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All hail DaShiv.
September 28, 2007 10:28 PM   Subscribe

NY Times: "DaShiv is a star, an internationally famous portrait photographer". The article also mentions ThePinkSuperhero and some guy named Matthew Haughey.
posted by epimorph to MetaFilter-Related at 10:28 PM (260 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

You're fucking kidding me.
posted by SassHat at 10:35 PM on September 28, 2007


And last, but certainly not least...

Another user there, Chad Okere, a 27-year-old computer programmer in Ames, Iowa, who uses the screen name Delmoi, has posted more than 13,000 comments.
posted by Poolio at 10:36 PM on September 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Double! Let's keep this one open, but do the captions on a couple of the slide show photos look wrong to you guys?
posted by lalex at 10:38 PM on September 28, 2007


Touché!
posted by Brittanie at 10:41 PM on September 28, 2007


Oops... Sorry, Delmoi!

lalex, I even reloaded the page before hitting "post," and your thread wasn't there. It's a conspiracy, I tell ya!
posted by epimorph at 10:42 PM on September 28, 2007


Pretty damn cool. I knew I should have gone to that meet-up.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:44 PM on September 28, 2007


Great minds, epimorph, great minds. I am just grateful I got to meet DaShiv before he became internationally famous.
posted by lalex at 10:47 PM on September 28, 2007


Yeah, the captions are reversed on two of the slideshow images, the one with TPS smooching DaShiv, and the one with lauranesson, who I've not heard of before but who is totally cute.
posted by jonson at 10:52 PM on September 28, 2007


Holy shit.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:52 PM on September 28, 2007


Wicked!! :D Metafilter's Very Own Dashiv!
posted by Phire at 10:58 PM on September 28, 2007


"Dashiv is in town and the celebration has not ceased....Strange women are opening their apartments to him. Three parties have been given in his honor. His beer mug has been constantly refilled. All hail DaShiv. Who in the world is DaShiv?"

Fuck you Roger Clemens. Fuck you Johnny Damon. Fuck you Sexy New York Men. Dashiv Is In Town!!!
posted by ericb at 10:58 PM on September 28, 2007


Okay, can we get to the meat of the matter here? As in, how I am listed in the caption but not visible in the photograph??
posted by hermitosis at 11:01 PM on September 28, 2007


Also, I would like to go on record as by far the strangest woman who opened her apartment to DaShiv.
posted by hermitosis at 11:01 PM on September 28, 2007


Well, he does take nice photos!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:02 PM on September 28, 2007


Wicked!! :D Metafilter's AMERICA'S Very Own Dashiv!

Fixed that for you.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:07 PM on September 28, 2007


So I guess the NYT trend piece means that Metafilter has been over for about six months, huh?
posted by ottereroticist at 11:10 PM on September 28, 2007 [19 favorites]


Holy shit, my friends are in the New York Times!
posted by ottereroticist at 11:11 PM on September 28, 2007


Wow, that was really weird to see something I'm familiar with used in a weird context like a NYT style piece.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:16 PM on September 28, 2007


Here's to doing it right. Over on the Something Awful forums, goons are killing each other and not making the New York Times.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:18 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


One does not think of the Style section all that often when one is at a meet up. Now if the reincarnation of Diane Arbus were the editor...
posted by y2karl at 11:22 PM on September 28, 2007


OH.
MY.
GOD.
posted by scody at 11:28 PM on September 28, 2007


Yeah, as said, the captions for photos five and seven are reversed. Also, as said—and this bears repeating—the person in photo five is “lauranesson, who I've not heard of before but who is totally cute”. Of course we all recognize TPS in photo seven. And elsewhere, but we oughtn't say where.

The article rubbed me a bit the wrong way. And not just because I'm not mentioned. What's with all the “be something they can't be in the real world” thing? Sure, a few people pretend to be people they are not. But most of us are just who we are.

There's this whole insinuation that Internet culture isn't actually real culture and actual people interacting. That it's all a fake substitute for the real thing. This is getting tiresome. Shouldn't the fact that a not-insignificant portion of the most active (and others, of course) people on MeFi go to the trouble to meet together in the Real World be a clue that, you know, it's not “pretend”?

DaShiv isn't the only person with a nice camera who takes photos at meetups. There's a good reason that he's a MeFi star. It's because his photos are good. That's true whether or not we know him from here.

Nevertheless, I'm damn sure taking my new DSLR to the next meetup I attend. Maybe a cute woman will kiss my cheek.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:28 PM on September 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the captions are reversed on two of the slideshow images

Okay, that makes sense. Are the photos meant to be credited to "Ben" Hsiao?
posted by lalex at 11:32 PM on September 28, 2007


Wow. I know the Boston contingent has been meeting up a LOT more often lately but we clearly have a hell of a long way to go.
posted by Ryvar at 11:32 PM on September 28, 2007


There's this whole insinuation that Internet culture isn't actually real culture and actual people interacting. That it's all a fake substitute for the real thing. This is getting tiresome.

I remarked to someone else that got interviewed that from the first time I talked to the reporter, I understood that was his thesis and he was going to hammer it out no matter what I said. I spent about 30 minutes on the phone explaining why people flock to mefi, meetups, and why people comment, with tons of real-world equivalents in an attempt to steer him away from the same old tired "LOL losers in their basements play around on the internet all day to enliven their dreary real life" bullshit. I had no idea it was going to be in the Style section, so I guess I shouldn't have expected anything more than something silly and fleeting.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:38 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: bridling at being treated like CBers
posted by Cranberry at 11:38 PM on September 28, 2007


CBers were characterized in Time magazine as a subculture
posted by Cranberry at 11:40 PM on September 28, 2007


"So I guess the NYT trend piece means that Metafilter has been over for about six months, huh?"

ZING! I "favorite" you now?

(I read out loud the bit about how it was just like talk radio, from the dipshit who works at Blogger and Podcaster magazine, the industry mag nobody reads.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:43 PM on September 28, 2007


One of the many faults of the NYT piece is that it tried to cover a huge area in a few column inches. That only proved how little press knows about the subject
posted by Cranberry at 11:44 PM on September 28, 2007


DaShiv’s posts on MetaFilter, which has about 30,000 active users, have been “favorited” 297 times.

Psssht. Amateur.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:57 PM on September 28, 2007 [6 favorites]


Gosh in the NYT and they didn't even need to kill anyone!
posted by gomichild at 12:03 AM on September 29, 2007


And yet all the slideshow photos are credited to "Ben Hsiao." Hey DaShiv, your evil twin brother is trying to take credit for your pictures!

Fucking Style Section.
posted by kyleg at 12:06 AM on September 29, 2007


"Despite his growing fame, he doesn’t see himself creating his own blog soon" - au contraire, and fantastic photos they are. I especially like this one.
posted by tellurian at 12:09 AM on September 29, 2007


Total crap article with a condescending thesis and feeble armchair-psychology.

(returns to dreary life as Supervillain Max Proctologos)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:22 AM on September 29, 2007


How odd. There was a Times photographer at the Astoria meetup? How did the photos get chosen? My Mefite husband's singing "green-eyed lady, fashion lady" to me and it's cracking me and my terrible hair up.

Too bad about the article's spin, but here's hoping that it somehow brings more people to DaShiv's photography and generally does good things for him -- he totally deserves that to happen. Myself, I'm going to hide in the basement now. It's so safe -- so warm -- so nicely redolent of Bounce.
posted by melissa may at 12:41 AM on September 29, 2007


So I guess the NYT trend piece means that Metafilter has been over for about six months, huh?

Nah, it means the Times has been over for about 6 years.

And don't worry Matt, nobody reads the Times, they just look at the pictures.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:44 AM on September 29, 2007


Wow, just wow.
posted by -t at 12:54 AM on September 29, 2007


YOU
HAVE
GOT
TO
BE
FUCKING
KIDDING
ME
posted by loquacious at 1:00 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


More seriously:

mathowie wrote: I spent about 30 minutes on the phone explaining why people flock to mefi, meetups, and why people comment, with tons of real-world equivalents in an attempt to steer him away from the same old tired "LOL losers in their basements play around on the internet all day to enliven their dreary real life" bullshit.

See, sometimes I wonder if this attitude is based in insecurity on the part of the (erroneous) belief-holder. I wonder if people feel threatened, and therefore unable to understand?

I'm attracted to interacting with like minds online because, frankly, I'm generally bored to tears by those I meet "in real life" in my day-to-day meanderings.

Sucks, but it's true. Technocracy and meritocracy be damned.

(Not so much lately, as I've been very lucky and fortunate, but traditionally when I've been more mainstream and more integrated in "normal", non artist-weirdo society.)
posted by loquacious at 1:04 AM on September 29, 2007


“here's hoping that it somehow brings more people to DaShiv's photography and generally does good things for him -- he totally deserves that to happen.”

Yep. He's an awfully nice guy.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:04 AM on September 29, 2007


Ha!!! I love it. Yay, "Ben"! And strange women of Metafilter!

I'm also so pleased to come back and read the comments here that totally validate my wtf? feeling about the article's tone (1995 called etc.). So very, very silly. But, yay, Ben! :)
posted by taz at 1:29 AM on September 29, 2007


lol New Dork Times, rite?
posted by Hat Maui at 1:31 AM on September 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


Holy shit. Hello, world.

One day you're all nervous about finally being in a town where these crazy MeFi people have meetups; you're finally going to one and you bring your roommate just to make sure you don't get overtly nervous about meeting a roomful of strangers...

Then TPS is greeting you, asking you if you knew a NYT photographer is in the house...

Then said (good-looking) photographer is all up in your business while you try to scarf down some delicious peanutty tofu...

Then you drink waaaaay too much with DaShiv and spend the next day wondering if anyone else is as hungover as you...

And then your face is all over the Times website. Weird as all get-up.

So the moral is: I'm sorry that my head filled the space that could have been taken up by any number of more frequent posters, but I definitely appreciate y'all calling me cute. Heh.
posted by lauranesson at 1:32 AM on September 29, 2007 [11 favorites]


There's something quite satisfying about reading a reporter making snarky comments in a written medium about how pathetic it is to spend time making snarky comments in a written medium.
posted by chrismear at 1:36 AM on September 29, 2007 [20 favorites]


Well, it certainly beats the usual "blogger writes about other blog, film at 11."
posted by grouse at 1:52 AM on September 29, 2007


"LOL losers in their basements play around on the internet all day to enliven their dreary real life"

that's a fucking lie - i live on the 3rd floor
posted by pyramid termite at 1:59 AM on September 29, 2007 [4 favorites]


Agreed about the tone of the article...what's with this total non-sequitur seven sentences in?

"[DaShiv] does not have a girlfriend and lives with a roommate."

I can only look forward to my own NYT Style section profile, tee hee:

"Despite being in her late twenties, lalex is single and lives alone with her cats. She confesses to spending lots of time on the internet - her laptop is her most frequent bedtime companion."
posted by lalex at 2:02 AM on September 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Despite being in her late twenties, lalex is single and lives alone with her cats. She confesses to spending lots of time on the internet - her laptop is her most frequent bedtime companion."

You obviously aren't going to enough meetups.
posted by grouse at 3:02 AM on September 29, 2007


By the way, is that jonmc as the link pic for the slideshow?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:02 AM on September 29, 2007


Yes.

Also, I live alone with my cat.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:28 AM on September 29, 2007


Oh, this:

“what's with this total non-sequitur seven sentences in?”

Salkin was probably aiming for The Unexpected Juxtaposition. Instead he managed The Writer's Smirk.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:33 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


--My Mefite husband's singing "green-eyed lady, fashion lady" to me and it's cracking me and my terrible hair up. --

I have wondered before what was going through your mind melissa may. That's actually my favourite Mefi photograph. It just kind of encompasses something of the Mefi spirit - there's a slightly wicked in-joke appreciation and a snap moment of infectious happiness in that there visage. If a campaign to package Brand Mefi occurred, that would be my shot of choice. And it would of course hide the boyzone reality as well.
posted by peacay at 3:46 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wish I had a cat.

Also, wtf.
posted by blacklite at 4:24 AM on September 29, 2007


Also, how come the NYT didn't harp about delmoi being unable to spell? Maybe that will be in next week's gossip column.
posted by blacklite at 4:25 AM on September 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ceiling cat is proud of this fine accomplishment.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:34 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


On the up-side, lauranesson, you're pretty much set for life if you crave attention from n3rd boyZ. Just ask scody. Or ask me to ask her. I'm outside her window RIGHT NOW with my boombox, blasting track 4 of Peter Gabriel's So.

Hmm, what's that?

Oh... I see. Yeah, umm... I knew that. My copy of the album must be mislabeled. *skips to the next track*

How's that for obscure?
posted by Eideteker at 4:39 AM on September 29, 2007


And isn't the lyric "passion lady" not "fashion lady"? I am too lazy to google it, but not too lazy to dust off my copy of the LP and crank the volume all the way to 11 at quarter-to-aight on a Saturday morn.

TO THE TURNTABLE! *spinny noise then N@man theme song plays*
posted by Eideteker at 4:42 AM on September 29, 2007


It is "passion lady," Eideteker, but let's not ruin a mild pun with literalism.

