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June 27, 2007 3:38 PM   Subscribe

When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia (112 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nobody likes a suck up.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:43 PM on June 27, 2007


Obligatory Cory Doctorow visits a Radio Shack(tm)
posted by cavalier at 3:49 PM on June 27, 2007 [12 favorites]


Hey, it's crappy fiction!
posted by blacklite at 3:56 PM on June 27, 2007


Jesus, he makes money on this stuff?
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:59 PM on June 27, 2007


oh man, that cory visits a radio shack is fantastic. thanks!
posted by Señor Pantalones at 4:01 PM on June 27, 2007


Gee, I wonder if this will get a mention on BoingBoing.
posted by spock at 4:07 PM on June 27, 2007


Ah, the obligatory Cory bashing...

I actually liked this story, but some of the others from the same collection are probably better.
posted by pupdog at 4:11 PM on June 27, 2007


Jesus, that's terrible!
posted by mrnutty at 4:13 PM on June 27, 2007


I like BoingBoing a lot, and I have enjoyed Cory's fiction here and there, but I found this cringe-making wishful thinking.
posted by everichon at 4:16 PM on June 27, 2007


I have to say I really didn't like this story, and I'm its intended audience. I'm not the only one to think he trolled...certain newsgroups and just regurgitated it in depressing short story form. Now you want a real sysadmin fanservice story, read Mefi's Own Charles StrossTM's Atrocity Archives and Jennifer Morgue. That, gentlemen, is how you suck up to your readers.

[NOT SUCKUPIST]
posted by Skorgu at 4:17 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not that some of the best fiction isn't wishful thinking, but it is not by itself a sufficient ingredient.
posted by everichon at 4:18 PM on June 27, 2007


Look, I don't normally snark, but is there some fucking reason why there is a one-link FPP about Cory Doctorow?

The guy's ideas are weird, his writing is gimmicky, he promotes whatever project he's working on at least once a week on Boing Boing, and on and on.

Has anybody ever noticed how MetaFilter feeds that fucking blog? If Cory (or Xeni or Mark) is reading this right now: why don't you at least acknowledge when you rip off ideas from Metafilter?

Rant rant rant rant rant
posted by KokuRyu at 4:22 PM on June 27, 2007


Woah. Independent confirmation.

Virtually every time I've read a Cory Doctorow piece, be it fiction or one of his diatribes or what, I've found it to be an intolerably tiresome piece of undeservedly self-important pap.

Eventually, it got to the point where I would see "Cory Doctorow", and stop reading.

This time, I didn't notice "By Cory Doctorow". I started reading, and within a few paragraphs, started thinking that this was self-important.

Then undeservedly self-important.

Then undeservedly self-important pap.

Then tiresome undeservedly self-important pap.

Then intolerably tiresome undeservedly self-important pap.

Since, at that point, it had become intolerable, I stopped reading, and went to look back here, at the MeFi comments.

And only then did I see "Cory Doctorow".

So I now will no longer worry that maybe I'm just inappropriately prejudiced against him.
posted by Flunkie at 4:28 PM on June 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


"I love you, Felix," she said.
"I'm totally bonkers for you, Kelly. Go back to bed."


You know, I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure he stole that from Casablanca.
posted by danb at 4:29 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ok, I may be out of place, seems to be a lot of anger, but most of what appears on bb is submitted by other folks, not personally gleaned off the web by the editors themselves. And yeah, Cory posts about what he's working on, so does everyone else. It is, after all a blog. I definitely didn't pay a subscription fee, so I'm not going to bitch about the content.

Yeah, this was a one link, no description post that may or may not be worthy, but jeez-o-pete, breathe people. You're gonna pop a vein.
posted by pupdog at 4:31 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


What the fuck is wrong with Cory Doctorow? I mean, while I could be reading to much into this, his personal fantasy seems to be the world ending so that the neckbeards can take over. This is not sane.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 4:32 PM on June 27, 2007


Sorry, it's hot outside, and my snark filter for the day ran out a little earlier...
posted by pupdog at 4:33 PM on June 27, 2007


I liked the part where a new technology caused cultural and societal changes.
posted by freebird at 4:33 PM on June 27, 2007 [9 favorites]


jeez-o-pete, breathe people. You're gonna pop a vein.
I'm not going to pop a vein. I'm just going to state that it's intolerably tiresome undeservedly self-important pap. Correctly, I might add.
posted by Flunkie at 4:34 PM on June 27, 2007


Well, I liked this story. The subject matter is depressing but the story itself is not, at least for me, as the ending is clearly all about something hopeful in the face of something bleak, rather than just all bleak.

Perhaps some of the people who dislike the story while thinking that they are the story's 'intended audience' could usefully reflect on the possibility that the intended audience of this story extends beyond actual sysadmins. Perhaps they are not, after all, the 'intended audience'?

Maybe I'm just at a low ebb anyway right now, but I found this story moving enough to elicit tears. And I am absolutely not a fan.
posted by motty at 4:35 PM on June 27, 2007


People who try so very hard to pretend they are tech-head geeks because it is trendy, without actually being technically knowledgeable, just make me feel sad. When those people are lauded as experts on technical issues, that makes me feel bitter and cynical.
posted by nightchrome at 4:36 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I definitely didn't pay a subscription fee, so I'm not going to bitch about the content.

Which is exactly why I avoid going to Boing Boing. However, if Cory or Boing Boing show up on MetaFilter, I think its entirely appropriate to bitch and complain. I paid my 5 bucks. Get off of my lawn.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:38 PM on June 27, 2007


So, uh... anybody read any good short stories lately?
posted by buriednexttoyou at 4:40 PM on June 27, 2007


Sorry to be dim but please to explain how a short story is even capable of being self-important unless it is being read by someone who already knows they loathe the author.
posted by motty at 4:40 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I got very annoyed by the hyperactive geek-culture references after a while, and the characters didn't seem very real in the end, but they did end up not gaining much from their "cyberspace parliament" and had to confront reality in a big way. So it wasn't entirely wish-fulfillment.

