“The reality is, on any public forum there is going to be a peanut gallery, and I’ve never seen a moderation policy that can quite eliminate them, but not eliminate interesting people who I want to hear from. So, culled lists, either individually (as here) or collectively (as was needed in a larger space such as Twitter), are a fine thing. They make a forum far more pleasant to use.”
The powers that are at Ordinary Times, my old development haunt, have seen their way to installing Commenter Ignore Button (CIB), which I developed with the commenting culture and its discontents at their very site as inspiration. Commenter veronica d, using the tool quite as I had envisioned people using it, has provided some user response which, I’m happy to report, is as perceptive as it is positive and in both cases very: Read more ›
Has “hope” ever been creepier than as the last word of dialogue in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, uttered by Carrie Fisher or something like her or some unlikely likeness of some former incarnation of her, before us in double death-in-life? The movie’s fish-eyed space admirals were more believable than Fisher’s sex dollish image clone.
We are beyond the realm of “spoilers” here, so will note without hesitation that the scene in which it, not she, is cinematically discovered, standing still, presumably having been waiting all along, terminates a crescendo of death. Prior to that moment, the narrative is of the accelerating annihilation by heroic self-sacrifice, one by one and all-inclusively, of the typically motley crew of cartoonish types. Princess Leia promises new life for the hapless rebellion, and yet her or not-her’s appearance is the first and only moment in the film that qualifies as macabre.
Among the most dramatic results of last Monday’s hearing on President of the United States Donald J Trump’s Twitter habits and related matters was the appearance in the virtual pages of Lawfareblog – among the majorest of major minor blogs of this post-blog epoch – of the Phantom Non-Breaking Space Bug.
Chrome Inspection reveals a major minor infestation in Lawfareland:
Writing recently in Foreign Policy, Brookings Fellow Shadi Hamid, author of several books, numerous articles, and thousands of tweets on Islam and democracy, managed to apply some difficult political-philosophical thoughts – on the nature of liberal democracy as a mixed system, or on liberal-democratic politics in the philosophy of world history – to current events and specifically to the presidency of Donald J Trump. That Hamid helps to explain Trumpism as a phenomenon, a force, and a set of ideas without rancor or aggressive defensiveness – and even while at one point implicitly comparing the typical ground level Trumpist to an Islamist taxi-driver on hashish – further recommends the piece.
In a more informal effort in The Atlantic focused on the question of unelected, nominally non-partisan officials mounting a successful resistance or “soft coup” against the President, Hamid again puts himself in the Trumpist’s place:
If I was a Trump voter, I can imagine being frustrated at this sort-of-deep state working to block or undermine Trump’s agenda. I’d say: Well, I voted for that agenda, and not necessarily some vapid, unthreatening version of it. Presumably, if Bernie Sanders, or someone like him, had won the presidency and decided to radically re-orient U.S. foreign policy, there would be elements within the military and intelligence services that would attempt to “block” him. For these state institutions, it wouldn’t only be a matter of democratic legitimacy but also of something as fundamental as national security. Does that mean that presidents, regardless of what a plurality of voters might want, simply cannot act radically when it comes to foreign affairs or national identity? To what extent are Americans comfortable with that—and are we willing to apply whatever standard we come up with consistently?
Needless to say, not everyone discussing this issue has the benefit of Hamid’s long experience dealing with reactionaries – his specialty having been Middle Eastern religious reactionaries, including the above-referenced cabbie. When, for instance, I recently sought to explain how an intelligence operative might view the illicit exposure of damaging information about a mad or criminal or mad and criminal president as the very soul of duty, a longtime internet friend called my statements “disgusting.”
The Tweet-storm, in the new era of President Tweet, remains a nostalgia-inducing afterimage of the blog and of the era of President Blog, but it may also portend a return or attempted return to coherent, accountable, and consequential civic discussion in a mass society, back from the Great Flood of clicks.