That was a lovely thing to say, peacay. Since you asked, here's a hazy approximation of what was going through my mind at the time:

Circus music. (That tends to happen whenever I've had a few too many.)
Sutter wine in little airport-size bottles is somehow even more terrible than usual, my god.
It's so hot.
My hair has never looked worse.
There are so many people here I want to meet but I feel weirdly shy and tongue-tied.
Please don't take my picture.
Bob is nice, I'll let him take my picture.
Why is Bob telling me to imagine that mathowie's some kind of puppy-kicker?
He's taking 5,000 pictures of me and I bet none of them turn out.
vacapinta's cute/the bartender's cute/Bob's cute/Specklet's cute/jessamyn's cute/Hiram's cuter than cute. Ha cha cha.
I hope someone's sober enough to drive.

So I guess it would be a good shot for Brand MeFi because I was drunk, a little randy, fairly self-conscious, and overthinking my own beans big time.
posted by melissa may at 5:01 AM on September 29, 2007 [10 favorites]


Nice to see MeFites get their 15 minutes, but geez that article was shit fer grammer, flow and style.
posted by mds35 at 5:22 AM on September 29, 2007


"they live in a world where nobody listens to them"

Fucking OUCH.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:51 AM on September 29, 2007


Who?
posted by psmealey at 5:53 AM on September 29, 2007


Blimey! I get an indirect mention in the slideshow.
posted by essexjan at 6:09 AM on September 29, 2007


And yet, there's her name in a photo caption, where Google has no trouble finding it. As someone who values internet privacy, that sucks.
.....
But let's not argue it; it probably was poor form for me to bring the subject up. I was just irritated that the Times would show accidental indiscretion.

The fact that my full name was in the photo and not the article was not accidental. I asked the reporter not list me by my full name in the article, and I told the photographer the same thing at the meetup. But someone else in the photo department called me and said I had to use my real name because they'll only let you be anonymous "if your life is in danger". So I gave it to that person. Then the reporter called me back, saying that I had told the photo department my name and could he use it, too. I told him he could if really wanted to. He replied that he wasn't sure he needed to, so then I knew he wanted to print in the paper that I didn't want my real name tied to my internet history, because that's interesting or funny or whatever.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:14 AM on September 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


I was actually more curious as to how you get a director-level position at 24 years old. What's your secret?
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 6:20 AM on September 29, 2007


A very small company?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:23 AM on September 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


I haven't read this whole thread yet and just a few sentences of the article, but I was one of the strange women who opened my apartment to him. YES, I'M IN THE NY TIMES.
posted by spec80 at 6:23 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


YES STRANGE WOMEN UNITE!!!!

And now, I have to turn away from the glare of all that glory and go be involved in my "real life" where no one listens to me (hahahahahahahaah).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:30 AM on September 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


And I thought we were getting in the Sunday :(
posted by spec80 at 6:37 AM on September 29, 2007


Mazel Tov guys. Too bad that article is the usual smug, poorly written Times bullshit.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:43 AM on September 29, 2007


If my cat and I went to meetups, he would probably be the one that gets welcomed with open arms by strange women and profiled in the New York Times. Sigh.
posted by steef at 6:45 AM on September 29, 2007


Wow, that was really weird to see something I'm familiar with used in a weird context like a NYT style piece.

Second time for me this year. Weird. And yay team!

I removed some of the comments that directly quoted the "I don't want my username linked to my MeFi name" caption just so it's a little less Googleable, folks might want to watch that a little.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:47 AM on September 29, 2007


WTF -- on slide 5, in which TPS is kissing DaShiv, there's a caption about lauranesson.

I weep for the degraded standards of my profession.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:50 AM on September 29, 2007


And the lauranesson shot has the TPS caption. Jeebus.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:51 AM on September 29, 2007


Seth Chadwick, who is the Chowhound mentioned in the article, is someone I recommended when the writer came to me looking for particularly active Chowhounds who invest a lot of time in the site. He mentioned that in speaking with him, the writer seemed kind of obsessed with the 'not making any money off it' angle.

I think that's a pretty ickily mean spirited article on the whole. The basic contention seems to be 'these people aren't brilliant or talented or committed enough to maintain their own blog so they comment elsewhere'. Which makes no frigging sense when you consider that Seth has his your own blog, DaShiv is celebrated for his photography and not so much his comments (nothing against your comments, DaShiv) and the Gawker guy works at Gawker and as such could be considered to be commenting on his own blog. As if community and sharing your talents with others are somehow subordinate to self-promotion or having your own domain name.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:01 AM on September 29, 2007


Metafilter: these people aren't brilliant or talented or committed enough to maintain their own blog so they comment elsewhere
posted by psmealey at 7:02 AM on September 29, 2007


A certain Marshall Poe is also getting a lot of inches in that article.
posted by Wolof at 7:03 AM on September 29, 2007


There was no direct linking of the named person in the photo and the mentions in the article of TPS. How could anyone who didn't recognize her connect the two?

With the mentions in this thread, though, anyone reading it knows at least that TPS is one of the women photographed and identified by her real name. However, there are only two women identified by their real names in the photographs. One of them must be TPS.

My point is that without knowing that TPS was identified by name in a photo—that is to say, if no one had explicitly mentioned it—then no one except those who recognized her in the photograph would connect her real name with her pseudonym. I probably shouldn't have mentioned anything at all in my first comment, but I was trying to obliquely warn people away from explicitly connecting those dots in these comments.

This comment will self-destruct in ten, nine, eight...
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:05 AM on September 29, 2007


BREAKER BREAKER ONE NINE
posted by quonsar at 7:16 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


On MetaFilter, readers can mark other users’ comments as a favorite, and commenters derive pride from how many times they have been “favorited,” he said.

Shoot me now.

Interesting/annoying article; despite the "basement loser" vibe, which (let's face it) is inevitable when journalists go near the topic, it could have been a lot worse, and the main point is that DaShiv got the attention he deserves. Go DaShiv (and you strange women of Metafilter)!
posted by languagehat at 7:18 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Looks like quonsar has a bubblegummer on his tail.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:20 AM on September 29, 2007


On a related note: what is "the Mefi documentary" that I just got email about possibly appearing in? (Did if I miss mention of this?)
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:27 AM on September 29, 2007


Just looked at the slide show, which of course is terrific (melissa may, you're a doll), and the captions aren't bad—better than the story itself, anyway. This is really touching:

Los Angeles, April 2006 Radio7 died later in the year of heart complications at 29. She is one of six Mefites who have been memorialized with their own threads on the site. Mr. Hsiao said he misses her.

Here's the thread, and here's DaShiv's memorial comment.
posted by languagehat at 7:33 AM on September 29, 2007


WTF -- on slide 5, in which TPS is kissing DaShiv, there's a caption about lauranesson.

I weep for the degraded standards of my profession.


The photos in the slideshow are also credited to "Ben Hsaio", not Bob Hsaio.
posted by essexjan at 7:46 AM on September 29, 2007


If I could travel back ten years to tell my college freshman self that I'd be appearing in a NYT slideshow wearing the t-shirt for the website I work for and hoisting a beer, I don't know how exactly he'd have taken it. Dotcom boom and all, he'd probably have assumed that meant I was worth millions.

And other caption goofs aside, they didn't go capitalizing the admin staff's usernames willy-nilly. Go NYT!
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:49 AM on September 29, 2007


I am not ashamed to say that I squealed like a little girl when I saw my friends in the NY Times. Awesome!
posted by ColdChef at 7:52 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


The key here is that now we know the name of that hunkerifical Times photog.
Off to don my stalking cap.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:12 AM on September 29, 2007


I don't live alone, I have no cats (unless you count the strays who poop in my yard) and I HAVE a life.


This place is just an enjoyable part of it.

Take that, yankee New York Times. ;-P
posted by konolia at 8:12 AM on September 29, 2007


My hair has never looked worse.
There are so many people here I want to meet but I feel weirdly shy and tongue-tied.
Please don't take my picture.


Oh, God, get in line. That is how I always feel at meetups. You, at least, are eminently winsome.

Now that I've looked at the photographs, I have to add my admiration. They really are great.
posted by y2karl at 8:28 AM on September 29, 2007


Wooooooo!
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:29 AM on September 29, 2007


loquacious: sometimes I wonder if this attitude is based in insecurity on the part of the (erroneous) belief-holder. I wonder if people feel threatened, and therefore unable to understand?

From what I have observed, it's mainly based on ignorance: if they haven't experienced it, they can't grasp it. I have heard in 2007 the VP-Communications of a mid-size international company ask: "But what are all these people doing on the Web? They don't have a job?" And she is not alone.

And it's definitely not about knowledge: this person had commissioned and viewed several presentations about the use of forums, blogs, communities by leading businesses around the world. She "knew". But as long as they have not "experienced" it, they don't get it. So it can't exist.

It's especially frustrating or infuriating when it comes from people who should know better: VP-Communications or NYT's journalist.

But hey, great slide show. :-)
posted by bru at 8:37 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey Matt - why isn't this on the sidebar already!?

DaShiv, have you ever wanted to visit Maine?? :-)
posted by anastasiav at 8:37 AM on September 29, 2007


Sidebar! Sidebar! Sidebar!
posted by ColdChef at 8:44 AM on September 29, 2007


Is this where I mention that I really like DaShiv's photos? I guess it is. I really like DaShiv's photos.
posted by Kattullus at 8:46 AM on September 29, 2007


Go DaShiv (and you hot women of Metafilter)!

Fixed that for you. Though Jess needs to be beating that picture editor about the head for choosing the worst pic of her that I've ever seen.

Also, jonmc looking so handsome at his wedding that I would have married him myself.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:48 AM on September 29, 2007


Ye gods that's a terrible article.
posted by Skorgu at 8:54 AM on September 29, 2007


Sidebarred.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:56 AM on September 29, 2007


What's next?
Playboy: The girls of Metafilter?
posted by growabrain at 8:56 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jeebus. Terrible article, but hooray for DaShiv.

Dude, do you know many "part-time wedding photographers" would KILL for an "as featured in the New York Times Style Section"?
posted by ambrosia at 9:15 AM on September 29, 2007


I feel very relieved that my picture isn't in the NYT and I wasn't mentioned...especially since I snapped to the Times guy he'd taken enough--I was looking forward to DaShiv's visit and seeing how I looked through his lens (and am very glad to have met him!), but I felt leery about the article.
posted by brujita at 9:19 AM on September 29, 2007


Just ask scody. Or ask me to ask her. I'm outside her window RIGHT NOW with my boombox, blasting track 4 of Peter Gabriel's So.

Shoot, that was you, eideteker? Damn, if I'd known that, I wouldn't have called the cops. Sorry, man. No harm, no foul?
posted by scody at 9:22 AM on September 29, 2007


Wow. Surreal.

and: Go, dashiv!!

From another woman who, despite being in her late twenties mid-thirties, lives alone, with her cat catless.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:26 AM on September 29, 2007


So I'm sitting in my crappy hotel room Wednesday night in New Jersey, trying to figure out how to get to Astoria for under a hundred bucks, and failing.

Instead, I find the nearest liquor store and buy a bottle of Seagram's Lime-Twisted gin and spend the evening on #mefi.

I COULD HAVE BEEN IN THE TIMES, DAMMIT.

Ah, well.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:28 AM on September 29, 2007


Ha! I know famous people!! Yea, I had a sinking feeling it'd be that type of Styles piece specifically beating people over the head with one view of a "trend", but seriously, folks, I'm with CunningLinguist that one good of this article is founding out the name of Hotty Photog McGoodLookingston. Let's share leads, CL.
posted by kkokkodalk at 9:30 AM on September 29, 2007


Playboy: The girls of Metafilter?

Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I'd like to subscribe to your magazine.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:32 AM on September 29, 2007


Kudos, DaShiv, yay for you and your marvelous photos. And what a trip and a half to see all the mefites in the NYT, you are a good looking lot, the bunch of you! (And Melissa, you are adorable with cute hair - no worries, gf)

Nice to see DaShiv getting accolades, but I also have to ask that reporter wtf is up with that "wished for selves" and "sweet fantasy" crap? Annoying and dumb. And was I the only one who cringed to see LGF in the same paragraph in which we were described? Ewwww.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:34 AM on September 29, 2007


That's awesome! : )

So DaShiv, when will you be coming to Chicago? : )
posted by SisterHavana at 9:37 AM on September 29, 2007


All style, fashion and health journalists need a smack.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:50 AM on September 29, 2007


Hey, this is awesome. DaShiv did me and my girlfriend before he was famous!

Hm, that came out wrong.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:52 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


When People Who Matter begin to grasp that they matter much less than they thought or than they used to, and see that they are well on the way to scarcely mattering at all, but have no power to arrest the process, they are understandably peevish.
posted by jamjam at 9:53 AM on September 29, 2007


What's with all the “be something they can't be in the real world” thing? Sure, a few people pretend to be people they are not. But most of us are just who we are

Well, in fairness the writer talked to someone they didn't know named thepinksuperhero who didn't want to be connected in real life to what she does online. Nothing wrong with that at all. But I can see why someone looking in from the outside might still believe people are simply having fun online, or that it's pretend. Many people have no separation between the two (online/offline) but many still do.

Shouldn't the fact that a not-insignificant portion of the most active (and others, of course) people on MeFi go to the trouble to meet together in the Real World be a clue that, you know, it's not “pretend”?

