1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

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yakkoTDI
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1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby yakkoTDI » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:31 pm UTC

Image

Title Text: "You should make it so people can search for and jump into hundreds of conversations at once if they want." "Ooh, good idea! I imagine only the most well-informed people with the most critical information to share will use that feature."


I guess I will go ahead and post this. Thank you slow day at work.

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Soupspoon
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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:43 pm UTC

(Good, I was wondering if I'd have to post it and look like a needy "First Post!"er for my third comic-start in a row.)

UN-altered REPRODUCTION and DISSEMINATION of this IMPORTANT Information is ENCOURAGED, ESPECIALLY to COMPUTER BULLETIN BOARDS.

*

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Pfhorrest
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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:52 pm UTC

I think I already posted something like this somewhere around here back in Nov 2016, but I have a theory that the web has created the memetic equivalent of the conditions that lead to old world plagues, conditions the lack of which are responsible for there being no new world plagues. CGP Grey has a great explanation of what those conditions were, but in short: lots of big dense cities full of disease-ridden shit and many human hosts, all connected to each other, let awful diseases, that would normally have not been able to spread beyond whatever small community they arose in, turn into catastrophic plagues sweeping back and forth across the whole world.

I think the interconnectedness of the web, for all the good it can do, has enabled the memetic equivalent of that. Craziness that normally could only spread from one nutjob at the bar to an unfortunate gullible sucker sitting next to him at the bar, can now spread like wildfire far and wide to every gullible sucker in the entire world. And the more of them get it, the more less-gullible people are exposed to it and so the greater a chance they, who might have been able to brush off one nutjob they met in a bar once, will be infected by it too. So insanity like neo-Naziism, any kind of "truther" movement, and flat-Earthers who think subterranean reptile people are controlling us through Illuminati chemtrails while friendly aliens have been awaiting our spiritual reawakening since the downfall of Atlantis, can find no end of hosts to take root in now.
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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Stargazer71 » Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:01 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I think the interconnectedness of the web, for all the good it can do, has enabled the memetic equivalent of that. Craziness that normally could only spread from one nutjob at the bar to an unfortunate gullible sucker sitting next to him at the bar, can now spread like wildfire far and wide to every gullible sucker in the entire world. And the more of them get it, the more less-gullible people are exposed to it and so the greater a chance they, who might have been able to brush off one nutjob they met in a bar once, will be infected by it too.


I would say that the internet doesn't create any of these conditions but rather allows them to move faster and lowers the cost of spreading them. Aside from the increase in speed and near-zero expense, there's not much you can do on the internet that you couldn't already do with books, newspapers, pamphlets, radio, etc.

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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:08 pm UTC

The speed and low cost are the conditions of which I speak. Granted, other media have been increasing speed and decreasing cost of communication over time too, so it's not like we went straight from hand-written letters delivered by foot to Twitter overnight, but the modern internet has increased speed and decreased cost dramatically in very little time.
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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Stargazer71 » Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:24 pm UTC

To me that means that we will not see anything on earth that we haven't seen already. Bad s--- will happen, but look at human history; it's like one giant never ending list of bad s--- happening.

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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:33 pm UTC

That's like saying that plagues won't be a big deal, people have been getting sick for all of human history.

Mind you, humanity survived plagues, so I'm not saying it's the end of the world or anything. But it's still something different than the routine kind of bad shit we've always been dealing with.
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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Stargazer71 » Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:35 pm UTC

We are somewhere around 20 years worth of human history where internet has been readily available. Maybe it takes 30 years for the REALLY bad stuff to happen ...

I mean, don’t get me wrong—what you’re saying sounds halfway reasonable. But it also lacks any specifics and lacks any falsifiable timeline. I truly believe that people will still be saying exactly what you said 20 years from now.

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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby commodorejohn » Sat Mar 31, 2018 5:57 pm UTC

Stargazer71 wrote:We are somewhere around 20 years worth of human history where internet has been readily available. Maybe it takes 30 years for the REALLY bad stuff to happen ...

