have in their lives and assign it a freak out factor of 10, even though in perspective it should only be a 4 or a 5. It's a lack of perspective. I think it gets back to the maslow thing I mentioned before: we've got so many things taken care of in our lives, and so many options for so many different things, that life is so easy...hence time to bitch and moan about loads of things that we really should have no opinion on.

br said...

Shawn, Very well put. Thank you.

JWM said...

Dear Professor Munger:

Hello.

I’m John in Carolina

I agree the Internet is “a place where a lot of people are sure they know things that they don't know.”

And that’s true of any other place where groups of people gather.

The Internet is also a place where many informed and wise people express themselves, something which isn’t true of all places where people gather.

And yes, as you say people on the Internet who are wrong but certain they’re right often "feel entitled, even obliged, to act.” But so do such people everywhere.

Regarding the particular collection of Internet commentary to which you link, I don’t agree “none of [that] discourse is very enlightening.”

I found your Chronicle letter, for instance, enlightening as did many others.

And while some of the comments on The Chronicle thread were ad hominems or well meant but not well thought out, others struck me as thoughtful and containing reasonable and important criticism of some of the things you said.

I plan to cross post this comment with an introduction at my blog that'll include links to your post here and your Chronicle letter.

I also plan to post this evening or tomorrow on some of the comments you’ve made on the JinC thread.

Finally, while I don’t agree with some of the comments you’ve made – for example, your calling my consideration of the standards that ought to apply in a university classroom and at a talk such as Rove’s “silly,” I do appreciate your willingness to engage in discussion as do just about all JinC readers.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

John in Carolina

Tom said...

I haven't seen the detractors attempt to explain why it's okay to briefly interrupt a speaker with APPROVAL, but not with disapproval. This question illustrates the contrast with the classroom: you rarely hear applause in a classroon and so, too, with boos.

Fundman said...

Oh, like anyone believes "Shawn" is a real name - :)

Just a Thought said...

I agree with your assertion:

The internet has become a place where a lot of people are sure they know things that they don't know.

The problem is that online forums allow individuals to control the content they see to such a degree that they squash out any and all counterarguments.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...
You may be eager for us to dance to your tune note for note, point by point, but he who wishes to control the agenda has to buy the drinks at this bar.


Then all they must do is sit back, confident in their ignorance.

Just a Thought said...

Well Tom, you must be doing something wrong!

Only joking, excellent succinct argument.

Paul said...

It sounded relatively tamer than a session of the British House of Commons ...

Mungowitz said...

Well, yes, it was MUCH tamer than "Question Time."

And I appreciate "John in Carolina's" willingness to come one, and make comments. He makes some good points.

Given the names I was called (by commenters, let me be clear, BY COMMENTERS) on John's and on other sites, it seems to me "silly" is pretty tame. But I take his point, and should have distinguished better. It makes me angry when someone criticizes ME for something a COMMENTER said on my blog. I should not have fallen into the same trap. John is correct to call me on the distinction.

surcoat said...

While reading your letter to the Chronicle I surmised that it had been written by an immature undergraduate. When I saw your name and title I hoped the letter was a fake that had made it past Chronicle editors. Now that I am certain that you wrote the letter I am disappointed that you excused the narcissism exhibited by students who went to hear an invited speaker in order to act in a way that would insult the speaker and bring attention upon themselves. Why not question whether or not such behavior violates the honor code? I think that you have encouraged students to behave similarly and inevitably worse at future events when it would have been more useful and appropriate for someone in your position to explain that are other ways for students to express disagreement with a speaker (or what the students believe the speaker to represent) or to seek validation for themselves than by being respectful in the formal sense of not incurring criminal charges or triggering police action.

JWM said...

Dear Professor Munger:

Yes, referring to a portion of my comment as "silly" was "pretty tame."

But you nonetheless acknowledged it as an error; a gracious act I welcomed.

I wanted to get back to you tonight with more but the day's been long.

I'll be in touch tomorrow.

Sincerely,

John in Carolina

Ralph Phelan said...

More sensible discussion (I supplied much of it ;-) on JiC's blog here.

I find it interesting but not surprising that by far the looniest discussion (and by far the majority of total comments) came from the first, apparently Left-oriented link.

Just a Thought said...

"I find it interesting but not surprising that by far the looniest discussion (and by far the majority of total comments) came from the first, apparently Left-oriented link."

It didn't appear to me that the "left oriented link" removes comments they don't like; the censorship over on JinC probably explains the difference.

A note though, part of the problem for people on the left is the utter lack of accountability the federal government has had for the past 7 years because we had one party rule. Even a year ago when the Dem's took control of congress, they didn't win enough control in the Senate to actually pass anything. On election night when it was clear they wouldn't win 60 seats (which was a stretch anyway) I was hoping they would only win 49 so the American public would still see that the Senate is in Republican hands, which it essentially is until a true majority of 60 seats are won.

But back to the point, with 1 party rule and no check-and-balances the Dem's have had no say in our government for the majority of this administration. The frustration of that is what you see on the "left" link.

Now, even with some control in Congress, the Bush administration's politicization of the Department of Justice is halting Congressional investigations because Congress has lost the ability to sanction the executive branch (no more penalties for contempt of congress). The “left” has very little recourse now than to confront administration leaders in public arenas (such as the talk given by Mr. Rove at Duke) because the acceptable government routes have been closed.

Ralph Phelan said...

"It didn't appear to me that the "left oriented link" removes comments they don't like; the censorship over on JinC probably explains the difference."

If, for the moment, you assume that JinC removes posts for leftiness rather than incoherence and nonresponsiveness, adding those posts back in to the count would only worsen the left's already poor record of contributing more than its share of noise.

Just a Thought said...

"rather than incoherence and nonresponsiveness"

Really? I was citing my facts with verifiable references. I responded to every counterargument made (which never cited any verifiable facts, by the way).

You personally contributed no counterarguments whatsoever, and called me "a troll."

If you presented a counterargument or evidence to refute my facts, then post them here for all to see. But since you didn't we can just listen to the crickets chirp.

BTW, sorry Prof. for cluttering your comment section with this petty squabble.

Angus said...

I for one am extremely glad to hear that there are no longer any penalties for contempt of congress.

Otherwise I'd be serving a life term.

Ralph Phelan said...

I for one am extremely glad to hear that there are no longer any penalties for contempt of congress.

I was very surprised when I learned "Contempt of Congress" was a crime. I always figured it was more of a natural reaction, kind of like "Fear of Snakes."

JWM said...

Folks,

I've commented further regarding some of what Professor Munger has said concerning Rove's appearance.

You can take a look at what I say here:

http://johninnorthcarolina.blogspot.com/2007/12/questions-for-professor-munger.html

John in Carolina