Hey Target Market — Er, I Mean Happy Mutants

Damn. Boing! Boing! certainly took down David Pescovitz’s marketing survey request in a hurry. It’s too bad, because I would have loved to have seen the comment thread there.

Boing! Boing! Marketing Survey

The actual survey is still up here, and its pretty basic market droid stuff. What’s your household income, how much time do you spend online, do you pledge allegiance for Boing! Boing! in the ongoing slime war against Violet Blue (okay, I made that last one up).

For a site like Boing! Boing! that’s all over other people’s failures in this area, there’s not a  goddamned word about privacy or how the data will be treated beyond what you read above (for example, will they log my IP when I fill out the form? I don’t know — the survey doesn’t bother to say anything either way).

At this point, I’d recommend replacing the “Get Illuminated” text in the Boing! Boing! logo graphic to “You Are A Target Market”, but that’s just me. This could be good info for Douglas Rushkoff to have the next time he runs his infomercials — er guest blogs — for Boing! Boing!

Xeni Jardin Hasn’t Learned A Damn Thing . . . But I Have

Xeni Jardin has a post today about her “unpublishing” of Violet Blue-related posts that caused so much controversy. Go read it now before she decides to take it down.

The post is fairly long but doesn’t really say anything beyond reaffirming that their her posts and she’ll take them down if she wants to. In the comments to the post, Cory Doctorow, Mark Frauenfelder and David Pescovitz weigh in to indicate their agreement with Jardin’s position.

To understand my position on this, which I elaborate on very pointedly in the comments to that post, go read this Boing! Boing! post from 2005 which is Boing! Boing!’s coverage of the London subway bombings including photographs and updates on the status of individual posters like Cory Doctorow who was living in London at the time.

That post was removed from Boing! Boing! because in one of the many updates to it, Violet Blue is credited with pointing to a blog with additional information on the bombing. Violet Blue is extraordinarily tangential to the post, but because the string “Violet Blue” appeared in the post, Jardin deep-sixed it.

Now it is very clear from reading the comments in this post and in the previous Boing! Boing! post about the Violet Blue controversy, that I am in the minority who find it absurd that Boing! Boing! would retcon dozens of posts simply because of incidental mentions of Violet Blue over what turns out to be nothing more than a personal falling out between her and Jardin.

I’ll just sum up my thinking about Boing! Boing! by reproducing a reply I posted there to another user who defended routine removal of materials from the Internet,

Talia wrote:

“Well, if this is orwellian, I guess I’ve participated in Orwellian actions as well, as a person who has deleted things I’ve posted on the internet. And every other single person who has ever deleted anything they put on the internet, ever, has also participated in Orwellian actions.”

BTW, I have to say I find that odd. I don’t generally delete things on the Internet (I can only think of a single occasion where I deleted a single post I made at my blog because I realized it was seriously erroneous and would cause more harm by misinforming than by adding a correction). Believe me, I’ve said a lot of things on the Internet I wish I hadn’t, but coming from a journalism background, I’ve always thought it was important to stand behind your words and own your errors.

I’ve certainly endorsed the views of people, for example, who I later disassociated with. But I can’t ever remember thinking “gee, I should go back and delete all that stuff like it never happened.” And I really don’t remember ever thinking “I should take down this really long post because somewhere in there it mentions this person who I know longer like.”

And I find it bizarre that people do think that way, but that’s probably just my particular hangup.

OTOH, this whole episode was useful in that it showed us a side of BB I think many of us didn’t realize was there. If you had asked me before this if BB would go back and removed posts like that London bombing picture thread, I’d have said no way. Retconning is something only comic book writers and sleazy businesses do.

Now I know better.

By the way, I should add that Jardin and others have argued that it is routine for bloggers to remove and retroactively edited things. Personally, I would only do that under the most extreme circumstances as I mention in my comment on Boing! Boing! But now that I think of it, there is a very well known blogger who is known for frequently deleting and rewriting the things he posts — Dave Winer. At the moment, I think Winer would fit right in with Boing! Boing!’s vision of itself.

Boing! Boing!’s Confused Message on Science vs. Pseudoscience

Not to beat up on Boing! Boing!, but what the heck . . . I can’t be the only one who sometimes sees a lot of dissonance between the folks who post on Boing! Boing! For example, Cory Doctorow goes off on global warming “denialists”. Fair enough. I used to be fairly skeptical of global climate change, but I agree that the evidence at this point is so overwhelming for human-induced warming, that the only real debate now is over what, if anything, we’re going to do it about it rather than whether or not the phenomenon is real.

But a week later, David Pescovitz posts a ridiculous fund-raising plea for Loren Coleman’s International Cryptozoology Museum. Now I’m not quite sure on the one hand why Boing! Boing! would want to excoriate global warming skeptics on the hand, and then on the other turn around and help raise money for someone who spends his time on such scientific projects as The Mothman Death List.

Some of the commens in the Coleman thread made the absurd claim that since there have been “living fossils” found like the coelacanth, that cryptozoology is legitimate science. The problem, of course, is that the coelacanth and similar finds have been announced and described by working professional scientists while the cryptozoologists were wasting their time looking for Bigfoot (Pescovitz’s pet obsession) or the Loch Ness monster.

Again, I realize the folks who post at Boing! Boing! have different interests and agendas, but it is a little odd to see Doctorow post about the idiocy of pseudoscience, only to see that followed up by a post urging fund raising for pseudoscience.