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Jeff Bates On Niche Communities and Why Partisan News Is Normal 113

Posted by samzenpus
from the my-friends-are-better-than-yours dept.
I recently sat down with one of our co-founders, Jeff "hemos" Bates, to talk about Slashdot's 15th anniversary and the world of niche news. Because history was involved, Jeff had a lot to say about the growth of specialized news and the partisanship that groups make. Bates contends that what's old is new when it comes to media, and that people would rather be right than get along. Below you'll find a condensed version of his treatise on niche media and communities.
Any sort of niche community wants to have its own news source. The problem with mass media is, well inherent to the description right there, it's mass. So, of course you are always going to go with the common denominator in terms of what you are going to write, because that is going to actually get the most eyeballs, which is going to be able to sell the most advertising. I think that for BBSs, as a good start, one of the things that knit that together was shared communities of people that wanted to talk about something that wasn't going to be talked about by the mainstream press.

On some of the BBSs that I hung out on, there was this dude who was a complete and total freak show. He was one of those guys that thought the earth is 4500 years old and it's flat. Obviously, he's got somewhat of a different view on life. The thing that he was really good at was soldering. He would talk a lot on the BBSs about how he had re-soldered his modem to get more bps out of it. It's not like you were going to find that in the local newspaper, or anything like that. And it was really only the creation of things like BBSs that actually allowed that stuff to happen.

So, yes I think that the desire by a community of people to want to have news that is specific to their interests is one of the drivers for it. Especially in the early days of Slashdot, any mainstream article that mentioned the word Linux, we would post something about it. Because, it got this kind of push-pull that you want in this niche community, and you want this niche news, but you also want the validation of the mass news as well.

My firmly held belief is that every niche no matter how small, no matter how bizarre your particular thing that you care a lot about is, there are other people out there who really want to talk about it as well. It's just that there has been no scalable way to make it happen before the Internet. The '80s and the '70s had zines, that was all good, but you had to know that the zine existed, you had to know where to write to subscribe to it.

What the Internet really brought us is the ability to do that en masse. I think that one of the other factors for creating Slashdot or creating other niche communities is a necessity issue. The cold hard reality is that Rob and I lived in Holland, Michigan, which is not exactly a burgeoning tech hub of the United States. If we wanted to have an environment to be able to talk with people who knew what open source was, much less had an informed opinion about it; we had to create a community to do that. And of course we wanted that community to exist, so we stumbled into taking a first stab at making that sort of community.

it reached the point where there was enough people who knew about it, and there was enough money to be made with it that it got the attention of the world. I think part of why it got so much attention is people were genuinely interested in why these engineers were writing code and not charging for it. I think that where part of that attention came from was trying to understand this new model in this new approach to things as well.

If that hadn't happened, if there hadn't been that question of what motivated these people to do this, it wouldn't have brought near the attention that it did.

The other thing that helped is that open source became known at the same time that the ability to have a discussion, or the ability to post news also became a far more open process. That is one of the interesting cross fertilizations. Sites like Slashdot were pursuing information gathering in discussions in a way that was very similar to what was happening with open source. Mainstream news was in many ways very similar to how most software was developed. There was a serendipity in that.

I think that the partisan nature of media as it exists now, was actually a return to form. That has been the state of media for many, many, many years. If you look at Hearst and the yellow papers that helped start the Spanish-American War, [they] show that. If you were a newspaper tycoon and you had an angle that you wanted to follow, you could make that happen. in the late '40s through the '90s or so, we got this idea of objective journalism, and everything is neutral. I think that is going to be seen as more as an aberration than as the generalized state of things.

I think that the reason it existed, is because you had a number of semi-monopolies in competition with each other. And, you had a broad-based advertising world that you could sell stuff through, but nobody had enough metrics to know whether this advertising was working or not. So, they got all sorts of money.

As depressing as it is, I guess I think that the current state of media, the partisanship, I don't think that this is a temporary state. I think that this is normal. Humans are kind of defined by the whole concept of, us versus them. I think that we return to that almost all the time.

