Friday, April 22, 2011

Link Love

James Rocchi has an interesting post up about internet comments.  Really, its more of a rant.  While I understand the points he makes, I'm not sure I agree with him.  Allowing folks to comment anonymously also enables those who wouldn't normally comment to feel safe to speak up.  There is a discussion over at Dear Author on rape and rape fantasies that was fascinating to read but without anonymity, it probably wouldn't have happened.  So, yes.  Anonymity gives folks the freedom to be rude douchebags but it also gives them the opportunity to speak up about things they normally wouldn't feel comfortable saying.  Rocchi's experience seems to be with the former; mine is with the latter.  I guess we hang out at different types of web places.

I remember reading a Robin Schone short story once in which I learned that in Victorian times strawberry ices got their color and flavor from crushed up beetles.  My gut reaction (ha!) was eww but when I thought about it, I wondered if I was being too prissy about it.  After all, I love lobster which is essentially a giant sea cockroach so what's the big deal?  Check out this short bit on Victorian Street Street Food Vendors.

This week's kerfluffle was brought to you by Ginia Bellafante over at the New York Times.  She managed to offend just about everyone with her review of HBO's Game of Thrones.  Over at the Orbit website, Daniel Abraham reviews the reviewers.
But my fear is that, while I’m sure they’re open to brilliant wit and insight, for the most part they’re trying to maintain high-status brands, and in this case with tools inadequate to the job.

As Neil Gaiman wrote, George R. R. Martin is not your bitch but... I can't help but sympathize with his fans.  Six years is a long time to wait for the next installment in a series, especially when the last one ended in a cliffhanger.  I don't see these fans as being "entitled", they are just... well, fans.  Fans get a little fanatical about the books they love.  Have some of them taken it a little too far?  Yes.  But apparently fans, like nature, abhor a vacuum and have found ways to fill the time while waiting for the next book in the series.  Click here for the New Yorker piece on the cantankerous relationship between Martin and his fans.

On Pathos over at TalkToYoUniverse.  I like stories that hook me in emotionally but there is a fine line between writing that pulls a reader along a specific emotive line and writing that manipulates the reader into feeling a specific way.  If I feel that I have been manipulated, I just get pissed.

Hey, neat.  Author Opens Monobookstore.  It’s here in NYC so I’ll have to try and get down there to check it out.

A bookstore in Lithuania commissions some Creative Bookstore Ads.

Awesome!  Roald Dahl Stories To Appear On Your Cereal Boxes!  I love Roald Dahl.  One of the best children's author evah!  ...Too bad it's in the UK.


  1. I think that the big difference is well-moderated environments versus open ones. For example, a discussion about the same topic (rape in romantica) was on the Amazon forums and it degenerated pretty quickly. They do have spam and hide comments that enough people consider offensive or unhelpful, but it is still a mess. Whereas, Dear Author is a very small community with a history of being supportive to authors/readers, so that is the status quo. If anyone got snippy or mean, I have no doubt that they would be called out, if not actually deleted by the moderator.

  2. That's a shame about the Amazon forums. I don't think I've ever spent any time there and it sounds like I wouldn't enjoy it.
    I have to confess that I in the past I used to be much ruder, perhaps even nasty in my comments... but at some point I realized that the way I chose to comment did nothing to further the conversation and even, contributed to shutting down any meaningful dialogue.
    I stopped commenting for awhile because of that until I felt that I had a better handle on what I was trying to accomplish.
    I can still snark with the best of them and still enjoy doing so but I try not to do so in a way that shuts down the conversation.
    I do think Rocchi made some good points in his rant, especially about the ant-intellectual tone that permeates these discussions. And my favorite was his Harold Ramis quote. Lord, knows there have been times I've felt that way.

  3. I don't know if this happened to you but my level of snark went way down once I started posting stuff myself. I got to see how hard it is to put stuff out there and how easy it is for someone to come along and bash it, whether right or wrong in their criticisms. Not that I was ever very snarky, but it's down to about zero now.

    And the whole "wars" that sometimes get started on forums and comment threads - man, no one wins.

    As a side note, though, the Romance forums are pretty great for book recommendations. In fact, they are the best way I know of, better than Amazon recommended reads or blog reviews, etc, so that's why I like them. I try to avoid any "discussions".

  4. Basically what happened was it was brought to my attention that several people who's opinion I respected seemed to think I was a giant asshole. (This was years ago, btw) I decided to step back and think about how I presented myself online. When one person tells you you're an ass, it's easy to shrug it off but when many people tell you that, I think you have to ask yourself - Are they right?
    I think that asshole-ery can be an effective weapon in an argument but not every argument needs a weapon. I don't necessarily have a problem with internet wars when they are over ideas but too often they devolve into personal slams and the dialogue is lost. Slamming someone can be satisfying in the short term but in the long term it often accomplishes nothing. Using reason and logic to obliterate an opposing argument takes longer but is infinitely more satisfying.
    Though she has no idea who I am, Robin over at DA was very influential in changing how I present myself online.