Getting Ahead, Getting Along, Getting Away

by Venkat on June 13, 2012

Sometimes I think that if I were much more famous, female and in Hollywood instead of the penny theater circuit that is the blogosphere, I’d be Greta Garbo. Constantly insisting that I want to be left alone while at the same time being drawn to a kind of work that is intrinsically public and social. Simultaneously inviting attention and withdrawing from it.

Which I suppose is why ruminations on the key tensions of being a self-proclaimed introvert, in a role that seems better suited to extroverts, occupies so much bandwidth on this blog. That’s the theme of this third installment in my ongoing series of introductory sequences to ribbonfarm (here are the first two). This is the longest of the sequences, at 21 posts, and also has the most commentary. So here you go. I hope this will be useful to both new and old readers.

Future of Work The Human Condition

This sequence probably represents the single biggest category of writing on ribbonfarm. It originally started out with several posts on the Future of Work theme, which was a popular blogosphere bandwagon around 2007-08, when I was still half-heartedly trying various bandwagons on for size.

Though I had a few modest hits in that category, it took me a couple of years to realize that I was fundamentally not interested in the subject of work per se. I was primarily interested in work as a lens into the human condition.

Once I realized that, the writing in this category got a lot more fluid, and I got off the bandwagon. I still use work as the primary approach vector, rather than relationships or family, since I think in the modern human condition, work is the most basic (and unavoidable) piece of the puzzle.

The best tweet-sized description of the human condition I’ve encountered is due to personality psychologist Robert Hogan: getting along and getting ahead.  To this I like to add the instinct towards self-exile and perverse (for our species) seeking out of solitude: getting away. 

So I’ve divided the selections into three corresponding sections. Here’s the sequence. There’s a little more commentary at the end.

Getting Ahead

  1. The Crucible Effect and the Scarcity of Collective Attention
  2. The Calculus of Grit
  3. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor
  4. The Turpentine Effect
  5. The World is Small and Life is Long

Getting Along

  1. My Experiments with Introductions
  2. Extroverts, Introverts, Aspies and Codies
  3. Impro by Keith Johnstone
  4. Your Evil Twins and How to Find Them
  5. Bargaining with your Right Brain
  6. The Tragedy of Wiio’s Law
  7. The Allegory of the Stage
  8. The Missing Folkways of Globalization

Getting Away

  1. On Going Feral
  2. On Seeing Like a Cat
  3. How to Take a Walk
  4. The Blue Tunnel
  5. How Do You Run Away from Home?
  6. On Being an Illegible Person
  7. The Outlaw Sea by William Langewiesche
  8. The Stream Map of the World

Triumph and Tragedy

Since I am not a credentialed social scientist, but frequently stomp rudely into areas where academic social scientists rule, a few words of warning and contextualization are in order.

The warning first. It should be clear that my approach to these subjects is nothing like the academic approach. It is amateurish, speculative, fanciful (occasionally bordering on the literary or mystical) and resolutely narrative-driven. Empiricism plays second fiddle to conceptualization, if it is present at all. And this at a time when narrative is becoming a dirty word in mainstream intellectual culture. If you like any of the ideas in the posts above, you would probably be well advised to hide or disguise the fact that you’ve gone shopping in an intellectually disreputable snake-oil marketplace.

Surprisingly though, I don’t think those are the most important differences between the way I approach these subjects and the way academics do. Criticism I get is more often due to my overall philosophical stance rather than my lack of credentials or non-empiricist snake-oil methods.

I approach these themes with a sort of tragic-realist philosophical stance, while the academic world is going through a seriously positivist phase that is marked by extreme self-confidence and optimism about its own future potential for somehow “fixing the world.” At least for a chosen few.

Social scientists are going through a period of extreme belief in their own views and methods. This is most true of behavioral economics, which exhibits an attitude that borders on triumphalism. The attitude appears to have spilled over to the rest of the social sciences. Thanks to tools and concepts like social graphs, fMRI mapping and so forth, a great mathematization, quantification and apparent empiricization of the social sciences is now underway. Freud and Jung are in the doghouse. There is a good chance that Shakespeare and Dostoevsky will follow.

This is not a new kind of attitude, but the last time we saw this kind of social science triumphalism, it was derivative. The triumphalism of late 19th century engineering triggered a wave of High Modernist social engineering in its wake that lasted till around 1970. That project failed across the world and social scientists quickly abandoned the engineers and turned into severe critics overnight (talk about fair weather friends). But social scientists today have found a native vein of confidence to mine. They are now rushing in boldly where engineers fear to tread.