Yeah, yeah. You say cynic, I say pragmatic realist. I should add that it is very possible that I am just incredibly jaundiced and cynical about the entire world of media having spent as much time in it as I have. Maybe this is my equivalent of standing on the porch in a T-shirt telling those blasted kids to get the hell off my lawn. I don't know. I think I'm right, but then again I would think I'm right, wouldn't I?

In the long run more and more niche communities will continue to spring up, if the tools and platforms are there. A few years ago the FBI arrested a bunch of grandmothers who were pirating quilting patterns on the Internet. I mean, that's when you know your niche community has arrived, when the FBI is taking your grandma to jail for pirating quilting patterns.

All kidding aside, what that does mean is that the tools got to the point where the grandmothers were pirating quilting patterns with each other. So, I think you will see more and more groups, communities like that forming. If I were working in a general media world that would terrify the hell out of me, because that's where people are going to go to get their news. And I think over time it has, and will continue to supplant traditional media.

When we started Slashdot, the tools didn't exist — we had to build them. That was a barrier to entry for anyone, there is no way there was going to be a Slashdot for quilting in 1998. Because none of the quilters were going to write a CMS system to do it. I think that there has been a whole suite of tools that have come along that have made these things viable to do. One of the biggest things that made continued growth of Slashdot possible was the introduction of Google AdWords. Prior to AdWords you were completely beholden to these reseller networks, which made used-car salesman look like Mother Teresa.

And so, particularly for a lot of these niche sites and the smaller social media sites, the reality is that you can make some money. Probably not enough that you're going to be able to build your solid gold rocket car. But, enough that you can support some of it. It just means that there's going to be more and more of it. In the long run that is a good thing. That is exactly what should happen. I don't think that this is new. That this is exactly what happened with the introduction of the printing press.

If you look at the French and American revolutions, and the amount of pamphleteering that was done, that was basically social media. You could go down to the printer and say, I want 500 copies of this made, distribute it, and have people talk about what you're doing. It's just you were constrained within a local geography. And now, we can do it across the whole world. Which I guess, because you can get across the whole world, means you can have even more weird subgroups get together and find their community,. And isn't that a fine, fine thing?
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Jeff Bates On Niche Communities and Why Partisan News Is Normal

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  • Us versus Them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by concealment (2447304) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @11:46AM (#41527417) Homepage Journal

    As depressing as it is, I guess I think that the current state of media, the partisanship, I don't think that this is a temporary state. I think that this is normal. Humans are kind of defined by the whole concept of, us versus them. I think that we return to that almost all the time.

    You mention this in an election year, which is when we see people approach the future governance of their country with the same attitude they approach football games, lawsuits and social conflicts.

    Us versus them rules us to this day.

    Is it depressing? It could be that humanity itself is destined to break up into niche markets, or micro-nations. At least you know that everyone else in your group has the same interests and community standards.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Is it depressing? It could be that humanity itself is destined to break up into niche markets, or micro-nations.

      Divide and conqueror has historically been the result.

    • Re:Us versus Them (Score:5, Insightful)

      by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @12:12PM (#41527749) Homepage Journal

      We should be so lucky as to have those as outcomes. The reality is that once a hyper-partisan group manages to attain any amount of power, they use it to enforce their position onto others. They become convinced that their position is the absolute and correct one. They view those disagreeing as being in denial of reality and sometimes dangerous.

      • Don't tell me that, tell that to my political opponent who cannot see how stupid they are and how right I am!

        • Re:Us versus Them (Score:5, Insightful)

          by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @12:46PM (#41528215) Homepage Journal

          To muddy the waters a bit, I do believe there are political opinions that outright contra-factual, including quite a few associated with my party of choice. The point where I like to get off the train as viewing people with a few bad opinions as bad people. The tricky part is that it's easy to be misinformed, even when you struggle to stay informed about things, even more-so when you have more important things to do with your time(or are lazy). I, personally, am outright wrong about several things. I just don't know what.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            I do believe there are political opinions that outright contra-factual, including quite a few associated with my party of choice.