Whatever Twitter offers to discourse or its preliminaries, information does not want only to be free to move on, or free to displace, then be displaced. It also wants to be free to stay, to be appreciated, to be invested with and to be attached to content, for a virtual community even if only a community of two or for a “community within” – the community of mind known to neuroscientists and philosophers, and, if they are right, to each and every one (or more) of us. Information does not want just to negate. It also wants to posit. Information wants to be free to be ephemeral, to be forgotten, to live for an intimate moment and vanish, but it also wants to be free to endure, to be recalled, to survive, to stand and fight as well as to snipe and flee.
The tension turns up in a social media phenomenon I noted a couple of weeks ago in, of course, a Tweet:
The tweetstorm's popularity, despite the form's unwieldiness, suggests a demand for some new medium between blogging and tweeting
First envisioned years ago, since that time implemented in various ways via some custom functions and hackage, I’m proud to announce the uploading of Nested Comments Unbound to the WordPress Plug-In Repo. Fingers crossed that it goes well, that I didn’t make some ridiculous mistake or fall victim to some glaring oversight, and that the first reviewers are kind!
If the subject of democracy - the demos, the mob - has proven itself, as always expected by those not taken in by the hustle, unworthy of respect or responsibility, then what basis do Berman, Scialabba, or any of the rest of us have for deeming whatever "Fahrenheit 451- or Blade Runner-style" authoritarian oligarchy to be "catastrophic"? Catastrophe becomes just another name for life on Earth as ever, and authoritarian oligarchy, with space set aside for the New Monks, looks like the best anyone ever could have expected. How else are we supposed to keep billions of ignorant, violent, etc., people from destroying themselves?
As a matter of history, the administrative state, the FDR state, that the Tea Partiers are glad to shut down temporarily, and that some would like to shut down permanently, is the same state that arose contemporaneously with the fall of the Weimar Republic, in relation to common and overlapping challenges, and that was consolidated in political competition and eventually at war with its immediate successor (which technically still functioned under the Weimar constitution). A serious discussion of an actual or potential crisis of liberal democracy in the leading liberal democratic nation-state, and on the system level – the level of basic responsibilities and assumptions of government – cannot help but take into account prior, concretely related crises, even if particular circumstances initially appear vastly different.
"The reality is, on any public forum there is going to be a peanut gallery, and I’ve never seen a moderation policy that can quite eliminate them, but not eliminate interesting people who I want to hear from. So, culled lists, either individually (as here) or collectively (as was needed in a larger space such as Twitter), are a fine thing. They make a forum far more pleasant to use."[...]
The Tweet-storm, in the new era of President Tweet, remains a nostalgia-inducing afterimage of the blog and of the era of President Blog, but it may also portend a return or attempted return to coherent, accountable, and consequential civic discussion in a mass society, back from the Great Flood of clicks.[...]
There are progressive and liberal ideologies or ideological constructs, but the desirability of progress and its attainment via rational and open ("liberal") inquiry remain pre-conditions of any authentic (authentically "discursive") discussion.[...]
Commenter Ignore Button (CIB) lets a user to put one or more commenters "on ignore." To have such an option enabled is a frequent request at blogs and other sites where comment threads are plagued by trolls or other problematic commenters, but where site operators prefer to err on the side of open discussion - or don't want to get involved unless they really have to. Once users become generally aware of the option, people just seeking attention may either be more polite or move somewhere else, while regular commenters - and lurkers - may become more willing to engage.[...]
If you're not able to perfect your theme yourself, or not willing to hire a designer, then being a perfectionist is unrealistic. Yet just getting good enough on first glance results when adding CIB to customized comment templates, even before fine-tuning, may require some more complicated work. For those intimidated by the prospect, here is an example of curing the output on one typically atypical theme.[...]
We would be compelled to conclude that something must have been (and very likely remains) profoundly wrong with a political culture or political media - of which Matthew Yglesias and Vox are, of course, typical parts - that could be dominated by an issue to be judged intrinsically trivial, and dominated to the point of determining eventual collective decisions of undoubted significance.[...]