Seems pretty clearly inspired by the Intercosmos/DirectNIC Katrina experience. [mefi]
posted by dhartung at 4:41 PM on June 27, 2007


I don't think that's a line from Casablanca, danb. But there are so many other trivial annoyances that, because of the smug smothering Cory-ness of it all (and the precise, pedantic descriptions of anything technical), are raised to major irritations. It's Aum Shinrikyo not Aum Shin Rikyo. It's eczema not excema. It's modafinil not medafonil. One of his sentences has five (five!) hyphens, for no apparent reason. The tired cliches (doors sighing open etc), and the unbearably self-satisfied, knowing, distorted metaphors (Archduke that broke the camel's back).
posted by Aloysius Bear at 4:45 PM on June 27, 2007


Look, I don't normally snark, but is there some fucking reason why there is a one-link FPP about Cory Doctorow?

Well that would be because I read a story and I liked it so I posted it. To be completely honest before the snarks rolled in I didn't even realize it was written by Cory Doctorow, and even now I still don't care. Yeah, I probably could have added a bit more description, but I found it via StumbleUpon and I enjoyed the fact I didn't know what direction the story was going to go before I started reading it. I'm just a sucker for this type of The Stand or World War Z apocalyptic stuff.

There. That's the only defensive anti-snarking you'll get. If the monkey on your back about Cory keeps you from enjoying an otherwise enjoyable bit of fiction that's your problem, not mine.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:46 PM on June 27, 2007


Sorry to be dim but please to explain how a short story is even capable of being self-important unless it is being read by someone who already knows they loathe the author.
By coming off as if it were written by someone who felt undeservedly trod upon by being a member of a certain group, while simultaneously thinking that not only should that group not be trod upon, but also that that group is ever so great, the greatest group ever to grace the earth, and why don't you all realize how incredibly and unbelievably awesomely cool sysadmins are, we're the coolest ever, we piss cabernet sauvignon and shit truffles.

That's how.
posted by Flunkie at 4:50 PM on June 27, 2007


They're not shit truffles. They're shit portobello mushrooms.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:56 PM on June 27, 2007


My point exactly.
posted by Flunkie at 4:57 PM on June 27, 2007


"You're wonderful," she said. "Oh, gross. 2.0 just dumped core all over my bathrobe."

That makes me want to "pipe" his whole story to "/dev/null"
AMIRITE?!
posted by mrnutty at 4:58 PM on June 27, 2007 [10 favorites]


The thing that, I think, angers people more than anything about Cory is not that it's fanservice, but it's quasi-illiterate scenewhoring. Cory is the guy who goes to 2600 conventions, stands in the corner, and feverishly scribbles down all the lingo he hears so he can repeat it later, only he forgets all the context. If he were talking from inside the circle, people would forgive him, as they forgive Stross. But he's just wearing a poorly made copy of the clothes and yelling ridiculous random permutations of the dialogue, which I think most people understand as stealing at best.
posted by felix at 4:58 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't think that's a line from Casablanca, danb.

I didn't actually mean that :)
posted by danb at 5:05 PM on June 27, 2007


...his personal fantasy seems to be the world ending so that the neckbeards can take over Disneyland.
There, fixed that for you.
posted by Pinback at 5:08 PM on June 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm not interested in why people are angry about Cory per se as that is self-evident. I'm interested in why people dislike this story, in terms that relate to the story itself and not to the author. None of the negative comments have yet done anything but essentially say '-1 Cory'. Boring.
posted by motty at 5:10 PM on June 27, 2007


What pisses me off is that doctorow isn't a neckbeard, engineer, programmer, or anything approaching those. Being a geek used to suck a lot, and now it's sort of become a mark of pride, to assert yourself as being unabashedly nerdy.

Doctorow is like the suburban kid who acts like he's from the mean streets when hip-hop and other elements of urban black culture become fashionable. The n-word in this case would be... neckbeard?
posted by phrontist at 5:11 PM on June 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


I didn't actually mean that :)
I think 14,000 words of Cory destroyed my ability to detect humour.

posted by Aloysius Bear at 5:11 PM on June 27, 2007


Oh, it was an OK story. Where else are you going to find a techish writer with the balls to pause the story and explain what "1337" means?
posted by jfuller at 5:13 PM on June 27, 2007


I'm not interested in why people are angry about Cory per se as that is self-evident. I'm interested in why people dislike this story, in terms that relate to the story itself and not to the author. None of the negative comments have yet done anything but essentially say '-1 Cory'. Boring.
My post described why I disliked the story, and I explicitly stated that I didn't realize the author was Cory Doctorow until after having given up on the story.

If you don't believe me, that's actually fine with me, but please don't pretend that I said "-1 Cory".
posted by Flunkie at 5:19 PM on June 27, 2007


Who IS the target market for this. Any actual sys admin would be rolling his eyes by the whole baby 2.0 bit and everybody else in the world would nod off at the jargon at the beginning.

Nobody wants to be the IT guy, even the IT guy.
posted by empath at 5:25 PM on June 27, 2007


So, uh... anybody read any good short stories lately?

Yes.

See also.

Oh, and.
posted by dersins at 5:26 PM on June 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm partial to Poe Ballantine myself.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:30 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I actually enjoyed the story, but a few phrases--like when 2.0 "dumped core," as mentioned above--rubbed me the wrong way. The fact that the story is tech-heavy but not written by a techie is probably most annoying to real techies, though, and I'm not one.
posted by misha at 5:33 PM on June 27, 2007


Who IS the target market for this. Any actual sys admin would be rolling his eyes by the whole baby 2.0 bit and everybody else in the world would nod off at the jargon at the beginning.

Um, someone who reads science fiction? Plenty of science fiction, especially the hard stuff, just dumps you into the world without explanation, confident enough that you'll get it from context.

I know Navy pilots who can't watch Top Gun, airplane mechanics who can't get over the engine still running on the beach after the crash on Lost and computer guys, like myself, who marvel that a Mac can take down an alien mothership. And don't even get me started on how Apache pilots feel about Fire Birds.

It's fiction. Unclench and treat it as such.
posted by Cyrano at 5:40 PM on June 27, 2007


And I like being the IT guy. Between BSOD's it's all hero worship and free food and flirty co-workers where I work. Sorry your job ain't the same.
posted by Cyrano at 5:42 PM on June 27, 2007


I'm not a real techie either, and this manages to both bore and annoy the shit out of me. You don't need to be a carpenter to spot a poorly constructed chair. All you need to do is sit in it.
posted by hifiparasol at 5:42 PM on June 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


pupdog : "I actually liked this story..."

I agree.

mrnutty : "Jesus, that's terrible!"