New York has the biggest and most frequent meetups, and it's still (I'm guessing) anywhere from 10 to 30 people (and I think 30 might be generous) with many of them repeat attendees. So if we truly have that many active members, 30 people actually is insignificant when trying to get the read on 30,000.
posted by justgary at 9:56 AM on September 29, 2007


*looks at slideshow*

Aww, you guys are all adorable.

I promise not to stalk any of you.

*files photos under 'stalking material'*
posted by quin at 9:58 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nice to see DaShiv's talent being recognized, even if the article was such a prime example of piss-poor hackery I wouldn't stoop to use it for fishwrap.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:00 AM on September 29, 2007


I'm an old married lady, so Hunky McFoxy is off-limits to me, but for you young gals, his contact info is here.
posted by GrammarMoses at 10:05 AM on September 29, 2007


The photos in the slideshow are also credited to "Ben Hsaio", not Bob Hsaio.

Pathetic, EJ, isn't it? The man is the subject of an article in the NYT, fergodsake.
posted by GrammarMoses at 10:09 AM on September 29, 2007


Also, for the record, that's not Burning Man, it's Zeitgeist.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:11 AM on September 29, 2007


Hey DaShiv, you may be (deservedly) internationally famous, but you're not internationally established until you get your passport updated and you cross the border.

Come to a Toronto meetup. We have chesterfields.
posted by maudlin at 10:14 AM on September 29, 2007


OMG GrammarMoses...first applehead dolls, now this? You are awesome. OK...um...so can you dig anything up on Danny Dumas from Wired? 'Cause I actually saw what he looked like for the first time on G4 last night and wow...Oh, wait what? Ooohh...sorry sorry, I see that we're trying to PROVE we're NOT creepy internet people in this thread. Sorry, guys, carry on.
posted by kkokkodalk at 10:15 AM on September 29, 2007


Yay for being in the NYT. And by being in the NYT I mean the back of my head looking just like a shadow in the bottom left hand corner of a 1" picture (which as far as I can tell is the only picture used that was actually taken by the Times photographer).
posted by langeNU at 10:17 AM on September 29, 2007


Prolific mefi posters have always been famous in my book, now they are famous to one and all. If I were to ever run into one of y'all in the streets, I would squeal and ask for an autograph. Metafilter: bigger than the Beetles, which are bigger than Jesus. Metafilter: God.
posted by msali at 10:18 AM on September 29, 2007


Goddamnit, where's Leah McLaren and my Globe and Mail Metafilter profile? Or maybe I can get a mention in "Metro" at least.
posted by GuyZero at 10:19 AM on September 29, 2007


kkokkodalk: check your e-mail. :-)
posted by GrammarMoses at 10:33 AM on September 29, 2007


:: I'm an old married lady, so Hunky McFoxy is off-limits to me, but for you young gals, his contact info is here.

The photo on his front page looks like a first-goatse reaction shot.
posted by stopgap at 10:34 AM on September 29, 2007


TPS no longer has her real name displayed in the photo caption, so at least they fixed that.
posted by maudlin at 10:40 AM on September 29, 2007


So how many sign-ups did this generate mathowie? :)
posted by public at 10:51 AM on September 29, 2007


TPS no longer has her real name displayed in the photo caption, so at least they fixed that.

Meanwhile, I DO. Holding out hope that the photo is just cropped and I'll actually show up in the print edition!!

But then again, that means I'll have to fork over big$$ for the sunday Times.
posted by hermitosis at 10:51 AM on September 29, 2007


-- loquacious: sometimes I wonder if this attitude is based in insecurity on the part of the (erroneous) belief-holder. I wonder if people feel threatened, and therefore unable to understand?

-- From what I have observed, it's mainly based on ignorance: if they haven't experienced it, they can't grasp it.


I only skimmed the article, but I thought it was cool that the Times gave Metafilter some attention ... if only because my wife has been chiding me for my Metafilter addiction and I can now show her the article and say, "Look, sweetie, the New York Times is actually paying attention to this website I am addicted to."

As to the ignorance of people who belittle this: I had lurked at Metafilter a long time before joining in January 2006. It took me a while to realize how cool Metafilter is. And once I joined, it took me a while to really get drawn in. In my experience, it is not immediately evident how cool Metafilter is. You have to hang around and participate a while before you "get" it. And certainly a reporter on assignment is not going to get it within the time allotted to write the article.
posted by jayder at 10:58 AM on September 29, 2007


Holy crap.

I'm trying to imagine someone who's not familiar with how online communities like this work, and just being confused. I would have interpreted this article as nonsense.
posted by spiderskull at 10:59 AM on September 29, 2007


I'm glad to see DaShiv getting some due respect. I guess his rate for weddings just went up, eh?

Attention other DSLR owners who plan to attend meetups (erm, Ethereal Bligh). Invest in a speedlight and off-camera flash cable. You're going to be in low light, and built in-flash shots always looks like shit by comparison because you can't aim the flash away from your subject.

I just got one from Jessops and the difference is, well, startling. I'm still playing around with it, but it's (to my mind) absolutely necessary if you're shooting in a pub. Even if you're using a cheap kit lens, you'll get much better images.

It wasn't too much money, either.
posted by chuckdarwin at 11:13 AM on September 29, 2007


I'm not as offended by the article as some here seem to be, but this excerpt is dumb:

Like the narrator of the Elton John song “Rocket Man,” frequent commenters can spend a little time every day inhabiting the identity of their wished-for selves — Mr. Hsiao becomes DaShiv, or Georgia Logothetis, a second-year lawyer in Chicago, metamorphoses into the respected liberal commenter georgia10 on Daily Kos. Online they indulge the sweet fantasy that “I’m not the man they think I am at home.”

Why is using an online username a "metamorphosis"? Why is being making a comment online "inhabiting [a] wished-for self"? It has never occurred to me, when writing comments as "jayder," that I am being anything other than my real self.
posted by jayder at 11:15 AM on September 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


"A Commenter's Art"? Captions and names with wrong and misspelled names? And what on earth is that article trying to tell readers?

And, of course, jonmc's face as a link in the "Fashion and Style" section of the New York Times.

This is a beautiful piece of performance art. All hail the NYT.
posted by ibmcginty at 11:18 AM on September 29, 2007


On MetaFilter, readers can mark other users’ comments as a favorite, and commenters derive pride from how many times they have been “favorited,” he said.

Aww, and at first read I thought I didn't get mentioned in the article, but it turns out I did afterall.
posted by jonson at 11:20 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


On MetaFilter, readers can mark other users’ comments as a favorite, and commenters derive pride from how many times they have been “favorited,” he said.

I'm not sure this is what favorites means to me, but I think it's a great reason to call them bookmarks instead.
posted by Roger Dodger at 11:25 AM on September 29, 2007


but it turns out I did afterall.

I definitely thought of you when I read that bit.
posted by chuckdarwin at 11:25 AM on September 29, 2007


Why is using an online username a "metamorphosis"?

It's a metamorphosis into someone whose name and comments and posts (Hello there, Mandingo Party!) will not appear if a potential employer, date, etc. decides to google my real-life name.

That's the kind of metamorphosis I'm looking for.
posted by jason's_planet at 11:36 AM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


OMG--that is so great---DaShiv, make sure that author of the piece knows you're available to do commercial work too--email him and tell him as you're thanking him. This can start a new career for you.
posted by amberglow at 11:38 AM on September 29, 2007


And their Sunday magazine too...
posted by amberglow at 11:40 AM on September 29, 2007


Since this is a double, shouldn't it be titled "All-Stars of the Clever Repost"?

Anyway, way to go DaShiv!
posted by ooga_booga at 11:45 AM on September 29, 2007


i have an email too--what's the documentary thing? who's doing it?
posted by amberglow at 11:46 AM on September 29, 2007


I haven't read the article. It sounds like the writer is severely retarded in his knowledge and understanding of MeFi and other online communities.

For me, at least, MeFi is strictly akin to going to the pub and shooting the shit with folk I know. It's "Cheers" for the online crowd. Or a British pub, with sing-alongs and other silliness.

Why the silly name? Why not, is my response. I could use my boring parentally-given name, but it's not particularly memorable. It'd be even more anonymous than this name! And, hell, we'd probably have at least four of us differentiated only by our middle initial.

And, besides, I have been known to share too much detail. I really don't need my co-workers looking at me and thinking "Hey, he fucks goats after hours!" It would be awkward.

Print media writing about online media is a case of blind men feeling up the elephant: they have no idea whatsoever what they're dealing with, and their best guesses sound inane to those who know what's going on.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:14 PM on September 29, 2007


Congrats Matt and all. This very cool. Recognition for your hard work at making MetaFilter Co. a fun place to hang is well deserved.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:19 PM on September 29, 2007


Since many blogs have a readership of one — or, at best, the writer, his mother and some guy he sat next to in seventh grade who found him on Google...

Oh and props to the NYT for their uncanny description of my blog.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:21 PM on September 29, 2007


What's next?
Playboy: The girls of Metafilter?


No, first we do a calendar, THEN we get into Playboy.
posted by orange swan at 12:31 PM on September 29, 2007


pfft.. i have more favorites than daShiv.. where's my NY Times profile?
posted by empath at 12:52 PM on September 29, 2007


Also, I need to start showing up to DC meet-ups.
posted by empath at 12:54 PM on September 29, 2007


jayder, it's the NYT Style section. They have to get something wrong, or they violate their own Terms of Use.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:09 PM on September 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


My first reaction after clicking the slideshow link?

"Oh man, look at those artifacts! DaShiv, you've been JPEGGED!!"
posted by Anything at 1:16 PM on September 29, 2007


what the fuck
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:45 PM on September 29, 2007


jayder, it's the NYT Style section. They have to get something wrong, or they violate their own Terms of Use.

yup--multiple things wrong--and they're always years and years late on trends (and also think that any 2 examples of something constitute one automatically).
posted by amberglow at 1:50 PM on September 29, 2007


Though Jess needs to be beating that picture editor about the head for choosing the worst pic of her that I've ever seen.

Holy shit, I didn't realize that there were photos of anything other than the Astoria meetup with this article. I love DaShiv muchly but I don't think that photo is that super, though I had been drinking for hours and was sweaty and basically in a pitch black room. All four of us look like dorks in that mod shot, we've all looked much much better. (sorry DaShiv, you did your best) But really, who says Portland Ore. anymore, that's so weird and 1950's/

The more I think about this article -- I spent the day hanging out with REAL PEOPLE, some of whom are ALSO MeFites -- the more it irks me that if you know each other in person and use the web to stay in touch people are like "wow that's awesome" whereas if you seek out people online who share your interests and then get together in real life people are like "wassamatter, can't make REAL friends?!"

Like this: "There are those who have blogs. Then there are those who leave comments on other people’s blogs"

MeFi isn't "other people's blogs" it's everyone's blog. It's such a weird way of explaining it, and such an obvious slant/spin. Many blogs have a readership of one? Really? This article is no more clueless or annoying than the hipster librarian one a few months ago, but they're not even plugged in enough to say things like "user generated content" and instead rely on the tired "those who can't, comment" saw. I'd think a more interesting angle would be that many people -- like the Gawker guy, like me and mathowie, like the lifehacker/boingboing/tpm people -- make their living at this sort of thing and that's 1) a huge shift from even five yers ago in most cases and 2) sort of cool, I think.

Anyow, neat to see everyone in the "e-paper" [is that what all the kids are calling it these days] but man... strange.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:24 PM on September 29, 2007


Great to see DaShiv get props. I'm glad I saw this thread today, instead of spitting coffee all over my dead tree Sunday Times tomorrow morning.

What I want to know is, how many ponies will mathowie buy with all the five dollarses this article generates?

Ponies!

everyone here's already emailed the Times about the caption/credit issues, right?
posted by rtha at 2:36 PM on September 29, 2007


MetaFilter: It isn't "other people's blogs" it's everyone's blog.

jessamyn.
Best.
Tagline.
Ever.

except for...
The NYT Style section: They have to get something wrong, or they violate their own Terms of Use.
Isn't that where Judith Miller's working now?
posted by wendell at 2:42 PM on September 29, 2007


Nice article, managing to invoke LGF without referencing the... particular... qualities of many of its devotees. Anyway, anything that diverts the NYT from filling up space with one more pointless iphone article is welcome.
posted by meehawl at 2:59 PM on September 29, 2007


OH NOES, now I won't be able to walk out my door without pushing my way through throngs of screaming fans and women throwing their panties at me! The horror!

Actually, this has all been a pretty interesting process.

The Reporter: By the time he interviewed me in a cafe across the street from the NYT building , Allen seemed to already have the slant of the article cemented in his mind. At various points he cut off my answer mid-sentence to ask me his next question, probably since he already got the money quote he was looking for. One arc of the interview went like this:

Q: "So, what's it like being a Metafilter star?"
A: "Metafilter star? I guess many of them recognize my username, but..." (Wouldn't a Metafilter "star" have thousands of favorites and hundreds of profile contacts, unlike me?)

Q: "Have you ever gotten a date because of Metafilter?"
A: "Uh, not a single one so far." (Not until that Haughey bastard puts up dating.metafilter.com, anyway.)

