PDA

View Full Version : The Paradox of Discussion



Higgins
03-16-2007, 06:31 PM
Now that we epic-defenders in the realm of Theory are now in theory in the realm of pop culture, perhaps some remarks on the mazes of posts known as "discussions" might be in order. For example, one might wonder what near-deified notions of Theory might be adequate to cope with the collision of Kittens and Swastikas. Frankly, I for one, find that twisting my lower lip "from within" (using the lip's own internal musculature) in mild puzzlement is the best theoretical response. Note that this is a non-linguistic response, a purely reflexive response, a note-to-self kind of response and one very far from touching on anything fundamental in the realm of discourse or whathaveyou. And yet (or so I tell myself), I am mulling it over.

I've always been a little puzzled by the idea that there can be much in the way of discussions or (even worse) "debates" on internet boards. The very structure of topics and threads seems to suggest some chain of set-piece responses rather than the natual fluidity of real discussion. Notice, for example, I have a general policy of not suggesting what sort of "discussion" or response I am proposing in a thread-starter. Indeed my aim is to cause reflection on the part of the reader rather than some sort of pre-packaged response. Note that, in my view, getting some sort of "heart-felt" (but heartily standardized) response is the direct opposite of my aim when writing online.
For one thing, the chance of being totally misunderstood is always very high and it is better to have potential respondants reflect on the nature of their probable misunderstanding than to feel moved to take you to task for something that is more than likely to be the opposite of what you were saying. One marvelous instance of this is the apparent misunderstanding of my remarks in the now-closed thread "Shameless Phantom"...as I recall it there was a lot of characterization of my topic as deliberately obscure, basically unpleasant and contemptuous of my readers. Not only that but nobody seemed to care about the topic. It was suggested that I angle the topic toward soemthing more along the lines of what the "unwashed" would like to see (for example, porn or Nazis). Now this is infact not even remotely my aim. To my mind there are no unwashed among potential respondents, there are only people who might be interested (or not) in reflecting on something that perhaps has no set of standard responses.
In my view, the internet board structure has the potentially engaging characteristic of non-linearity. We don't have to go down every last pre-set route to Nazis and porn. There are other things to think about, at least potentially. And when I said that nothing was easier than getting pre-packaged responses out of the unwashed in the online world. What I meant was a) that was the opposite of my intention and b) I said the online world and not AWWCooler. Apparently this was interpreted in the opposite sense, ie as something coming from some one with nothing but contempt for his fellow denizens of the online world.

Anyway. Just an example.

Cath
03-16-2007, 06:44 PM
Unfortunately, real discussion requires both parties to talk and (most importantly) listen to what's being said.

Where discussions fall down (here as much as anywhere) is where people do all the talking and very little listening - or where the ideas being communicated are so generalized or clouded in language as to be incomprehensible.

And the kitten thing? I've always seen it as a way of bringing the warm fuzzies to an otherwise tense situation ;)

Perhaps there's room for thinking about what can enable debate as opposed to argument?

veinglory
03-16-2007, 06:46 PM
I think the kitten are a very interesting discussion gambit because the strategy of their use is very overt and deliberate :) They have a role in defusing the degree of escallation and misinterpretation inherent in forum interactions.

Higgins
03-16-2007, 06:49 PM
I think the kitten are a very interesting discussion gambit because the strategy of their use is very overt and deliberate :) They have a role in defusing the degree of escallation and misinterpretation inherent in forum interactions.

The kitten gambit is a good move, however even a kitten can be misunderstood.

Don't get me wrong. The kitten gambit is an excellent (and I suppose engagingly non-linear) ploy. Certainly it bamboozled me.

Higgins
03-16-2007, 06:51 PM
Unfortunately, real discussion requires both parties to talk and (most importantly) listen to what's being said.

Where discussions fall down (here as much as anywhere) is where people do all the talking and very little listening - or where the ideas being communicated are so generalized or clouded in language as to be incomprehensible.

And the kitten thing? I've always seen it as a way of bringing the warm fuzzies to an otherwise tense situation ;)

Perhaps there's room for thinking about what can enable debate as opposed to argument?

If a topic is well-defined enough to seem like a discussion or a debate, then it is probably too late to get out of the linear pile-up of what people feel they have to say.

And then there is nothing left but to bring in as many kittens as possible.

Bartholomew
03-16-2007, 10:34 PM
The Geneva Convention banned the use of Kittens in TIO.

veinglory
03-16-2007, 10:42 PM
There is also the effect of people reading the first post and replying--despite th 5-10 pages of subsequent talk.

The kitten gambit is superior to the prior haggis maneuvour which I still see used from time to time.

ColoradoGuy
03-16-2007, 10:51 PM
Kitten gambit has now achieved the status of Kitten Trope. Godwin's law needs a parallel friend: I propose we term it Dawno's Postulate, since we need a bit more experience before elevating it to Dawno's Law.

Higgins
03-16-2007, 10:54 PM
The kitten gambit is superior to the prior haggis maneuvour which I still see used from time to time.

Plus just a little bit of a quote from what you're replying to seems like a good idea in terms of letting readers know what YOU think the current topic is.

I haven't seen the prior haggis manoeuver in action. Yikes.

Higgins
03-16-2007, 10:59 PM
Kitten gambit has now achieved the status of Kitten Trope. Godwin's law needs a parallel friend: I propose we term it Dawno's Postulate, since we need a bit more experience before elevating it to Dawno's Law.

Kitten Hospital Rule:

The limit of the quotient of Godwin's Law over any number (if infinite or zero, anyway) of kittens can be derived into or from some other thread-like exposition as long as BOTH might either go on forever or stop before they/it starts.

Dawno
03-16-2007, 11:07 PM
Kitten gambit has now achieved the status of Kitten Trope. Godwin's law needs a parallel friend: I propose we term it Dawno's Postulate, since we need a bit more experience before elevating it to Dawno's Law.


Oooh. I like :D

veinglory
03-16-2007, 11:08 PM
Okay, I need someone to operationalize Dawno's Postulate.

Dawno
03-16-2007, 11:20 PM
Just don't do it in PowerPoint, for the love of all that's good, please.

ColoradoGuy
03-16-2007, 11:22 PM
Well, someone would need to gather the data, but I propose the following working formulation for Dawno's Postulate:

Post count to achieve kittens = (Inflammatory post number) + (Inflammatory post number)/(number of posts with < five words) x CT factor*

*CT factor = 1/(thread posts by Tourdeforce) (thread posts by dclary)

Bravo
03-16-2007, 11:23 PM
*CT factor = 1/(thread posts by Tourdeforce) (thread posts by dclary)


:ROFL:

Dawno
03-16-2007, 11:49 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v304/Ebil_Librarian/catapproves.jpg