Back to: Random questions, mostly about US travel | Forward to: New Guest Blogger: Kari Sperring

Is it just me, or ...

Is the internet having an epic snit this summer?

I've noticed it everywhere my internet footprint falls, and other folks I've been talking to have noticed it too. On Facebook, ill-tempered flame wars spring up on people's walls. The discussions on Hacker News are so negative that it's become a topic for discussion in its own right. Reddit is peeved (apart from /r/cats and /r/aww, which are refuges of big dark eyes and furry muzzles).

It's like our collective fuses are fraying, tempers boiling over, or something. If it's an objectively measurable phenomenon I have a tentative hypothesis or two about what might be causing it. But first: does this gel with your experience?

204 Comments

1:

I hadn't noticed it. If I start noticing it now it'll probably just be confirmation bias. In fact, confirmation bias is probably the null hypothesis here.

2:

I've definitely noticed it as well. There is a private forum that I post on (which is an offshoot of an old punk band's now defunct message board) that has been absolutely venomous the last couple of months.

3:

I've noticed a number of people online, who would normally be enthusiastic about things, be extremely critical and pessimistic the last few months. I was chalking it up to being from:
A) an election year,
B) people still dealing with economic woes,
C) a cycle in public opinion, and
D) the level of heat large parts of the world are experiencing

4:

Yes, it does.

There's a growing awareness in the US that someone is going to LOSE in November. Whether's it's those who worship the past, or those who believe in the future, some group with strong motivations is going to lose. The Internet has driven both parties further apart, to the point where they no longer claim to "want what's best for all Americans," but are willing to admit that they want some people to hurt, and hurt big.

In Europe, there's nothing but doom and gloom as the Euro sinks deeper and deeper into weirdness. Between the IMF's admission that they gleefully screwed multiple pooches to keep the PIIGS in debt servitude, and Fred Bergstien's piece today in Foreign Affairs that, basically, each downward step is "the best we can do" with no bottom in sight, has put everyone on edge.

The middle east remains a basket case; the US is pulling out of the Graveyard of Empires without even a reach-around, Syria is nuts, Egypt is ramping up to be an Islamic state, and India is having one of its characteristic spasms of interfaith violence.

And the Chinese are starting to realize that they won't be America: that they've poisoned their water and turned their air "the color of gargled milk" (as one recent editorial put it) and when their GDP is the equivalent of the US's, they'll still be each, individually, only one-quarter as wealthy as the average American because they're four times as populous.

Meanwhile, climate change denialists who have long taken money from oil and gas interests are quietly being told to "shut the fuck up" by the farmers in their districts who are having to deal with the consequences of their head-in-the-sand bullshit, while the base is upset they're not talking more about the climate change "conspiracy." Europe is aware that if Obama loses they'll have to deal with yet another batshit insane theocratic state with a declining economy and armed with nukes.

Who wouldn't be on edge?

5:

I've noticed some people getting angrier myself, even people (hell, moderators) I've considered perfectly reasonable before. I've gotten pretty crotchety as well on Twitter.

For my part I blame the impending election - Mitt Romney gets me angry. But I can't account for the rest of it with any authority.

6:

Definitely seeing the same sort of thing. All the listed reasons can contribute, of course, but I also think we're reaching a sort of failure point in ability of current Internet infrastrucutre and discourse to, well, function. I... am not quite sure what to do about that.

7:

I haven't noticed any more venom than usual but I help moderate and run a forum and over the past few months our spam has soured through the roof, mainly comming from China. It's persistant too with the same spammers looking for exploits to get back on.

Given the problems here it seems to be a problem amongst a few of my most visited websites.

8:

Just to be different - the fora I hang around in have been relatively civil of late.

These tend to be in sections called things like "News, Politics & Current affairs" and even the people noramlly having a go at each other have been pretty quiet over the last week or so.

Sorry Charlie, I'm just not seeing it, quite the opposite in fact. (At least in the areas I hang out).

9:

I realize that all the world isn't the USA, but at least over in this corner of things, it's the usual election-season nonsense. Dunno how much of that particular cloud of mental fallout manages to drift over the rest of the world, but I'll apologize for it anyway.

10:

People are _unhappy_ right now. The economy is down, people are stressed, opinions are polarised about what to do about it, the Right is throwing a massive hissy fit because demographics are against it (which is part of what the whole Pussy Riot thing is about - a clampdown on dissent because they're afraid of it), and the internet amplifies all of this because there's no safe place to talk about it that isn't 3 very small steps away from someone with an opinion that you (no matter who you are) find hideous.

Oh, and yes. I've seen two posts today on FB about how political stuff is getting people down, and one on LJ.

11:

I can't say that I've noticed, but I haven't dealt with "the internet" for years, sticking instead to just my family and friends and a very few congenial blogs or mailing lists. Occasionally I make the mistake of looking at comments on the BBC news or Guardian, but I usually regret it.

There were flame wars and mutual intransigence back in Usenet days and trolling has been a "sport" for some for decades. It was quite unpleasant enough then; has it really got any worse?

12:

Most of the Northern Hemisphere has been experiencing significant drought and high temperatures much of this summer. One could hypothesize that more people are staying indoors and on the internet and taking their cabin fever out on each other on message boards.

13:

Yes, I'd noticed it. I blame Cameron. Right-wing governments are socially divisive.

14:

Maybe it's just us old f**ts realizing that a lot of what we assumed was common courtesy was just some similar old f*s holding back without the remotest possibility of having the same courtesy extended toward them/ourselves by anything except a very small minority?

In other words: We lost the opinion majority, don't see why or how it could have happened, and are really pissed off about it? Trickle through to the self-styled "smart" people really, I think.

15:

I'm not sure it's objectively measurable, but you could build up a large corpus of subjective opinions.

To add to that... it's not you. I've noticed it in various fora. Even in places that are essentially sane I've spotted OTT inflammatory posts and an inability to listen to reasoned or rational arguments.

I don't have any rationale for this behaviour; I'd love to hear your hypothesis!

*sigh*

It's all very depressing; I've dropped a few LJ-type "friends" for the sake of my own sanity; I'm pretty sure this brand of insanity is infectious!

16:

Talking from one of the PIGS (portugal) I can say that the spirit you are finding in the net has hit the streets...

17:

No, this does not match my experience. The plural of anecdote is myth, not data.

18:

Definitely and upswing in general asshatness online alright.

19:

Oh, I've noticed it too. Frayed tempers, conflagrations, confrontations...

20:

Meaner and ornerier than when Occupy was active last fall? I'd say not. The corners I inhabit, even the political ones, are not less civil recently.

21:

If it's politics that is causing it, that might explain why I haven't noticed it, avoiding (party) politics as much as I can, having decided that they're all the same.

22:

Pardon me. I meant to say:
OF COURSE IT'S ALL STILL CIVIL OUT THERE!! CRIMINY! WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?! HITLER!!1!

23:

Does not gel with my experience. That said, I curate my friendslists--people who repeatedly post negative / overly obscure things just get muted or removed. Also my main field of interest (work-related) is a game that's been doing very well recently (League of Legends) and so there's a lot of positivity from that in most of my social networking.

24:

Seems about usual where I've been looking. Don't have much to add beyond that, but wanted to avoid the filing-cabinet problem.

25:

I've been definitely easier to annoy lately but I always had a very short fuse. I thought I had finally managed to overcome it but it's back. On the other hand, I think in my case at least, it is due to various things happening at the same time, family and my own health problems, work-burn-out due to not taking any holidays, not having enough exercise and not reading enough and feeling guilty about it and on and on.

There's the relentless onslaught of unhappy news but it's been always like that.

26:

I haven't noticed a change. I mainly hang out at a few friends LiveJournals, here, several Flickr groups, and that's about it — I found most so-called social media sites distinctly anti-social when I first looks at them, and so I haven't bothered much.

Comments on news sites are pretty nasty, but that hasn't changed in the last decade at least, so while I can find venom if I want to I can't honestly say I've noticed an upswing…

27:

"If it's an objectively measurable phenomenon I have a tentative hypothesis or two about what might be causing it."

It would be interesting to brainstorm methods and metrics for tracking civility of online behavior. In English, maybe something as crude as a trendline in ALLCAPS words as a proxy for temper.

I'm not going away until you tell us your hypotheses.

