bitter sanity

Wake up and smell the grjklbrxwg, earth beings.

Monday, April 11, 2005

[posted by jaed at 12:32 PM]
Group slides
Richard Delevan remarked a few days ago:
We're a fan of Indymedia in principle, if for no other reason that it makes them easier for me and my NSA/CIA/MI5/Mossad/Special Branch mates to monitor. And because they produce for us our best nicknames: "fascist", "neocon", "mean", "not a great dancer".

But one thing has interested us about the Indymedia universe and the blogosphere: why do the twain rarely meet?
Indymedia is a very cool idea in theory. (I was very impressed when I first heard about it, before I actually visited and found that the people who refer to it as "Nazimedia" weren't kidding.)

But its structure seems to favor a high degree of group influence. If a group of (not to put too fine a point on it) moonbats happens to take to such a structure early on, it gains influence, other moonbats are attracted, and non-moonbats tend to be driven away. Over time this drives Indymedia to ever more extreme moonbattishness.

But I think it's a historical accident, not something inherent to the form. There's no reason Indymedia couldn't have ended up dominated by wingnuts (as hensens would have it) or Right Wing Death Beasts (as I prefer), by the same positive-feedback mechanism: group tilts in that direction and the tilt attracts similar posters and repels those who don't think that way.

Blogosphere's different because it's not primarily a thing of group interaction. There's no group or editor to answer to. It's a lot easier to start a contrarian blog, than to be a contrarian poster in a place where there's an editorial board you're contrarian to. And once you start that contrarian blog, likeminded others seeing they're not alone can start their own, start linking to yours, and presto, instant diversity.

Of course, the dynamic I describe for Indymedia does apply to individual blogs with comment sections. A comments section is a community and is subject to all the properties of community, including formation of group opinions gradually driving out those of a different opinion. I could name examples and so, I'll bet, could you, gentle reader.

The degree of social interaction required to participate meaningfully seems to be the key: if you don't have to interact with others, you don't come under the same kinds of pressure to conform.

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