With this, too.

There's nothing wrong with enjoying some cheesy fiction. Though I do kinda wish I could get that half-hour or so back. I'm so torn.
posted by CrayDrygu at 5:44 PM on June 27, 2007


It's fiction. Unclench and treat it as such.

OK. It's poorly written, the dialog is all wrong, and it's unbelievably trite and cheesy.

Better?
posted by dersins at 5:45 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, you're just saying that because you don't like Cory.
posted by cortex at 5:50 PM on June 27, 2007


yelling ridiculous random permutations of the dialogue

Felix, you nailed it there. I only got a page or two through this story before I skimmed the rest and closed the window, shuddering. I am a sysadmin: this thing is technically illiterate and self-indulgent to the point of mental masturbation. It's the product of listening to sysadmins talk without truly understanding the conversation.

You can get away with this kind of handwaving if it's science fiction, where you're making everything up, but this isn't SF. If you're going to use known technology, you gotta get it right. Mr. Doctorow didn't.

If the world really did collapse, there would be nothing less useful than system administrators. Not even politicians and lawyers. Outside our chosen domain, most of us, myself included, are entirely helpless, with specialized knowledge in maintaining something that's no longer needed for much of anything. Without a huge amount of data to move around every day, there's no reason to have or maintain a network.

(FWIW, I had no particular opinion on Cory Doctorow, other than knowing that he's not popular in these parts. After reading this travesty, I'm starting to see why.)
posted by Malor at 5:51 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I could give a fuck one way or the other about Cory Doctorow. I just don't like shitty writing.

except my own, of course.
posted by dersins at 5:51 PM on June 27, 2007


I thought it was pretty good. A bit irritating in parts, but I assumed it was written by some 17 year old. When I got to the end and saw Cory's name, I was a bit gobsmacked. I haven't read any of his fiction, and don't follow him at all, but I kinda assumed he'd be... a lot better than that. If this was some anon kid, it'd be pretty good stuff, but I won't be going out my way to read Cory again.
posted by zingzangzung at 5:51 PM on June 27, 2007


So if Cory's writing is as bad as you all claim, how come he keeps winning all those prestigious awards, like the Nebula and the Locus? He must be doing something right, in spite of all this nerd hatred that he inspires.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:09 PM on June 27, 2007


Sort of running with that: Asimov was a genius but a shit writer. Ideas and more ideas, and his legacy undeniable, but all of it wrapped in the some of the most poorly-knitted prose sweaters ever stuffed under the Sci-Fi Xmas Tree.
posted by cortex at 6:18 PM on June 27, 2007


Ok, Flunkie, you didn't say '-1 Cory', you just said '-1'. True. Fair enough.

You didn't say why though. You said you found it 'self-important' but you didn't say why.

So let me ask. What was 'self-important' about this story? How could it have been more... unassuming?

(I refer of course to the part of the story you read, obviously, given that you gave up halfway before writing your critique.)
posted by motty at 6:19 PM on June 27, 2007


I like cory's stuff in general. This wasn't an exception, either. I do not, however, claimed that I have the ability to distinguish good writing from bad. I don't have the head for literary stuff, and most details of what I read are gone from my head shortly after I read it, distilled into a half-remembered digest version which usually comes off as better than the actual thing was.

So, whatever. Have fun with your bashing.
posted by Arturus at 6:23 PM on June 27, 2007


Is this a representative piece of his work (in writing terms, as opposed to ideas)? Or is this just some throwaway piece of short fiction. I haven't read him before.
posted by zingzangzung at 6:26 PM on June 27, 2007


Cory Doctorow is a writer.
He writes a lot.
He has a blog and a few columns here and there.
He writes stories too.
Most of his stories and novels can be read for free.
And another one of his stories got an award.
He travels a lot.
He is multitasking all the time: podcasting, teaching, giving conferences and interviews all over the place.
He knows a lot about copyright.
He seems to be a clever businessman.
He writes more everyday than all people of this page combined.
He has a strange imagination.
Sometimes wild and optimistic, sometimes fucked up and dark.
He is not omnipotent nor omniscient nor ubiquitous.
He is just one of the most brilliant guys of our interconnected culture.
He certainly knows how to use the place.
That makes him an easy target.
Anybody can put him on his or her ignore list but, obviously, a lot of people can't.
It goes with the territory, I suppose.
So he won't complain.
Maybe he'll take notes, though.
And he'll just write more stories.
He is writer, after all.

Can't wait to read the next one.
posted by bru at 6:33 PM on June 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


He certainly knows how to use the place.

But he doesn't comment much, alas.
posted by cortex at 6:40 PM on June 27, 2007


You can get away with this kind of handwaving if it's science fiction, where you're making everything up, but this isn't SF. If you're going to use known technology, you gotta get it right.

No, you don't. Please see my previous examples. Fucking MS Windows is science fiction to most people. If you want to cater to a teeny-tiny, nitpickeryish audience you might. But a story called "When Those Guys Who Change Your Oil At The Quickie Lube Ruled The Earth," would probably draw similar ire from a cliquish group because, dude, you totally used the wrong weight of oil on that 2003 Kia Optima and why the hell didn't the main character try to upsell the guy on an air filter?"

After the collapse of modern society and all that.

For the record, I didn't really even know the boingboing dude's name until XKCD did the comic with the cape.
posted by Cyrano at 6:43 PM on June 27, 2007


motty:
Ok, Flunkie, you didn't say '-1 Cory', you just said '-1'. True. Fair enough.

You didn't say why though. You said you found it 'self-important' but you didn't say why.

So let me ask. What was 'self-important' about this story?
You already directly asked exactly this question to me, and I already directly answered it. Did you not read my reply to this question that you already asked me?

Or do you want me to be more specific than that general description of the feeling that I got?

Do you want me to list specific things that gave me that feeling?

If so, a few off the top of my head without bothering to go back and look at that crap again: Do you want more? If so, I'm sorry, but too bad. I'm not going back and reading that schlock again, no matter how many times you question my motives.

Did you read my response to your question this time, or are you going to ask it a third time?
posted by Flunkie at 7:01 PM on June 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


While I find that story is next to impossible to read, there's no reason to hate this guy. If you do hate him, it's probably out of envy. If you're so damn techo-hip, clever, and word savvy, then why aren't you a minor internet celebrity as well? No, you're nothing. Keep spewing your bile and urine from your cubicle. Don't take a moment to disencumber yourself of the delusion that you're somebody.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:19 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not interested in why people are angry about Cory per se as that is self-evident. I'm interested in why people dislike this story, in terms that relate to the story itself and not to the author.