28:

Can't say I have witnessed that recently, but then I learned to stop caring and love the troll a few years ago - a great move for my own sanity. Your theory got me thinking though, and previous posters have a few interesting ones on their own. But how about...

- People are suffering from Olympic withdrawal (give'em games and bread...)
- The human animal is getting restless because of the fuck-upness of its natural habitat and yearly cycle (I'm sure the dinosaurs got touchy too at the time...)
- The species is starting an auto-regulation process which will lead to war, death, and lower levels of population for the greater good
- The angries are left at home with a broadband connection (you get them by the dozen nowadays) and no possibility of holiday while the happies are gone on the beach (where you avoid taking your smartphone/laptop, since artificial silicates still don't mix well with natural ones)
- Charlie has reached such levels of prescience that the Laundry 5 book (The Irate Network) has started to realize itself before he could think about putting down a single word of it...

29:

(shrug) it's August, it's silly season.
That said, the volume and level of hatred coming form Assange's more, um, unlightened supporters is a scary thing to behold. I've never seen this level of anger and sheer vitriol online ever before. Even the biggest Usenet shitstorms pale by comparison. I haven't yet had a chance to fully process what it means, but there's something in this

30:

There is a major confounding factor in trying to work out if people's nerves are collectively frayed from reading internet discussions. Most commercial blogs have worked out for a long time now that the easiest way to get people to read and comment on an article is to make them as angry as possible. So there is a style of posting now that is all about distorting a discussion to make it as suitable for "two minutes of hate" as possible. And everyone is doing it everywhere now for no other reason than because that is how it's done.

31:

I blame the weather.

32:

Oh yes, the Assange thing is really showing us which soi-disant liberals are safe to have around attractive women. The whole rape-denial thing is totally disgusting.

Shorter Charlie: Assange is not Wikileaks. He is Wikileaks' front man. He's young, blond, and clearly full of himself. I'm not in a position to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder, especially at a distance, but he's displaying some of the signs -- and he wouldn't be the first man who, catapulted overnight into a position of fame, let it go to his head and abused his position. Or used his position to abuse other people, which is the real problem.

I believe the allegations against him are best dealt with in a court of law.

As for Wikileaks: I think that Wikileaks is, on balance, a good thing. And it is very clear that the current US government has it in for Wikileaks. But it should be equally clear that Assange has done an incredibly good job of discrediting himself by running from arrest and whining about being afraid of extradition from Sweden to the USA on as-yet-unspecified capital charges (a far less likely scenario than his extradition from the UK, frankly). If he had any sense of loyalty to the cause Assange would step down from Wikileaks, and address the arrest and charges in Sweden like a responsible adult. (Then resume his position, if he's found not guilty.) Meanwhile, he's damaging his own credibility and, by proxy, that of Wikileaks.

Final irony: given the charges he faces, if he'd stayed in Sweden in the first place, been charged, tried, and found guilty, he'd likely nearly be out of prison by now. (AIUI the sexual assault charges that were being investigated carry a maximum 6 year prison sentence in Sweden -- assuming they stuck.)

ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE: Now I've got that off my chest, I feel the need to warn people that this is not the Julian Assange thread, and anyone disagreeing with me gets an automatic red card.

(You can ascribe this to me feeling pissy and dictatorial, or to me not wanting to invite a horde of clueless rape-apologists to dogpile my blog. Up to you. The mallet of loving correction is ready and waiting.)

33:

Most commercial blogs have worked out for a long time now that the easiest way to get people to read and comment on an article is to make them as angry as possible. So there is a style of posting now that is all about distorting a discussion to make it as suitable for "two minutes of hate" as possible.

Yes. This. Is. Very. True.

(The motivation for this is eyeballs-on-ads and clickthroughs, which we are assured pay for the internets. It's an arms race between ad-purveyors, in other words. And in the long run, we all lose.)

34:

I definitely think that in the SF/F community my impression has been of more outright conflict; but I attribute it to the fact that people are finally taking racism, sexism, and privilege more seriously -- meaning that more people are getting called out on the issues, with the corresponding passionate feelings such issues raise (on both sides).

I think this is a good thing, though.

35:

The usual places I participate in - about 18 forums related to machinery, firearms, and programming - are still as calm and polite as they ever were.

There are only a couple of weblogs that I frequent. Same there.

In each case, I blame active moderation and users who are old enough to have already discovered and gotten over political activism.

I haven't bothered to check alt.flame for years. They don't seem to make irate undergraduates like they used to; the newsgroup seems to be a pale shadow of its former self...

36:

I'm not seeing it as clearly as some of your commentators. There are certainly some irate folks out there, some that surprise me, but not significantly more in the places I frequent.

But then I gave up Twitter before Stephen Fry heard of it because the S:N ratio was no good. I still have a Fb account but haven't logged in in over 2 years. Haven't plurked in over 5. I very rarely bother to read comments on news stories (I will read comments on some things, but with an eye to skimming for useful stuff, not reading in detail). So I could be insulated. Or you could just be having an unlucky spike.

37:

"species is starting an auto-regulation process which will lead to war, death, and lower levels of population for the greater good"

Saying things like that is sure to correlate with experiencing low levels of civility.

38:

Sarcasm, I failed at it.

39:

No, nothing unusual.

40:

Have noticed a lot more people on tumblr arguing with really belligerent and badly behaved people of all political shades, but I don't know if this represents an increase in assholism or an increase in paying attention to assholes.

41:

I know who to ask about this. Antinous is the Lead Mod at Boing Boing and has been for several years. If anyone is up to his elbows in assholes it's him. I'll see if he can put down his banhammer for a minute and weigh in.

42:

Yep, I help run a big educational community and we've noticed a sudden uptick in racist, violent and generally abusive behaviour over the last few months. Enthusiastic moderation and notices to behave fixes it for a few days and then it goes back to being just a nasty place to hang out.

We've been baffled why supposedly adult learners have become quite so unpleasant to one another without any obvious signs of provocation. Certainly there's an attitude that if one site allows people to be racist, violent or abusive, then as adults, they should be allowed to do it on all sites - and if you don't allow such behaviour you are blocking their freedom of speech.

Perhaps the background level of twattery on the Internet recently tipped over some critical threshold and the future is an endless 4chan?

43:

Okay, Antinous @ Boing Boing says this: "Summer's usually worse than the rest of the year. Summer + election year = extra bad."
That makes sense to me I guess.

44:

Yeah. Summer's generally the worst time of the year. Possibly due to high school students sitting at home discovering Ayn Rand for the first time. Plus, this is an election year, and that's always worse.

45:

The World is getting worse. People may not know why but they see it. So they are looking for blame. And the R/W with their wedge issues are keeping it up. It works for them in winning votes. But loud name calling keeps real things from getting fixed.
Everybody else in the World who cares knows what is in the Wikileaks. But not us in the US. Nobody says anything here Knowing whats being done in our name would be bad for us. Mostly done by the GOP in what little I've read. Maybe they just covered the time they were in power. I think whoever took over Wikileaks wold have the same kind of trouble from the same people. Remember how the Iranians were selling the documents they found in our American Embassy, to the world? They were never let into America and are still unknown here.

46:

I say call it an extinction burst, and carry on.

47:

I'm not seeing this, personally.

48:

Too many fnords.

49:

I haven't noticed any difference from the past 20 years.

50:

Nothing out of the ordinary, but I don't read news, and I don't read the comments anywhere except in the places I admin or in the blogs of a few friends.

Actually, September should be worse, with people coming back from vacation and feeling bad, trying to take it out on someone else. Traffic definitely will be hell.

51:

In America, we're swamped in wishful economic and environmental thinking from all sides. I'm surprised this phenomenon you're scratching the surface of isn't worse. People are genuinely upset, depressed, ready to give up and have nowhere to put that except on the internet. In the real world, where that angst does pop out, it creates real negative consequences socially and professionally.

52:

My vote: upcoming US elections having very polarizing effect.

53:

"apart from /r/cats and /r/aww, which are refuges of big dark eyes and furry muzzles"

...have you SEEN some of those discussion threads on r/aww? It's become a hotbed of self-righteous animal rights slacktivism.

