8 July 2010

Out of touch and (surprisingly) bitter

I knew that Stephen Fry was a techie and while spelunking around I found what I thought would be his review of the iPad. He's passionate about tech but sensible, and those are good qualities for a New Gadget Review. Unfortunately what I got was a rant painting all Apple criticism as extremism while demurring that his intention is not to paint all Apple criticism as extremism. Very I'd-like-the-jury-to-disregard-that-last-statement type of meanderings. I hadn't expected that from him, but a co-worker pointed out that I probably just hadn't been paying attention very well.

What struck me as most irritating, however, was the opening of his last paragraph:

I don't know about you, but my eyes are already trained only to read the top half of a web page these days. Rather as a Victorian would not look below the waist, I do not let my eyes have even a second's contact with the revolting Have Your Say or Comments section of a BBC site, a YouTube page or any blog or tech forum. The lower half of web pages is very like the lower half of the body -- full of all kinds of noxious evil smelling poison.

Ragging on the cesspool that is YouTube comments is a cottage industry for the discerning internet satirist (YT comments are a clear argument against the potential synergy promised by Web 2.0), so I'm with him on that. But with so many other sites, the first point of valuable contact is the discussions that emerge from the primary content. At Slashdot, "TFA" has long been the non-pejorative moniker when referencing the article people are discussing. This came from he fact that people would often skip the article for the more juicy comments contained. Invariably, someone who hadn't actually read the article would make a baseless argument, and subsequently be told to RTFA. Here, comments and community discussion has become more valuable than the object of discussion. This is Stephen Fry's revolting content?


I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since it seems to be common knowledge to all except me that Fry is a bit of a fogey. But shutting down comments on a blog feels inexplicably corporate and ... old. And with comment voting the recently trend (certainly it's something that I have been working on) thanks to Reddit and Digg, such a choice of static web site over dynamic is simply backwards-thinking.

[ posted by sstrader on 8 July 2010 at 9:18:19 PM in Home Network & Gadgets ]