Saturday, July 18, 2009

Worse than being talked about

Well, that was fun. Contributing an article to an established site is often a bit like dangling your tender parts over a piranha tank, especially when the commenters on said site have a reputation for being a bit handy with their digital fists. But I was pleasantly surprised by the response when my article about the various flavours of criticism appeared on Drowned in Sound. “This is good,” they said. “This is a great piece.” “Yay!” Which is lovely, obviously, and much appreciated. And much nicer than the frightful things they were saying about John Robb’s piece. But hang on: I got 10 responses; Robb got 92.

Well, no real surprises there. People are always quicker to complain and criticise than to praise, especially in an online environment. But at the same time, part of me was bitterly jealous that nearly 10 times as many people wanted to eviscerate Robb than to tickle me under the chin.

But then I looked closer. Most of the comments under Robb’s article weren’t really about what he’d said. They started off that way, but then went down a meandering path of mutual antipathy, with straw men and sock puppets aplenty. And it got me thinking about all sorts of things: about why we measure our online successes in terms of the number of responses; whether it’s better to be hated or ignored; and also about how in Web 2.0, the important thing isn’t the discrete packets of information, but the connections between them.

Which of course got me thinking about Patroclus and her retirement from the blogosphere. I don’t thing she was the first person to comment on this blog, but she was an early adopter. She was the one who introduced me to the idea of the blog as conversation, and to the dialectics and rhizomatics that make it annoy old media hacks so much. Her graceful exit is a bit like Flintoff’s decision to abdicate from Test cricket; a little bit of sunshine has gone out.

PS: The hoo-ha over the Robb article might have obscured the fact that the best article of the whole onslaught was this one, by Chris Roberts – and he’s got the same number of responses as I did.

PPS: Another cracker from the Telegraph obituary barrel: “‘I'm just going for a haircut’, he would declare ostentatiously, before returning with the shorter of his two perouques.”


Christopher said...

Thanks for pointing us in the direction of the Telegraph obituary of Barry Thoday. A glorious one-off.

Unknown said...

I find it strange that people now seem to prefer to comment on my blog via twitter, usually by DM. I'm not sure if this is because they prefer the privacy of that route, or whether it's harder to comment on blogs now if you don't have a gmail account or a wordpress login or whatever.

Morton Shadow said...

"whether it’s better to be hated or ignored"

Definitely better to be hated, Timster. I speak from experience.

(Well, at least you know where you stand...)

Poor old Elvis - I never realised he wore a syrup...


wf: sombocre.

(Morbid aperetif??)

Dave said...

The spooky - or serendipitous, however you want to look at it - part is when Christopher announced his retirement on the same day as Flintoff. For, in my computerised cricket team, his character is that of Flintoff.

Billy said...

When I was younger I wanted to be John Robb. I didn't realise there's more chance of me turning into Flintoff.

Tim F said...

But which was more glorious, Christopher, the man or the syrup?

The problem with Twitter, Bureuista, is there's more comment about less.

And a wooden leg, Mort.

And you should hear what the neighbours say about his pedalo, Dave.

Funnily enough, John Robb has always wanted to be Billy.

Morton Shadow said...

Unless I'm mucho mistakio, that'sthe same picture of Greil M. they use on the back of Invisible Republics isn't it?

Twitter is shit, isn't it? Who wants illustrated minute by minute updates on Stephen Fry on location in darkest Peru??

(Apart from Prince Charles and Hugh Laurie, obviously)


Dick Headley said...

Haven't rock writing and nastiness gone pretty much hand in hand since Julie Burchill? Or is it OK to be nice again?