jan 28

We Live In Emo

Calacanis goes all emo in his post on We Live In Public. While trying to coin a new term, Internet Asperger's Syndrome (IAS), he says: "The classic argument when someone 'famous' gets beat up is to say 'Didn't you ask for this?' Well, actually, no. The reason I got into blogging was not to be famous or to get attention. It was simply to have an intelligent discussion with people I respected. The people I thought were interesting were debating stuff in the blog format, so I was drawn to it." Is there anything left to say in this hatah/empathy, snark/criticism, trolling/creating debate?


This smacks of self-aggrandizing bullshit, unfortunately. It's funny that the people who are really into things like "leveraging/maximizing their brand name" are unhappy because as a result, they are being treated like celebrities. And are then surprised by hate on the internet. I've got no sympathy for Calacanis or Arrington or Allison or even you, Rex, since this type of shit never seems to happen (or at least they don't complain about it) to people like Gruber. Also, isn't this like, so 5 years ago, circa one of Dooce's hatemail blog posts?

posted by APR at 11:02 PM on January 28, 2009

I'm certainly not looking for any sympathy! I just like talking about internet tonality.

Gruber is an interesting example. I agree that there isn't the same kind of backlash around what he does. I wonder why that is. The reasons could include:

1) He's a nice guy. And he probably is...

2) His audience is more self-defined. Daring Fireball's audience is pretty cohesive, not a ton of outsider voices.

3) His community isn't open. No comments, right? Kottke has the same thing going on, and I think that helps shed the negativity.

4) He's smaller. But he's not that small, so maybe not.

5) He's non-controversial. Actually, I'm not sure this is true. He goes to bat for issues on occasion.

6) He's not a dick. This is the wildcard, because dick-ness seems a perceived quality that has to do with the factors above. Or, maybe I'm wrong, and it's a simple personality difference that differentiates him.

So what is it? Which of those makes him different from Calacanis and Arrington?

posted by Rex at 11:19 PM on January 28, 2009

W/r/t Gruber, I think the self-defined, smaller community aspect of it may play a large role (that said, he certainly seems willing to take shots at Arrington et al on his Twitter account). I think he mostly succeeds because he doesn't see himself as just a blogger, but as a journalist. I don't know this for certain, but I would suspect that he does believe in ethics and accountability. He certainly can be dick-like (see his Jackass of the Week posts), but I think he's self-aware enough to know that he could be accused of being a Jackass himself, which I think propels him to be smart and accurate in his posts.

But really, I have no idea. I've thought about it, but haven't been able to actually articulate this properly.

The one thing I have thought about (and this is not a new argument, I'm sure) is that the two internet worlds largely in discussion, which I think of as the TechCrunch/Gizmodo sphere and the Gawker/Tumblr sphere, are creating things that seem temporary and disposable. They have no weight behind them -- perhaps because they post so frequently, and perhaps because they post without much thought. Structurally, they feel somewhat similar to reading 4chan. I'm not saying the posters feel that -- I feel like someone like Julia Allison* is absolutely sincere when she posts things, but since she her posts are frequent and lightweight, they make it easier to attack her. I just stopped reading her, and a lot of blogs (including Gawker, TechCrunch, etc.) simply because reading them would make me angry, which made no sense to me. I still check in once in a while, when I feel like making fun of someone, which is partially due to my own feelings of insecurity and anger that these people are internet famous, and I'm not, and I'm much smarter than they are. It's harder to do that with someone like Gruber, because I feel like he's creating something worthwhile. Even Kottke, who I am sometimes on the fence about, I respect tremendously, because he has inculcated his own middle-brow, New Yorkerish voice that I find impressive.

And just on a (slightly negative) personal note, I've been reading your blog regularly since my first senior year of college, back in 2001. You and Waxy and Kottke were kind of my heroes of the internet, because you were doing interesting things, and you were talking about culture in interesting ways, each with your own different spin. You guys made me want to get involved in the internet. But I feel like your tone has changed somewhat dramatically in the last few years, with all these issues. I sometimes wonder if you moved to New York to be more famous. I realize none of this really matters, and you seem happy in New York, so that's good. I just feel like you were more about creating cool new interesting things back in the day. I wish I could articulate this better; I respect you a lot and will still read you regardless.

*Is referencing Julia Alison in an argument about this sort of thing the new Godwin's Law?

posted by APR at 12:21 AM on January 29, 2009

I think the clear difference between Kottke/Gruber and much of the growing egoverse is that their sites are informed by, but not about, their personalities.

Both of those sites come across as deeply concerned with showing readers how cool/interesting/thought-provoking/time-worthy the author's internet findings are. They are not at all about demonstrating to the internet how cool/brandable the authors themselves are.

I mean, it's an incredible testament to his skill that it's not until Kottke has someone guest edit that you see how much his site is an expression of his own personal editorial voice. Day to day, that disappears into the multi-blue background. To a lesser extent and in a slightly different way, that's true for DaringFireball.

posted by josh at 1:40 PM on January 29, 2009

I was surprised recently to see that Gruber does have haters. Check out the comments on his Macworld Pulse presentation, posted only three days ago. It moves quickly from complaining about the presentation to complaining about him.

Since Daring Fireball doesn't have comments, I never realized he had people that felt so strongly about him.

posted by Andy Baio at 9:07 PM on January 29, 2009

There seems to be a rash of people who really enjoy having very public conversations who suddenly decide they don't want to be the subject of other people's public conversations.

Two old sayings come to mind...

Get off the cross son, the rest of us could use the wood.


You can't have your cake and eat it, too.

posted by Carson at 2:08 AM on February 2, 2009

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