Angsty (64 of 90)

I’m not a big fan of arguments.

Which surprises some people. But only the ones who don’t know me very well. My friends understand this about me.

I will absolutely have arguments about the strengths needed to build a winning baseball team or the importance of defensive tackles in football. I will do so vociferously and until the end of whatever game happened to spur that conversation comes to an end.

Otherwise, I would prefer to live a life where I’m mostly left alone, surrounded by intellectuals, friends, writers and the like who – to paraphrase Penn Jillette – traffic in my way of thinking.

And I do. I’ve spent the better part of 12 years traversing the technology landscape professionally, poking around on the cutting edges. I’ve learned from some pretty smart folks to be sure. Folks who, as they say, have forgotten more than I’ve ever learned. I’ve been on the front lines of some of the bigger court cases and technology fights in the last 15 years.

I’m lucky that way, I guess.

But I’ve grown weary of having the same arguments with people who are just new to the game, who believe the world has started within the last few years and that nobody could possibly understand their (obviously) brilliant perspective (because they have just found it).

So I’ve retired from it.

***

I gave a presentation this weekend with two other Emerging Media Initiative fellows, outlining our Remix Writing project.

It was a test run for us, creating a story and presentation around work in the public sphere.

There are some kinks in our presentation (I’m told there was a LOT to take in), but in general we were received well. Mostly.

My section, which discussed inherent flaws with technology and the legal structures that have driven portions of participatory culture underground, created a stir. (Which included two people talking during my presentation while they tapped on their computers and an opening comment pimping their panel later that day.)

I’m told I handled myself okay, but that I was clearly upset and fired back salvos as good as I got.

Which, of course, isn’t what an academic conference is about.

Fortunately, two copyright lawyers were in the room (one who voiced his support for me while the argument happened, one who approached me afterwards in the hallway) so I felt vindicated. (Plus, I had two court cases in my bag that contradicted an argument being made against me.)

Which also isn’t the point.

Somewhere within my argument, I’m sure that I was incorrect. (Fair use is not an absolute affirmative defense, which I mis-characterized. And I didn’t counter when asked what isn’t an affirmative defense – which is most everything when the prosecutor has to prove you did something as opposed to you arguing that you have used something in a protected way.)

It would have been nice to flesh that out.

Instead, I had the opportunity to have my portion of the panel hijacked by people with an agenda. And a panel to promote.

***

I left the presentation – and the hour-long conversation that continued in the hallway – annoyed.

Because I feel like we were talking at cross-purposes. We were there to present our project, to discuss where we were headed. The majority of the audience – at least with silent head nodding – seemed on page with us. But this ambush seemed entirely out of place.

I have found myself increasingly dis-interested in people like this. Which is bad since these are the folks who are likely the chief roadblocks – actually, roadblocks in this world are more like Parliament in that there are many factions who work together – in our way. (At least until we find a more common enemy.)

***

I have little desire to debate with people of this nature, which makes me understand so many of the people who have influenced me in my life. (And makes me respect people like Cory Doctorow, who used to drive me nuts when I was at Wired but continues to fight the same fights with new people today.)

I am silently retreating from these fights. Instead, I look for the next crop of people who will have these fights. I see who is intrigued in the technology in the ways that I am. Who understand the technology beyond simply the buttons they have been told to push. Who see how innovation truly works.

Those are the people I work with.

The ones who simply fight. Or want to push an agenda. Or hear themselves talk about what they think.

I have less time for that.

It makes me angst-y.

You may also like

12 comments

  • Brad_King April 4, 2010   Reply →

    That’s clearly the nicest awful thing ever said to me. I give kudos to that.

    I think I was not clear in the writing. Those who were arguing with me weren’t arguing against my point (and it was MY talk). They came with their own agenda and tried to insert that within OUR discussion.

    I feel okay tuning that out.

    There is a decorum that I was taught: respect your hosts. I happily engage people with whom I disagree and whom disagree with me. I do not feel it necessary to be polite to those who are rude.

    That may be a flaw. I am okay with that flaw.

    But if you’ve taken away that I simply disregard those who disagree with me, then I’ve not been as clear as I hoped. Which, you know, hopefully this clears up.

    Even if not, I hope my willingness to engage in conversation here illustrates that point.

    (Also, on my blog, I feel it okay to be absolute about my thoughts and opinions. It being my blog 🙂

  • thesmartbradking.com April 4, 2010   Reply →

    People disagreed with you and your response was to not listen to them or engage them? Are your SURE you are not a Republican? Another nonsensical bradking-ism, I suppose. Not even listening to arguments against your points (and your brazenly proud declaration of this fact) obliterates all integrity. You are basically trumpeting your own ignorance and intolerance. Arrogantly. Just like Karl Rove.

    PS: Disinterested is a real life word! No need for the hyphen, writer boy.

    PSS: “Nobody could possibly understand their (obviously) brilliant perspective (because they have just found it).” Pot. Kettle. Black. Et cetera

  • Brad_King April 4, 2010   Reply →

    Had it been a disagreement on my point, I would have been happy to listen. But an hour into the conversation, it seemed we were discussing at cross-purposes. Which is rarely instructive for anyone.

    I have learned quite a bit from those who disagree with me, although I've found it takes some time and energy to find where the common ground on a point is. During my time at Wired, I came to understand the concerns of many sides of issues around content, copyright and such through conversations. And I count among my friends many folks I philosophically disagree with.