It is rather ironic that much of the confidence stems from discoveries made by the Gotcha Science of cognitive biases. In case it isn’t obvious, the irony is that revelations about the building blocks of the tragic DNA of the human condition have been pressed into service within a fundamentally bright-sided narrative. This narrative (though the believers deny that there is one) is based on the premise that cataloging and neutralizing biases will eventually leave behind a rationally empiricist core of perfectible humanity, free of deluded narratives. One educational magic bullet per major bias. The associated sociological grand narrative is about separating the world of the Chosen Ones from the world of the Deluded Masses, and using some sort of Libertarian Paternalism as the basis for the former to benevolently govern the latter without their being aware of it.

I suppose it is this sort of overweening patronizing attitude that leads me to occasionally troll the Chosen Ones by triggering completely pointless Batman vs. Joker Evil Twin debates.

Sometimes I feel like going to a behavioral economics conference and yelling out from the audience, “you’re reading the evidence wrong you morons, it is turtles biases and narratives all the way down; we should be learning to live with and through them, not fighting them!”

Unlike the woman who yelled the original line at an astronomer in the apocryphal story, I think I’d be right. In this case, anthropocentric thinking lies in believing that there is a Golden Universal Turing Machine Running the Perfect Linux Distro at the bottom.  There is no good reason to believe that natural selection designed us as perfect (or perfectible) cores wrapped in a mantle of biases and narrative patterns.

In my more mean-spirited and uncharitable moments, I like to think of Biasocial Science as an enterprise driven by the grand-daddy of all biases: the bias towards believing that cataloging biases advances our understanding of the human condition in a fundamental way that can enable the construction and enactment of a progressive “Ascent of Quantified Man” narrative.

Oh well, I am probably going to be proved wrong. I seem to have a talent for championing lost causes. Anyway, that warning and contextualization riff aside, go ahead and dive in. You’ve been warned of the dangers.

Ric June 13, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Well, you are not alone. I assume you have read Heidegger’s “The Question Concerning Technology”.

There is an old joke cum observation that has been applied to christianity, communism and democracy. The basic point is the comparison between the ideals these truly astounding cultural projects are driven by and the less than perfect outcomes. You know… Democracy is the worst political system in the world… except for all the others. The only thing wrong with christianity/communism is that no one has ever tried them.

I think it’s time science and reductive empiricism joined this little group. Another astounding cultural project with some truly amazing achievements. Nonetheless being born in 1960 – in the affluent ‘West’ I think I have been almost perfectly placed to chart the unfolding deconsecration of the scientific-soteriological narrative.

Heidegger’s romanticism may have seduced him into a truly foolish blindness to the ‘cruelty of his times’, but he was nonetheless a very loud and eloquent canary deep in coal-mine of scientific positivism.

Personally I think the end of world war two and the shocks of the holocaust, total war and the atomic bomb was the moment that ‘mathematisation’ of humanity became the cognitive equivalent of wile e coyote hovering over the abyss for a moment still unaware of the drop beneath him. And I think the moment when heroic empirical reductionism suddenly became subject to the laws of cartoon physics and began the plumet into was the day of the first moon landing. I remember a ‘religious rock song’ from the seventies… “Only cost thirteen billion. They brought back some rocks. Must be nice rock…”

The reinvigoration of fundamentalism – at least in the USA – started with a dawning realisation of the emptiness of ‘progress’ and a growing suspicion that scientific empiricism was nothing more than absolute nihilism in “sheep’s clothing”.

That fall is still happening. In the cartoons of my childhood poor wile e used to mutely hold up a sign at that moment of awareness with a tiny “Help!” written on it. But the word that best describes the moment at which humanity starts to fall into the ever recursively self-amplifying ‘nothingness’ at the heart of empirical reductionism is that most contemporary of terms, “Meh.”

“Meh” offers us a stark choice. Declare there is only one story, and subordinate the ending of all other stories to its denouement. It could be Isalm, it could be Christianity, it could be Ragnarok for that matter – it makes no structural difference. Or we can climb into the “Infinite Monkey Cage” with messrs Dawkins, Cox et. al, and embrace the void while uttering wistfully romantic peans to its inevitability.

Or we can do what we have always done – we can tell stories. Heidegger thought the fundamental question at the heart of all human existence was “why is there not nothing”.

From that question radiates every story ever told. And every story is first and formost a repudiation of nihilism.

