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.