Q: "You've been to a lot of meetups over the years. Can you tell me about the hookups that happen there?"
A: "Um, I think people mention that as a joke, mostly. It certainly hasn't happened to me yet." (I've been attending meetups for over three years now and I've been entitled to hookups this whole time?! I WANT MY $5 BACK!)

Q: "So do you think ThePinkSuperhero is hot?"
A: "Well yeah, of cours--" (Waaaaaaaaait a minute, I know what you're trying to do here! And while TPS is indeed wonderful, I can't let her jump ahead of her place on the waiting list*, so... sorry.)

* Applications accepted by email. Limited time offer only. Void where prohibited.

As you might imagine from some of his questions, I was actually concerned about how the article would appear. As it turns out though, none of my fears really materialized. I appreciated his kind (if hyberbolic) gesture in labeling me as an "internationally famous portrait photographer" with "growing fame", and maybe he was trying to make his article into some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. I also caught a couple of not-so-subtle digs though: for instance, noting that I "do not have a girlfriend" (instead of merely being single) to contrast against the dating advice that they had cherry-picked from my comment history. Or when I had mentioned that I shoot some weddings here and there to make rent while searching for a more career-oriented 8-to-5, he characterized me as being a "part time wedding photographer" in Real Life as opposed to an "internationally famous portrait photographer" on the Internet circuit. There does seem to me to be an undercurrent of people on the Internet are not who they are in real life in how he used me in the article, and with the other subjects as well -- despite the fact that I've made none of the grand claims about myself in the article!

Another odd thing with his article's thesis of "[t]here are those who have blogs, [and then] there are those who leave comments on other people’s blogs" is that while he asked me whether I'd had blogs in the past and whether I have one now, he didn't ask me whether I was planning on creating one in the future. I've actually been planning on putting together a photoblog in the near future in response to the many queries I receive about my non-meetup photos. (Look for it in Projects in the coming weeks!) So it was a bit strange for me to see him declare that I have no interest in creating blogs at all. Blogs and putting stuff on the Internet aren't such an either/or proposition.

That said, I can't really pan this article as many have done here, because I don't really know anything about the New York Times Style section. At a glance though, the article appearing in this article's place last week was about how a celebrity breakup could shatter the fragile self-esteem of an entire borough of NYC. So this piece doesn't seem too out-of-place in that setting; it seems to me that the reporter did the job that he was expected to do.

The Photographer: Joe seemed like a nice enough guy who shook my hand and humored my small talk when I spotted him coming through the door. Hardworking guy, too -- he stood up to chase me with his camera every time I stood up to shoot and chat, and I barely touched my own dinner that night (so neither did he, I would guess). Having just finished spending hours and hours fixing my photos' lighting in Photoshop, I don't envy him trying to shoot in meetup conditions AND meeting a quick deadline to boot. He used a dual-flash setup (one on-camera, one off-camera) to pretty much obliterate all ambient lighting, which gives usable photos straight out of the camera but doesn't really capture the mood of the gathering, I think. It's a hard and thankless job though so I can really sympathize with him. And hey, with the way all the MeFi ladies (and even some of the men) have been fawning over him, someone should go and feature him in a NYT Style article. I bet it'd be a popular one, at least here on MeFi!

If you're reading this, Joe: have a drink on me!

The Producer: Simone was very patient and understanding when she reached me on my cell phone during my layover at Midway, telling me not to apologize and calling me back after I'd cleared security. She asked for 7-10 of my "best" photos to use in their web gallery; it sounded like she was inviting me to create a DaShiv's Hit Parade of Hot Metafilter Women or something. Being worried about how the article would turn out though, I actually sat down on the plane and thought hard about how I would represent Metafilter using the control I have over this portion of the piece. When I got home I dug through my entire archives and came up with some photos that showed how Metafilter expanded my life personally, highlighted the Metafilter admins, and showed how Mefites connected with each other across the Internet and out in the world at large. Simone had asked for a brief note about each photo, and it turns out that I wound up writing the captions entirely (although they rewrote my "I"'s into the third person instead). I even managed to throw in an NYC lurker to give the gallery a bit of a local angle, as well as to show how quickly and fluidly online networks turn into flesh-and-blood ones through meetups. (And to bump lauranesson one point ahead of her brother in the "photos in newspapers" contest -- you owe me a drink next time!) I wished they had let me do the image manipulating for them -- the photos show a lot of jpeg artifacting that actually reflects poorly on me as a photographer -- but at the end of the day my goal was to make the web gallery a community showcase instead of being simply my "best" photos. And they pretty much left what I had submitted intact.

There were a couple of photos I submitted that they didn't publish. One was this photo of Specklet, which I thought would be great since Specklet's Tiny Animals on Fingers Flickr set had gotten lots of traffic/links, and I was hoping some of the NYT readers may have recognized her Flickr set as "hey I saw this cool thing on the web before, ahh so this is what Mefites do". And the NYT staff also didn't publish my favorite photo of the bunch, this photo of brundlefly at a Berkeley meetup shortly after Katrina. I had captioned the photo thus:
Sept. 2005 in Berkeley. Displaced by Hurricane Katrina, brundlefly was welcomed to California with the requisite amount of Metafilter snarkiness. He has stayed in the Bay Area since then as an independent filmmaker.
To me it's the most Metafilter-ish photo I have: one part important/interesting occurance, one part community, and one part snark. Alas, the NYT wouldn't print the word "fuck". C'est la vie.

Anyhow: thanks so much to everyone for your kind words! But my 15 minutes is more than up by now, so I direct you to those who really makes this whole thing work: the wonderful Mefites that made my NYC trip possible and oh-so-enjoyable, and the rest of the MeFi community at large. Despite what the NYT article may imply, there's no way I or any other person can properly represent this incredibly diverse community. Hope to meet more of you in person at a meetup soon!
posted by DaShiv at 3:19 PM on September 29, 2007 [10 favorites]


Can I be a strange woman too?

(And, as others said, holy shit. And cheers for DaShiv.)
posted by jokeefe at 4:01 PM on September 29, 2007


Yuck, say I, to the tone of that article. "Did you hear the one about people who have other identities on the internets? Funny, I know! And then in their real lives they have just regular jobs and stuff."

Yes, yes, having a web community as a hobby is totally lame, while being Chairman of the Golf Club of the Columbus Rotary Club is A Time-Honored Community Position. [Not rotarist. Or golfist. Well, maybe a little golfist.]
posted by desuetude at 4:04 PM on September 29, 2007


Two points:

1. The writer of the article also wrote a book about Festivus. Auto-douche.
2. I am sad they didn't show that Art Garfunkel goes to our meetups.
posted by spec80 at 4:19 PM on September 29, 2007


Fuckin' A!

Does being in the Style section make me...fashionable?

*has identity crisis*
posted by jonmc at 4:35 PM on September 29, 2007


My first reaction after clicking the slideshow link?

Three Drunks and a PB
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:47 PM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you're reading this, Joe: have a drink on me!

[odd picture pops into Fishes' mind...]
posted by five fresh fish at 4:54 PM on September 29, 2007


Go DaShiv (and you hot women of Metafilter)!
Fixed that for you.


I'm a married man, so I have to watch my language. But I'm not disagreeing.

it turns out that I wound up writing the captions

I thought they seemed better than the article!
posted by languagehat at 5:03 PM on September 29, 2007


they live in a world where nobody listens to them

And nobody will listen to you on MetaFilter, either, unless you can say something with intelligence and wit.

MetaFilter is more than just Little Green Footballs.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:03 PM on September 29, 2007


I'm with those who first must say, OMG. Not a mention in an article, an entire article, largely about MeFites, with pictures. Before I get to critiquing, I just have to note how thankful I am that my faithful Times-reader parents will see that there are other, somewhat normal human beings participating in this, and that the Times deigned to notice.

But everyone's right about the rigid slant of this article. It's terrible reporting (and I thought that before I read DaShiv's interview transcription; that only made it worse).

If you undertake to do a story, and decide the angle beforehand, and you manage to gather plenty of quotes and evidence to support your angle, then great; you've been lucky.

If you begin with your angle, then interview several people who are knowledgeable about the subject, and all of them tell you that there's more to the story than you thought and that your understanding is a little simplistic, then you should go back to the drawing board and rethink your angle.

What you should not do is doggedly stick to your angle, asking only leading questions, discarding the better information that it sounds like at least three of you gave him, and writing the article you had clearly planned from the beginning even though your research taught you that participants in online communities lead full lives, of which commenter 'fame' is a part. This guy did a bad job even by "Styles" standards. He had a more interesting story to hand, and ignored it to do a less surprising, duller story.

So we've all bitched about it. Is anyone going to do what's needed -- write a clarifying letter to the editor, attn: Style section?

Let's send a bunch. letters@nytimes.com.
posted by Miko at 5:07 PM on September 29, 2007


The article doesn't really get it. Metafilter is a community blog, and a community. I never think of myself as posting to or commenting on Matt's blog.

jonmc, looking good in the NYTimes Style section - this makes my day.

Nobody deserves to be able to say "My photos were featured in the NYTimes" more than Ben DaShiv. Talent will out.
posted by theora55 at 5:19 PM on September 29, 2007


it seems to me that the reporter did the job that he was expected to do.

The Fountainhead is on Saturday Night at the Movies right now..
posted by Chuckles at 5:32 PM on September 29, 2007


Great pictures DaShiv. You think this article was rough, just wait until the NY Times does a review of the documentary.
posted by Sailormom at 7:08 PM on September 29, 2007


What the hell? This is freakin' me out a little. I feel as though eveyone's looking.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 7:29 PM on September 29, 2007


OMG.
posted by rainbaby at 8:11 PM on September 29, 2007


Early edition of Sunday's paper is on the streets. The part of the article printed inside is over a gigantic ad for Louis Vuitton. My life is complete.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:32 PM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, well ... 'The Huffington Post' has caught on to the story: "How Blog Comments Can Make You Famous" -- screen capture.
posted by ericb at 9:30 PM on September 29, 2007


Every time I read comments on another blog, I have a moment of deep gratitude that it's this community I'm a part of.

The highlight of the Huffington Post commentary, for me, is this one:

These so called average joe "commenters" are part of a publicity stunt,or some other sort of commercial venture.This literally smacks of commercialism as a matter of fact.

posted by Miko at 9:34 PM on September 29, 2007


Georgia Logothetis, a second-year lawyer in Chicago, metamorphoses into the respected liberal commenter georgia10

So finally, thanks to the web, Georgia the lawyer can become georgia, the person who speaks about the law! What a crazy cybernetic dreamland the internet is!

This article gets dumber each time I read it.

Confession: I become Alvy Ampersand because my real name just doesn't convey that image of rugged manliness I aspire to.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:47 PM on September 29, 2007


Dear New York Times,

I enjoyed your "All-Stars of the Clever Riposte" story, about the fame of internet commenters, mostly by imagining an expository narrative that explained its appearance in the newspaper of record.

It began with a blustery, mustachioed man in suspenders bellowing that he'd heard from his niece that there are communities on the internet.

"Communities? You mean, like bees? Or ants?" replies a tweedy Allen Salkin.

"Salkin, you must find out what these people want! Investigate their potlatches and report back!"

Oh dear, thinks Salkin, I've heard tell that these internet people are all cellar-dwellers, albinos and anarchists.

Then, after googling "internet community" once and "Allen Salkin" twice, the intrepid reporter is off to a meat cup, or whatever. When he arrives, he realizes that these people seem to be having fun, and don't require opera masks to hide their scared visages.

Astounded, Salkin asks everyone, "Are you sure you're not a loser?"

Some of the attendants are single, but that confirms that they're unlovable. Some of them are opinionated, so that confirms that they're desperate for attention.

Around his third Manhattan, Salkin has the realization that will save his evening from simply being stuck at a bar, assigned to cover the brief whirings of Style mayflies; Salkin realizes that all any of the MetaFilter folks want is love, and maybe these ten folks he's met aren't the losers that everyone else on the internet is.

Being a good liberal organization, the Times was there to humanize us savages of the internet, and offer the brief compassion befitting such an esteemed pillar of the community, of the world.

More seriously, noting that for this letter to get anywhere near published it will be shucked of all such jive, the appeal of MetaFilter (which, note, is different than that of Chowhound or LGF or Slashdot or any other internet community, just as the Masons are different from Phi Kappa or Sox fans) is that of sitting in a bar, talking with people you know about whatever comes up. That people from that sort of conversation then meet up in real bars isn't so surprising, and that the internet fosters real community shouldn't surprise anyone who's followed entertainment, business or culture news for the last ten years. That it still surprises the Times to the extent of newsworthiness is bizarre and snarkworthy.

Please send Salkin off to cover something more his speed, perhaps VH-1 or mojitos, and leave the internet alone until you realize that it's as normal to be on online as it is to have a cellphone.
posted by klangklangston at 9:48 PM on September 29, 2007 [17 favorites]


I hope you derive no small measure of pride from the favorite I am about to bestow upon your comment, klangklangston.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:53 PM on September 29, 2007


Ooooh a mefi documentary. I would watch that. Not sure what it would be about, but no matter.