54:

It's the endless summer of Facebook. We're all sophisticated here with our mailing lists and usenet forums and self-run blogs, our early forms of social media like Livejournal, but that is new to most people and they're getting it in one dose from Facebook. The boundaries that separated groups have become space filling, touching all points.

55:

Summer's generally the worst time of the year. Possibly due to high school students sitting at home discovering Ayn Rand for the first time.

Anybody else want to set up a charity to distribute videogames and weed to teenagers who at risk for Objectivism?

56:

This ties in with some mental musing I've been doing about this issue lately.

US perspective. I think some of this applies to Europe but my understanding of the area is definitely not complete.

Until commercial radio with news and entertainment we were basically a country of isolated communities. News that captivated NYC for a year might never be heard of in rural Illinois. Radio and national networks started bring us together. And during a boom then a depression. And we began to realize that we weren't all alike. Or even close to it. Look back at Al Smith, Roosevelt, Huey Long, etc... and we discovered via radio we lived in a very much different place than we had thought. And there were a lot of people with heretical views. And fear mongering became a national sport via the radio.

Then came WWII. And in general a huge swath of males in the US got tossed in together from all over the country. Good ole Southern Baptist boys from Mississippi bunking with a Jew from NYC, an atheist from LA, and a Catholic Pole from Chicago. And they were forced to be civil with each other and even work together to save each others lives. Even if they hated the ideas the other might hold. And from watching my father and his friends after the war they apparently learned to work together for common goals while disagreeing about many details. But in general they kept the politics out of coaching kids games and social events. Local politicians in many cases would be best buddies after the election even with 1/2 of them loosing.

Then over time we started allowing college students to skip the draft. And with the Vietnam War we suddenly split the up and coming generation into the smart guys and dumb guys go had to go get killed. And to be honest things started to get corrosive in the 70s. (I'm skipping the entire anti war debate. I'm just talking about every thing else.) The vets I know from the 60s seem to be able to get along much better with other vets (even if hard core R or D) than the non vets. I have to wonder how much the military service forced mixing accounts for this. The "my ideas are better than yours so go away" seem much more prevalent with non vets.

Now, in the US, military service is purely voluntary. And there's nothing that really mixes people up like the military any more. There's the story of one guy whose son attended a fairly prestigious private school then enlisted in the Marines and the school wanted to do an analysis of how they were failing their students.

Now toss in modern media and the internet. Between cable TV and the internet people can interact with only those they agree with. And all of the people who grow up isolated until (and maybe not even then) they hit the work force no longer have a pool of people throughout society who have that shared military experience they can share of how to get along with people when they may not agree with much, if any, of their ideas about how life should work.

And somewhere along the way it became fashionable to be rude.

Now this year toss in the current economic wonders in the US, EU, and China. Toss in our wonderful summer. And the election where everyone is talking about why it will be a disaster if the evil other guy is elected with NOBODY talking about how to fix the issues other than ridiculous sound bites. Shake, stir, and puree.

And yes, people seem to be a bit more pissy of late.

57:

Well, in a "unicorn chaser" spirit, I'll point out at least one thing I have to be happy about (or at least cynically amused by): after two years of increasingly infantile behaviour in Parliament, our Opposition leader has finally been issued with a time-out. Seriously, the man's been sulking non-stop since our last election (in 2010 - next one is due next year, in 2013) about the fact that in a tight parliamentary situation, his party didn't win government. Spitting the dummy, throwing the toys out of the pram, stamping his feet, yelling and screaming, doing everything short of holding his breath until he turns blue, he's done the lot and he hasn't been called on it even once, until now.

Possibly our Acting Speaker (Anna Burke) has been a parent of a recalcitrant toddler, and recognised his behaviour.

58:

I blame Wheaton's Law!
I was posting on a site I'm a member of... and got trolled for my trouble. (Fortunately, some time later, others commented on my post, putting the trolls in their place, but it was definitely a trying day...)
I was left feeling detached and disenfranchised and questioning why I was paying these people money.
I blamed Wil Wheaton. I'd become so used to dealing with forums where Wheaton's Law was the norm that by the time I was dealing with non-Wheatonian interwebs, I'd forgotten that people were prone to being dicks.

Wil Wheaton ruined the internet.

59:

All of the above *and* there's a baby boom underway as well (in Ireland at least, it's the largest since WW2). Which means lots of people with economic woes and serious amounts of stress who haven't slept in months.

Me, I'm luckier than most in economic terms, but I think the last night I slept through was probably in February. Wouldn't change a thing, but I'd still bite the head off a hamster if it got between me and my coffee on some mornings...

60:

While I love the idea, it doesn't work.
I know a guy who basically lives on videogames and weed ... and thinks Objectivism is the bees-knees. :(

61:

[ DELETED FOR ARGUING BACK. -- The Dictator. ]

62:

Well reading the news can be unnerving as I live in one of the PIGS... but online, not so much.

Probably self selected though, I eventually came to the conclusion that most online community input is largely worthless, that sticky sites that leverage "community" into pageviews are just exploiting a weakness in my primate brain (I WONDER WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE SAYING!) and I took action blocking said sites at the hosts level.

I did trawl 4chan for long enough that my baseline for vitriol is probably pretty high, though.

63:

Hadn't noticed it too much.

But I might be wrong. Most of the portions of the Internet I trawl are generally pretty quiet, though.

64:

Election year plus biggest financial crisis in 50+ years in the US which was just not-serious enough to not change people's behavior en masse (Great Depression was clear to everyone that Something Was Wrong). Everyone blames the Other Side, once they're tired of hanging together. It's been long enough for them to stop hanging together, and not bad enough for them to hang together anyways.

Getting better or worse will fix this; better will make unhappyness go down, worse enough would pull people together again. Not that tanking the economy to make everyone less asshatish would be a good solution...

65:

It seems mean and nasty, but its always seemed that way, I haven't noticed much of an uptick.

66:

oddly enough, I'm finding discussion around my corner of the internet social media more civil than normal. This may just be a side effect of curation of friends and years of careful cultivation of reputation as the one who will blow his top publicly if people say dumb stuff on my facebook page or email me ignorant political crap.

I might also just be filtering out much of the noise from the election circus that is dominating everything here in the USA. But I'm not feeling the heightened tension that you and others seem to be.

67:

Replying to myself...one place I receive email has seen lots of angst lately. It's not my primary account; it did get signed up for email updates from two major political parties in the U.S.

(Blame me for emailing my Congressman too much when living in different Districts represented by members of both parties...)

Lots of angst seeping out of those emails. Even though they are official comms to friends/members, and not just people mouthing off.

And I do tend to filter a lot of the US-election-related nonsense out of my normal browsing. The areas I do browse have been fairly laid-back of late.

68:

Yes. My theory is that the shinny has worn off the Internet for all those people who were introduced to it over the last 5 years by Facebook and social networking. They've grown bored with the walled garden but haven't yet learned any of the social niceties that those of us who have been here for years have developed over time. They're like poorly-socialized toddlers dropped off for the first day of pre-school.

69:

The rancor is also bleeding out into the real world as well. We've had what 4 major shootings here in the US in the last month? Most of the time we manage with 1 every 18 months or so.

70:

Personally I look at it as an outward vs inward focus.

I think at the moment, with state of the economy, resources, politics etc. everyone is much more inward focused than outward. We're not looking at new opportunities, far distant horizons; we are looking at have to hunker down and deal with local our communities - lookout for mine and ours.

Nothing is going to get you more depressed and irritable than having to deal with the bozos around you, rather than striking out for new shores.

I'd also tag it as the reason for the uptick in governmental, dictatorial impulses and the general attacks on freedoms. Not only do right wing governments want to put a lid on the pressure cooker, they are more likely to be voted in in the first place.

Assuming there is another recession/depression around the corner (seems more likely than not) I can see a rise in the percentage of 'I've got nothing left to lose' and thus more violent outpourings.

In short, the talk will turn to action.

71:

No rape apologies, just wondering at the severity of the US boot-stomping directed at Wikileaks. I would tend to assume that anyone spouting nut-kookery-BS is on the ignore list for People With Power. Taking any kind of action against them would validate whatever theory they're flogging, right?

The strength and severity of the US response seems disproportionate. The UK threatening to violate another nation's embassy to extradite him seems extreme.

There's so much contradictory information flying about I'm unsure what to believe which is usually the intended effect. Fear, uncertainty, doubt.