            That's why I don't have a "party of choice".

            • Not being perfect is a terrible reason not have a preference. Many stores don't have my favorite ice cream flavor, but I'll still have ones I like better among the ones they do have.

              • there's a difference between "not being perfect" and downright immoral,
                what if there was a flavour of ice cream that you considered to be actually "immoral"?
                how could you justify patronising any of the the stores if they all sell the "immoral" one?

                many people feel that way about choices for politician, candidate A did this good thing but he drops bombs on people attending the funerals of people he dropped bombs on earlier because they might have been bad guys even though no-one knew for sure,
                candidate B is

                • Yep, I sure am ignorant of the consquences of my actions. ...Or you could acknowledge the underlying failings of a winner-take-all democracy that causes that to happen, and vote to limit the damage it causes. You seem to think I am somehow responsible for the set of candidates available, and that's absurd. You seem to assert that voting should not account for de-facto reality, and only happen in idealistic fantasy land. Please correct me about where I have mistaken your statements, but to me, this is a r

                • by tehcyder (746570)

                  i believe that if i vote for a candidate whom i know will almost certainly commit immoral acts then i'm complicit in those acts and no amount of other good stuff makes me a good guy in that situation, so neither candidate could get my vote.

                  I absolutely agree, but the moral option is not to say "the two main parties are as bad as each other so I won't vote" it is to vote for another party. And if/when they lose to start helping them build up so they will do better next time.

              • by mcgrew (92797) *

                1. I vote the candidate, not his party
                2. Both major parties want me and most of my friends (and your friends and family) in prison.
                3. The Libertarians are too pro-corporation and anti-environment
                4. The Greens would be a good party if they'd stop nominating batshit crazy candidates
                5. I'd vote Pirate Party if I ever saw them on a ballot.

            • by tehcyder (746570)

              I do believe there are political opinions that outright contra-factual, including quite a few associated with my party of choice.

              That's why I don't have a "party of choice".

              That's just another way of saying you're conservative.

      • Re:Us versus Them (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @01:06PM (#41528493) Homepage

        The reality is that once a hyper-partisan group manages to attain any amount of power, they use it to enforce their position onto others. They become convinced that their position is the absolute and correct one. They view those disagreeing as being in denial of reality and sometimes dangerous.

        What if those who are disagreeing are in fact in denial of reality and somewhat dangerous?

        Case in point: Right now, approximately 10% of Americans firmly believe that the people who wrote and ratified the US Constitution intended to give Christianity a privileged place in government. Not only is that very obviously factually wrong, but that's a somewhat dangerous proposition for the 20-25% of Americans who don't identify as Christians.

        • Those opinions are wrong(and yes, opinions can be wrong). Those people aren't out to get you. You need to take a moment to realize that not everyone is the most informed, and that doesn't represent an inherent flaw with them as human beings.

          • by dkleinsc (563838)

            Those opinions are wrong(and yes, opinions can be wrong).

            Those aren't opinions, those are facts. They're the kind of facts that qualified people (in this case, historians) have researched repeatedly and come to the same conclusions over and over again. Saying "Well, that's just, like, your opinion, man." is opening up something to question that isn't really a question. There's a significant minority that think that evolution is a lie, a much smaller minority that believe that the Holocaust never happened, and they don't just have a differing opinion, they're flat

            • Actually, you'll find that the majority believes evolution is contradicted by scientific evidence(in the United States). That's why you'll never find me arguing for the suppression of "wrong" opinions, because in a democracy, at least, the majority dictates what that is. Sometimes all you can do is get the truth out as best you can and hope it gets to some more people than it would've otherwise.

              As for your second point, you're intentionally conflating extremists who have embraced violence as a means of ac

              • by tehcyder (746570)

                Actually, you'll find that the majority believes evolution is contradicted by scientific evidence(in the United States).