I think it is still kind of intuitively surprising that when you post something on what feels like an intimate community, with a fleeting conversational style (posts drop of the front page after a day), your words are nonetheless read by many, and there for posterity. If you're a notable poster, people keep track of your posts and stuff. There is a sense of anonymity which is irrelevant even if no one ever learns your real name.
posted by Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson at 11:30 PM on September 29, 2007


Wow.

That said, I can confirm the earlier comment that TPS has no identifying info in the article or captions. Not sure who tipped them off, but it's nice of them to finally get the hint. Maybe someone over other is reading the thread?

regarding chuckdarwin's "Invest in a speedlight...": I'm really not a photographer, but I'm pretty sure if I recall correctly that DaShiv's wonderful meetup photos are usually taken sans flash. I have to say I prefer ambient lighting, but I generally am shooting with a point and shoot and don't have the lens or the skills to do well with that.

But if you (the hypothetical reader) do want to get into All Things (off-camera) Flash, you could hardly do wrong than to read Strobist.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:50 PM on September 29, 2007


The article semi-randomly mentions my high school, which I currently attend, at the very end. I'm just casually reading the article, dum de dum, "Plano East", and I'm done. Then, I had a total WTF? worlds-collide moment when I realized hey! that's my school! Mentioned within striking distance of Mefi!
posted by MadamM at 12:15 AM on September 30, 2007


*opens apartment to klangklangston*
posted by taz at 1:07 AM on September 30, 2007


I think that, when given a chance to use one's real name (or some close version thereof) or to rename oneself, the natural inclination of humans is to do the latter. Internet communication just exposes this fact.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:14 AM on September 30, 2007


RikiTikiTavi, I can clearly recall seeing him holding a speedlight in several shots. *shrug* I can't be arsed to go looking through them all. I'm sure he'll come along and correct me in due course.

Ever tried shooting in a dark pub without a tripod? Maybe he has IS on all his lenses, but STILL. Um, blurry.

Anyway, thanks for that link!
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:16 AM on September 30, 2007


“I think that, when given a chance to use one's real name (or some close version thereof) or to rename oneself, the natural inclination of humans is to do the latter.”

Really? Why do you think this?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:24 AM on September 30, 2007


aw! a pic of mefites at zeitgeist. cute.
posted by lapolla at 1:28 AM on September 30, 2007

“I think that, when given a chance to use one's real name (or some close version thereof) or to rename oneself, the natural inclination of humans is to do the latter.”

Really? Why do you think this?
posted by Ethereal Bligh
posted by grouse at 1:47 AM on September 30, 2007


I use a pseudonym here because it's the custom. I otherwise have zero impulse to use a pseudonym. Generally, I have zero interest in pretending to be someone distinct from who I am. That doesn't mean I'm perfectly self-satisfied, it just means that personas are not attractive to me. Whatever personality quirk is involved, I am most interested in being authentic, being who I really am. To the degree to which I am not—probably because of some degree or self-deception or because I want people to like or think well of me—I'm uncomfortable with this.

Now, most of that is irrelevant because I realize I'm unusual in that respect. Yet even though this is the case, it doesn't address the matter of pseudonyms. Because, after all, in this medium where people don't know who you are anyway, I could still create a completely fictional personality here on MeFi that carries my actual name.

So. One argument would be that if most people are inclined to create personas when they have the opportunity, then using their real name detracts from this in their own mind. That is, it interferes with their own suspension of disbelief. And this may be true.

However, at each step of this line of reasoning I feel we move farther and farther away from any safe assumptions about how most people act. I agree that most people create, to some degree, personas where they have the opportunity. But the degree of distinction from their real selves varies. I don't think that most people want to be completely unlike themselves, and therefore the incentive to avoid anything which reminds them of their real identities (such as their real names) is not as great for most people as you suppose.

Alternatively, we can start from the assumption that most people like personas (which I really think is true) and make the alternate associated assumption that, for most people, their name is an extremely powerful representation of their identity. It's tempting to say "d'uh" to that, but I think this may vary greatly between different people. But if this is true, then it makes sense that people, when wanting to create a distinct persona, will from the first use a pseudonym.

The online world really does seem to validate this theory.

But the problem I'm having with the simple statement that people will use pseudonyms whenever possible is why—in the offline, real world—they so rarely do? Is it because they can't get away with it? But is that really true? Surely I've met many more people once than those I've seen more than twice thereafter. Couldn't I get away with telling the majority of people my name is something other than what it really is?

An answer to this is that this would be lying, not adopting a persona. So why isn't this true in the online world?

And, you know, here is where we get to the real nitty-gritty. The reason this isn't true in the online world is exactly the same reason the author of this article thinks that what we do here isn't real and it's all pretend. The more that people really and truly think that what we do here matters, that who we are to each other matters, the more that we will socially value honesty and transparency.

I think that we're in the middle of a social transition where we both want the online world to be real and unreal at the same time. I don't think this is really tenable in the long run.

My guess is that eventually we'll settle into something where our online and offline lives are mostly congruent in terms of identity (in the generally social sense, not the extremely personal sense as in family and close friends). But this identity will be more loose than what has previously been the convention in the offline world, and more strict than what has been the convention in the online world. This is because the nature of the online world allows a much enlarged social arena (and thus more freedom of identity) while, at the same time, as we invest more and more of our authentic and practical selves and lives into the online world, we'll require increasing levels of social trust and all the various forces which constrict offline identity traditionally will come more strongly to bear.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:57 AM on September 30, 2007


lauranesson, not only as beautiful as a bright donegal morning, but generous hearted, witty and selfless. I am in love.

So, next year when I am visiting New York, can you show me around?

I shall be in town for the premier of the off-Broadway production of The Wind Up Bird Chronicles. This is the first novel that Murakami has allowed to be adapted for the stage, and is exciting for that fact alone.

You heard it here first!

It will be my first visit to New York, New York big city of dreams, but everything in New York ain't always what it seems. I might get fooled because I come from out of town, but you're down by law and you know your way around!
posted by asok at 3:04 AM on September 30, 2007


“People are doing it for the same reason another generation of people called in on talk radio,” said Shel Israel, a social media consultant and a columnist for Blogger & Podcaster magazine. “They are passionate, they live in a world where nobody listens to them, and they suddenly have a way to speak.”

Wow. Asshat.

Also, portriats of people wearing snarky nametag stickers I made are in the NYT!
posted by blasdelf at 4:52 AM on September 30, 2007


I shall be in town for the premier of the off-Broadway production of The Wind Up Bird Chronicles. This is the first novel that Murakami has allowed to be adapted for the stage, and is exciting for that fact alone.

This both makes me nerd in my pants and scared at the same time. What do you do when you're scared? Poop in your pants? I just nerded and pooped in my pants.
posted by spec80 at 4:57 AM on September 30, 2007


.
posted by fungible at 6:35 AM on September 30, 2007


I use a pseudonym here because it's the custom.

%$*& great, NOW you tell me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:47 AM on September 30, 2007


DId you actually send that, klangklangston, or was that for our benefit?
posted by Miko at 6:53 AM on September 30, 2007


The New York Times is no more a reality than this web site (if I am getting their thesis correct). They have no use on reporting on Internet communities and the emergent properties that arise within them. No, they have a nice narrative and storyline, find quotes to fit it, and go to publish it.

Of course it is the Style section. The article is right above a giant Louis Vuitton ad and the next page is about town.
posted by geoff. at 8:40 AM on September 30, 2007


I use a pseudonym here because it's the custom.

and you get upset when anyone uses your real name instead - which is understandable, but it undermines your statement

I am most interested in being authentic, being who I really am.

it's impossible for this medium to communicate that in a reliable and trustworthy manner

in fact, there are some who would argue that it's impossible for a person to really know who he is

one can strive not to deliberately mislead people about that but that doesn't equal authenticity
posted by pyramid termite at 8:43 AM on September 30, 2007


"DId you actually send that, klangklangston, or was that for our benefit?"

I sent it. It won't get printed (speaking as one who formerly picked and edited letters for publication), but what the hell—I felt it was a moderately witty riposte.
posted by klangklangston at 9:39 AM on September 30, 2007


“and you get upset when anyone uses your real name instead”

No I don't. You must be confusing me with someone else.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:41 AM on September 30, 2007


Fine, but you do get upset when anyone uses a playground taunt variation of your name, Keef Smellis.

(I tend to believe that chuckdarwin's statement was one of those pithy things that resonates with some, but is not as universal as posited. I'd also note that I tried several variations of my real name, and only went with this one after screwing up the sign-up process between here and paypal).

Oh, and I believe that the playground variation of my name that was most popular was Slosh Dykeman, even though it never really made any sense to me.
posted by klangklangston at 9:48 AM on September 30, 2007


Slosh Dykeman would be a great name for a band. I'm just saying.
posted by jonmc at 10:48 AM on September 30, 2007


“Fine, but you do get upset when anyone uses a playground taunt variation of your name, Keef Smellis.”

I do?

Anyway, I know you're joking.

It might be the case that pyramid termite is thinking of the time that Alex Reynolds got upset that I was calling him “Alex” after he had gone to his second account, and so he started calling me “Keith Ellis” or “Keith”. The specific fact he was using my real name didn't bother me—it was that he thought it was an effective response (which it really wasn't because I'd as soon go by my real name anyway) to what he thought was an intentional offense on my part (which it wasn't, I just thought of him as “Alex” because he had always been “Alex Reynolds” to me) that it bothered me.

It's kind of like the whole “dick” thing, too. And in that sense, it might bother me if someone used a schoolyard taunt version of my name, not because of the nature of using my name as a taunt, but simply because it's intended to be a taunt. The intention annoys even if the expression of the intention on its own terms does not.

Which is a weird contradiction that I wrestled with when people were trying to get my goat by bringing up the dick comment. I'm like, well, I wouldn't have written what I wrote if what I wrote bothered me. So the thing itself, as a taunt, is ineffective. But, strangely, the taunting was still annoying simply because it was taunting. Maybe that's not true for other people, but it's true for me, at least to some minimal amount.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:10 AM on September 30, 2007


It might be the case that pyramid termite is thinking of the time that Alex Reynolds got upset that I was calling him “Alex” after he had gone to his second account, and so he started calling me “Keith Ellis” or “Keith”.

yes, that's what i was thinking of

you'll have to forgive me if the nuances of that little pissing contest escaped me

i was actually outed once on a well known web board - i laughed cruelly in the outer's face and mocked him mercilessly for his own net.record - within a day, he was gone and nothing more was said of it
posted by pyramid termite at 11:23 AM on September 30, 2007


“you'll have to forgive me if the nuances of that little pissing contest escaped me“

I excuse you for ignoring the whole sorry affair of my feud with Alex Reynolds. Even if either one of us were the assholes the other thought, it's still boring as hell for everyone else. All feuds are. But, anyway, I won't speak for myself, but AR is actually a much better person than I thought at the time. In his newest incarnation on MeFi, he's really an exemplary member of the community. I commend him for it.

“i was actually outed once on a well known web board - i laughed cruelly in the outer's face and mocked him mercilessly for his own net.record - within a day, he was gone and nothing more was said of it”

That's an interesting anecdote which illustrates some of what I think is going on here.

As I said earlier, I think that we'll see a convergence of online and offline identities, with people offline having more loose and slightly less trustworthy identities while, at the same time, online identities will become more tight and trustworthy. I think this will happen because as we mix the online and offline worlds, in the offline realm this will allow us more social flexibility than we've had before. And the mixing will mean that the same sorts of forces that are in play in the offline world to enforce trustworthiness and transparency in identity will come to bear in the online world.

But your anecdote illustrates the opposing social forces that will balance that. In the real world, there's a whole hell of a lot we can know about people if we wanted to find it out. We can read their mail (nothing is really stopping us), calling all their friends and bribing them for gossip...whatever. But there are social pressures for people to be discrete about what they try to know about other people. What's happening now with the Internet, is that these social forces, mostly, have not come into play. But they will. And in your example, they did. You demonstrated that if someone wants to use your web history against you, their own web history can be used against them.

In this regard, then, I think that pseudonymity is counterproductive. It's a kludge which keeps the transparency and permanency of the web from being used against us. But that's increasingly tenuous, as TPS has found. In the long run, the only thing which will work is respect for other people's privacy.

Will employers respect this if they aren't forced to? Well, no, mostly not. We've already seen that in the real world. That's why there are limits on what employers (and similar) can attempt to find out about us in the real world. They don't do it because it's physically impossible—they don't do it because it's illegal. It very well may be that employers Googling employees will become illegal. Maybe not in the US for some time, but elsewhere, I bet, pretty soon.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:40 AM on September 30, 2007


"It's kind of like the whole “dick” thing, too. And in that sense, it might bother me if someone used a schoolyard taunt version of my name, not because of the nature of using my name as a taunt, but simply because it's intended to be a taunt. The intention annoys even if the expression of the intention on its own terms does not."

Huh wha? I don't remember that one.

And yeah, I was mostly just goofin' on the Smellis thing (also, I thought your last name was Mellis, which it isn't).
posted by klangklangston at 11:44 AM on September 30, 2007


I have never, ever encountered the name “Mellis”. But it exists and other people have. Surely, though, “Ellis” is much more common to almost everyone? I've just always thought it was weird that people thought it was “K Mellis” and not “K M Ellis”. The middle initial may be unexpected, but in my case the inclusion here and the username goes back many years to my first UNIX id, assigned by an admin. But I also like my middle name and initial. I don't know why. Maybe because my first and last names seem pretty generic to me. Although “Keith” is quite unusual these days for anyone younger than me.

