Breaking the internet (hotels, guestnet style)
eslerj at gmail.com
Tue Dec 8 16:12:05 CST 2009
On Tue, Dec 8, 2009 at 4:52 PM, Paul Vixie <vixie at isc.org> wrote:
> > Date: Tue, 8 Dec 2009 15:21:30 -0600
> > From: Jorge Amodio <jmamodio at gmail.com>
> > Among the many wonderful things Internet has created in the past 2+
> > decades, it gave birth to a countless number of "Internet Experts" ...
> for example, some of us got a chance to witness the following. i've
> removed all identifying marks. (i was NOT the author NOR the offender,
> but the author does read this mailing list, and several of you will no
> doubt recognize the flaming style once you consider the time/date stamp.)
> ------- Forwarded Message
> To: ...
> Subject: Re: verbal brickbats
> Date: Sun, 02 Jun 96 23:37:40 PDT
> From: ...
> My guess is that most people just ignore you. Which might be a shame,
> because your point of view is different enough from the average member
> of the list that you are valuable here just by being different. I think
> of you as a pompous egomaniac nut case, but that's just my opinion; I
> have no Greek or Latin quotations to back it up and no 5-point treatise
> about how some part of scripture says you're a bad person. It's just
> what I believe, based entirely on what you've said here.
> In your world you're a fancy professor with power and authority. You're
> probably the intellectual terror of [your] postal code. Here in my
> world of cyberspace you're just an arrogant twit who knows Greek. If
> you want to spend your time making impassioned arguments to the people
> who already agree with you, then just keep doing what you're doing. If
> your goal is to change somebody's mind about one of the topics that you
> address, then you need to learn both some manners and some rhetorical
> technique. If you want to teach somebody, to expand somebody's
> understanding, to increase the number of people in the world who agree
> with you, then please listen to me, because here in cyberspace I'm the
> guy with the power and experience and authority and you're just an
> insect. ...
> Let me give you a few pointers on being taken more seriously.
> * First, you have the habit of making arguments from authority, rather
> than as an individual. Sometimes it is important to establish
> your authority in some area, in much the same way that an expert
> witness in a courtroom establishes his credibility and authority on the
> topic for which he is to testify.
> You may think of yourself as an authority on the matters that you are
> expounding on, but we don't yet. Your academic pedigree and your
> quotations from ancient languages are just bluster here on the Internet.
> The general principle here in cyberspace is that we participate as
> individuals and not as representatives of authoritative bodies. You can
> earn the right to wield the authority of some body on whose behalf you
> speak, but you don't walk in our door holding that authority just
> because you are B.A., M.A., Ph.D. and have a white beard.
> If your goal in writing to the Internet is to change somebody's mind
> about some topic that you care about, then you really must learn to
> communicate in a very different style.
> * Second, you are constantly trying to impress us with how much better
> educated you are than we are. This might be related to the first item,
> above, since if you're going to be arguing from authority then you
> probably need to keep establishing that you have some authority. I
> think you'll find that this is a pretty highly educated crowd, but you
> don't catch us relying on our academic pedigrees instead of on our
> ability to communicate. I am quite certain that I have absolutely as
> many degrees as you do, and I am completely certain that I know many
> more obscure languages than you do, but if I can't win an argument with
> you based on what I say and how I say it, then my degrees are all just
> puffery, aren't they?
> But in establishing a precedent of authority and pedigree as the basis
> for power, you are treading on dangerous ground. Here in cyberspace you
> aren't in your world, you're in mine. If you make the mistake of trying
> to establish some ground rules in which argument by authority is the
> norm, then you'd better make sure that you don't ruffle the feathers of
> somebody who has more of it than you do. I can make the Internet do
> anything I want it to do. I can perform the digital equivalent of
> heaving lightning bolts in front of your chariot, and rending the earth
> beneath your mail reader. I can turn your hard disk into a toad. I'm a
> technocrat. But I won't, because we professionals don't act that way. I
> don't have to brandish my power and authority and education and
> knowledge of arcana in order to get people to listen to me. I try to
> make a crisp argument and let my words carry that argument. If I fail,
> then I don't go running for some Greek derivation or invoke some
> long-dead philosopher. Heck, I don't even go running for analogies from
> Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven", which is every bit as fine a piece of
> literature as Aristophanes.
> * Third, you convey a complete disdain for your reader. Your writing
> style reeks of the belief that your time is so much more important than
> the time of your reader that you can't be bothered to write correctly
> or to edit what you write. If you'd like to have more readers, then it
> would be very worthwhile for you to be more respectful of them. Among
> other things, this means that you need to write in a way that makes
> it easier for your reader to read: use real sentences with real
> capital letters at the beginnings of them, and do try to spell as many
> words right as you can muster.
> So mind your manners, learn to communicate better, stop insulting your
> readers, and then come back and contribute your intellect to [this]
> mailing list. If you keep acting like a jerk I'm going to wake
> up some morning, yawn, make a cup of tea, and then vaporize your
> mailbox. Sometimes we supremely powerful technocrats just have a bad
> ------- End of Forwarded Message
This is a great email, it belongs on countless blogs. Written back then,
still relevant now.
Joel Esler | 302-223-5974 | gtalk: jesler at sourcefire.com
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