                That doesn't make any sense. Evolution is based on scientific evidence. It's the people who don't have scientific evidence, but do have faith and the word of God to back them up, who generally don't believe that evolution is correct.

      • Re:Us versus Them (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... minus physicist> on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @01:54PM (#41529187) Homepage Journal

        We should be so lucky as to have those as outcomes. The reality is that once a hyper-partisan group manages to attain any amount of power, they use it to enforce their position onto others. They become convinced that their position is the absolute and correct one. They view those disagreeing as being in denial of reality and sometimes dangerous.

        The problem with these kind of communities is that they become echo chambers, where some people start to get the strange notion that their beliefs and attitudes are in the majority when in fact it is an extreme fringe group.

        One huge example that I've seen this year is the Ron Paul supporters in America, where they have some rather large numbers (in terms of absolute counts) and can even put together fairly large "rallies" thanks to social media. They have been able to show that they can raise millions of dollars through tactics like a "money bomb" and in some cases were even successful at capturing the apparatus of some state Republican party organizations. I would presume that the ability to chair and set the agenda of a state political party is an indication of "attaining any amount of political power" as you have suggested.

        If you've paid any attention the the political winds this year on the internet, all you had to do was post some sort of "on line survey" and you would get it overwhelmed by votes for Ron Paul. There certainly seemed to be a very organized on-line and had active twitter feeds, discussion forums, Facebook pages, and otherwise a very active on-line presence where a mere mention that some survey was going on would result in a "Slashdot effect" descending upon that poll that included Ron Paul. Mind you, this sort of emphasizes my "echo chamber" effect I am talking about here because many of these rabid Ron Paul supporters started to believe these polls (obviously skewed) that seem to indicate that they were in the majority and that "everybody" thought about politics in the same way.

        Unfortunately when they showed up to the national convention and had to show their actual numbers and face reality, they were shocked and surprised that they were a fringe group instead of being mainstream... and that they couldn't get their agenda passed or even considered.

        Arguably I think the Republican Party is going to suffer (and Mitt Romney is going to lose the presidential election because of this) due to the "mainstream" Republicans treating the Ron Paul fan bois as a fringe group not worth engagement or even consideration, but at the same time I think the Ron Paul supporters have shot themselves in the foot as well by even dismissing the viewpoints of other Republicans and doing a scorched earth tactic as well. The number of Ron Paul supporters are small enough that they can in theory be ignored in general by the Republican Party, but they are large enough that they can make a huge difference in a tight political contest like seems to be the case this year.

        I promise you that this post is going to get heavily moderated in a negative direction, as it will offend some Ron Paul supporter. If I posted this on a Ron Paul forum, I would be kicked from the forum with a permanent ban. I know as I've had it happen "for telling the truth" that may be uncomfortable for them to confront. Still, it gets back to my point that they are living in an echo chamber and are not paying attention to the larger world. I don't care right now, because I got karma to burn at the moment... this being Slashdot.

        For myself, I find that I need to actively engage in conversations with people who have a decidedly different world view. It challenges my assumptions and sometimes even does change my mind on some key ideas. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be how most people look upon these on-line forums. I don't know if some of that is because I've had an on-line presence now for nearly 40 years in some form or another and I've seen these things come and go... while many of those (like Ron Paul fans I've mentioned) find on-line discussions to be something new that they've never seen before.

        To note: I like Ron Paul as a person and as a politician. I am myself even a sort of fan, but I am under no delusion that this is a mainstream political position.

        • To be completely fair, the republican party did, in fact, violate their own by-laws and ignore democratically elected representatives in an ostensibly democratic convention process. A consistent and substantial minority has no business being ignored. But that's what you get with a winner-take-all electoral system.

        • The reality is that once a hyper-partisan group manages to attain any amount of power, they use it to enforce their position onto others. They become convinced that their position is the absolute and correct one. They view those disagreeing as being in denial of reality and sometimes dangerous.