If Assange is just an internet kook who's got nothing, why is the US jumping down his throat? If the Time Cube guy was suddenly getting Wikileaks-style attention from world governments, I'd start wondering why.

72:

I have noticed lots of bad behaviour online lately, although much of it involves the usual suspects. Three or four spats on one forum in as many weeks, including attacking someone behind their back and hunting someone down for misdeeds under another name seven years ago! Then there are several infamous massacres in the US, and the media giving the killers tria nomina et famina just like they always do, and the economic troubles in most places.

73:

Thirty or so years ago, someone added the stupid elixir into the worlds water supply and it's finally taking hold. We've seen great civilizations fall seemingly overnight throughout history. Maybe it's our turn.

74:

I'll admit I haven't followed the Assange story much; and frankly everything I've seen about the man screams "dangerous ego monkey."

However, I will throw this out: [i]governments can coerce people by threat of violence.[/i] There's not much these days to keep them upholding their end of the social contract. And when armed thugs threaten to kill your family, ethics and sanity go right out the window.

BTW, I think the social fraying you've observed has something to do with that. People are starting to realize that the old checks and balances are no longer in operation, and that their governments can now effectively do whatever the hell they want with no accountability whatsoever... And it's scaring the living daylights out of them.

75:

Quite a few of the places I use have been a bit cranky lately - b3ta's one that especialy seems to have gone that way a bit.
Facebook seems to have split into misery or vacuous fluff ("share this asinine quote with 50 x 1040 people and we'll cure cancer!").

Over here in Australia, the newspapers and comments sections are really pretty nasty at the moment. Doesn't help that most of the newspapers and news sources are pretty right-wing and becoming increasingly like Faux News, especially with the whole 'boat people' nonsense. Politics has been pretty badly poisoned by Tony Abbott and his local-level underlings. Puzzling that a country as stable and prosperous as Australia is going in for such US-style politics.

76:

Yes, I have noticed it too and I think more cowbell would help.

77:

I haven't really noticed any increase in online bile. I sure can't understand why there would be any.

I mean, what's a collapsing euro, record unemployment, rising fascist sentiments, a depressed US, a dishonest and shallow American election campaign and a baking hot world measured against a highly successful Olympics, plus a new iPhone and a smaller cheaper iPad due in the next few weeks? And if that's not enough to cheer you up there's a long-awaited new book from Stross and Doctorow coming too! And Mars, don't forget about Mars...

Really internet people, get a grip already.

78:

If this is the case, why is it just happening now? After all, for every obnoxious internet freshman there's a graduating senior to put them back into line, and the sudden influx of internet newbies with Twitter-Facebook happened around 2008.

79:

It's coming from all the people who bought Facebook stock.

80:

[ Assange red card ]

81:

The world is having an epic snit this summer. The heat and the depression aren't helping.

My thoughts on the sex crime charges agasint Assange, back from late 2010, are here. I have yet to write any comments on the political issues.

82:

Final irony: given the charges he faces

Another irony, of course, is that Assange has availed himself of diplomatic protection in the first place (even discounting whether Ecuador has a good record with journalists). A major point of the legal protection of diplomatic missions is to provide a safe environment for a government and its functionaries in far-flung parts of the world to communicate freely and secretly, and a major point of Wikileaks is to expose such communications.

It would be an even bigger irony if Assange himself was smuggled out of the UK in a diplomatic "bag", as someone has suggested; thereby turning himself into the contents of a secret government message.

On the internet-anger issue, I mostly visit places like this and boingboing with active moderation rather than reading, say, youTube comments, so I haven't noticed much change personally.

Someone else mentioned that part of it is deliberate policy, ie a commercial drive to increase traffic flow and eyeballs on ads by upping controversy. Maybe another deliberate policy also contributes: I gather there are people paid by various political interests to monitor inflential sites for posts - say on climate change or the US election - and get in early with an aggressive contrary opinion in order to shape/derail the comments flow.

But I don't know how real or widespread that is.

83:

I think you're on to something, judging from my personal experience in the past week.

Last Thursday I experienced a crying jag following hearing a very painful personal story, such as I have not experienced in years. Saturday I blew my top to a level I've only gotten to one other time in the last decade.

And this evening I managed to mis-add a set of 5 numbers (the largest of which was 15) which caused me to pick the wrong answer on a multiple choice homework assignment in an online machine learning course from Caltech.

84:

Boomtown Rats, Someone's Looking at you:

And it's so hot outside,
And the air is so sweet,
And when the pressure drop is heavy I don't wanna hear you speak.
You know most killing is committed at 90 degrees.
When it's too hot to breathe
And it's too hot to think.

Just sayin' ....


WaveyDavey

85:

All the nice people are hanging out in the Raspberry Pi forums helping each other build cheap media players and physical computing projects that will form part of the foundation for IoT.

86:

Well, what strikes me in assange's case is that people fail to realize that, just because one guy may be a "good guy" on some points, and do things you like and support, he may not be so nice on other points.

So if I like what xxxx has done on something, well, he must be someone nice and great. This is just false, but, well, this is quite human

87:

Well, what strikes me in assange's case is that people fail to realize that, just because one guy may be a "good guy" on some points, and do things you like and support, he may not be so nice on other points.

Nailed it.

(Like the relatively recent revelation -- posthumous, in the 1990s -- that Arthur Koestler was a serial rapist. Yes, he was a major intellectual figure of the 20th century: the two aspects of his life are orthogonal, and one does not excuse the other.)

88:

For me it's because the internet in my little world is broken giving me something like 0.2 Mb/s, and the stupid-crazy-mad business model employed by the internet service provision industry here in the UK means that getting it fixed is all but impossible.

Because:

My Service provider just has a bunch of servers and a billing engine all plumbed into the internet somewhere, probably in docklands, though they themselves are based down the road from me in south west England.

They buy the bandwidth from BT Wholesale who manage the backhaul and provide wholesale bandwidth to the ISP industry. BT wholesale don't know I exist, and have backhaul deals with 140 ISPs.

THe actual copper between the exchange and my master socket is owned amd managed by another entity called BT Openreach If something goes wrong with the copper, Openreach (who although are part of the same group are, it seems a completely different organisation) are the obnes who have to come out and fix it

If your fault is intermittent like mine is, their various trouble ticketing systems seem to have the annoying propensity of closing the fault when some automated line checker comes up with a clear line. ALso the job ticketing systems run by BT Wholesale and Openreach don't actually seem particularly well connected, and my ISP often has no idea what is actually going on.

When you finally get an engineer to visit and they decide the road needs digging up, Openreach subcontract that to some generic civil engineering firm, who (after the ticket is closed yet again) finally rock up and leave a hole in the road, and apparently in my case bugger off with the copper between the road and our house.

Eventually another engineer who apparently has no access to the case history turns up and fits some new copper, tests the line and disappear for 'an early finish'

The hole remains unfilled for 3 more days when another nameless civil engineering firm finally come and fill it in.

After which...


THE BLOODY FAULT IS STILL THERE.

and so the whole merry dance starts all over again.

Which is why *I* am grumpy this summer.

89:

I wouldn't say there was an unusual level of internet screaming/snittery/fuckwittedness at present. Especially not for a US election year, although that only affects some fora.

90:

My plan, with the Boomtown Rats reference, was to see if I could invoke an earworm for people. Thinking on, I wonder if I misunderestimated the age / cultural references here.

YOU ARE ALL BLOODY HOPELESS ! (just trying to keep in with the theme)

WaveyDavey

91:

A good example of this is that Koestler's wiki page mentions the rape(s) as "controversial personal life"

92:

I’ve not noticed any particular upsurge in internet bickering.

If we’re collectively being wound up by advertisers I think it might be counter-productive for them in the long run.


The idea that a combination of bad weather, either heat or constant rain, endless rain coupled with economic gloom and, in the US a big election coming up with increased levels of partisan and ideological bickering spilling out to the rest of the internets seems plausible.

I’m intrigued how one would measure it.

Randomised Self-reporting opinion polls. i.e. asking a randomised group, do you think the internet is snarkier now than it was this time last year? might work.

Identifying bell-weather forums and monitoring them by eye. Seem labour intensive and subject to all sorts of potential bias.