So make no apologies. The twisting tortured path of narrative winding between the poles of absolute faith and absolute nihilism that are defining the age of “meh” is the only place form where and decent ethical thinking can come.

Keep up the good work.

Venkat June 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm

No, I haven’t read Heidegger. Some fertile thoughts there though.

Curious coincidence. I was just thinking about the “why is there not nothing” question, which a philosopher friend introduced me to a while back.

I am not sure I agree that all of science is fundamentally nihilistic or that nihilism and narrative are two epistemological poles, but it is an interesting thought. I think the modern objections to narrative are much shallower though. I think there is probably room for narrative in science and science in narrative and nihilism in both for that matter. But the modern debates do not plumb these depths.

Ric June 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Well I would never argue that science is nihilistic. Far from it. And the epistemological poles I allude to are not narrative and nihilism, but rather nihilism of a singularity-to-heat death vitiation of every thing in between on the one hand, and an it’s-all-part-of-God’s-plan metaphysical absolutist arrogation of everything that happens on the other. These are the limit conditions of not ontological rather than epistemological axioms that extinguish narrative.

The epistemological poles of human reason are – to my mind – nihilism and paranoia. (I intend those terms in their literal amoral un-psychologised senses.) But poetically they are also powerful symptoms of mental pathology. And what is mysterious and wonderful is that some of the richest and insightful thinking in history has been achieved by those who went to one of these poles-where-the-living-mind-goes-to-die only to fight their way back to the middle.

On your last point you are manifestly in error. You are modern. You are debating these ideas. And you plumbing is far from shallow.

(BTW: If you haven’t already, and get an opportunity – Umberto Eco’s novel Foucault’s Pendulum is a brilliant funny tongue-in-cheek genre-mashing and wonderfully insightful caprice that explores paranoia as a cognitive-epistemological limit condition.)

Ric June 13, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Errata: (Sigh) Please strike “not ontological” in the above. It should simply be “ontological”. Curse my sloppy typing.

Mark Masterson June 14, 2012 at 1:16 am

And… “You plumbing is far from shallow”, accompanied, perhaps, with one of those “Internet tubes” pictures or something, would make a great Ribbonfarm t-shirt.

:D

Jordan Peacock July 2, 2012 at 9:55 am

I second the recommendation of Foucault’s Pendulum.

Alexander Boland June 14, 2012 at 8:41 am

Well as you implied in Tempo, “it’s narratives all the way down.”

A bit of a wild conjecture but I think of empiricism as being machinery and narratives as ecology. The latter is not easily understood and you are indeed going to get things like “the narrative fallacy” if you treat narratives as some sort of simple means of mapping out causality and making predictions.

But despite what positivists like to say, we’d all go crazy without the ecosystem of narrative. To run with my analogy, it’s the same sort of arrogance as people who think we can simply replace every service nature provides us with man-made machinery.

To get into biases, they’re partially there because many of them are suited for the rocky and uncertain terrain of narrative. We’ve done a decent job of finding some pathological cases where we can’t viscerally appreciate a threat like peak oil but are scared to death of terrorists; but for all intents and purposes it’s cherry picking. I’m pretty confident that the vast majority of our “biases” are not only deep within our thinking but in fact so intertwined in our interactions with the rest of the world that to attempt to “remove” them is an absurd proposition–it would be like if I drank Windex to get rid of all those pesky invasive bacteria in my gut.

Alexander Boland June 14, 2012 at 8:43 am

Also putting in this second part of my comment that I took out because it’s a tangent:

I’ll tie this up with what I think is also a huge mistake that can be attributed to positivism: the declaration that philosophy is unambiguously “a-priori.” That it’s some sort of epistemological bedrock upon which we qualify all observation and validation. This ambiguity shows through pretty well in areas such as phenomenology, semiotics, and literary theory because (1) they’re almost entirely narrative-based, (2) they claim themselves first and foremost to be “mappings”, but (3) they actually do make some empirical claims and (4) a number of those claims have actually been validated (in my humble opinion) by recent breakthroughs in fields like neuroscience and information theory (though the latter is not necessarily “empirical” in the same way) Probably another casualty of Cartesian Dualism.

And not to drag this comment on, but a bolder conjecture has come to me at the end of this (and I’m aware of the irony of using a word such a “conjecture” after all this quasi-badmouthing of positivism): science continues to point to clues that there is no true division between subject and object, and as a result is proving to itself that empiricism does not define reality.

