”Has Genius created a mega-tool for trolls?”

Cecilia Djurberg på Sveriges Radio skrev en intressant artikel om min post om Genius.com igår. På Twitter diskuterades sedan risken att detta skulle bli ett verktyg för troll och politiska extremister, något jag tog upp i denna post. Frågan diskuteras även på ett utmärkt sätt i nedanstående intelligenta och subtila artikel av Genius.com’s Christopher Glazek. (Glazek har låtit mig posta artikeln, som endast beta-testare och moderatorer har access till, men ville att jag skulle poängtera att detta vara hans egna åsikter, inte Genius.com’s.) Förutom trollproblematiken diskuterar han även fördelarna med noggrann/pedantisk granskning på ett sätt som ligger mycket nära mina egna tankegångar i bl a denna och denna post. Älskar denna formulering t ex:

By forcing people to address themselves to specific lines in a text, we make it harder to succumb to the default human instinct to ramble incoherently about nothing.


”Has Genius created a mega-tool for trolls?”

Hey guys,

I wanted to circulate part of a conversation I’ve been having with the conservative blogger Reihan Salam, a friend who had tweeted favorably about the offsite product but then freaked out after I annotated one of his recent posts and then shared the annotated version on his Facebook wall (the wall sharing, it seems, is what put him over the edge—it came off as aggressive).

We’re going to be having versions of these arguments over and over. I’m copying my response here because, despite its imperfections, it can be helpful, I think, in answering the question “has Genius created a mega-tool for trolls?”

Reihan said:

had the approach been different — the annotations were less “here’s why I disagree” then “here is more context,” I think my panicked “oh no, another tool for trolling” impulse wouldn’t have kicked in.

My response:

That points to a big unsettled gray area with the project itself. With songs on genius.com [man fokuserade från början på kommentarer av raptexter på sin egen hemsida; min anm.], the annotations are collectively written (almost anonymous, like Wikipedia) and geared towards information. The off-site product, we think, provides a lot of value as a discussion and fact-checking tool. Exactly how we present and promote the tool will affect how people use it. The tool does present trolls with more options—but it also provides a great way for fighting back against trolls, e.g., if you’re the subject of a hit piece or critical post, you can go through line-by-line and debunk.

People will come in joy and people will come in anger, but the real value of the tool resides in two things: precision and permanence.

By forcing people to address themselves to specific lines in a text, we make it harder to succumb to the default human instinct to ramble incoherently about nothing. With traditional commenting systems, it’s almost like a lopsided Lincoln-Douglas debate: one side has its time to rant, and the other side then gets its own time. The result is that people talk past each other because there’s no good way to be specific and targeted about the location of your intervention. There are lots of walls on the Internet—the wall between the comments section and the main article, the wall between Facebook-world and web as such—we want to break down those walls and distribute conversation across the web in the places that are actually relevant—primary documents themselves. We want to train people to think better by being more specific and more targeted.

The second great value of the tool is that it allows commentary on a particular document to be stored in one place for all time. This is the main reason that musicians like using Genius to annotate their own work: whereas tweets are disposable and magazine interviews force them to relinquish control, annotating one’s own song on the Internet’s archival version of the text ensures you get to frame the work for the public for all time (we win the search on a lot of songs, so there’s a steady stream of people visiting those song pages every day that are pre-selected to be interested in the meaning of the text and the artist’s own commentary).

Reading and writing with an eye towards annotation and interlinear debate is a big change, not an incremental one, and I think you’re right to intuit that it will lead to both challenging situations and rewarding ones. I strongly believe, though, that the overall effect will be to usher in a more adult era of conversation on the Internet through close reading and interlinear commentary. It could end up being a step towards scholasticism and away from the glossy, editorial, one-sided, “can’t write in the magazine because the pen keeps slipping” model of sharing information, but I say bring on the pedantry.

Annonser

One thought on “”Has Genius created a mega-tool for trolls?”

  1. Som alltid så kommer det behövas moderering och något för att anmäla och filtrera. Som alltid så är det kvalitén på modereringen som i slutändan avgör när något blir spritt.

    Det är många som på Twitter och Facebook blockerar alla som inte håller med dem. Den sakliga diskussionen hämmas och trycks tillbaka till förmån för konformitet och grupptänk.

    Gilla

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