Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Interesting short blog post attacks permissive attitude toward "amateur" criticism online

I got a tweet today pointing to a blog posting by Seth Goldin, very brief (here), saying “the critic is an amateur hack” and that we’ve made it easy for “unpaid, untrained, amateur critics” to be heard.  Call “them” the “Pharisees” (although the latter were an established, paid priesthood, usually).  Goldin’s blog is quite interesting, and a lot of it seems to apply to how to sell your ideas in the workplace, something for another day.  It’s interesting that the tweet, with a quick paraphrase, came from Jack Andraka (Books blog, March 18). 

Of course, this post relates to “user generated content”, indirectly protected by Section 230 (and DMCA Safe Harbor).  We’re used to contemplating that idea with respect to major social media platforms today, where “whitelisting” or a list of likely recipients is a major concept, but in earlier days (starting in the late 1990s) it was more about self-broadcast to anyone who could find it in a search engine.  And, like it or not, that was an effective way to get political arguments in front of people’s eyes.  And, yes, often it was “unpaid”.  (Here I go again, Reid Ewing’s 2011 mockumentary short film “It’s Free”, which needs to come back.)  Often it was amateurish.  Call it grass-roots. it is more than just criticism, but it is personal history that hosts nuanced criticism of established adversarial policy positions.  

On the flip side, of course, there has always been the world of K Street, in Washington DC, paid lobbyists (“professionals”), whose careers and mortgage payments are based on pitching one-sided positions for specific clients.  (Probably they do some entertaining these days at Nationals Park, since the baseball team has become formidable.)   To be very frank, it’s easier to “commercialize” (even in books and other media) one-sided positions on almost any issue, including (now), gay marriage (and, a decade ago, gays in the military).  “Unpaid” speakers are more likely to be able to look at both sides of the issue and point out logical flaws in thinking. In fact, I recall, back in August 2001 (a month before tragedy) a corporate sales meeting where a "paid" expert speaker predicted a 35,000 Dow!
Even so, in recent months there has been a lot more talk about making speech – whether in blogs or self-published books – pay its own way.  Implicit are trademark and security concerns, as well as equality, in the way speakers actually have accountability to others before they speak.
In the meantime, our economy – and our dependence on underpaid labor – forces a lot of people into hucksterism and “taking sides”. So does the top-down nature of most advocacy organizations.  

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