Mark Masterson June 14, 2012 at 1:14 am

+1 to “Foucault’s Pendulum”

Goblin June 14, 2012 at 11:07 am

“I seem to have a talent for championing lost causes.”

I would disagree with this. You seemingly create new causes with each new post. And blue-coller intellectuals like myself have a tendency see this dervish as nothing more then a theatrical performance of rhetoric. Claiming, reworking, and crafting themes, ideas, and prose into magnificently sharp tools of a bloodly socio-academic ideological battlefield.

I’m not now, nor have I previously, suggested that you cannot do a steller job reworking, refinishing, and grinding a fine edge on an idea. Rather I have been trying to suggest that your approach is only concerned with either the history of those ideas or a future projection based upon idealized history (really as all true “Academia” is).

This is a criticism I have with social academics in general regardless of how they chose to view their own work. Now to my mind, “Academia” may be practical if you are doing this in pursuit of a degree, thesis or project but you seem to be on your own as it is and this is conflunding as to why. What is your intent with this blog? (to be fair that is an issue that most of the rest of the bloggosphere has…)

I seemingly am always at odds with the practicality of your products. Part of being a, “blue collar intellectual” in this day and age revolves around the idea of action. What can be done “now” to produce a desirable outcome in a respective timeframe. Language, rhetoric, and retrospective has its place, a very valuable one at that, but in and of itself I think it can become too much of a good thing. Shapen a blade to much and it simply ceases to be a, “blade.”

Being at the periphery of your audience, (as I feel I must given the breadth of your war chest) I have trouble discerning which academic circut you’re riding. In a way I suppose that is what your retrospective of your retrospect is, the final realization of the thin red string that runs between them all (the broadest topic of them all it seems, humanity.)

So, you’re the man of many visions, an ideas man, an intellecual sannyasin wandering the academic forests looking for something even more transcendental, even more clear then even your wrought prose could hold. I guess people like myself just wonder how long that can hold. Perhaps indefinately (I’m not judging other then to finally come to terms myself with this blog).

Venkat June 15, 2012 at 2:34 am

I rarely say this to people, and this is especially ironic since you have been presenting this “blue collar intellectual” persona on the comments for a while now, but dude, you are way overthinking this.

There is a market for discussion of ideas. Enough people seem to like my approach that I can make a living off this stuff and derivative activities. I pay my rent, I live my life. That’s it. There is no great philosophical “intent” with this blog. I enjoy doing it, and it helps pay for my life. So as far as I am concerned, it is a practical thing to do. Just like playing the violin for pay is a practical thing for a musician to do.

I have come to accept that writing and rhetoric are no more and no less practical than more obviously practical things. Blue collar workers build iPhones on which most people spend time idly Facebook-ing or playing Angry Birds. A philosophical essay on work might help someone choose the right job. It is not always obvious what “practical” means.

Manju June 18, 2012 at 2:21 am

Abba – yenu huduga ree Venkat neevu!

Venkat June 18, 2012 at 2:31 am

Lol! huduga illa, muduka. Vais aagitu.

RG June 18, 2012 at 11:46 am

Vais happens inevitably (at least as we perceive time) but wise also seems to be aagu-fying :-)

Dane June 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm

“you’re reading the evidence wrong you morons, it is turtles biases and narratives all the way down; we should be learning to live with and through them, not fighting them!”

You cited “Sources of Power” by Gary Klein in Tempo, have you read any of his more recent books? He seems to advocate the same approach you suggest. I’d like to find more on this topic, but I haven’t had much luck.

Goblin June 15, 2012 at 12:12 pm

That’s an artful dodge if I ever saw one.

Everyone here overthinks, you could level that very same critique against the comments above mine. Far be it for you to crticise me for playing by your own rules.

Never mind the oddness of calling someone out for “overthinking” and then using “market for discussion of ideas” in the same paragraph?! It seems I just can win then can I? So you are really just telling me my own ideas aren’t welcome in your market (See: “Academic Mistake” in my earlier comments).

I was worried that it might come to this. Experiance is nothing to you, we’ve had that discussion already.

Your reading me wrong; or at the very least confusing what I mean by “practical.” By, “practical” I mostly mean the ability to support oneself monetarily. I’ve gathered that even you have met with some success in this endevor. I, however, find myself mostly out of work.

I find it very ironic then, and deeply misleading, that you talk about, “job choice.” In this economy, there is little such thing. You take whatever work you can get. I am simply trying to find work to support me and my family. And here there are people like yourelf who still think we have, “job choice” in this day and age.