Some kind of search engine tool that looked for clusters of key words and tried to guess at the emotional state of the posters involved. (That would be pretty interesting and scarily useful if you could get it to work.)

Some composite measure that I’d like to call the Summer-Stross-Stress-a-meter.

93:

No. I follow graphic artists / illustrators all over the place and everything is sweetness and light.

http://samize.deviantart.com/art/Cthulhu-fhtagn-no-more-318883063

Relatively speaking, of course.

94:

That's kind of like the Hannibal Lecter dichotomy: a brilliant, sick mind.

I'd read of a case where a serial killer in Mexico was a high-paid researcher for American companies. They didn't just turn a blind eye but took an active hand in covering up his activities because they were making so much money off his work. Lots and lots of dead, raped women.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdul_Latif_Sharif#section_1

Not sure how much is true. The wiki article is very brief. I forget which site had the more alabeotate history of his crimes.

95:

I'm still not sure why Assange thinks he's safer from extradition to the US in the UK of all places.

I've not noticed too much more angst on the internets recently, although the yanks do seem a bit wound up about some political thing they have going on soon.

What I have noticed is more attention being paid to over the top sexism, particularly in gaming circles, which seems to be way worse than anything I've ever come across personally.
(eg http://boingboing.net/2012/07/09/amateur-game-invites-player-to.html)
I'm just baffled by this sort of thing, I can't understand the motivation at all.

96:

It's true that that's certainly a problem. I think people have a hard time grasping that just about everyone has done things they dislike or disagree with, especially when they like other things someone has done.

However, I'd say that just as large of a problem is the rather disturbing tendency for people to assume that someone is guilty just because they have been charged (or in this case, "wanted for questioning" and still not charged). It's trivially easy for someone to be smeared in the media with allegations. I know in many places here, they won't release the names of the accuser, because they are victims, but they will release the name of the accused, because they're obviously at fault.

That's not justice, it's a lynch mob that's willing to let itself be wound up by some of the most irresponsible elements of our society. I remember going along with it when we were told in the US that Steven Hatfield was the anthrax terrorist. Ever since seeing the way they (the media and the authorities) destroyed his life before saying, years later, that it wasn't him, I've been much more cautious about trial by media.

97:

I think he's convinced that Sweden wouldn't have reopened the case except as part of an agreement to turn him over to the US no questions asked.

An extradition hearing to the US from the UK would probably involve uncomfortable questions like "Didn't you torture his co-conspiritor?" and "Did he do anything illegal under US law?"

I don't buy it, I think they reopened the case so he would pull exactly this and to further drag his name through the mud, see all the 'rape' talk in the media even though he's been cleared of that charge and is wanted for questioning for a more minor offense.

98:

I haven't noticed things being generally worse than a normal election/event/hot-summer year combo.

Yes hackernews has gone a bit ranty/negative - but I put that down to the combination of community growth + an exceptionally bad case of trying to solve social problems with technical fixes (unsurprising considering the group :-)

I've actually been looking for a general downturn since I made a prediction a year and a bit back that one would happen - because of the number of people using mobile devices online. I expected that the combination of:

  • new group of users (primarily using mobile devices - unaware of community norms)
  • general experience of using mobile for discussion/conversation more frustrating (due to size/ux of device)
  • context of mobile use often more frustrating (time limited, not peaceful environments, etc.)
  • mobile data entry more likely to produce shorter messages (which tend to be blunter and easier to misinterpret)

would cause a general downturn - but I've not noticed one actually happen.

99:

Actually, after some thinking I think this is a lot more subjective. I went through a phase like this a year or two ago, and just made better filters on what I read, as most of the stuff was designed to annoy/scare/anger me, but had little or no informational content. Saying this makes people realize sooner that they've gotten to the tipping point, so the question here might be a trigger for a lot of people.

Otherwise, it seems to be a combination of slowly rising crap and people getting more and more tired of it.

100:

I have to say that I don't think it's necessarily a sudden uptick so much as a continued trend of polarisation. Although I do seem to be seeing more and more of what I've started to think of as "super-polarisation".

Normally, in a polarised debate, you're seeing people take the stance: If you don't agree with "A" you must agree with "X", there's no grey area. But there is a lot more of this kind of thing now: If you agree with "A", you also must agree with "B" and "C", and if you don't agree with "A", then you must agree with "X", and "Y" and "Z". To pick a current example: If you agree that Global Warming is real, you also have to support Julian Assange without question, or if you don't support Assange, then you must also be a climate change denier.

I think this then poisons otherwise civil discussions, where someone assumes that because another participant in the debate agrees with them on one topic, they must of course agree on every other topic -- and if they dont: BURN THE HERETIC!

Sorry this got a bit more complicated in the explanation than I intended.

101:

Oops – trying without mentioning you-know-who.

It is NOT an election year, except in the USSA!
Except, of course, if “O” loses, we are all going to notice.
Even some fairly rightish-wing (by UK standards) “Conservatives” don’t seem to be aware of the depths of lunacy and corruption (including vote-rigging) that the Rethuglicans are sinking to.

The climate change denialists are loose over here, too, and won’t be told – what WILL convince them?
You tell me?

Economic downturn or flatline everywhere does NOT help.

The XXXth Olympiad here was hated and feared by many people, but from the media, you’d never have known it.

“Coming War” – yes, I’m frightened of that one.
Where? When? Whom?
My money is on “Pakistan” opening with a nuke-exchange by the islamists – or is that simply too obvious.
And, even if we are not directly involved, our Navy is now so wek we will stand real danger of starvation – thank-you every traitorous PM since 1979 ……

AND NOW

C’mon Charlie – what’s YOUR “tentative hypotheses” that you mentioned?


102:

It's not just the internets. It's in general.

103:

Despair is setting in, along with depression. People have noticed that their vote doesn't count, and they are pissed. They also know that the world is heading for disaster unless radical changes are made, but in every area progress is blocked.

And it's hot.

104:

Ultimate, ubiquitous despair. What an attractive concept.

105:

Despair is setting in, along with depression. People have noticed that their vote doesn't count, and they are pissed. They also know that the world is heading for disaster unless radical changes are made, but in every area progress is blocked.

And it's hot.

And Windows 8 is shipping.

106:

Politics seems to go in cycles and so does financial/economic stuff. The last few years, most of the world has been either lending each other money, or taking the money and doing something noisy, gung-ho and mostly enjoyable with it (with the notable exception of the middle east). Even in Europe, for a while the money has been flowing free and life's been a beach with free booze and much joy to be had.

All of a sudden though, pretty much everyone has been going "Right then, you lot owe me a fiver, pay up or meet Mr Nasty!". Most times, because most places are out of sync with each other, whilst Britain is getting all pissy and psychotically Tory somewhere else has just turned fluffily socialist and put its feet up.

The problem seems to be that all the cycles have converged right now and pretty much most of the places that have lots of money have turned tight with it, and everywhere else has lost all of their benefactors. America is rapidly realising that it has spent up (mostly on shiny stuff that goes BANG) and is skint, Britain has spent up and Europe has just finished transferring lots of moolah from Germans to Club Med, and now wants it back.

Oh, and I'm pissed off because I somehow missed out on all the wine, women and song during the Blair Years (although I did see a bit of the dot-com boom, in Burnley. Which was much less exciting than you might think).

I think I'll go put my flat cap on, and stand in the cellar for a bit, practice Yorkshire dourness for a while now.

107:
I think I'll go put my flat cap on, and stand in the cellar for a bit, practice Yorkshire dourness for a while now.

Kraw-kraw-krawk!

108:
Yes hackernews has gone a bit ranty/negative - but I put that down to the combination of community growth + an exceptionally bad case of trying to solve social problems with technical fixes (unsurprising considering the group :-)
Just on hackernews, the uncomfortable feeling that the IT startup scene is bubbling like a fountain with washing-up liquid added seems to be dawning unevenly across the userbase, which increases tension between the bearish got-its and the (to them) hopelessly naive and gung-ho not-got-its...
109:

Well, at the least the words "pussy riot" streamed past the global eyesockets this summer.