Ok, I'll give it a go. I'm not a critic or a writer and I certainly didn't HATE the story but it did irritate me.

I don't read Boing Boing, I'm not a sysadmin and the only thing I know about Cory Doctorow is that there are some people who seem to have strong feelings about him. I do like to read though and I thought this was...not a great story.

First, the geek references. I get it. I'm sure it was meant to be a winky sort of tip-of-the hat to nerdy sysadmin, but when the fifth or sixth character showed up in a geeky T-shirt I began to get annoyed. Oh hahahah! Gaming dice! Comic books! Star Trek conventions! Sysadmins who don't bathe regularly! Yeah, I get it. Stop it.

The reading of the cyberspace manifesto in the cafeteria where Felix gets awed silence in return and immediately everyone is on board with creating this new cyberspace govt.? What? The world is ending and your families are DEAD but one chubby guy reads a manifesto and suddenly everyone is ready to elect him president of the internet? Even the people who weren't there? Threw me off.

Now this is possibly my own ignorance here so someone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong but with the vast majority of the infrastructure is destroyed, would IRC and Livejournal and Blogger really still be running strong? That just seemed odd and silly to me.

Then there was this: "I thought he'd never leave," Felix said and turned over, lying awake a long time, thinking about the election.

Really? Your wife and newborn child just died, along with nearly everyone else, and you spend the very first night without them - holed up in an office building while the rest of the world crashes down around you - thinking for a long time...about your election?

Followed by this: "He fell asleep thinking about the logistics of shutting down the Internet, and dreamed bad dreams in which he was the network's sole defender."

That's what his nightmare was about? Not buildings crashing down around him. Not the majority of the world's population being wiped out. Not his dead son's face. No, he dreamed about being the defender of the network. Maybe I'm being too critical here and I know people dream weird shit all the time but it just seems so unrealistic.

"He snorted when he saw that they'd replaced the O's in the Google logo with little planet Earths with mushroom clouds rising from them."

OH HAI GUYS! I realize that everyone you love is most likely dead but do you think you could whip up some kicky graphics for the logo? Maybe we could recycle the Earth Day one. Add a mushroom cloud or two! Look, this is probably just the funny fliying over my head but I just don't get how this situation is supposed to be funny. It could definitely have been written funny if Doctorow was consistent with it. But he goes back and forth between writing funny and writing serious without really connecting the two. There's no flow between the black comedy and the SRS ISSUEZ so the jokes are jarring.

(You know what this story reminds me of? Slacktivist's brilliant Left Behind takedowns. He loves to point out how every main character seems to be completely disconnected from what has actually happened - mainly that everyone they have known and loved is for all intents and purposes dead.)

I will admit that the ending of the story worked better for me. I still had problems with it.

For example: "They spent a lot of time in chat rooms and sometimes they happened upon old friends from the strange time they'd spent running the Distributed Republic of Cyberspace, geeks who insisted on calling him PM, though no one in the real world ever called him that anymore."

So mere months after the entire infrastructure of the world collapsed there are enough people out there who have mastered bio-diesel generators to keep chat rooms filled?

And the people who use the internet to destroy the world - they just stopped? The minute Felix and Van walk out of the data center suddenly all the coordinated terrorists just decide to stop what they are doing? That's convenient.

Ok, this has gotten way too long and I feel like maybe I've been too harsh but I just don't think a story like that, with that many holes in it, should have "won" anything.
posted by LeeJay at 7:21 PM on June 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


"I'm not interested in why people are angry about Cory per se as that is self-evident. I'm interested in why people dislike this story, in terms that relate to the story itself and not to the author.

My reasons for agreement with the majority of the posters is:

I had a subscription to "Fantasy & Science Fiction" and "Analog" in the late 1980's. I will say I was a teenager of the Reagan years with a bent for dystopian techno-literature at the time: This seemed a bit of a Frankstein re-assembly of why I probably failed to resubscribe once I hit age 20 or so.

This story arrives at least 17 years too late to get me excited.

I work on - and attempt to improve, where budget allows - an aged network that falls down around my ears on at least a bi-monthly basis, but not via worms. (Worms find the actual lethargy of our network counter-productive for propagation.)

That said, I really like Cory and BoingBoing. But I could probably file this one.
posted by uncorq at 7:25 PM on June 27, 2007


motty, I just read LeeJay's description of the story as a whole.

I didn't read the story far enough to get to the whole "sysadmins save the universe" part, and I was assuming that the title might be metaphorical and/or exaggerated rather than absurd.

How could you not think this story is self-important?

Seriously? Sysadmins save the universe by reading a manifesto?

In a story whose opening paragraphs make it clear that sysadmins are, in their day to day lives, valiant and unrecognized heroic demigods who make women swoon and stoically keep the world turning without asking any thanks or recognition?

That doesn't strike you as self-important?

Seriously?
posted by Flunkie at 7:40 PM on June 27, 2007


Flunkie, you still didn't answer the question, even if you think you did. You just repeated what your feelings about the story were, which boiled down to not liking it.

As for the initial setup, where the author was setting this guy up as a valiant hero persevering in his incredibly important yet undeservedly denigrated holy duty, around which the world unknowingly revolves, you miss the point that the author was setting the guy up as a guy who thought of himself that way. Not that he was that way, but that he thought of himself that way. Ever come across a sysadmin who thought of themselves like that? More to the point, wasn't that a great deal of what the story was actually about?

That's what the story seemed to me to be about: whether or not the world really does revolve around sysadmins, as some of them think (there's a reason the BoFH is popular, and it's closely related to people's feelings about this story); whether or not that secret romantic ideal of sysadminnery really could stand up to an armaggeddon scenario. Of course, since you failed to finish the story, you can't can't comment on that, but just to save you time, the answer given in the story was 'no, it can't duh'. That was, of course, why such an initial setup was necessary.

