Roll up, Roll out

I ended up going down a bit of a rabbit hole via Warren Ellis, who linked to Jay Springett, who linked to Matt Mullenweg, who linked to some nifty projects, and it got me thinking about what the state of the art these days even really is, as far as blogging and forums and online spaces are concerned.

I’d rather murder myself than ever go near any kind of online forum again. But a return to forum life for people who actually want to think and talk would fit with the current tone of the dark-forest-y online discourse I’ve seen.

Warren Ellis

I’m personally with Warren on this: I’m not inclined to create, manage, moderate, or even participate in a forum again any time soon. But I appreciate that forums are useful, may scratch a need for some people, and that the tools for forums are in dire need of some attention.

I must admit, I’ve not really been following the Dark Forest discourse as much as perhaps I should. It doesn’t quite fit for me, as a metaphor. I feel like a lot of the folks I see talking about that particular metaphor for online interaction are people who already built an audience, found their tribe, and then opted to withdraw to their enclaves, taking their tribe with them. That’s not a dark forest, that’s a raiding party.

Don’t get me wrong, I see what they’re talking about, and how devastating it can be to become that day’s Main Character, and that there is value in keeping a lower profile. But I feel like the metaphor falls down. So much of the online discourse they’re theoretically shying away from is centered around a desire to draw attention to yourself, to build an audience — in short, a popularity contest. So does that guardedness and wariness to share yourself more openly come from a dark forest where you could be destroyed, or does it come from a desire to control your narrative with the audience you’re trying to grow? I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something.

As a side note, I decided to start putting together a Glossary of the New Web, to try and capture various terms, concepts, systems, and tools that are part of the “internet discourse” these days. It’s not exhaustive, slightly opinionated, and generally brief, but I do try to link to where you might find out more. It’s a start.