110:

I think we are seeing what Paul Kennedy called "THE RISE AND FALL OF THE GREAT POWERS," in his book. And what happening in my America is bleeding over into the rest of world. You know, when that book came out it was in the news a lot as not just right but obvious. Then our R/W started attacking it and everybody who liked it as hating America. Not just them. Now its never heard of. Nor is what it said. He was not the only one predicting this. Many old time, cold war Republicans had been saying it too. Its all keep doing the what got us in this mess or you are not just wrong but evil and must be put down.
I don't know what Assange did or did not do. I read the charges were on the word of two women. A post said what it was enough to bring charges under a extreme Swedish law. But just barely. It looks like he thinks its a set up to mail him to jail in Americana until he talks. Or says what they want to hear. They do that over here. But I don't know, nor does anyone.

111:

It would be an even bigger irony if Assange himself was smuggled out of the UK in a diplomatic "bag", as someone has suggested; thereby turning himself into the contents of a secret government message.

I've come to the conclusion that most people are similar to vampires. They don't recognize themselves when looking in the mirror. What they see isn't what is really there.

112:

I’m intrigued how one would measure it.
Randomised Self-reporting opinion polls. i.e. asking a randomised group, do you think the internet is snarkier now than it was this time last year? might work.

It is hard to measure variable A when there are 438 other variables involved which impact variable A to some degree or another. And year to year some of the 438 become insignificant and other rise from trivial impact to a major influence.

Welcome to the world of rapid change. Which to some degree is causing some of the anger. People I deal with are tee'd off that they can't get the shinny new without changes to the tried and true. Really really teed off.

113:

CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN anyone?

On a more serious note, I think a significant proportion of the WEIRD world is under significant stress. Economic, political, and social movements are all hitting tipping points, and there are significant stresors on MANY people's economic standing. So the internal stresses on the system are higher. This combined with the fact that its easier and more dramatic/ attention getting to stir the pot has definitely upped the internal conflict level online and in the real world. Additionally polarization on many issues is increasing to the point where some soprt of tectonic shift will occur. Its just a case of multiple small factors stacking up and hitting all at once.

114:

America is rapidly realising that it has spent up (mostly on shiny stuff that goes BANG) and is skint,

We, the USA, has spent way too much on stuff that goes BANG but has also spent way way more on shiny but doesn't last. You can do the former, and maybe some of the later, but not both. No way no how.

115:

There seems to be a common precursor to most large economic crashes: excessive credit. Quite how one defines the amount of credit on offer at any one time to be excessive I don't know, but certainly one tends to see a large amount of money being loaned all over the place immediately before most large crashes.

On this theme, I have a vague hypothesis that the current series of crises in the Eurozone were not so much unforeseen and unfortunate accidents, but an amateurishly conceived plan of empire-by-stealth. The initial plan would have had to have been dreamed up in the days before pervasive computing and before the commoditisation of debts had been devised, and would have supposed to work as follows:

1) Unite most of Europe in a single currency, making vague handwavings about convergence and admitting any old country anyway.

2) Sit back and watch the usual suspects in Club Med go hog-crazy stuffing themselves on cheap credit.

3) Watch Club Med governments get into trouble, and cede power to the Euroland Central Government in return for being helped out of trouble; repeat many times until Club Med governments effectively don't have any power left.

4) Enjoy empire.

The only problem with this plan would be that Baldrick of TV fame could've come up with a better one, and modern financial wizards have come up with myriads of ways of hiding debts. The net effect of computers and financial wizards combined with wilfully idiotic banks is to hide trouble until it is too late, then attack the ailing entity from all sides until it disintegrates.

In short, the Eurozone had a plan, the plan is bust, nobody knows what to do.

116:

Some normally quiet(ish) sections of the net that I frequent have erupted into unexpected and vicious internecine squabbles, but that always seems to be the case somewhere. These days I usually back away and let them get on with it. The unusual thing I have noticed is the way it has infected individuals I thought would have resisted.

Comments pages on newspapers and BBC seem as insane as ever, so its hard to measure any increase in those locations.

117:

The only problem with this plan would be that Baldrick of TV fame could've come up with a better one,

Over the years, with some of the people I have somewhat serious discussions with, we have decided that to some degree the EU exists so France can pretend to be in charge. Ditto the single currency. And Germany is in it, not because they want to be a part of it, but because they sort of kind of have to to keep their economy running. And not allow France to be in charge of Europe. Sort of like when everyone you're with picks Thai food. Even if you can't stand it you have to go along or drop out of the group or go hungry.

An opinion of someone who has watched the EU from afar for all these decades.

118:

I'm fairly certain that it is all the work of occult Nazi provocateurs, who are sowing chaos globally in order to prepare the world for the coming of the Fourth Reich.

For example, consider the following developments: The Muslim Brotherhood taking over the Middle East? Nazis. Chinese generals planning to seize lebensraum and topple America? Nazis. Israelis preparing to crush their enemies and seize more land? Nazis. Obama? Closet Nazi. And of course, most Christian right-wingers are Nazis. And I haven't even mentioned the Hindu, African and Buddhist Nazis. Everywhere you look today, it's Nazis! Nazis! Nazis!

119:

But how is the Milk Marketing Board to benefit from all this? They are reputed to be behind pretty much every conspiracy going (that business with the Vatican was petty pranksterism), but I really don't understand this latest one...

(This refers to the stories of Tom Holt, BTW)

120:

A lot more bickering than I feel comfortable with happenning around me (online and off) than I would like.

It's been very hot in the US for a while and very wet in the summer in the UK and now it's hot and sticky in the UK. Not suggesting US+UK=Internet but they are probably drivers for lots of the English speaking sections of it.

Mitt Romney is going Win/Lose the US presidential election in November is enough to stress everyone surely?

Everyone is slowly going broke and wondering how you hide thirty trillion dollars from the tax man and whether he'd therefore care if you quit paying VAT?

121:

On the Assange thingL

Wikileaks is a good thing (on balance)
Assange is a muppet (also on balance)

Can anyone explain why he doesn't want to go to Sweden in case they extradite him to the US but is willing to live in the UK (Christopher Tappin, Gary McKinnon, Natwest 3 etc etc ad nauseum)?

122:

I haven't noticed any increase in vitriol, and I browse some forums that have been known for their epic flame wars and meltdowns.

Then again, I can see how someone fond of jumping to conclusions and making sweeping and hilariously off-base generalizations (rape apologists? really?) about people with different opinions would feel a little more heat...

123:

As I said, the shine has worn off Facebook. More, younger people are graduating from Zuckerburg's walled garden, to the Internet at large, faster than before. Add to that the older folk who are trickling out of Facebook through Pinterist and Tumblr, and discovering that there's more to the internet than Lolcats and family status updates, but still lacking in the etiquette for proper Internet interaction, and you get a lot of this displaced rancor from the real world exploding on unmoderated forums.

124:

Read the Naomi Wolf critique of the Assange case

125:

"While I love the idea, it doesn't work.
I know a guy who basically lives on videogames and weed ... and thinks Objectivism is the bees-knees. :("

I'm sorry, but we're going to up your dose :)

126:

Being in the states, I chalk this up to the election season. Otherwise, I'm not sure.

127:

I would say the big picture is that we are experiencing a worldwide crisis of legitimacy in our institutions brought on by a ubiquitous disintermediated communication media, i.e. the Internet and especially Internet-capable mobile phones. Increasingly the average person even in the 3rd world is able to learn who is being screwed and how hard, and who is raking in the spoils. On the other hand, whisper campaigns are also being used undermine the legitimacy of institutions for ideological or economic/political reasons. The result is a lot of people are angry at "the man" or "the opposition" but feel like then cannot individually effect change, so they vent on the Internet. The flamewars over the wikileaks guy (who shall not be named in deference to OGH) is a perfect example of this.

The global online society is still in the build-out phase, with potentially billions more users still to come in the next few decades, so it is really up to SF authors like Charlie to try and envision where we're might end up. Maybe the world of Halting State is a little too optimistic?

128:

When I started reading this post, I thought "internet having a massive snit" was about badly functioning websites, e.g. yahoo mail often doesn't do anything when I click on the appropriate buttonrs, repeated clicking is required. Or other websites which have worse than before utility or buttons that don't work or bad flash coding or whatever it is that's wrong with them, or they are running 3 flash using adverts which means the page download and visibility times are slower than they were 6 or 7 years ago.