          The problem with these kind of communities is that they become echo chambers, where some people start to get the strange notion that their beliefs and attitudes are in the majority when in fact it is an extreme fringe

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Us versus them rules us to this day.

      YEE HAW! Us rednecks is takin' over slashdot! Country music rules! We're gonna give them nerds a twirly bath and a wedgie!

      I was really surprised to find that one of Slashdot's founders was a country music star. I see where the Tea Party slashdotters come from now.

    • by Millennium (2451)

      Us versus them rules us to this day.

      But does it rule them?

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Not to mention there are plenty of us who sit outside the whole "Us VS Them" niche and just laugh at the spectacle of it all. that is one of the fun things of the internet, you find out that there are fans and then there are the "ZOMFG you've got to be shitting me? is this the Onion?" type of fans, like The Bronies or the guy with the Tron suit or the nut that went around collecting DNA from every major Star Trek character.

      Hell even here we have those that simply like an OS because it suits our needs, be it

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        Yes, but if everyone had had your attitude three hundred years ago we'd all still be living in monarchies, being told what to think by priests and justifying child labour, slavery, the lack of votes for women and non-landowners and so on.

        I don't care what anyone says, there has been progress over that period. We have this wonderful thing called the internet now which should allow universal education and empowerment, it is not the time to start being pessimistic about the future.
  • by jerpyro (926071) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @11:48AM (#41527449)

    I don't have an issue with partisan news, everyone with an opinion is going to have a slant on things. What I take issue with is the propagation of half truths and blatant lies. Obama is a muslim? Really? Come on. Romney endorsed sweatshop conditions in China? Really? Come on. Both sides (of the dipole) are guilty. Aside from spending 15-20 minutes on each statement researching, why can't we just have a little bit of integrity and not report things that are simply untrue?

    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      But my cousin's brother-in-law said it was true in an email!!

    • By any reasonable definition Obama is not a Muslim. By Muslim rules he is an apostate Muslim. Once someone repeats the 'call to prayer' (a declaration of faith) they are a Muslim. Obama explicitly says he did, in his autobiography. If they backslide they are an apostate Muslim and by Sharia law should be punished by, at minimum, amputation of one arm and one leg.

      • by Atzanteol (99067)

        By any reasonable definition Obama is not a Muslim. By Muslim rules he is an apostate Muslim. Once someone repeats the 'call to prayer' (a declaration of faith) they are a Muslim. Obama explicitly says he did, in his autobiography. If they backslide they are an apostate Muslim and by Sharia law should be punished by, at minimum, amputation of one arm and one leg.

        Actually the punishment depends on which sect of Islam you talk to. Or did you make the mistake of thinking Islam was a single religion like most Americans do?

        • No mistake, it is, Islam. But as with any major religion there are many different sects with their own beliefs, and many individual beliefs of the people within those sects. The only way to have religion with perfect internal conformity is to have a religion of one person.

          But I note that you disagreed only with what the punishment should be. Obama is still an apostate Muslim by the rules of any of the major sects of Islam regardless of whether he considers himself Muslim. But I don't give a damn what a bill

          • by Atzanteol (99067)

            If "having different beliefs" isn't enough to call them different religions then I guess we just disagree on what makes a religion. Catholics and Baptists are *technically* both "Christian" but they are *very* different. Nether would really consider each other part of the same religion.

            And if the Mormon church baptized him without his consent then you could call him a Mormon too by their rules. Other people don't get to declare what *your* religion is. Only a Muslim would consider him to be an apostate

            • by Quila (201335)

              Nether would really consider each other part of the same religion.

              Yes, they do. Both believe in Jesus Christ as the savior = Christian. Muslim sects believe in Allah as the one true god and Mohammed as his prophet = Muslim. Sunnis, Shias and others may disagree on a lot of things, but this is basic for any Muslim.

              Other people don't get to declare what *your* religion is.

              Depends on where you live. If Obama lived in various places in the world he would be a Muslim, or dead.