The “dick” thing was my infamous comment that I found some aspects of performing fellatio enjoyable, but that this doesn't mean I'm not straight. Which, apparently, really fucks with peoples' heads, first of all, and which, apparently, because some people are homophobic, seems to them to be a statement that could be used to shame me. So, my point was that using the statement in an attempt to shame or embarrass me didn't work because I don't find it shameful or embarrassing, but that it nevertheless still annoyed me because they thought it would annoy me. So the intention mattered. And it puts one in the position of either ignoring it (really the best response, but which might wrongly imply to onlookers that it's an attempt to avoid admitting embarrassment) or denying that it bothers one, which a) seems to be self-defeating, and b) isn't exactly true because one is actually bothered, just not for the reason the botherer thinks. It's like me calling you a "man", repeatedly, in an attempt to insult or embarrass you. How do you react? Laughing it off as lame will work in a social environment because, in this case, most of the other people share your opinion that this is a pretty ineffectual taunt. But what if, unlike oneself, many or most people actually do think it's something embarrassing and thus an effective taunt? The interesting thing is that you're stuck either tacitly affirming this by a non-response, or by responding in an attempt at what is to other people arguing that up is down and black is white.

But I'm overexplaining. It's that damn airplane thread. It's put me in that mental mode.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:47 PM on September 30, 2007


It very well may be that employers Googling employees will become illegal. Maybe not in the US for some time, but elsewhere, I bet, pretty soon.

Huh? How would that even work? If they visit Google and type in a prospective employee's name, an alarm goes off in the police station? What's next, making it illegal to google prospective dates to prevent harassment/stalking?
posted by languagehat at 12:56 PM on September 30, 2007


“How would that even work?”

How does it work that employers can't ask certain questions in an interview? How does it work that they can't discriminate in hiring based upon race? The latter, especially, is easy to hide in each particular case.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:01 PM on September 30, 2007


Also:

“What's next, making it illegal to google prospective dates to prevent harassment/stalking?”

Not to prevent harassment/stalking. And not made illegal. But it may quickly be just as impolite to Google a first date beforehand as it is to call all their friends and ask pointed questions about them before deciding to go out with them.

And, certainly, I think it's rapidly going to be a serious and creepy faux pas if someone, before a first date, uses the Internet to discover their address and phone number. It only costs something like $40 to get a great amount of personal and financial detail about someone over the Internet. Most of this info would be available to anyone who put in the equivalent footwork in the real world. But the latter is really, really creepy before a first date. And, for most people, so is the former. Googling someone is effectively not much different. As this becomes more apparent to people, the acceptability of doing it without good reason will decline.

With the exception of businesses and others who pretty much aren't going to be sufficiently influenced by social convention (we already know they aren't—employers will ask all sorts of questions, if allowed, that our friends wouldn't ever ask us), the increasing supposed lack of privacy via the Internet will be solved via the same social forces that protect privacy in the offline world. My canonical example is reading your SO's or roommate's diary or mail. It's easily done. It's not that we don't do it because there's technical reasons we can't, or that there are laws against it. We don't do it because we don't want to be assholes who read other peoples' diaries. Or, at least, we don't want to risk being thought of as an asshole who reads other peoples' diaries.

Most people don't seem to believe me, but I'm nearly certain that most privacy concerns related to the Internet will eventually be resolved mostly by cultural forces related to etiquette.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:12 PM on September 30, 2007


Referencing old beaten-to-death feuds and associated minutiae is like, good times and all, but weren't we hailing DaShiv and mocking the New York Times Style Section, here?
posted by desuetude at 1:27 PM on September 30, 2007


Heh, like others, my first thought was 'Holy Crap!' - nice to see the photos and the shout outs - but the article was a tad lame, with all the implied 'these people are kinda losers in RL' stuff. Not least because NYT stringers get all their content from blogs in the first place. Okay, carry on.
posted by carter at 1:38 PM on September 30, 2007


Anti-LetsTalkAboutMetaFilterian, are we ?
posted by y2karl at 1:40 PM on September 30, 2007


But it may quickly be just as impolite to Google a first date beforehand

how can it be impolite if only one person knows that they did it? doesn't the concept of impoliteness or committing a faux pas presume there is actually an audience to see it?

sure, it seems like a lame thing to do - but if it's done at home where no one knows about it, what's the social cost to the person who does it?

it's a lot like saying it's impolite to pick my nose at home when i'm by myself - i don't see how that's possible
posted by pyramid termite at 2:21 PM on September 30, 2007


“doesn't the concept of impoliteness or committing a faux pas presume there is actually an audience to see it?”

Seeing isn't necessarily determinative, but being effective is. Is it rude to look up a woman's skirt if no one catches you? Well, yes, it is. She'd argue that it does affect her whether or not she knows about it (which is debatable) but it more convincingly will affect you, which will in turn affect your relationship with her.

Picking your nose in private pretty much doesn't have consequences beyond yourself. Reading someone's diary or Googling them, whether they know you did so or not, quite arguably does have consequences beyond yourself.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:30 PM on September 30, 2007


I'm spectacularly inconstent about online privacy.

Maybe this is because in the early-to-mid 90s a big part of my job involved a getting people out of trouble for stuff they'd done online: checking logs and verifying who actually did and said what, explaining all the relevant technical and cultural minutiae to the appropriate disciplinary dean, and so on. I got really good at fending off thin-skinned complainers. "As a university, we have neither the mandate nor the inclination to serve as courtesy police. Nevertheless, I agree that the remark was rude in the extreme, and if I were in your position I'd be furious. If you'd like to make sure you never see posts from this person again, here's what to do..."

For whatever reason, I'm totally uninhibited about hunting down any information I can find about anyone I'm even slightly curious about. It doesn't make me uncomfortable in the slightest.

I got my job from MeFi, for heaven's sake. I've always been more active in the real-life components of various communities than in their online equivalents; here, for example, I go to lots of meetups but don't post all that much. I don't have anything I'd call a "blog"-- I'm picky about that word, perhaps because I actually knew that nutbar Jorn in so-called "real life" back when I lived in Chicago. But I do keep an online journal, and almost everyone who links to it is someone I actually know from somewhere "real".

So I'm relatively easy to find. But I don't make my real name easily available. I explicitly don't link one identity to another. I can't make a defensible case for this; I haven't had any bad experiences to justify it. In the Gavin de Becker sense, it just feels right to be cautious to that degree, so that's what I do.

That said, the silly article made me laugh, but it's nice to see everyone's pictures, and I'm delighted to see DaShiv get some kind of recognition, however dubious.
posted by tangerine at 3:30 PM on September 30, 2007


She'd argue that it does affect her whether or not she knows about it (which is debatable) but it more convincingly will affect you, which will in turn affect your relationship with her.

anything i think about anyone is going to affect my relationship with them - anything i see, hear or read about them is going to affect my relationship with them

but the affect is from how my attitude will change - in other words, it's an internal process

and what i think, whatever the reason may be, however it effects how i act towards someone, is very much my own business - how i act upon that isn't, but the thought itself is
posted by pyramid termite at 3:44 PM on September 30, 2007


The reporter emailed onlyconnect, but she was too busy/distracted to answer for a few days, so her (our?) input didn't get in there. I'm not sure reaching her would have mattered, though, since he seems to have picked his angle on his way into the research instead of during the writing. onlyconnect is pretty damn far from the "net-dweeb in their parent's basement" stereotype, so who knows how he could have incorporated anything she had to say into the piece he set out to write.
posted by NortonDC at 4:29 PM on September 30, 2007


Well, in your rigid system this would mean that you could read anyone's diary as long as it didn't affect your behavior. Do you really want to argue that? I mean, first of all, that's a stretch. You can claim it wouldn't affect your behavior, and that it hasn't after the fact, but good luck getting someone to believe this if they find out that you read their diary. Their argument would be that you shouldn't have read it in the first place and there would be no question about any of this. Secondly, I really can't imagine anyone seriously arguing that there should be no barriers to acquiring knowledge about other people as long as one doesn't act upon it. Most people feel violated when you open up their diary, long before you'll ever begin to act upon whatever you learn there. This isn't irrational.

“For whatever reason, I'm totally uninhibited about hunting down any information I can find about anyone I'm even slightly curious about. It doesn't make me uncomfortable in the slightest.”

Well, until recently, I was the same. It occurred to me that perhaps I oughtn't be trusting my gut instincts in this matter. I pride myself in my ability to do deep web research. I don't work, I‘m on the computer all day. I'm curious. I can find out a lot about people even when they leave only a small trail. Many people will read those sentences and find them a bit—or more than a bit—creepy. That should tell you and me something.

Here's another example, which I've mentioned before. When I first learned about the Facial Action Coding System, microexpressions, and that this wasn't all a bunch of typical bunk (though probably overhyped by the relevant people), I was all excited about learning this and being able to read a lot of peoples' normally hidden thoughts and feelings in their faces. One clue that I should have noticed and considered in one of the article I read was when the author asked the natural question: why do we still signal all this with our faces yet much of it we ignore and aren't aware of? The article mentioned there very well might be some good social reasons for this. But I pretty much ignored that part in my enthusiasm for the prospect of seeing inside of people and knowing when they are lying, etc.

But when I mentioned all this to my best friend, a person who has a social and etiquette sense I lack and who I've learned to trust in these matters, he was both fascinated and horrified. He immediately saw that there are good reasons we are able to tell each other lies and hide our feelings. He wasn't only horrified at the idea of someone else seeing through all that in him, but he found the idea of himself seeing through all that in other people, and always seeing the truth of them, as pretty much just as horrifying.

That really surprised me. It set me on my heels and made me think long and hard about this.

Long before, he'd passed along a similar piece of wisdom. When my ex-wife and I first separated, she pretty much left me without much explanation or discussion. She made the decision and left. Me, I needed lots of discussion and whatever to get my head around what happened. I practically just wanted to understand as much as I wished our marriage hadn't fallen apart in the first place. So I was starved for information. When I do recognize privacy boundaries and such, I tend to be pretty scrupulous. It matters to me to do what I think is the right thing. But in this case, my desperation was enough incentive that, one afternoon when I noticed that, in our car which I had borrowed from her, there was a notebook of hers. I opened it up and looked through it and found a letter her friend had written to her. And, apparently, she had written to her friend about her unhappiness in our marriage and described different things and just generally expressed a lot of unhappiness. This didn't make me feel better, it made me feel worse. To see the reflection of her unhappiness in her friends words and advice just made me feel awful. Once I had read it, I wish I hadn't. I wished I could unread the letter.

And when I told my friend, his comment was: “Respect for other peoples' privacy doesn't just protect them, you know. It protects you from a kind of self-harm, too.”
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:30 PM on September 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


In this regard, then, I think that pseudonymity is counterproductive. It's a kludge which keeps the transparency and permanency of the web from being used against us . . . In the long run, the only thing which will work is respect for other people's privacy.

Given my experience of human beings and human institutions, I trust kludges and pseudonyms an awful lot more than I trust the goodwill of corporations, the government and other authorities.

But it may quickly be just as impolite to Google a first date beforehand as it is to call all their friends and ask pointed questions about them before deciding to go out with them.

You have a much more optimistic view of human nature than I do. In real life, people do call mutual friends or chat with them in person to suss out whether someone's potential date material. They may not ask pointed questions. They may not structure the conversation as a formal interview. But they still do this. And I, for one, don't think that this is particularly rude. It's using your social resources to keep creeps and stalkers and otherwise inappropriate people out of your personal space.

And if you barred corporations from googling people's names, they'd probably find ways to "bump into" your online writings accidentally. You say that it's illegal for corporations to discriminate but they do it anyway. They just don't discriminate explicitly; they find a human resources flunky to come up with some bland, politically correct reason for shafting you. So they never tell you that you didn't get the job because you're black or pregnant. They tell you that you didn't have the right experience, that the position's already been filled, that you wouldn't fit into their corporate culture, etc.
posted by jason's_planet at 5:02 PM on September 30, 2007


Well, in your rigid system this would mean that you could read anyone's diary as long as it didn't affect your behavior.

this is google

this is a diary

this is a strawman
posted by pyramid termite at 5:04 PM on September 30, 2007


Is it rude to look up a woman's skirt if no one catches you?

Bullpucky. Rudeness requires a second party. One cannot be rude in a vacuum, because rudeness is an inherently social metric: it is something that one person thinks about another's behavior. So while furtively looking up a woman's skirt is something we'd describe as rude when discussing the idea or observing the act, someone who gets away with it totally unobserved is not in fact surrounded the whole time by magical goblins singing "rude! rude! terribly rude!" or anything.

The tree fell in the forest. No one was there. Was there a sound? I dunno; but certainly there was no one who could say "I heard that".

But I may be biased; I google every motherfucker I meet. Twice, if I'm feeling sassy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:09 PM on September 30, 2007


I don't really know anything about the New York Times Style section.

I do, and this article was the best thing it's published since I started reading it in 1999, by several orders of magnitude.