    But, for instance, comments like yours are simply unhelpful and contribute nothing to a collective intelligence.

    So yes, I walk away from them. You are welcome to have them. But there is nothing written that says I need to deal with them.

    I feel more than okay with that.

  • thesmartbradking.com April 4, 2010   Reply →

    You are a smart wise dude, Brad King. You have deplorable personal flaws, but you write from the heart, which i really respect. Apologies for my tone. But YOUR overall tone of absolutism is overwhelmingly off-putting. I think if you listened to even your most impolite critics, you might learn something.

    What constitutes constructive criticism is not decided by the critic

  • thesmartbradking.com April 4, 2010   Reply →

    Unclear on my part, apologies. I meant “the criticized” doesn't have sole domain on determining what is “constructive

  • Brad_King April 4, 2010   Reply →

    That's clearly the nicest awful thing ever said to me. I give kudos to that.

    I think I was not clear in the writing. Those who were arguing with me weren't arguing against my point (and it was MY talk). They came with their own agenda and tried to insert that within OUR discussion.

    I feel okay tuning that out.

    There is a decorum that I was taught: respect your hosts. I happily engage people with whom I disagree and whom disagree with me. I do not feel it necessary to be polite to those who are rude.

    That may be a flaw. I am okay with that flaw.

    But if you've taken away that I simply disregard those who disagree with me, then I've not been as clear as I hoped. Which, you know, hopefully this clears up.

    Even if not, I hope my willingness to engage in conversation here illustrates that point.

    (Also, on my blog, I feel it okay to be absolute about my thoughts and opinions. It being my blog 🙂

  • thesmartbradking.com April 4, 2010   Reply →

    Gotcha. You're right — it came off differently. You should have mentioned what those rebellious folks were screaming about. It seemed like you were saying there was a large contingency of people who brrought something up at your thing and you didn't want to deal and just left. There is not much you can do when people go off topic and don't grasp (or care to grasp ever) your points. But if you don't make your point clear enough that's going to happen …

    And Amen to the absolutism response. You can say and do whatever you want on your own blog of course. I was making a more general observation about your personality — between here and your non-stop other posts, you often come off like a self-anointed expert and belittle others

  • Brad_King April 4, 2010   Reply →

    It was just two people who typed and talked with each other during the entire presentation, and then immediately began talking about their panel during discussion time. It was off-putting.

    I am not sure what “non-stop posting” you mean. It's the blogosphere and I engage around topics and areas I have been involved. I am not sure I am self-annointed, but I have an expertise in the technology fields. And I do not suffer fools easily. (At Wired, for instance, I received each day – as do most writers – dozens of emails bitching incoherently about whatever crossed their desk that morning. I have a low tolerance for that.)

    That said, I rarely shy away from a conversation or a criticism. I find people to be mostly decent, but if you come at me for a conversation I am having with someone else and assume some moral stance on me – we will likely have a bad interaction.

    But it seems we have found a common ground 🙂 Which is generally what happens when people engage civilly instead of with insults.

    But on this I suspect we will differ. You have an opinion of me, which is yours to have. It simply doesn't conform to my experiences with people both online and offline. You will be hard pressed to find a time where I have begun a conversation with an insult. I certainly will respond in kind (although I try very hard to be witty), but I try to assume that whomever I am reading is a decent, intelligent human being 🙂

  • thesmartbradking.com April 4, 2010   Reply →

    Word. You're right, sorry for the hijack 🙂 Moods. I'm mostly OK but far from a decent, intelligent human being. Keep doing your thang, my man

  • Brad_King April 4, 2010   Reply →

    No apologies needed 🙂 And your registration name, of course, made me laugh. Although I also write outside of here for actual places 🙂

    I don't take the internet too seriously. ever. if I did, I'd never be able to leave the house 😉

  • Carrie Brown-Smith April 5, 2010   Reply →

    I'm basically a technology noob compared to you in multiple ways, but I totally know what you mean – that fight against incompetence and lack of knowledge and resistance to change is important but it is energy sucking and exhausting. Every day I think to myself: Is it really worth the energy to fight with people who, say, just now, in 2010, are finally MAYBE willing to concede that “the blogs” are not ALL uniformly evil agents of falsehood? The people still repeating stuff like “why do people want to know what I had for lunch on Twitter?” And then I think, but if not me, who, and if not now, when, and all that stuff. But it basically is deeply and constantly energy sapping to have to engage in fights with people who don't get it but should and who usually then turn around and basically try to indirectly attack YOUR integrity. But then I feel guilty because there is a certain elitism in assuming that anybody “should” get anything. I don't know.

  • Brad_King April 5, 2010   Reply →

    I am going through what Lessig described a few years ago when he was finishing up ten years with Remix/Participatory/Web culture. Ten years, he said, was enough to understand and discuss the problem. Now it's time to move on to something else.

    I find myself increasingly short with people because I'm having the same discussion with technology that I had in 1996. I think it's time for me to step aside and let the next generation of people take up the fight.

    I'm going to finish up the three book projects and then start something entirely new.

    And leave the future in the hands of folks like you 🙂

Leave a comment

Sign Up, Download A Free eBook
This newsletter is the outgrowth of The Downtown Writers Jam podcast. What that means is I will collect information about the authors I interview, book happenings around the Web, and other literary events that I find interesting. Without you, I'm just a crazy guy sitting in his office furiously screaming on the page for no reason.
Never display this again