As for Baby 2.0, sure, that's cringe-worthy, but it's intentionally so and it fits the story perfectly. He was a sysadmin, she wasn't. That was also part of the setup. Ever been in love with someone who doesn't share your interests but who really makes an effort to try. And who gets it wrong sometimes but, because you love them, you forgive some of their mistakes, and even, albeit privately, condone some of them. Again, that rang true to me on an emotional level. Obviously this wasn't a trope that everyone got.

Awful, awful, awful "they're so totally in love" prose. Yeah. I got that you didn't like the story. You didn't like the story so much that you didn't even read it through.

But you want to talk about it, apparently at some length. God knows why.
posted by motty at 7:40 PM on June 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


I didn't read the story far enough to get to the whole "sysadmins save the universe" part, and I was assuming that the title might be metaphorical and/or exaggerated rather than absurd.

How could you not think this story is self-important?

Seriously? Sysadmins save the universe by reading a manifesto?


To be fair to Doctorow, the sysadmins DON'T save the universe by reading a manifesto. (OMGSPOILERS). What bothered me personally about that scene was the idea that just one reading of a manifesto was enough to inspire computer geeks worldwide (most of whom were obviously not in the room and did not hear said speech) to suddenly support the idea of a new govt. It was completely unrealistic.
posted by LeeJay at 7:45 PM on June 27, 2007


LeeJay, that wasn't what happened in that scene.
posted by motty at 7:52 PM on June 27, 2007


It was completely unrealistic.

It was ludicrous. I'm a big fan of post-apocalyptic speculative fiction, but that was utter shash. I've read more believable slash fanfic.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:52 PM on June 27, 2007


motty, how do you figure? First there is this:

There were tears in Van's eyes. He wasn't the only one. They didn't applaud him, but they did one better. They maintained respectful, total silence for seconds that stretched to a minute.

"How do we do it?" Popovich said, without a trace of sarcasm
.

The very next scene describes how all of the users are creating new usenet groups to handle the details of the election and chatting with one another about how the voting is going to take place.

So, Felix reads his manifesto. Everyone around him agrees to this new govt. plan immediately and in the very next scene computer users from all over the world are gearing up for an election...in less than a day's time. Doctorow does not bother to explain how suddenly everyone is suddenly on board with this plan. The only conclusion we are left with from reading the text is that Felix's tear-filled speech inspired such enthusiasm in everyone in the room that they were able to go out and motivate all of the other users. Really. Have you ever tried to get two users in one chat room to agree on anything?
posted by LeeJay at 8:03 PM on June 27, 2007


Oh, please. Can you please describe a story about sysadmins that would be, in your opinion, self-important?
posted by Flunkie at 8:05 PM on June 27, 2007


And as for this:
But you want to talk about it, apparently at some length. God knows why.
You keep asking me to defend my opinion.

Do you know why now?

Jesus Christ.
posted by Flunkie at 8:06 PM on June 27, 2007


Geez. Whoever wrote this story is such a stupid nerd.
posted by koeselitz at 8:15 PM on June 27, 2007


Terrible. I loved it.
posted by thparkth at 8:24 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


When Cortex's special phone rang at two in the morning, Jessamyn rolled over and punched him in the shoulder and hissed, "Why didn't you turn that fucking thing off before bed?"

"Because I'm on call," he said.

"You're not a fucking doctor," she said, kicking him as he sat on the bed's edge, pulling on the pants he'd left on the floor before turning in. "You're a goddamned Metafilter administrator."

"It's my job," he said.

"Mathowie works you like a government mule," she said. "You know I'm right. For Christ's sake, you can't go running off in the middle of the night every time a fight about Cory Doctorow breaks out in the blue. Don't answer that phone."

He knew she was right. He answered the phone.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 8:27 PM on June 27, 2007 [10 favorites]


NERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRDS!!!

I would have liked it better if other survivors had killed and eaten them. I think this is less fanservice whack-off fantasy than some kind of ironic...something...about how even in the face of Armageddon, the socially retarded remain themselves, their priorities so out of whack that the most important thing is what happens to the internet? And the elevation of pop culture ephemera (i.e., who's wearing what t-shirt) to character trait is on purpose, yes? Because the characters are moronic child-men, yes? Hmmm. I like my satire a little more savage than this, but I'm pretty sure it's a satire.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:37 PM on June 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


I would have liked it better if other survivors had killed and eaten them. I think this is less fanservice whack-off fantasy than some kind of ironic...something...about how even in the face of Armageddon, the socially retarded remain themselves, their priorities so out of whack that the most important thing is what happens to the internet? And the elevation of pop culture ephemera (i.e., who's wearing what t-shirt) to character trait is on purpose, yes? Because the characters are moronic child-men, yes? Hmmm. I like my satire a little more savage than this, but I'm pretty sure it's a satire.

You're most likely correct. But if so, it's not very well written satire.
posted by LeeJay at 8:48 PM on June 27, 2007


It was a decent story, but I fail to see why it deserves the award it got.

If taken as a "thought-provoking" piece, it's got an awful thin plot.

As a "mood" piece, the prose isn't evocative.

If I take it as presumably intended, namely an amusing gedankenexperiment, the plot is still pretty poor.

But it's dressed to the nines in jargon, which sort of makes up for it.

But I'm not generally a fan of Doctorow. I thought Eastern Standard Tribe had more interesting social exploration, but he falls into the tempting trap of too-much-jargon, too-little-plot.
posted by chimaera at 9:22 PM on June 27, 2007


How to explain the visceral dislike of Doctorow... what are the older marketing/sales guys at your company like? Smarmy, fake, without shame? Outgoing, gregarious, over-confident? A touch hollow? Always working their contacts for their own advantage? See every conversation as an opportunity to promote themselves?

That's Doctorow. The guy's not INTP and never will be, and nerds can spot a sales manager from 5000 yards, even one wearing camouflage.

Having said that, Craphound is a rather nice little short. Better than the godawful thing under discussion here, anyway.
posted by Leon at 10:07 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I read a few paragraphs and then scrolled down, and down, and down, to see the Augean Stable of bad writing facing me, and closed the window.

I came here to snark and then saw in the opening comments it was from Cory. Then I understood.

What is his secret to staying relevant with such a lack of ability? Is it just shameless self-promotion? Seriously, I'm asking.

He reminds me of 2nd and 3rd tier country music singers from the 70's. You have one song that wasn't too bad, maybe charted in the top 40, and it fuels a 20 album career of mediocre filler over the next 30 years.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:10 PM on June 27, 2007


Malor writes "I am a sysadmin: this thing is technically illiterate and self-indulgent to the point of mental masturbation. It's the product of listening to sysadmins talk without truly understanding the conversation."