I appreciate DaShiv for his thoughtfulness and care - in taking pictures as well as in things like, say, commenting on MetaFilter, or organizing his own personal life - and I would be baffled at how hard the Style section tried to marginalize this aspect of his character. Except that I know the Style section, and the marginalization of virtue is what they're all about.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:17 PM on September 30, 2007


But it may quickly be just as impolite to Google a first date beforehand

If you want to Google me, you'd better buy me dinner first.

Metafilter: the marginalization of virtue is what they're all about.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:08 PM on September 30, 2007


“Bullpucky. Rudeness requires a second party. One cannot be rude in a vacuum, because rudeness is an inherently social metric..”

Maybe rudeness is the wrong word. How about simply wrong? It doesn't freaking matter if you're caught or not. There so many examples of where we abstract out an idea of the wrongness of an act without having to, in each case, specify exactly how a particular person has been wronged. This is because we are quite aware that wrongness is strongly associated with certain act and that the injustices we associate with them are often diffused across both time and many different people.

Social etiquette is not merely convention, as the mere word rudeness might imply. Social etiquette also exists, perhaps primarily exists, as a collective means of limiting injustices that otherwise would be too slight, too ambiguous, or variously too difficult to prevent. In some cases, this edges right up to actual unambiguous crime and hurt.

Before stalking laws, I could sit in a car on a public street outside your house, track your movements, watch what you buy, who you speak to. I could tell if you're gaining or losing weight, living with someone else, bathed that morning (if I get near enough), walked your dog. I could ask your neighbors about you, I could call your mother. I can still go down to the courthouse and see if you've been arrested, I can see how much your house is worth, if you are married or divorced, behind on child support. If we meet at a party, I can go through your purse or wallet when you're in the bathroom and check your coat pockets.

And that's only the beginning.

There's exactly four reasons why we don't regularly invade other peoples' privacy this egregiously on a daily basis. The first is that it takes some effort. How much effort? That depends. It doesn't take much effort to look through your purse when you go to the bathroom. Strange that people don't do that all the time.

We also don't do it because it's illegal.

We also don't do it because we don't care.

And, finally, we don't do it because we know that it's bad to invade other peoples' privacy.

If you think that the first or the second reasons are the major factors preventing invasions of privacy, you haven't really thought about how easy it actually is to invade people's privacy. It's just not hard. If you want to know something about someone, and convention isn't stopping you, there's usually not much else stopping you, either.

The Internet complicates things because, yes, it does in many cases make it much easier to invade peoples' privacy. But the biggest reason is because there aren't conventions against doing this...most people don't even think in terms of stuff being able to be private on the web. They think, hey, anyone can see this, that makes it public.

Well, anyone can see in my window or, if they are visiting my house, read my diary. There's nothing physical stopping them. You can usually walk into my apartment, too, the door's usually unlocked. Just because something is possible, just because it's easy, doesn't mean that it's the right thing to do or that you're invited to do it.

I've written nearly 7,000 comments in MeFi. There are millions of comments on MeFi. Just because anyone can see a particular thing I said if they can find it doesn't mean that I said that particular thing to the entire world. I have conversations in say, a public park. Or on a street. Anyone could have stood nearby and listened. That doesn't mean that I said what I said to the entire world.

Social conventions do most of the heavy lifting here in terms of protecting us from our own antisocial temptations. This is especially true with things like privacy. They say that in a small town, everyone knows what everyone else is doing. There's truth to that; but it's also true that people also learn to be good at not noticing things they really oughtn't be aware of. Just like, as a matter of fact, you learn not to look down some woman's blouse not just because you might be caught, but because it's not your damn business to look unless you're invited to do so.

With younger people investing so much of their personal lives on the web, there's no way that all this information can be segregated from the people that shouldn't know this stuff while allowing access to the friends for whom it's okay that they know this stuff. The only thing that will really work is people learning to mind their own business. And maybe you and some other people will only start to do so when there are actual social penalties for failing to do so, but it occurs to me that the whole point is that it's not the right thing to do and thus I can control my own behavior without waiting for peer pressure to shame me.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:28 PM on September 30, 2007


Just because anyone can see a particular thing I said if they can find it doesn't mean that I said that particular thing to the entire world.

yes - it does - period

With younger people investing so much of their personal lives on the web, there's no way that all this information can be segregated from the people that shouldn't know this stuff while allowing access to the friends for whom it's okay that they know this stuff.

there is on xanga.com - it's called protected posting

The only thing that will really work is people learning to mind their own business.

part of that is having the discretion not to yak up your business where anyone can see it on the web

And maybe you and some other people will only start to do so when there are actual social penalties for failing to do so

"30 days in the county finishing school - next!"

look, we live in a country where calling someone a motherfucker and wearing one's pants half down one's ass is not unusual social behavior - nor is it penalized in any meaningful way to the people who are doing such things

shit, i've seen people with f-u-c-k tattoo'd on their knuckles - and someone, somewhere was employing them - that's right, you can go to a job interview and get hired when you have f-u-c-k on your knuckles

but yeah, the second someone turns on the computer, they're going to be all nice and polite because the internet police will give them social penalties - such as, i don't know, informing the world that they drink beer out of the bottle instead of pouring it in the glass

what dream world are you occupying? - the net stopped being a reliably civil place in 1996 and our country stopped being a reliably civil place around 1985
posted by pyramid termite at 7:45 PM on September 30, 2007


This was cool. Just a reminder that there is a "metafilteruser" tag at flickr:

http://flickr.com/photos/tags/metafilteruser/
posted by mecran01 at 8:00 PM on September 30, 2007


Well... one problem with googlemining a person's real life identity based on scraps of information is that it could just be disastrously wrong.

There is another person out there with my fairly unusual first-name/last-name (maiden) combination, who is a writer, as I was in the U.S. For a couple of years, I also published under that name, then under my first name/maiden name/married name, then under my first name/married name... then I remarried, left the country, and stopped writing for publication.

But, if someone just happened to know not much more than my maiden name and profession, there's no way they wouldn't think that person wasn't me... then, finding discrepancies between info I might give them, and info they might find out on line about the "faux me" - they would probably assume I was lying about many things, either online or off. Which, of course, would not be rude, exactly, but just wrong, wrong, wrong.

It's not worth it to me to create a stronger web presence than hers for a name I don't use at all any more, so I don't address it, but anyone trying to dig up info on me that I haven't offered myself would be very misled if they followed that breadcrumb trail... and it's the sort of thing that might lead potential friends or employers to wonder why I'm lying about XYZ, when they've simply gone barking up the wrong cybertree.
posted by taz at 8:30 PM on September 30, 2007


I get pissed off and paranoid if someone watches me on the freaking bus.

My name is not googleable, and, until I run for office and/or pursue a career in porn, I intend to keep it that way.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:38 PM on September 30, 2007


Dear lord. I always knew I'd see jonmc in the new york times eventually, but I always figured the reason would be way, way weirder.
posted by Football Bat at 8:39 PM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


I had noticed that the slide show didn't totally jibe with the the article-- the slide show being affable and intimate, and the article being glib and extrinsic. Thank you, DaShiv, for your exemplary forethought; it made a huge difference.

I am happy to see Metafilter get recognition, although I am still a bit disconcerted that people in my online circles keep showing up in the media at diminishing intervals. Will you people stop being so damned awesome all the time so I can catch my breath? Sheesh.
posted by zennie at 8:59 PM on September 30, 2007


Once upon a time (2000, I think) , I was repeatedly interviewed and extensively quoted for an article on a zeitgeist (the San Francisco eviction shit in wake of the dotcom boom/bust). In fact, a synopsis of my experience was the lead paragraph. I read the whole thing and said: wait, what? WHAT? That's not me! And of course it wasn't me. It sure was the writer's version of me. But I'd never read a journalist's version of me!

In light of that experience, and as a NYTimes reader and occasional Metafilter commenter, I thought everyone here came off beautifully.
posted by goofyfoot at 11:13 PM on September 30, 2007


OK - here's the letter I just sent. Immediately, I got an automated response with a lot of additional info, saying that "letters should be no longer than 150 words," that you must include complete contact info with day and evening phone numbers, and that the article should have appeared within the last 7 days, so do take all that in mind if you decide to weigh in. Mine is obviously too long, now that I know that. Oh, and you can send this directly to the editor of the Style section at sundaystyles@nytimes.com.
___
Dear Editor,

As both an active member of MetaFilter and a regular Times reader, I was pleased to see the Style section coverage of the site in "All-Stars of the Clever Riposte," on Sunday, September 30th. But reporter Allen Salkin's understanding of the phenomenon of internet celebrity based on participation in discussion boards was shallow and incomplete, betraying a lack of awareness of the nature of web communities.

Salkin suggests that commenters on sites such as MetaFilter construct "wished-for selves," and he leans heavily on disparaging quotes from media pundits describing participants whom "nobody listens to," who "react rather than act," and who are "showing themselves off as smarty-pants."

In selecting this narrow angle, Salkin missed the more interesting story: that by providing a community platform for conversation among peers about arts, culture, technology, and politics, the internet is changing the definition of "fame" in ways that are likely to endure. Rather than respond to the somewhat arbitrary celebrity status accorded by PR machines relying on a one-way traditional media, contemporary thinkers, artists, and citizens are defining their own standards for noteworthiness. Talent, creativity, knowledge, and clarity of thought are prized over appearance, novelty, or the ability to capture the attention of a few editors.

Media groups like the Times ignore these developments at their peril; a recent piece in Ha'aretz mentioned that the Times' online readership, at 1.5 million daily, well outstrips its 1.1 million paper-edition suscribers. Newspaper survival will depend on understanding how online discussion boards are shaping ideas that later emerge in the media marketplace.

Far from being cellar dwellers who craft imaginary versions of themselves, most MetaFilter users represent themselves accurately. Rather than "reacting" to the culture around them, the site's nearly 60,000 members are often those determining the nature of that culture. They are journalists, television performers and producers, university professors, museum professionals, web developers and site managers, musicians, artists, activists, information specialists, therapists, and designers. Interestingly, many have been featured by the Times already, not for their membership in a web community, but for their newsworthy projects and professions. "Fame," in this particular environment, results from having something interesting to share and a two-way medium in which to share it - a medium which encourages thoughtful discussion among peers, and results in new understandings of contemporary phenomena.

Sincerely, Miko*

AKA, wished-for self
posted by Miko at 6:45 AM on October 1, 2007 [4 favorites]


They are journalists, television performers and producers, university professors, museum professionals, web developers and site managers, musicians, artists, activists, information specialists, therapists, and designers.

and shopclerks, salesmen, students, cabdrivers, office drones, bartenders, bank tellers, technicians, waitpeople, social workers, schoolteachers, and the unemployed.

I'm not kidding. One of the big pluses of this place (to me, anyway) is that you don't have to have formal credentials to be heard and taken seriously here, and it's important that non-insider voices be heard as well.
posted by jonmc at 7:25 AM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Great letter, Miko, but I'm not sure they'll print it- I've never seen a letter longer than 5 sentences or so.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:31 AM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Heh. The reporter actually interviewed me, but apparently decided against using a single quote :P. Oh well.
posted by delmoi at 7:43 AM on October 1, 2007


Yeah, but they capitalized your username, so that's something.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:06 AM on October 1, 2007


"One of the big pluses of this place (to me, anyway) is that you don't have to have formal credentials to be heard and taken seriously here, and it's important that non-insider voices be heard as well."

Who takes you seriously?

(And good on Miko for noting the auto-reply had content, since I just trashed it without reading it).
posted by klangklangston at 8:21 AM on October 1, 2007


I've never seen a letter longer than 5 sentences or so.

If they want to use it, they'll just edit it down.
posted by hermitosis at 8:42 AM on October 1, 2007


Hmm...

Dear Editor,
As both an active member of MetaFilter and a regular Times reader, I am a cellar dweller who crafts imaginary versions of myself. Commenters on sites such as MetaFilter construct "wished-for selves," who "react rather than act," and who are "showing themselves off as smarty-pants." Salkin did a more interesting story.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:20 AM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Who takes you seriously?

A man can dream, klang.
posted by jonmc at 9:23 AM on October 1, 2007


Oh, wow. That is a stunning example of how a journalist can twist a decent subject into a lousy story. And it just eeks condescension.
posted by Tehanu at 11:42 AM on October 1, 2007


Fascinating. I hope this place stays "small internet" as much as I hope it gets the recognition it deserves...

As far as the privacy discussion goes, I've had a stalker before and I've been fired for a bullshit reason before, so I keep my internet audience out of my real name backstage as much as I can, though there are a couple streaks of light peeking around the curtain. I google everybody, too, and read all the blogs I can find and everything. I care, is all. I like to know about you. I consider it flattery, really, to be researched... until my financial or physical spaces are impinged.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:34 PM on October 1, 2007


I've never seen a letter longer than 5 sentences or so.

They'll edit it if they want to print it; letters to the editor are just about always edited. That's why they're all so short.

But I'm not concerned about whether they'll print it. That's not the only reason to write to a newspaper. Most letters to the editor never see the light of day, but they do help editors gauge responses to a topic.

jonmc, I agree that not everyone on MeFi is a mover or a shaker, but a significant portion of people here do things, know things, or make things happen. Otherwise, the site wouldn't be as interesting. The only reason I bothered to write was to take issue with the general stereotype that the internet is populated with slackers. Making your points would have reinforced the stereotype, rather than challenging it, which I was interested in doing.
posted by Miko at 4:43 PM on October 1, 2007


I think that people should use discretion when Googling. Sometimes you oughtn't Google someone at all. Other times it's okay to Google, but you should be careful what links you follow or how deeply you read. And still others it's fine to go as deep as you want.

