Tag Archives: discussion

BB #31: Troll Bait

troll-0I’ve noticed over the years a drift in term (Internet) Troll. It’s possible the original sort of Troll isn’t around much anymore — for several reasons I don’t hang out socially on the internet much anymore. There is also that not everyone agrees with the original definition (although I think the evidence is clear).

So this is either a commemoration or a bid for language purity, I’m not sure which. Actually, it hardly matters which; the point is incredibly trivial, but it’s Sunday, and I’m feeling too lazy for serious thought. (It’s funny, but even in retirement I find I keep a weekly cycle in which the weekend signals different activity — time away from the computer mostly!)

My point is, an Internet Troll is a very specific creature.

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Deflection and Projection

inet highwayIn his 1982 book, Megatrends, John Naisbitt famously wrote, “We are drowning in information, but we are starved for knowledge.” What was true 30 years ago is true today at a level that is both jaw-dropping and mind-numbing. The interweb “highway” speeds past at a breath-taking pace; yesterday vanishes rapidly behind while tomorrow constantly barrels down on us. The sheer volume of traffic (meaning both ‘lots of’ and ‘very loud’) can be overwhelming.

I’d like to take the topics from last Thursday and Friday to a new level and talk about how we find knowledge and truth amid all that information. In a world filled with opinion and conflicting assertions, how do we tell fair from foul? When facts and expertise compete with ideology and status quo, how do we pick among them?

This is about ways to separate the wheat from the chaff.

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Vector Thinking #1

Last time I talked about opposing pairs: Yin and Yang, light and dark, north and south. I mentioned that some pairs are true opposites of each other (for example, north and south), whereas other pairs are actually a thing and the lack of that thing (for example, light and dark). Such pairs are only opposites in the sense that an empty cup is the opposite of a full cup.

However in both cases, the opposites stand for opposing ideas; two poles of polarity, and it is polarization that I address today. Specifically I want to discuss a way of thinking that helps avoid it.

It’s easy to divide the world into sides. Many sayings begin with, “There’s two kinds of…” It seems easier to break things down into opposing points of view than to consider a variety of views. It seems easier to compare features between two things than twenty. Our court system has two sides and so does our political system (despite many attempts to create a viable third party).

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