Following up…

Today I saw the following article:

http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=printArticleBasic&taxonomyName=Software&articleId=338575&taxonomyId=18

What caught my eye was the part about Digital Narcissism:

Digital narcissism, Selinger explains, “is a term that some use to describe the self-indulgent practices that typify all-too-much user behavior on blogs and social networking sites. People often use these mediums as tools to tune out much of the external world, while reinforcing and further rationalizing overblown esteem for their own mundane opinions, tastes and lifestyle choices.”

That seems to tie in closely with what I said in my previous blog, about people who consider themselves tech-savvy, and seem to have an inflated ego. Many bloggers today seem to think that they are professional journalists or industry experts, or at least try to portray themselves as such to the outside world.

Another thing that relates to this is this passage in the article:

“I don’t see the deep thinking. I see superficial connecting of dots rather than logical thinking,” Siewiorek says. “I see people who are not going to the source anymore. They just forward things. There’s no in-depth research going on. It seems that people have lost history. [They don’t ask] ‘Where did these things come from? Who said it first?’ “

This also seems to have much to do with what I said earlier. People have a superficial understanding of things, no deeper meaning, but because nobody ever corrects them (and they don’t bother to correct themselves either, so there are no other sources), they take things to be true, and sometimes these ‘internet myths’ or misunderstandings lead a life of their own. One pet-peeve of mine is that people think that computer graphics in movies are done with raytracing, and as such that it is the holy grail for graphics. Pixar hasn’t used raytracing on a large scale until their Cars-movie. And even there they only used it sporadically, not for entire scenes. The basis of their RenderMan software (which is also used by many others, eg for the effects in a movie like The Matrix, or Terminator) is still the Reyes rendering method, which is closely related to triangle rasterizing, and GPUs are actually evolving towards this technology now that dynamic tesselation is becoming a reality.

Eternal September

A friend of mine mentioned the concept “Eternal September” in relation to my previous blog. I thought it was a very appropriate observation. In short, Eternal September refers to the advent of ‘common people’ on the internet, when ISPs such as AOL made the internet accessible to the masses.

As you may know, Internet was originally used mainly by universities. In September, a batch of new students would get access to Internet for the first time, and start posting in Usenet newsgroups. These ‘newbies’ had no concept of netiquette, so they came off as ‘anti-social’. Every September this effect was noticeable on Usenet because the level of conversation dropped, but the new users would adjust themselves to the social norms, and it would pick back up to its old standard.

When AOL users arrived on Usenet, there was a constant stream of such ‘newbies’, and they weren’t as inclined to adjust socially. There were just too many of them, and too few to correct them. Hence Usenet became a different place from then on.

The same seems to have happened to many tech sites, forums, blogs and such. There are so many ‘common people’ that silly ignorant concepts such as brand-loyalty (‘fanboyism’) has become the norm, and people aren’t really interested in the underlying technology anymore, unlike the enthusiast communities of the past. It goes so far that these people assume that others also have brand-loyalty, so they want to label you for whatever ‘camp’ you’re in, and naturally assume that if you like something that one company has done, you are against whatever any other company has done.

One thing that really sticks out is the linux community. It seems full of self-proclaimed experts. Suddenly when you are able to install your own OS and start a compile-script from a commandline, you are an expert at OS-design, and when you have written a shell-script, you are an expert programmer. These people will then proceed to promote linux any way they can, and flame Windows with pseudo-technical or outdated arguments. Basically it comes down to them calling everyone who uses Windows an idiot.

Funny enough many of them have never bothered to look beyond linux as far as free/opensource/alternative OSes go. They accuse Windows users of not bothering to look beyond what they know, or otherwise they’d have moved to linux… But at the same time they also don’t bother to look at alternatives like Solaris or Free/Net/OpenBSD. I personally have used linux for a while, but then a friend recommended to try FreeBSD. I really liked it, and never quite looked back. It’s quite a good alternative to linux, and has some interesting strong points. I would expect that many more linux people would like FreeBSD and possibly even switch if they gave it a try. So it’s quite ironic that way.

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3 Responses to Following up…

  1. Pingback: Why do people think that using linux makes them an expert? | Scali's blog

  2. Pingback: OS X–Safer by design? | Scali's blog

  3. Pingback: Why technical forum discussions don’t work | Scali's blog

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