Ah, it wasn't quite that bad. Well, the technical parts anyway. He missed or misunderstood a few key concepts, but he gets a lot of it right, though it's pretty clear to anyone in the business that he doesn't quite get it. He gets a lot more of it than most writers. Still, terrible writing. It wasn't anywhere near as good as Asimov, mentioned up the thread, who at least had some sense of humility to temper or even enhance his wonderment. This was a bunch of jargon in search of an after-school special to make itself at home.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:11 PM on June 27, 2007


I liked it.
posted by jiawen at 10:36 PM on June 27, 2007


Never heard of Doctorow. Story is crap, sorry. Couldn't stomack more than a few paragraphs. There is no reason in all worlds to read this when there is Cervantes or Maupassant or what have you. To be fair I once wrote a story that wasn't much better. I was twelve. In a few days I re-read it and saw quite plainly that it was lousy. I bet he never re-reads.. If you write quickly and in a certain mood when your self-critical facilities are at rest, you can put down your pen and think that this sort of rocked, but I can't honestly believe that he'd read it again a couple of days later and still think it's any good at all. Someone mentioned that he's doing podcasts, teaching, writing a lot, and is a brilliant guy. That may be so. I'd be surprised but let's say he is. Fine, an otherwise intelligent being can write a shit story, although you might argue not a story this bad.. Anyways, in regard to winning Nebula: I think I've read a list of either Nebula winners or otherwise a list of handpicked SF voted by luminaries, authors, or somebody like that. Most were also rather on the crappy side, maybe 70-80%. Of course, universes beyond this but still.. Anyway, I don't hate him by any means but it's pretty hopeless than an accomplished author can write so badly, this really leaves no hope.
posted by rainy at 10:44 PM on June 27, 2007


I believe Cory Doctorow's writing draws such ire because, yeah, if we all sat down and wrote something every day – and this is what he does, according to he himself, I was at a library in Toronto a few years ago when he was doing a signing and I was curious – we could turn out the same dumb self-indulgent inaccurate badly-characterized inept artless pap, too. Or better!

There are a ton of good writers out there. Cory is an okay writer. He just keeps writing. And there are people out there who suck it up because there's always some people out there who will suck something up, if you generate enough of it, and you can spell. Cory can spell. He seems to understand English grammar. But the things he writes are barely deserving of the term "literature."

Granted, I am cynical and irritable, but most people who aren't great writers have the decency to not publish themselves incessantly. Cory keeps on going.

And about it being satire... yeah.
posted by blacklite at 10:45 PM on June 27, 2007


This story makes me want to punch words.
posted by StopMakingSense at 10:47 PM on June 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


Wow, there's quite a bit of spleen for Cory and this story.

I liked it. Maybe not the best piece of prose ever, but a fun little piece.

And I think bOING bOING rocks.

But I seem to be in the minority here.

But then again, I may be a nerd, but I'm not a sysadmin. I haven't programmed a computer since command prompts, yet I use computers all day long every day.

Maybe it's just not to the taste of the folks who program and administer systems, etc., but I liked it just fine.

Although, yeah, 2.0 dropping core was trying just a little too hard.

But I have nothing but admiration for Cory Doctorow. He's out there doing it every day. Sure he self-promotes, but so does every seriously successful person there is. I work in Hollywood, if you think his self promotion is obnoxious, you have no idea.
posted by MythMaker at 11:12 PM on June 27, 2007


As someone who is ALSO very very tired of Cory's fiction, I will say this: Industry professionals, fellow award winning science fiction writers and people of great repute, give him these awards for a reason. You can think they're full of it, and you can hate him and them all you want. But I, for one, find it very hard to call him a hack or to claim that his writing is utter crap, even though Isweartogodiamfuckingtiredofreadingthishipsternerdshit. But he's got talent, as far as scifi goes.
posted by shmegegge at 11:51 PM on June 27, 2007


Oh Corey!
en Español
posted by chillmost at 12:18 AM on June 28, 2007


Write Cory an e-mail. He takes things super-personally, and you can handily provoke some Classic-Doctorow retarded vitriol out of him.

He's such a hippie. He's so obsessed with his own ideology. He's so over-appreciated. He's got a huge talent:output ratio. He's John Lennon.
posted by chudmonkey at 12:24 AM on June 28, 2007


I had only 15 minutes to read this story, so I just squinted my eyes and skipped all the "geek insider" parts (I was mildly amused by baby taking a core dump). Other than that, it was about a 2.5 on the Richter scale for me.

Come on - the guy loses his wife and child to a biological weapon (on the phone, even) and doesn't go back to bury them for 6 MONTHS!!!!

nope.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:32 AM on June 28, 2007


So, I haven't read the story, but I just wanted to address the "Cory is a fake geek" criticism. I've known Cory for nearly 6 years (since 11th September 2001, weirdly).

I've disagreed with him on a few occasions, but the one thing that I wouldn't say is that he's technologically ignorant. If anybody saying that had spent five minutes with the guy, you'd have to (albeit grudgingly) agree. Pick any of the technical topics that you profoundly disagree with him on -- Trusted computing, spam, DRM, whether syadmins really do say "fuck you very much" to one another, how to install linux, functional programming versus procedural code, the definition of NP complete and so on -- and I promise you he'd be able to give you a counter-argument that you would have to spend a few minutes going "wait, I thought he was a scenewhore. Now I feel like the scenewhore for just thinking there was only one way to see this."

I guess what I'm saying is that if "he's faking knowledge I truly know about" is your biting hatred of someone you don't really know, you should pick another reason to bitingly hate them, firstly because I'm sure there's plenty of other reasons (including "I disagree with him", and "I don't enjoy his writing) to maintain your hate, and secondly, if you carry on like this, you might be missing some smart stuff from other people that you think are stupid or fake for similar reasons.

Also, look - kittens!
posted by ntk at 12:51 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


BTW, I am an admin for a multinational, I do wear dorky shirts, I've had friends for years I've never met in person, I do game (although I'm not really a LARP type), I'm fat, I have named every desktop, laptop and PDA I've ever owned (Hell, I even have a nickname for my Roomba). House full of gadgets. I even happily mock just about every movie with a computer in it. (I am not so self-important though.) Add your personal stereotype here.