I mean, we already had Facebook Live turn into Videodrome, and things on the Internet are bad enough that the only thing that was at all surprising about it was that Zuckerberg & co. were delusional enough to think that wasn't what would inevitably happen. What more really bad stuff are we waiting for? Actual Snow Crash memetic brain virii?
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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Shamino » Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:14 pm UTC

I'm actually surprised that other forms of mass communication haven't been similarly abused. Like using the Emergency Broadcast service to spam political statements over all our favorite TV shows.

All modern phones have emergency alerts for weather, Amber alerts and "presidential" alerts. The latter of which can't be turned off. I am quite surprised that nobody has yet abused those services for political purposes. I realize that the backlash from such abuse would be disastrous, but since when has that ever stopped a politician from doing something incredibly stupid?

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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Shamino » Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:27 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I think the interconnectedness of the web, for all the good it can do, has enabled the memetic equivalent of that. Craziness that normally could only spread from one nutjob at the bar to an unfortunate gullible sucker sitting next to him at the bar, can now spread like wildfire far and wide to every gullible sucker in the entire world. And the more of them get it, the more less-gullible people are exposed to it and so the greater a chance they, who might have been able to brush off one nutjob they met in a bar once, will be infected by it too. So insanity like neo-Naziism, any kind of "truther" movement, and flat-Earthers who think subterranean reptile people are controlling us through Illuminati chemtrails while friendly aliens have been awaiting our spiritual reawakening since the downfall of Atlantis, can find no end of hosts to take root in now.

What makes you think this hasn't already happened? I think anyone watching TV for more than a few hours can see plenty of evidence of it.

Note the number of alien/UFO conspiracy "documentaries" on seemingly respectable TV channels like Discovery, The Learning Channel and the History Channel. Note all of the political conspiracies everybody talks about on the news (Democrats can reference Fox News. Republicans can reference CNN).

Tons of crazy insane stuff has been given the veneer of legitimacy thanks to our 24-hour media circus, which includes but is not limited to the Internet/Web. As you wrote, any crazy theory can easily get a critical mass of believers. And as soon as someone in power thinks they can exploit these believers for political gain, they will be given legitimacy by the media and the political establishment, creating a whole 'nother level of believers who would ordinarily reject the idea except for the fact that someone they respect is an advocate.

(And no, please don't read this as a rant for or against any specific public figure. I think everybody with power does this at least some of the time.)

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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:23 pm UTC

Stargazer71 wrote:We are somewhere around 20 years worth of human history where internet has been readily available. Maybe it takes 30 years for the REALLY bad stuff to happen ...

It has been going downhill since (at least!) the Eternal September. Though the scenery (whipping by ever-faster) is more interesting as we accelerate onwards unto our eventual train-wreck of doom.

(Swings and roundabouts. No! Sorry. We've passed the swings and roundabouts now. Is that a new Ikea being built? Whoops, passed that too, now... I remember when all this was fields!)

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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Pfhorrest » Sun Apr 01, 2018 1:35 am UTC

One significant change the internet has made over earlier mass media is the two way nature of it. With broadcast media, enough powerful people have to get behind a crazy idea before it had a chance of spreading to all the gullible rubes out there. But with the internet, the first gullible rube to fall for some appealing form of insanity can directly pass it on to anyone else gullible enough to entertain it, who can all then spread it even further reaching ever less gullible people as it gains popularity and thus perceived credibility.
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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby rmsgrey » Sun Apr 01, 2018 3:14 am UTC

I'm reminded of the fact that in every single generation for which we have written records, people have been bemoaning the delinquency of modern youth.

Recently I came across a dodgy piece of statistics being circulated (that has, I discovered, been being circulated on social media for something like 5 years now) purporting to show that teenagers have trouble with consent issues. Digging into it, I found that someone had traced the data back to a study carried out in 1978 on a stratified sample of LA teenagers. The original data wasn't accessible, but a reference to the conference the paper was presented at included a table showing the percentages responding at level 5 on a 5 point scale (from agreement to disagreement) to various statements - which, by the time it was being circulated on social media during this decade had mutated to everyone else agreeing with those statements. Anyway, one particular retweeting from a few years ago has a comment thread mostly full of people talking about what a damning indictment the figures are of modern youth, and how in their day they understood consent - in blithe ignorance of the fact that, unless they're over 60, far from being the youth of today, the data is about their generation, or possibly their parents' generation...