I haven't noticed any definite difference myself to the actual topic at hand. Personally I'm realising just how bad a Tory recession is compared to a labour one, but we still have 3 neo-liberal parties to choose from in the UK, one socially progressive but with an authoritarian streak and one which believes in ghettoising and stigmatising everyone who isn't rich.

129:

"Then again, I can see how someone fond of jumping to conclusions and making sweeping and hilariously off-base generalizations (rape apologists? really?) about people with different opinions would feel a little more heat..."

If the world can learn to let blatant flamebait like this slide into oblivion, then there's hope for us all.

Myself, i've not noticed a lot of rage, but then I've stopped reading all the collapsaholic blogs and don't pay any attention to the "the sky is falling" (there's a lot of it here, actually, but at least it's intelligent) brigade. The way I see it, I have food on my belly and i'm not homeless, and that's doing better than a lot of folk and my parents had it harder than me in the 60's and 70's. things ain't that bad, just people scared of change innit

130:

That's a good observation. The US election stupidity is certainly keeping me in a constant low state of annoyance, to the point where I've turned off my favorite radio (NPR) just to get away from the noise(note to public radio: there's a reason you're not getting my support this year. Fire some of your political reporters, or get them on real news, and I'll join again. If they're reporting on what other reporters are saying, there are too many political reporters and pundits out there. Same goes for the commercial media too).

That, of course, explains little about the rest of the world's annoyance. My general take is that it's a confluence of three factors:
--There are an increasingly long list of important problems on the state, national, and global levels, many of which seem to have workable solutions, but those solutions all seem to be blocked, primarily by a few rich white males (note that I'm white and male, though I am certainly prejudiced against most rich white men).
--The politicians, for the most part, give a strong appearance of incompetence, and even if they are competent, they are currently caught up in dysfunctional politics.
--The global financial sector seems to be indulging in corrupt (to the point of stupid) business practices that would embarrass a mafia boss, and all us little people are trying to figure out where to stand so that we won't be buried by their defecations or crushed when they fall.

131:

I was exasperated seeing the same discredited Assange claims pop up repeatedly on Reddit, so in a moment of boredom I started checking through some of their post histories to try and decipher what kinds of people they were. I was disheartened to discover that a significant proportion were children masquerading as adults.

It only takes a few hot headed fools to derail a conversation into a flame war and I can't help but notice (only semi-seriously) that this ill-tempered season occurs during the summer holidays.

132:

"What I have noticed is more attention being paid to over the top sexism, particularly in gaming circles, which seems to be way worse than anything I've ever come across personally."

I think that on that we're seeing the convergence of less tolerance for a-holes combined with more and more a-holes letting their a-hole flag fly proudly, so to speak.

133:

Actually if you want to know my real opinion, what we are seeing is a collective nervous breakdown at the realization that our myths are failing us across the spectrum -- left, right, religious, secular -- and there don't seem to be a lot of good new ideas out there. I think it's rather telling that so many of you are pointing the finger of blame at this blog's usual suspects, rather than looking in the mirror and contemplating the shortcomings of your own ideologies. Everyone seems trapped in various irreconcilable narratives, which is usually a prelude to war.

134:

I think that on that we're seeing the convergence of less tolerance for a-holes combined with more and more a-holes letting their a-hole flag fly proudly, so to speak.

Some of this is a fall out from the 60s (I hate that term but it really took off then) when it started becoming OK to be rude any time you didn't get your own personal way. Now it seems to be the norm. And kids are taught this at an early age. 10 to 20 years ago my local schools were having issues with 10 and under kids acting like brats all the time and there parents failing to see there was a problem. Some getting quite indignant about it. I can only imagine how many of these kids are now in their 20s and 30s and think being a brat is OK all the time.

135:

I've a comment that is warded by the gnomes, if someone would be so kind as to ask them to return it.

Also I've been thinking for a few years now that we've had the same ideologies here in the 'western' world for a century now, and we know the faults with each one, but still people insist on cleaving to the same old rubbish. Hence when it fails them they get confused.

136:

Several people have put this same point somewhat differently, but essentially what I think is going on is that a lot of us have realized that we may well be living in the unpleasant part of a Charlie Stross novel, that we are, at best, extras with no speaking parts, and that we have no real influence on the outcome. I'm thinking more Iron Sunrise than CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, but the principle is the same, really.

137:

I'm not so sure that we're all trapped in our own ideologies. If we keep running into the same problems repeatedly (say, if we're trying to get the public serious about conservation, global warming, water issues, ad nauseum), it doesn't necessarily mean that we're wrong, everything's fine, and we should just calm down. Instead, it might mean that some powerful people benefit from the status quo and are actively opposing us.

I do, however, agree that we're in the middle of a rather bad "silly season." The last time I remember it being this bad was in 2001. While I hope we don't see any large-scale atrocities--Syria's doing a good job of that--I do expect one or two people to go for their guns instead of looking for psychological help. De-escalation is a good thing right now, I think.

138:

I've been noticing a lot of anger the last couple of months. But down here in Queensland it has less to do with Romney or Cameron, and more to do with newly elected Premier Campbell Newman.

Like many other leaders, he's trying to cut down the public service, claiming economic unsustainability and public debt. What's giving people the shits is that he is a really, really bad liar (yes, even for politicians). He'll tell one story to overseas investors about how stable Queensland's economy is, and another locally about how bad things, and then act surprised because the locals discover the government prospectuses being shown in foreign lands.

Well, all these people (whether let go, or stressing out waiting for the forced redundancy notice) have both family and friends, so they're angry too. And then these people are less likely to buy stuff, so businesses aren't happy either. Yes, there's certainly rage to spare down here.

139:

There have always been wing nuts and tinfoil hatters but the trend to completely ignoring reality has begun to mainstream. Debates are polluted with truthiness and factoids. 'Legitimate rape". Congressman Akin's scientifically unfounded belief that "rape raped" women will not conceive so a complete ban on abortion is OK. Now the headline is "Declining circumcision rates may add $4 billion in U.S. health care costs, researchers say". I think the USA has %75 male circumcision and the UK has about 8.5%. I think the NHS might have noticed something about that in its mandate for preventive care. When people just start making up shit to support their position annoyance is bound to increase. Debate is pointless if facts can't even be agreed on.

Shouting match.

140:

I should add that circumcision is a perfectly sound medical procedure in some cases. My late father was circumcised as an infant due to inability to urinate. In later life he also had bladder stones and kidney stones. He had his appendix removed when he was 70. He was also that generation that had all their teeth out and top and bottom dentures :-)

141:

I think the Assange issue goes something like this:

Nobody, with the possible exception of high-level security types, knows how good Assange's intelligence on various national activities, including those which impact himself, i.e. extradition issues, might be. He might, in terms of knowing important information, be a complete wanker. On the other hand, he might have Karla's home address, phone number, and real name, for multiple equivalents of Karla.

Understanding what's going on with regard to Assange requires high-level knowledge which none of us truly possesses.

That issue aside, I tend to agree with Charlie.

142:

I mostly hang out around here, or freethoughtblogs - the atheist corner of the internet has been going through a massive spasm of people being *ist assnozzles, and then a significant subset of the atheist community going "we're tired of putting up with people being *ist assnozzles", which sounds like it's fractal over the entire internet from a few of these comments?

In any event, I've definitely noticed a huge uptick in rage. Given that the plural of anecdote is not data, I'm almost curious how you'd study or quantify this sort of thing?

143:

"...we may well be living in the unpleasant part of a Charlie Stross novel..."

A John Brunner novel, I think. Probably some alternate draft of The Jagged Orbit.

144:

#115 Para 1 - I'd say excessive cerdit is when $entity's total borrowings exceed their ability to pay: That is, their net income after things like taxes and food is greater than the sum of their fixed term loan repayments and 10% of their typical variable term repayments so that effectively they're relying on growth in the economy/inflation to make their repayments (more) affordable.

{Meantime, back at OGN's point and after some thought} I think that excess of snit can be traced to 2 main things:-
1) Even amongst UK sports fans, very few people actually wanted the Larndarn 01ymp1c$ (including those who were interested in one or more of the sports featured).
2) USian @$$-hatted conservatrolls have been escaping their natural habitat of US politics fora, and turning up in the wider Interwebnet, particularly parts normally inhabited by Canadians, Europeans, and other forms of "socialist" (their definition).

