Following from yesterday’s post, Jeremy discusses the impact of being deliberately inflammatory…
Yeah, this is a problem and it was something exacerbated particularly when Digg was in the ascendant – all you ever wanted to do it seemed was get on the front page of Digg, so for that in itself to be the goal… I would actively not like to be on the front page of Digg because then there’s going to be a whole bunch of people using your site – it’s effectively like having hundreds of people tramp into your living room, piss on all the furniture and then leave again. It doesn’t actually add any value, but people seem to want to ‘get Dugg’ or be on Reddit or these other places that aren’t necessarily the best hubs of good social activity. If that’s your goal, to get a short influx of traffic from one of these big hubs of people, then there are easy tricks to do that and one is to make controversial claims. What you’ll often find is someone will write a post and it will be abrasive and controversial in its tone, but then as the comments go on people will say, ‘well hang on a minute, it’s a bit more nuanced’ and the author will acknowledge that and agree and say, ‘yes, it is a bit more nuanced but I wanted to write it to get people’s attention or to get links’. I’d have actually preferred it if they’d written the nuanced version in the beginning because clearly what they’ve done is miscommunicated. There are some people out there who have good ideas, they’re good thinkers, but they’re not good communicators because they’re thinking ‘how can I make this as confrontational as possible and get the links and traffic’.
… on the circle of life, the righteousness of the young and the pedantry of the old!
It’s often young people that are deliberately inflammatory or derogatory – and that’s always been the case, it’s nothing to do with the web or technology, generally when you’re younger you feel like you have a sense of righteousness, everything’s quite clear and black and white. There’s this idea of ‘kill your heroes’ and ‘don’t have idols’ and that’s absolutely fine, but you can throw the baby out with the bath water when you start rejecting stuff just because it comes from someone who’s been around the web for a longer time, just because you think ‘it’s not good to listen to people from those generations so I’m going to reject whatever they say without actually listening to them’ – killing the messenger, in a way, and that can be a shame. What I’ve discovered is that when you’re young, you’ve got fairly strong opinions, everything’s black and white, but as you get older, things get a bit more grey and you have more nuanced ideas, and as you get older again, you get more conservative and everything is black and white again – except that everything that was black is now white and everything that was white is now black!