      • by guises (2423402)
        So... you're saying that someone else made up a rule which lets them declare Obama to be a Muslim? What's your point?

        If I make up a religion, we'll call it Guisianity, and a rule that says if you eat breakfast you're a Guisian... Let's say I make this rule just before Obama eats his breakfast and I start telling people that Obama was my first follower. Does that make my opinion matter in any way? Even a little tiny bit? Is there any reason why anyone at all should listen to the stupid things I say?

        I rea
        • How many billion people believe in Guisianity?

          Irrational beliefs of big enough groups have to be considered. Not respected, but considered when dealing with realpolitic.

          BTW by Muslim rules he's doubly Muslim, son of a Muslim and repeated the call to prayer.

          • by 1u3hr (530656)

            BTW by Muslim rules he's doubly Muslim, son of a Muslim and repeated the call to prayer.

            That's about as silly as Mormons baptising their ancestors retrospectively so they can get into heaven.

            Obama has been attending church and declared himself a Christian all his adult life. A person's religion is what they believe. No other criterion is acceptable. This is just a sleazy political attack and you know it.

            • Tell it to the Muslim world. If Obama was living in Pakistan they would have already executed him.

              • by 1u3hr (530656)

                Tell it to the Muslim world. If Obama was living in Pakistan they would have already executed him.

                I can't understand what your point is, except perhaps you hate Muslims.

      • By Muslim rules he is an apostate Muslim. Once someone repeats the 'call to prayer' (a declaration of faith) they are a Muslim.

        Merely repeating the shahada mechanically does not make you a Muslim by those rules. It has to be done willingly, and you must actually believe in what you're saying.

    • by sycodon (149926) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @12:11PM (#41527729)

      I've been though many presidential elections and everyone has been Us vs. Them. In discussions with friends and acquaintances the debate has been spirited. But I have to say, since 2008, the discussion has not been spirited but down right confrontational and much more absolute.

      A friend sent a link to one of Micheal Moore's films and I responded with some reasons I disagreed with MM's assertions. What I got back was not more discussion, but a "Fuck You" and I have not heard from that individual since.

      And I have never had anyone call me a racist to my face before despite lots of debates at parties and such. But it happened in 2008 after I expressed support for McCain, and I had just met that person.

      People are unhinged.
         

    • What I take issue with is the propagation of half truths and blatant lies.

      Wouldn't it be nice if everything reported was the truth?

      However, this conflicts with "freedom." We have the ability to believe whatever we want, and to purchase news-entertainment products based on that notion.

      We're either going to have to enforce "truth" (which leads to an authoritarian, totalitarian, fascist or total state) or have a pluralistic definition of truth.

      Which do you want? There doesn't seem to be much of a gray area.

      • by jerpyro (926071) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @01:10PM (#41528573)

        Yes, it would be nice if it was all the truth. However, I disagree that we're going to have to enforce truth -- what we *should* do is to teach critical thinking and scientific process. It seems to me that most of America's problems stem from the fact that a large portion of its population can't think for themselves. I consider this entire debate to be an educational problem, not a political one.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        We're either going to have to enforce "truth" (which leads to an authoritarian, totalitarian, fascist or total state) or have a pluralistic definition of truth.

        Truth isn't pluralistic, opinion and interpretation are. It is objectively true whereabouts Barack Obama was born. If you want to believe he is a secret Muslim and al Qaeda operative, no one can force you not to.

        What is wrong is when most people just listen to one side of the story all the time and start confusing the two.

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      Biased news is a lie, nothing more and nothing less. News should always be cleanly and truthfully reported, only what news is covered and what is ignored should be targeted at a specific audience. People are confusing editorials specified as such and propaganda ie editorials masquerading as news. Even worse we have out and out delightful advertising masquerading as news.

      Reality is news should be a legally protected description and title, any information published under it should be challengeable in court

    • by jthill (303417)
      Endorsed sweatshop conditions? I agree, that part really is absurd if you look at in context. No, really [youtube.com].