Of course you’re not wrong, we have lots of “choice” in America. Yet it is “choice” and “ideas” without much practicality behind it. After all you could say that I simply “chose wrong” and am now suffering the consequences of the, “idea economy.”

Now, I still think your ideas on blue coller workers are way off-base (the iPhone example clearly shows your disdainful prejudice), but lets just say I’ve pushed things are far as I dare. I will not let this sort of discussion start up again as I feel you are gaining nothing from it, and view me as a gadfly of sorts.

Thankyou for the responses that you have given me.

Venkat June 15, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Sorry you feel unwelcome here. I’d reassure you that is not the case, but I honestly have no idea how. We seem to be talking at cross-purposes and you’re reading things into my comments that aren’t there. Since you clearly trust your own assessment of where I am coming from over my own best-faith representation, there is obviously no room for convergence.

You are welcome to continue to read the site of course, and leave your comments for the like-minded to find. I do not find you to be a gadfly or troll. Merely difficult to engage with, which is fine. I don’t understand at least half the people I meet.

Goblin June 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I’m very intuitive and I trust my instincts.

We are surly at cross-purposes, I think the internet by design promotes that, let’s face it we would never find ourselves in a face-to-face encounter. Even though such an encounter would probably smooth over much dialogue in the comments. Your empathy is commendable.

I’m not sure how we miss each other’s points other then to say we do not share a common oral language. Words seem to carry slightly different meanings for both of us. It’s almost like we have issues with a “local dialect” of sorts. Though I’m not sure what “local” even means in such a context. This is a problem that I run into at just about every corner of the web.

Whatever the case may be I am sure we can connect, I’m just completely unsure of how to build the appropriate pathway’s to that understanding, which it seems might have been my issue from the first time I’ve started reading your blog.

Dan L. June 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm

I’m not sure how we miss each other’s points other then to say we do not share a common oral language. Words seem to carry slightly different meanings for both of us.

This is standard for the human race. See Wiio’s laws.

I think you’re right about the internet as well. Effective communication is almost always a feedback process with very sharp turnaround; in normal face-to-face conversation you are constantly using your interlocutor’s body language to assess whether the person understand what you have said and whether they agree with it, which often means rephrasing or correcting before the thought is completely expressed. The internet doesn’t allow that tight feedback loop. I have a feeling if you two chatted face-to-face for five minutes this would get sorted out with time left to order two beers.

Markus August 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm

I can relate to the notion of the “blue collar intellectual” and a general “action speak louder than words” disposition.
However it is my deepfelt opinion that what Venkat is achieving with his writings, apart from obviously entertaining a “labor of love” with apparent succes, is to synthesize patterns across various fields of knowledge. Rather than falling into the traditional academic trap of overcommtting to present a a priori determined model of thought, I sense more of a quest to match patterns as a way to simplify the way we think about a multitude af different dichotomies.
This resonates well with my own feeling – inspired among other things by Steven Wolframs “A New Kind og Science” – that there is really just a few fractal principles at large in the way the ontologies as well as the epistemologies of the world works.
And to top it off this kind of reductive thinking even ressonates well with the sign of the times, which would seem to be something like “The consolidation of the Western Mind” (the answer to the established problem of “The Fracturing of the Western Mind” which has haunted us for the last half century or more)
However, I can be sympathetic to a sentiment that Venkats writings have the air of being so high level and abstract as to severely challenge my abiliy to tune in as much as I would like to. Some days I just can’t get the swing of it, mainly because of the more practical and immediate concerns of everyday life. But then again, that is how it’s always been with intellectual thinking, taxing and rewarding. There is a time for everything.

Goblin August 23, 2012 at 10:09 pm

I think my critical disposition is too often interpreted the wrong way. As people always seem to take the perceived tone of the criticism as proof of its supposed nefariousness, even if that isn’t the case. I just think no “good idea” has ever been so pristine that it has slipped through time untested.

I as an “intellectual”, blue collar or no, can get on board with abstract thought, yet the “testability” factor is what I think I am running up against in many of Venkat’s writings.

I have had a particular allergic reaction to the GP as I feel this line of thought at the very least, fails to do the very interdisciplinary research, you seem to imply that it does. Much of Venkat’s thoughts on industry rely on what the managers and their mentors wrote. Venkat on the whole seems to resist the idea of incorporating, or crossing into the trades and their respective thoughts and philosophies.

