Why can't we all just get along?By Mark Stephens. Published: 21st Apr 2007, 23:53:51 | Permalink | Printable
What are you looking at?What makes RISC OS users argue and go toe-to-toe in online discussions? Is it that the Internet makes every conversation feel impersonal? When does criticism cross the line? Drobe contributor Mark Stephens gathers his thoughts on why people row online, and what can be done to avoid it.
Opinion - The Internet is undoubtedly a wonderful invention which allows us to do all kinds of new things, but like any enabling technology, it is very much a double edged sword. It can be used and misused.
I have rather given up on the Acorn Usenet groups and the Iyonix mailing list as they have increasingly become rather depressing places - with less interesting, useful discussion and advice and more e-firefights with bickering and personal abuse thrown around.
Thankfully, or sadly depending on your view, this is not just a RISC OS specific issue - so you won't escape it by moving platforms - but rather more of a general trend as the Internet populace increases. This was well summed up in an article in a recent Guardian article, available online here.
|Is the 'net too impersonal and confrontational?|
This cites how the impersonal nature of the Internet and the ability to remain anonymous has paved the way for a new era of unpleasant communication, with insults, personal comments and undisguised antagonism regularly traded over the wires. It is not uncommon for bloggers to receive anonymous death threats posted via their websites, which even as a sick joke is going rather too far.
Obviously, as RISC OS users, we can't access any websites designed after 1995, so I'll summarise the above article: the author had been inspired by the increasing amount of digital vitriol to come up with the rather clever idea for a novel plot - that there is no-one so insignificant and inoffensive that you will not be able to find some little corner of the Internet where everyone hates him whatever he says or does.
The problem has become so big that Tim O'Reilly, the man behind O'Reilly books, a key figure in the open source movement and the person who coined the phrase 'Web 2.0', has suggested there should be an online code of conduct. Freedom, after all, should come with responsibility or it becomes anarchy.
He has some suggestions which would be really good to see happening everywhere including:
- Ignore the trolls, aka the people who delight in starting arguments for the sake of it, and will always disagree in a provocative manner with whatever you say or do.
- Don't say anything on the Internet you would not say in person.
- Try to resolve things privately first.
- Ban anonymous postings.
- Only say what you are prepared to publicly take responsibility for.
It might be worth adding that criticism should be made in the way of offering solutions rather than being argumentative, and everyone should accept that some people will simply never agree, whatever viewpoint offered. Oh, and here's another thought: chill out - life's too short. Then we can all get on with our computing on whatever platform of choice we have in peace, except for Windows, Mac, Linux, RISC OS, BEOS and BSD users who just don't get it and don't listen to reason.
Personally, I shall try to stick to the advice of Thumper from my daughter's favourite film, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all," while whinging to myself about the inadequacies of whatever platform or software I am using at that moment.
I found the Drobe April Fools this year a rather sad irony on the market. A really good April Fool needs to be designed to be just about credible, and this year's stunt suggested that this very online newspaper was being taken to court for comments made on it. If the gag had been that Castle was about to launch a sub-100 pound portable device with multiple 1.25GHz ARM cores, no-one would have believed it. The joke would have been too obvious, even though we yearn for this level of hardware.
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Photography by Jyn Meyer
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