      I believe that starting point is full context for what we both object to: the basis (and we agree it's a false basis) for the "endorsed" criticism. He's _endorsing_ being born in America, he calls that the silver spoon he was born with, and I think he's got a perfectly valid point there, He was certainly not "endorsing" sweatshop conditions.

      He was just searching the world for sweatshop conditions so

  • by madhatter256 (443326) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @11:57AM (#41527569)

    The Internet makes you stupid.

    I used to visit Somethingawful a lot and one of the features they had was they would reveal such weird subgroups, such as forums and websites and report them in an amusing manner. Some great examples are the flat-earth society forums and furry forums. Of course, Somethingawful is also known for uncovering child-predator sites and gather as many IPs, etc. to report to police officials. Each of these articles revealed just how dedicated these members are into believing that what they believe is perfectly normal and that everyone else that doesn't believe is wrong.

    What I've learned, and SA has pointed this out numerous times in those articles was that the Internet makes you stupid. The Internet has become a place where people with different beliefs, weird fetishes, etc. can find others with similar beliefs.

    This is good and bad. What is good is that I can read about sexual fanfiction stories for the show Castle and its cast, which I thoroughly enjoy. The bad thing about this is now you have these groups that are big enough to permeate into mainstream society and garner enough political power to contribute to government policy (i.e. Scientology, Tea Partiers, Creationists, etc.) and de-evolve society into their way of thinking.

    • by Empiric (675968) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @12:35PM (#41528045)
      ... and de-evolve society into their way of thinking.

      I wouldn't be so pedantic here if it wasn't the topical "partisan" thing to do here, prompted by the parenthetical list just before this in your sentence, but...

      There is no such thing as "de-evolve" in evolution per se. Evolution in itself has no teleology, no "goal" or relative point toward that supposed goal. There is no "more evolved" or "less evolved"--for that, you'd need a supporting metaphysical context in which "de-evolve" could make sense, which could be found among the worldviews your parenthetical dismisses.
    • by jeffasselin (566598) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ednilocamroc]> on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @01:25PM (#41528771) Journal

      I find it intriguing that you listed furries (weird) along with flat-earthers (factually wrong). I don't care how you dress when you have sex. I do care if you are unable to accept clearly proven scientific facts.

      I never understood why anyone in the US gave a fuck what Clinton did in his office with an intern. But when Bush came out and said god told him to go to war barely anyone batted an eyebrow.

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      Some great examples are the flat-earth society forums and furry forums.

      You should see gamer forums...

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      What is good is that I can read about sexual fanfiction stories for the show Castle and its cast, which I thoroughly enjoy.

      Pervert. Everyone knows that only sexual fanfiction stories for the show CSI and its cast is any good.

  • That guy that claimed to resolder his modem to get more bps would probably be a meme these days.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      That guy that claimed to resolder his modem to get more bps would probably be a meme these days.

      I see you haven't done much soldering. If there was a bad solder joint on the modem (not unusual to see in consumer electronics), it would not have been up to spec and would have been noisy at best, unusable at worst. If there was a bad joint to a ground you're going to introduce hum, which would REALLY slow that modem down. Resoldering the bad joint would indeed have sped it up.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The biggest problem society will face in the future is that we can choose to only hear information that agrees with us. All the global cooperation we worked so hard to gain can easily wash away. Look at how angry the Muslim world has become because they can now hear conflicting view points against their dogma. If we choose to only filter pleasant information that we want to hear, it is inevitable that will all become that same childish angry mob.

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @12:23PM (#41527901)

      I needn't look that far, a look at us is sufficient to see how media influence me.

      You know, the people in the former east bloc states had one advantage over us. They KNEW their media lied. Here, a lot of people still think they tell the truth just 'cause they're allowed to.