Of course this isn’t just Venkat, the whole of modern academia has a similar allergic reaction whenever anyone bothers to mention “the trades.” So, Markus, if what you suggest is indeed correct, then I am at odds over the rejection by the intellectual inter-disciplinarians (the academic philosophers) of the entirety of the philosophy and learning one gains from the professional practice of modern skilled-craft.

It’s ironic, the academic rejection of the trades happens within the same time frame as the fracturing you speak of. In essence the manufacturing spirit of the West has been broken so badly that “technology” is now synonymous with “social media” and a Machine’s “work” involves micro-steps and logic gates. Everyone is so focused on their computers that they end up wrecking their real horsepower.

The old western philosophy of hard work (the protest ethic) itself is rejected, if not in name, then in action. And our own western academics now care more about the unmapped dichotomies of a “living” technology then those “actually” living with the reality of that, as of yet undiscovered, unnamed, dichotomy.

To end a long story, there is a reason why the highest institutional degree awarded is called a Philosophiae Doctor. Testing is simply not part and parcel with the academic philosophic process; and I as a guy who’s livelihood depends upon the repeated demonstration of an objectively verifiable, and testable skill just wonder what makes the academics so special that they can’t stomach an intellectual version of the same thing? If you are going to put yourself at the center-of-things, then you’re rightfully going to have to deal with questions from all sides.

Markus August 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm

You seem to be a die-hard empiricist and furthermore seem to hold a negative disposition against the academic endeavours of the social sciences as a whole, and so it is rather unsurprising that Venkats writings are not to your liking.
This begs the question: Why then use time reading Ribbonfarm?

I’m guessing your handle is not arbitrarily chosen and rest my case.

Goblin August 24, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I tell you that this is an incorrect reading of me, I am none of those demons you imagine. However, I have learned that in these situations I can’t really do anything to prevent those accusations or change peoples’ minds once they are made up. I don’t hold a grudge and I’m not sure where you get that idea from.

I thought I was clear enough in my last post, if part of that post was at issue with you then why go after me personally rather then addressing those point in my last post which you find questionable?

I don’t know what I said that offended you. Whatever it was, I am sorry but I can’t avoid doing it again unless you tell me what it was.

Just so you know the name is one I earned while in the military…

Markus August 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Not offended, just rather courious as to why you spend so many words essentially putting down what you are reading more broadly.
There is a distinct difference between disagreeing with the content of a particular post and disagreeing with the very MO of the Ribbonfarm blog, which I’m pretty sure is not – whatever it is – about engineering the foundation of anything more ambitious that Venkats own wellbeing. And Amen to that.
I understand that – to put it bluntly – you are annoyed by the narratives that have lead society away from the blessings of conveyor belt industrialism a la Henry Ford.
While I agree that there is certainly many ill-concieved management narratives floating around, I am a blue-collar intellectual myself and I can sympathize with a emotional longing to a simpler and more mechanistic world view (nut a putdown, like Einsteins frustration with quantum mechanics), I solemnly believe you are barking up the wrong tree here.
The fragmentation and crisis of Western Society is not IMO due to academic writings, precisely because they are academic writings. The causes are rather intrinsic to the very technological and social advances that makes this debate possible in the first place. Things like practical freedom of speech, the internet and a long period of peace and economic stability.

Venkat’s essentially a soapbox speaker on a public square, and if what you hear does not jibe with your personal convictions, you move on or go looking for a soapbox of your own.

Goblin August 25, 2012 at 4:28 am

Why I read, and why I think I must continue reading are not going to be easy to explain to you. You keep wanting to portray me as some stereotype that you can both understand and easily dismiss. I never do well with stereotyping.

I realise you are being protective of Venkat, perhaps adding weight to his earlier suggestions to me. That’s fine, but my conviction remains that I’m being stereotyped by the frame of all this technology around my comments. It seems even if I, just as anonymous as you, that the name I chose causes all sorts of errant narratives to form in that informational void, and that’s just the name.

No matter how hard you hit me in the comments you won’t prevent me from reading. Now I may end up banned from comments, that is always a risk, but that isn’t really your call or concern.

To be honest with you its discussions like these, that lead to all my doubts about modern technology, in the grand and connective sense. In many instances my skeptical nature serves mostly to have me hounded off websites by the raving fans. How modern it is to think that one can stand on a soapbox and only attract raving and devoted fans. In terms of “fracturing” it is the solidification of boundaries.

See my problem is I don’t see things as black and white. I agree with some of the things Venkat says and disagree with others, I’m sure many people have the same reaction. I just think I started to become a nuance when I was judged unworthy to even ask those questions about the grey area.

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