The world has always been doomed, things have always been better in the nostalgia-tinted past (with a few exceptions for people who grew up during major disasters - world wars, plagues, etc) and yet the average minimum wage worker can easily afford a diet that would have been the envy of medieval kings, has ready access to more writing than was contained in the Library at Alexandria, and routinely performs what would have seemed miracles (or infernal magic) a couple of centuries ago...

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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby commodorejohn » Sun Apr 01, 2018 4:17 am UTC

rmsgrey wrote:I'm reminded of the fact that in every single generation for which we have written records, people have been bemoaning the delinquency of modern youth.

No offense, but this is the thing everyone says when they have no counter-argument to offer to an opinion about the state of the world but want to disagree with it anyway. Yes, people have always been complaining about things. But that does not mean that technological and cultural changes don't have actual significant effects on the course of events in a society.
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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Stargazer71 » Sun Apr 01, 2018 4:59 am UTC

commodorejohn wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:I'm reminded of the fact that in every single generation for which we have written records, people have been bemoaning the delinquency of modern youth.

No offense, but this is the thing everyone says when they have no counter-argument to offer to an opinion about the state of the world but want to disagree with it anyway. Yes, people have always been complaining about things. But that does not mean that technological and cultural changes don't have actual significant effects on the course of events in a society.


Actually, his point is extremely valid. Of course technology can have significant impacts on society. The point is that the burden of proof is on you to show that a different society will be a worse society, and humanity’s track record on these types of predictions is abysmal.

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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Mikeski » Sun Apr 01, 2018 8:55 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:One significant change the internet has made over earlier mass media is the two way nature of it. With broadcast media, enough powerful people have to get behind a crazy idea before it had a chance of spreading to all the gullible rubes out there. But with the internet, the first gullible rube to fall for some appealing form of insanity can directly pass it on to anyone else gullible enough to entertain it, who can all then spread it even further reaching ever less gullible people as it gains popularity and thus perceived credibility.


I don't think the two-way nature is as important as the the simplicity.

With broadcast media, you didn't need "enough" powerful people. You needed one, but that one had to be sufficiently rich and/or motivated.

Even on a local scale, you had to put in the effort to write that Letter to the Editor, or go sit in front of a camera in the local Public Broadcasting network studio, to get the word out about your all-tide-pod diet.

The Internet makes it very easy for the stupid and lazy to broadcast their message. If you're sitting around on TwitBookGram already, a little #hashtagactivism takes no effort at all.

In fact, it makes it easier for the stupid and lazy to get their message out than for the intelligent and motivated, since the latter spend their time being CEOs and welders and teachers and doctors and parents, and not sitting around online 24/7.


...I'm not sure this is what the comic was about, though. The comic was about the two-way nature of the www. Anyone can interject in anyone else's conversation! The death of the Echo Chamber!

It turns out the cure for echo chambers is trolls. I'm not sure the cure is an improvement over the disease.

(Edit: #1974... my birthyear comic! Sufficiently sarcastic, but probably below the 50% line for xkcd comics overall. Ah well.)

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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Soupspoon » Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:58 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:One significant change the internet has made over earlier mass media is the two way nature of it. With broadcast media, enough powerful people have to get behind a crazy idea before it had a chance of spreading to all the gullible rubes out there. But with the internet, the first gullible rube to fall for some appealing form of insanity can directly pass it on to anyone else gullible enough to entertain it, who can all then spread it even further reaching ever less gullible people as it gains popularity and thus perceived credibility.

Good Times!

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Re: 1974: "Conversational Dynamics"

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:39 pm UTC

I don't think conversation tends towards stupidity, I think it tends towards whatever low information intelligence is compatible with average thinking. It takes a fair modicum of intelligence to be wrong in the way many people on the internet are wrong, and it takes that wrongness becoming popularly understandable to a certain number of opinion leaders for it to take off and become viral.


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