    • But it's been that way, no? There's a reason that religious dominions, for example, have historically been tightly aligned with political and geographical borders. We lived in communities that essentially didn't know any better, and what they suspected, could easily ignore.
      I think what causes unrest now is that it actually does take some effort to ignore those other voices; reblogs, ads, etc. keep pushing, in small quantities, opinions we disagree with. We socialized with people during the age of political

  • than the market for information, because most people are either capital illiquid or seeking low probability low feedback payouts.
  • by HarryatRock (1494393) <harry.rutherford@btinternet.com> on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @12:44PM (#41528191) Journal

    I have to agree, I like slashdot a lot, because lots of what we get comes from minorities, and they are where amusing / interesting / insightful ideas generally arise. It gives me a place to express my opinion, which frankly is as weird as you get. A theist, techy, old hacker who started when assembly code was a new tool, and still believes in SSADM (structured system analysis and design methodology) and thinks gun control is good and capital punishment is necessary. In my mind, the most important aspect of the "new media" is the bi-directional nature of the beast. I strongly support free speech, and I like moderation schemes like ours (even if the urge to join in has to be suppressed in favour of "doing ones share").
    There are a few times I get annoyed by the number of AC posts, but I suppose that is part of the price we pay for giving minorities a hearing.
    Now I know that the Jeff Bates was equating the slashdot community with "a minority", and I am talking about minorities within that, but I think "as below so above" applies, and I expect that model will be applied to many other groups as more people get used to the idea of posting thanks to sites like Fbook but want more "substance".
    Keep up the good work and happy birthday!

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      A theist, techy, old hacker who started when assembly code was a new tool

      Damn, that makes you what, eighty years old? [wikipedia.org] And here I thought I was old!

  • What does Slashdot have to do with niches?

    • It is where they put most of when we have succeeded in accomplishing a sufficiency of our assigned work units.
      • So I log into slashdot (as opposed to not loggin in per usual) to read a story about slashdot being like, old, and wind up reading a story about Hemos talking about media niches and I stumble across Stirling commenting.

        max
        ['Cap'n! The warp engines can't take this level of meta niche collision much longer!']

    • What does Slashdot have to do with niches?

      They are trying to justify why the site becomes more conservative every month. Pretty soon samzenpus will post a story about how Romney is a screaming liberal vampire hippie kung-fu atheist mormon pacifist terrorist from Mars and we should all vote for ron paul instead.

      And yes, I know I will be modded down for saying that. But that doesn't disprove it.

  • My firmly held belief is that every niche no matter how small, no matter how bizarre your particular thing that you care a lot about is, there are other people out there who really want to talk about it as well. It's just that there has been no scalable way to make it happen before the Internet.

    What about backflow: people who see all these niche communities, and decide to get involved with one, not out of interest in the topic, but because they need a group?

    It's kind of like street gangs. At first they exis

    • An excellent question.
    • by tehcyder (746570)

      My firmly held belief is that every niche no matter how small, no matter how bizarre your particular thing that you care a lot about is, there are other people out there who really want to talk about it as well. It's just that there has been no scalable way to make it happen before the Internet.

      What about backflow: people who see all these niche communities, and decide to get involved with one, not out of interest in the topic, but because they need a group?

      It's kind of like street gangs. At first they existed to provide protection to members, but then they became a trend in their own right, like those shirts with the little alligators on them. Does backflow affect the quality of discussion?

      That's me! I only come to slashdot for the vicious rumbles and the hurried drunken sex afterwards.

  • ... in the article.

    Seriously. You speak the truth, and most of us know it - but you're obviously appealing to the un-informed with your editorial, and the obtuse use of 'pirate' in place of 'share' makes it hard to swallow.

    I get you, I've been in the scene since the early 80's, and I absolutely understand where/how/why/from it started. That said, you let your 'corporate overlords' (for lack of better euphemism) dictate the tone of the article. And that ruined it for me.

    Just sayin'. :(

  • I always thought Taco was being ignorant by avoid 'meta' issues. Having looked at this TL;dr crap, I'm thinking he may have been on to something.

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