And, I liked it.

You don't like it. Don't read it. Simple.

Maybe it's me, but the snarky spewfest dogpile witchburning groinkicking condemnations around here do get a little old sometimes.

We'll still like you if you don't cleverly and hiply announce how this is the worst thing since cuneiform.

Really.
posted by Samizdata at 1:03 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Crap.

Forgot hairpulling and motherimpugning.

There goes my cred...
posted by Samizdata at 1:06 AM on June 28, 2007


ntk:

Questions, if you're still around. I've been reading you since alt.ph.uk, so I know you're a bit tasty in the putting-words-together department yourself.

You avoided speaking on the other criticisms, so do you think he can write? Do you think he goes a bit overboard with the self-promotion?
posted by Leon at 1:34 AM on June 28, 2007


I remain, as ever, blissfully unaware of this guy's very existence.

I read two lines of that amateurish shite and clicked 'back'.

I skimmed the comments (basically: some dude sucks and everyone thinks he's a fucking hack). I'm all done now and I still have no idea what the fuck y'all are on about.

Do I get a prize? Alien blowjob, or summat?
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:36 AM on June 28, 2007


I've read all of Doctorow's fiction through like 2005.

All of it, especially the novels, has self-insertion main characters.

What baffles me is that the self inserted Corys are far more insufferable than even he is!. Why would you write a story with yourself as the main character, where the story centers around you being a humongous douchebag?

Read Eastern Standard Tribe, or worse, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. The Cory characters have massively over-inflated egos, are mostly worthless to others, are extremely paranoid and delusional, and tend to dick over everyone close to them. Why would you write yourself like that?

After I realized this, and that the signal-to-noise ratio of boingboing was zero when I considered that anything cool posted I had already been all over other blogs, I just stopped reading. I unsubscribed from all that shit. The dude is just too odd.
posted by blasdelf at 2:44 AM on June 28, 2007


I have no problem with Cory. I haven't paid for one of his novels but have read Down and Out... and Someone comes to town..., and I'd definitely consider buying a third if they continue that level of improvement. I glance at boing boing from time to time - it's not usually my cuppa tea yet there's sometimes interesting things there. But...

...Chimaera has it, I think. It's too slight a work to cover all the ground it wants to cover. The background scenario is woefully underdeveloped - especially considering the majority of the protagonists are detail focused asperger-lites. I doubt they're going to worry about elections before they've figured out what the problem actually is. What about all the other 'clean rooms' in the world, in hospitals and research labs and factories - it's not 2:00am worldwide simultaneously, yet there's only sysadmins around on the net? The emotional factor is undercut by the cheese factor mentioned so many times in the comments. Calling a partner Wookie is endearingly geeky, calling your kid a number to the point you forget their real name - less so. It's like a caricature of a sysadmin's relationship (no problems, true love, extra geeky jargon from job infecting homelife 'cutely'), and thus it's hard to feel real emotions about its loss.

I suspect one of the reasons there's a lot of -1 Cory in this thread is that he won an award for what seems obviously a sub-par effort. The Locus awards are audience driven, and it's hard to avoid the sneaking suspicion that he won, not because of quality, but because he's *Cory Doctorow*, famous in webcomic and blog. I'd imagine Neil Gaiman has the same problem, but he's been known to withdraw from nomination pools because he's won too many of that award already.

(On googling - Gaiman won Locus Best Short Story. I thought it was one of his slighter works, but I find it hard to argue the quality of his prose.
posted by Sparx at 3:05 AM on June 28, 2007


Write Cory an e-mail. He takes things super-personally, and you can handily provoke some Classic-Doctorow retarded vitriol out of him.
...
The dude is just too odd.

But you can't throw a rock around here without hitting someone like that.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:13 AM on June 28, 2007


I hear his name a lot, but am/was completely unfamiliar with anything he's done other than being Celebrity Nerd 1.0 (or Nerd Celebrity 1.0, your choice). I would be loathe to judge him on the basis of this one piece, but I could not get into it.

Some say that the writer has 15 seconds of the reader's attention in order to convince her to read further. This piece is far too inside for a general audience, I guess. I really did not care about any of the characters and by the end of their car-to-bed telephone conversation, I bailed.

Adjectives I would use: clumsy, forced, written by someone who is not able to relate the humanness of his relationships with others.

But I remain unfamiliar with Doctorow and probably will remain so.
posted by beelzbubba at 4:58 AM on June 28, 2007


image
posted by blag at 5:36 AM on June 28, 2007


*puts on asbestos hip waders*

I don't mind Doctorow, I enjoyed Someone Comes to Town and I enjoy BoingBoing most days (notice that everybody spaces/capitalizes it slightly differently?). I think he has some hobby horses and tends to ride them hard, but that's no bad thing. He's right about DRM, he gets copyright and he's passionate about those causes. Good for him.

But this was a bad story. Not because it was piled so high with in jokes that the prose suffered, not even because it was unrealistic and overwrought. The problem was that it could have been so good. The idea of pasty geeks figuring shit out after the end of the world could have, should have been epic. I would pay money to see Stephenson write this into a bajillion-page six-volume unedited tome without an ending, because there are so many brilliant ways to take it.

I want to see the geeks and the survivalists duke it out, I want to see the gnarly hacks they use to keep the networks running. I want to see herds of wild backhoes nervously flaring their manifolds, anxious for a sniff of their natural enemy, the wild sysadmin, fiber lasso whirling overhead. Where are the cargo cults, praying to overhead power lines, the ways very smart people screw up, the warring governments run by Bright Young Things, trying to make this a brand new day. Where is Mad Max meets Weird Science? Instead, we got the Prime Minister of Cyberspace.

Seriously, and yes this is unabashed ass kissing, if you want to see how this could have gone, read The Concrete Jungle.
posted by Skorgu at 6:18 AM on June 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


chuckdarwin writes 'Do I get a prize? Alien blowjob, or summat?'

Alien blowjob is the second prize. You win the first prize -- an Alien anal probe.

Also, as there's no such thing as a real alien, this will be performed by famous novelist, blogger, tech guru and cosplay enthusiast, Cory Doctorow.

Enjoy.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:22 AM on June 28, 2007


It wasn't a well-written story, but I enjoyed it. I have spent half-hours in worse ways.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:36 AM on June 28, 2007


You know, there's a lot of grief about the "election" in this story, and I think people are missing the point.