It's interesting, and a little sad, that there's such a push-back against my suggestion here that social convention can and should create self-restraint with regard to privacy on the Internet.

One thing that is a little weird is I'm not sure people realize that I'm not trying to protect myself—I am not a private person and I pretty much don't care what people know about me. My evolving ideas on this matter are the result of my observation and concern about how strongly other people feel about this.

However, what is sad to me is that those who fear invasions of their privacy and misuse of their personal information by others don't themselves feel they should have any restraint in researching other people. And the typical response is that they become more hard-line about firewalling their online and offline lives and, especially, become strident about telling other people that they should do this, too.

There's some obvious parallels to this elsewhere in the public sphere. For example, that people have a responsibility to take strong measures to protect their property—if they don't, they're asking to be burglarized/robbed. An extreme is the whole blaming the rape victim thing.

Obviously each person should have some discretion themselves, but by far the greatest responsibility lies upon the people who are doing things that harm other people. They shouldn't do those things. No, you can't always prevent those things, that's why we end up also having to protect ourselves. But in a civil society with the rule of law and where people are expected to develop some sense of moral responsibility and to conform to reasonable social mores, we primarily expect people to govern themselves. Criminalizing things and such is really the extreme response, we expect most people to simply restrain themselves from stealing.

Too many people are firewalling their online and offline lives and too many people are expressing fear of privacy invasion for anyone to claim that it's not an invasion of privacy to be aggressive about finding info about people using the Internet. There's an incoherency in both claiming that people should protect themselves, talking about being fearful of privacy violations, and then arguing that it's entirely okay for you to be as aggressive as you like in Googling someone. In theory, it's not incoherent because it's asserting the moral correctness of an extreme Hobbesian environment—hey, if you don't want me to shoot you and steal your stuff, you should have a gun, too. But I really thought that most people here were beyond this.

I instinctively want to know as much about people as possible. I think I've deluded myself into thinking that this was reasonable and that I'm just a curious person and such. The truth is that knowledge is power, I work best in the domain of the intellect and knowledge, and by damn I want to have power over people. Maybe that's an extreme representation of this aspect of my subconscious, but my point is that after some intense self-examination, I realized that my motives were not so benign.

And it was reading much of what people have said here on this issue that started me on this path. I know some things about people that I know they specifically don't really want other MeFites to know, because they've either said so explicitly or it's been the subtext of something they've said. How do I know these things? Deep Googling, back when I felt it was an okay thing to do. But those are really good examples because I instinctively feel some guilt about knowing some information that people here have specifically said they didn't want people to know.

Pyramid termite's objection is of the very practical, well, they're going to do it anyway variety. So is LH's, I guess. And that's true, as far as it goes. People still rob houses. People still lie and cheat and manipulate others and all sorts of other bad stuff, criminal and trivial, all the time. But I'm pretty sure that most of us do this kind of stuff a lot less than we would if we didn't think it was wrong to do it at all. Right now, too many people just take for granted that there's absolutely nothing wrong at all about being aggressive in researching other people via the Internet.

My simple argument about that is that there's always been a great deal of information legally available about people, if you were willing to look. You can say that the difficulty in looking it up, by going to the courthouse or elsewhere and paying some fees, even, meant that this didn't happen very much. And that's true. But its difficulty is a separate issue entirely from whether it's right or wrong. And I'm pretty sure that almost all of us instinctively feel that there's something wrong with snooping about someone else's life in the offline world like that. As it happens, these days there are stalking laws to prevent this sort of thing. That's because it really is invasive and creepy, even when it is/was legal. And most people don't do these things because they know it's weird and excessive and creepy and just plain antisocial. It's invasion of privacy.

Well, just because people can do this on the Internet doesn't suddenly change everything. The argument by others here seems to be that simply because it's on the Internet, suddenly there's nothing wrong with snooping and if people don't want people to know stuff, they have to make sure it's not available. That's just weird. There's nothing special about the Internet, other than that it makes some things easy that were formally heard. It doesn't change the social or moral aspects of the situation.

The reason why we didn't all automatically apply our conventional offline sensibilities about privacy and behavior to the Internet is because it has been the Wild West. And, you know, the Wild West was eventually entirely under the rule of law and civil behavior like anywhere else. I think most of us who live out west prefer it this way. It's nice to go into town without having to worry about a gunfight, amirite?

As in so much of everything else, making the world a better place starts with one's own actions. Most of us don't like strangers snooping around our private business. The obvious thing this tells us is that we oughtn't be snooping around other people's private business.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:13 PM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


jonmc, I agree that not everyone on MeFi is a mover or a shaker, but a significant portion of people here do things, know things, or make things happen. Otherwise, the site wouldn't be as interesting.

Movers and shkers already have plenty of outlets to express themselves. What's great about here is that a bunch of nobodies manage to make ourselves heard. There's no reason anybody should listen to most of us (me included, hell, me especially) but people are.
posted by jonmc at 5:36 PM on October 1, 2007


Anyow, neat to see everyone in the "e-paper" [is that what all the kids are calling it these days] but man... strange.

no, kids these days are leaving both e-papers and the even-more-redundant hardcopy papers behind in droves.

why? probably because user-generated content is where it's at. i'd bet 100 to 1 that if i edited my choice of the best five to ten comments in this thread into an article, it would shit all over that NYT piece for accuracy & nuance.

even if you accept the argument that "these are people who react rather than act", the fact is that the sum of the reaction is so much higher in quality than the initial action by the NYT writer, which is merely one part of the struggle that monolithic, old-school media are facing in their battle with new media.

participation & community is another of those struggles. again, if people here "react, rather than act", what would you say about a reader of a hardcopy newspaper? they'd have to be the lamest of the lame, right?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:45 PM on October 1, 2007


(of course, if i used EB's comment, i'd have to severely crop it down)
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:48 PM on October 1, 2007


I've never seen a letter longer than 5 sentences or so.

yeh, the NYT has a particularly shithouse letters section, especially when compared with quality english & australian newspapers, for example. it also tends to prioritise letters by people already of high public profile, in my observation. very unegalitarian behaviour, and undermining the vox-pop rationale that ought to be behind a letters-to-the-editor page. i always expected so much more from the NY flagship.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:59 PM on October 1, 2007


the NYT has a particularly shithouse letters section

When they printed my letter in the NYT Magazine bitching them out for using content from my website without proper attribution they reworded it to bascially say how "thrilled" I was to see my name in the Times and oh by the way check out my website. You can bet I had stronger words about the USA PATRIOT Act too (and spelled it correctly).
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:54 PM on October 1, 2007


oooh, what scumbags!

still, at least it backs up my observation that they tend to publish letters from real-life celebs & VIPs.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:09 PM on October 1, 2007


Pyramid termite's objection is of the very practical, well, they're going to do it anyway variety.

no, it's of the realistic, if you put it out there, it can be seen by anyone variety

to me, it's not an issue of right or wrong, it's a matter of is or isn't

The obvious thing this tells us is that we oughtn't be snooping around other people's private business.

if you put it out on the web, it's no longer your private business

and all the wishes for a civil society and people not to be nosy isn't going to change that

this is NOT opinion, eb - it's stone cold fact

also your implied claim that your opinions should be the arbiter of internet mores is pretty unrealistic, too

that's all
posted by pyramid termite at 7:12 PM on October 1, 2007


However, what is sad to me is that those who fear invasions of their privacy and misuse of their personal information by others don't themselves feel they should have any restraint in researching other people. And the typical response is that they become more hard-line about firewalling their online and offline lives and, especially, become strident about telling other people that they should do this, too.

Whoa! Google results for a proper name or handle: public or private?

So public. I'm only hard-line about drawing a line between those two, which is absolutely in keeping with cultural standards of propriety. I actually am rather lacking in personal boundaries in person, and have only come by this rule the hard way.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:08 PM on October 1, 2007


It's strange, marvelous and surreal to see people I know and places I've been featured in the NY times. Congrats, DaShiv for recognition of your beautiful work! (And boo to the NYT for poor reporting)
posted by Space Kitty at 10:38 PM on October 1, 2007


jonmc, although it's always fun to see you standing up for the Common Man, you're actually one of those people I'd have to class among the movers and shakers of MeFi. You have encylopedic knowledge to contribute on certain topics, your opinions are informed and authoritative, and you're the author of a widely-read music blog. You have, in other words, "something interesting to share," and don't fall into the stereotype found in the Times piece.

There are sites in which grounding opinion in fact or knowledge isn't a community standard. And those sites are miserable to read. MeFi just isn't one of those sites. There are fairly strong community standards in effect here, continually reinforced, and without them this site would be very, very different.

As far as the question of privacy: I do think that in the 20th century, the idea of 'privacy' was at a historical peak which will increasingly be seen as anomalous.

In pre-industrial society, an expectation of privacy was laughable. Throughout most of human history, most people were born, spent their lives, and died within 100 miles of the same spot. Outside the home, life was public. People were known to their communities on sight, and their entire biographies were an inescapable open book. (Thus the suspicion of travelers, gypsies, bards, circus performers -- 'why where these people wandering? why are they not in society? It's unnatural!'-- but that's a separate topic). Privacy was something for diaries and family secrets.

When the New World opened to European settlement, and when the industrial capitals of Europe were established, it became more common for people to move somewhere else and begin life over with little or no attachment of their former identity. Society became ever more neolocal, helped along by various military campaigns and their attendant troop movements and by the vagaries of extractive economies in times of changing technology. Breaks with the past allowed people to be less known by others; your biography didn't follow you to new places.

By the 20th century, people shared their homes with fewer others than ever before, single-family homes became more common than ever before, technologies like the phone gave the illusion of private communication, and the ability to obscure much of the detail of your life was at a peak. I remember when having an unlisted phone number made you a virtually un-findable person.

One of the effects of the internet is that with the speed of its information transfer and the memory capacity of the world's computer network, we've recreated some of a pre-industrial community's ability to gather, store, and recover information about people. So, we've returned ourselves to a position in which the expectation of privacy, at least in terms of identity and biography, is laughable. If you've done anything that can be recorded on the web - run a 5K, accepted an award, been arrested, run for school board, performed in a show - you're likely to go on record, and because there's no reasonable expectation of privacy in public places, there you are.

I think the only solution to the discomfort we have with being known is to encourage a new ethical standard. When I learned to drive, I was told "No one has the right of way; it has to be given." Similarly, I think we need to evolve an ethic in which no one has privacy; it has to be given.

I feel differently about privacy involving records like library use, computer use, and medical records; I still think they are to be protected by laws built on 4th amendment ideas. But anything that transpires in the public sphere, I think, is fair game. Whether you go digging for it is a question of relative necessity and personal moral code.
posted by Miko at 7:22 AM on October 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Picking your nose in private pretty much doesn't have consequences beyond yourself.

But, licking your comb when 'on camera' does. Err...what?
posted by ericb at 2:52 PM on October 2, 2007


I've never seen a letter longer than 5 sentences or so.

I've never seen a comment on MeFi longer than 5 paragraphs or so. Err...what?
posted by ericb at 2:56 PM on October 2, 2007


jonmc, although it's always fun to see you standing up for the Common Man, you're actually one of those people I'd have to class among the movers and shakers of MeFi.

Operative words: 'at Mefi.'

In the real world I'm just another asshole who wears a name tag to his hourly-wage job. But here for some reason, (probably cause I post a lot) people listen to me., which is gratifying. And like I said, there's plenty of places where self-appointed 'experts' can talk. Here we get to hear what everybody else thinks.
posted by jonmc at 4:27 PM on October 2, 2007


Jon, you realize you're kinda provin' the point of the article, man…
posted by klangklangston at 4:53 PM on October 2, 2007


Well, the article seemed to be implying that we all create fake selves online. I've never pretended to anything but who I am. Most of the rest of us don't either. I'm just saying that most of us aren't big shots or anything.
posted by jonmc at 5:26 PM on October 2, 2007


Speak for yourself! I'm Queen of England :-D
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:32 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hell, I'm the Queen Of Queens, but only after a few margaritas and some dirty talk.
posted by jonmc at 5:46 PM on October 2, 2007


Queen of England, and cute to boot!

Just wondering, though: why did you choose that haggard old crone as a body double, instead of somebody who looks more like you? You'd think, your Royal Highness, that you'd be able to reach far enough into your pockets for a pretty young model, rather than enlisting some old wino you found at the homeless shelter, willing to be paid in corgi food...?
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:06 PM on October 2, 2007


jonmc, simple country lawyer. ;)
posted by Miko at 8:53 PM on October 2, 2007


This Miko, she be making sense, yo.

Where circumstances don't enforce privacy, people create and respect privacy.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:29 PM on October 3, 2007


LOLChad!!!!
posted by Mister_A at 1:14 PM on October 8, 2007


Hey, someone else from Metafilter just had their play raved about in the Times. I won't name him.

Okay, it's me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:27 AM on October 14, 2007


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