World goes to hell. What do sysadmins and netadmins do? They try to keep the net up. It's what we do. Then someone suggests a leader. This leads to a flamewar and a net.election. That's what we do. The end result, someone wins, and *nothing happen.* That, alas, is often the result of what we do. There are days where I'm convinced that all we do is keep the network running for the sake of keeping the network running.

As to sysadmins being useless, that's made quite clear in the end. "Felix dug ditches and salvaged cans and buried the dead. He planted and harvested. He fixed some cars and learned to make biodiesel." He does end up running a rack again at the very end of the story, but the whole point is that, in the end, the sysadmins and netadmins, well, they didn't matter much at all. They never really did rule the earth. In the end, there are survivors, not victors.

The whole point isn't that Sysadmin Ruled The Earth, it's about what a group of people did to cope with the horror of civilization's collapsed. They did what they thought was important, but in the end, it is left very unclear if the net was important enough, and it's very clear that, in the end, what they did wasn't that important at all. It's not until much later -- the implication is years -- that a group of people gets enough built to justify having a sysadmin again.
posted by eriko at 9:05 AM on June 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Leon - It's almost impossible to judge somebody as a writer once you're close to them (almost as impossible as judging someone as a person from their writing). But I do think he can write, and I think that he is constantly trying to stretch himself and improve. I don't think that always works, but you can see him being honest to himself about the flaws, and learning from his mistakes.

It's really nice of you to say that I can write too, but half of that was developing a very narrow style and then exploiting the hell out of it for a long time. I've seen Cory switch from writing detailed white papers, to ranting on BB, to doing tech reviews, to working on really large and challenging novels, often simultaneously.

I think some of the criticism about self-promotion and writing quality comes from producing that much output, and (these days) having that output be so visible online. It's not often that anyone gets to see that much writing from one person: either because most authors simply don't write that much, or they don't write it in as many contexts, or simply because you will never see the rough unvarnished daily notebook of most writers in the way that millions read (and quote) BoingBoing.

A lot of people deduce from all of this exposure an idea of what Cory's like. Again, I'm his friend, but I think in most contexts, you'd be disabused of any of those standard negative ideas pretty quickly. He can be a sharp opponent, but he agonises when he makes a new opponent, and thinks hard about the objecting opinions, long after the argument has taken place. He's not narcissistic at all, and is actually (with my hand on my heart) one of the most generous and outward-looking people I know.

I feel odd writing this elegy specifically about Cory, so let me try to pull out a general point, about a topic I used to give talks about. Allowing a lot of your personal writing and behaviour to be available online is an act which has many different motives, but people often draw a single conclusion: a need for attention. This theory is reinforced because people believe that they know you better, exactly because you've put a lot of work in the public eye.

Think of it this way: suppose I paid you a tidy sum of money to put your every thought or act online, or perhaps compelled you in some other way. I think two things would happen: many people would conclude you were self-obsessed, and as your innermost thoughts came out, they would also think you were rather odd and/or boring or in some way objectionable. I think those conclusions would emerge, no matter how un-self-obsessed, normal, or kind you were. It's just a product of being visible to that degree.

Most of us avoid exposure of this kind exactly because of such potential ridicule, even though there are, these days, serious advantages to living life in public that are totally unrelated to egotism or self-promotion or even money. Think of the little drips of publicity you allow yourself when asking a question on AskMetafilter, for instance, and the rewards that brings. Or a Linus Torvalds being brave enough to put his first Linux v0.001 for public exposure and criticism.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you really want to judge someone about their character, observing it through the filter of passively reading their output isn't an optimal way of doing it, and in particular, one should try and filter out beliefs or prejudices that arise simply because you get to see a lot of their output in public. These biases are both positive and negative. I've been lucky enough to meet many of my heroes, and many of them have been kind of disappointing after the carefully prepared advocacy of their public work. Others turn out to be very different than how I expected, and in a good way. Cory's fairely uniquely in that I knew him before he was well known at this scale, and because of his behavior to me and my friends became a hero to me long before he became a convenient bugbear to others.
posted by ntk at 11:39 AM on June 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


And to think all this time we had it wrong:

The geeks shall inherit the earth.
posted by ryanfou at 11:54 AM on June 28, 2007


Danny: that's a very thoughtful response; thank you. I'll lay off the public Cory hatin' in future.
posted by Leon at 1:22 PM on June 28, 2007


I agree with Leon that Craphound was a decent short story. I've never read anything from Doctorow since that I've liked.

He writes love scenes as if he'd never actually experienced a relationship himself. While they're never the point of any of his stories, it just ruins things for me. It may explain the odd treatment of the wife and kids, of course.
posted by tommasz at 1:34 PM on June 28, 2007


I thought Ownz0red was pretty good. Haven't finished this one yet though.

I don't understand all the unbridled hostility... So you don't like it? So what. Move on.
posted by The Monkey at 4:51 AM on June 29, 2007


Ironically, while I'm only vaguely aware of Cory Doctorow, it was NTK that introduced me (even if at one remove) to all the internet places I've hung out in for seven or eight years. So, thanks, Danny, I'm genuinely grateful.

About putting yourself online:

A lot of the things that people imagine are to do with ego gratification aren't necessarily. Some people become performers in order to pump up their egos, but someone who lets their ego out when they're performing tends to be a bad performer. When it goes well, though, I've found (and not just me this seems to be a fairly common experience) that the ego disappears.

A similar thing is true of posting your entire life online. I've done it, and no one reads it or cares (I have the stats to prove it), and that's not a problem. The discipline of posting something every day, of finding something to say about your life, is, in itself, incredibly valuable (especially if you have to describe being a complete asshole, which is something that comes up for me occasionally), and there's a real difference between simply writing something in a book and forgetting about it and putting it online. Even if no one's going to read it, you're aware of the possibility that it might be read. It's very valuable to see the gulf between the things you know are true about yourself and your life and the things you're willing for random, occasional strangers to read.
posted by Grangousier at 6:51 AM on June 29, 2007


I have no comments on this story.
posted by Eideteker at 8:20 AM on June 30, 2007


Eideteker -

NUH UH! DID TOO HAVE A COMMENT!
posted by Samizdata at 12:00 AM on July 6, 2007


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