145:

Another interesting area of rage is the slew of articles about how bad footballers are in the wake of the Olympics and start of the football season.

146:

I think that's down to many people really enjoying the Olympics. The large majority of people I know did want them on the day, and many of those enjoyed going to see some sports - almost any sports - when they'd never normally think about it. Then they look at how much the top Olympic athletes get, compare that to the footballers, and come up wondering why soccer players deserve so much.

Particularly when unpleasant scum like Joey Barton get paid a small fortune.

147:

The Raven @ 143
Surely: "The Sheep Look Up" ??

Fascinating piece on BBC Radio 4's "Today" programme @ ~ 06.20 this morning (may be up on listen-again by the time I finish typing this - if so I'll try to give a link)..
On this very subject, though they were ostensibly talking about Commodity prices, of all things.
One speaker noted that we are short of farmers.
Not land to grow food, farmers, especially small ones, worldwide. He actually mentioned (just in passing) the climactic variations of late, as well, and the migration of farmers to cities, as they couldn't get decent prices for their products.

That's happening here, too - see the row about Milk prices (Tom Holt was right!) recently.
The supermarket chains and the big corporations have got it all nicely sewn up for their short-term profits - until it all falls down in a big pile, and we starve.
Or there's a war (see me & others above) and we (the UK) still satrve, becaue we don't have significant navy any more.


Other commentators have noted on the general realisation, gradually dawning (thank-you The Net) that ALL our instittutions may be corrupted, and a lot certainly are, and it does NOT matter which country you are in, either.
Now what do we do?
Reform is essential, but there are others, everywhere, who will yearn for a return to "old certainties" - almost always reactionary religious ones - which is a real recipe for disaster.

148:

I'm old. In particular I'm old enough to remember usenet, and if usenet was ever polite I never read those groups. Indeed I occasionally make myself unpopular on various web forums by responding the way I would have done on usenet, which offends people.

So, may be it's the opposite: there's an exodus of old people from usenet who are now treating the cuddly web forums the way they treated usenet, and the teens don't like being reminded that their lolcats crap all over the carpet and spray on the curtains.

149:

I think there was an internet spring when the ability to comment on opinion pieces was seen as very liberating for average joes. Indeed it set off the whole internet opinion as a competitor to MSM thing.

Where we are at now is that when you discover that your favourite meme, be it Ayn Rand or global warming or whatever, does not resonate with the man on the Clapham Omnibus then a huge amount of frustration becomes apparent. People saw the internet as liberating, and it is to some extent, but minority beliefs seem to struggle to become majority beliefs. That has perhaps led to a balkanisation of t'internet and the frustrations you speak of. Especially in newspaper fora, where contrary views are almost their USP.

150:

Almost uniquely, Wendyballers seem more interested in their sport's world championship than in "the 01ymp!c$". Add that to the English meedja's belief that their team is actually good...

151:

To those talking about Balkanization, rising tension between groups, and general malaise of the body politic in the US, I give you possible scientific justification! (",)

152:

I wonder how or if this links with Kondratief Waves in the economy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kondratiev_wave

153:

I like the cleodynamic/Kondratiev cycle idea. It might just be a bit too long term to apply to this very case we were discussing (we are talking more about a quite sudden upsurge...), but it could be related in some ways. Maybe one of the shorter economical cycle from the Wikipedia link could be involved?

For something completely different: just ran into this opinion piece from the Guardian that might interest those that discussed the Assange thingie earlier:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/21/why-us-is-out-to-get-assange?fb=optOut

154:

You mean " Grand Supercycle " Theory? Its been around for a while.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_supercycle


I think that I shelved my book on " Elliot Wave Theory " in the psychology section, and I've avoided re-reading any of that section since I had a second, and much milder than the first, excursion into Clinical Depression ..at which time I decided to bring my plans for early retirement forward to 2001 rather than risking a third time (un)lucky voyage into mental illness by overwork triggered stress ..'but You are NEVER ill, and I have this problem '

Come to think of it I had intended to move the medical stuff down to the cargo bay - commonly described in the UK as the garage this despite the fact that hardly anyone keeps their car in a garage attached to the house any more.

Anyway I'm not really up to date on the latest variants on" Grand Supercycle " Theory but way back when I read the Elliot Wave thing I do seem to recall that my conclusion was that the idea owed more to wishful thinking than it did science. Though maybe Philosophy would be a better term? Or if you were bent on Cruel Mockery you could compare it to Cult based Millennialism religions of the " DOOM! DOOM WE ARE ALL DOOMED I TELL YOU DOOOOOMED !!!! " variety.


Don't dwell on this stuff too much it will only make you depressed

155:

Not shure I am seeing much increase and I can remember the great Traveler drop tank flame wars on rec.arts.sf back in the day.

HN seem to have to may newbies who dot realy understand how the internet worksand have brought into the Fetishization of CS and the Modern OO Crap (to borrow a meme from the Northern soul scene)


I am noticeing the quality of young developers seems to have dropped through teh floor I am seeing a lot of WTF mistakes in alot of the sites I audit.

156:

In theory one could do an N-gram of a sample of blog posts and comments over the last few years, searching for key words and indicators of anger, aggression, or intolerance, but I imagine doing this in practice would be non-trivial.

157:

"I definitely think that in the SF/F community my impression has been of more outright conflict; but I attribute it to the fact that people are finally taking racism, sexism, and privilege more seriously -- meaning that more people are getting called out on the issues, with the corresponding passionate feelings such issues raise (on both sides).

I think this is a good thing, though."

Yes. +1 for this.

Again, it is impossible to be objective about this, but over the past few months I've noticed issues of race and gender in the SF community being aired with greater strength and frequency than before, and yes, this is a good thing.

158:

"I definitely think that in the SF/F community my impression has been of more outright conflict; but I attribute it to the fact that people are finally taking racism, sexism, and privilege more seriously -- meaning that more people are getting called out on the issues, with the corresponding passionate feelings such issues raise (on both sides).

I think this is a good thing, though."

Yes. +1 for this.

Again, it is impossible to be objective about this, but over the past few months I've noticed issues of race and gender in the SF community being aired with greater strength and frequency than before, and yes, this is a good thing.

159:

Not sure.
But if you want a bad example ...
Well ... THIS GUY is English, lived in S.A. for some time, is now back here, obviously very sympathetic to US republicans.

I mean, seriously loopy (Climate Change denier as well)
And yet - in many respects he agrees with many of us in that he is scared the the arbitrary power of guvmints is increasing without check.
UM.

Is that last one possible cause for all this unease?
The increasing arbitrary power of supposedly accountable guvmints?

160:

And Windows 8 is shipping

That is definitely one of the reasons for a lot of the fear and loathing in my sysadmin circle.

My CEO: "That Windows 8 is looking pretty nice, don't you think? When do you reckon we'll be able to upgrade the office?"

Me: *cries*

161:

we'll be able to upgrade the office?

That's when you get to have that always fun conversation about how "be able to" is not the same as "want to".

162:

You could try the one about how "even numbered versions of Windoze always both suck and blow".

163:

It's just you

164:

""...we may well be living in the unpleasant part of a Charlie Stross novel..."

A John Brunner novel, I think. Probably some alternate draft of The Jagged Orbit."

Strange I read the the same comment and had the same thought except for me it was Shockwave Rider

165:

School's started, so I haven't had time to put my oar into the water. But briefly - to the extent that there is an uptick of incivility due to world affairs - it's because no one likes Hobbesian cheaters.

166:

Yes +1 for living in The Sheep Look Up. Tesco's Finest Organic range and the Red Tractor Assurance mark both remind me repeatedly of Puritan Foods. As does each fresh Monsanto revelation. And of course anything related to multi-drug resistance wherever it appears.

I also suspect there's a growing unease about the idea that general improvements in lifestyle can be achieved indefinitely via indefinite exponential growth in GDP. IMHO, There's something deeply wrong in that economic model and a relatively high proportion of the world's population are beginning to understand that even though they may not admit it.

Then there's the cultural imperialism of seeing only the English language version of the internet. Is the other half that's non-English language getting snippy as well?

167:

YEs - see France & China, for starters.
Oh, & Greece, of course, crushed under the "EUSSR's" wheels as an example.
Or not, as the case may be.

168:

System artifact.

169:

Thinking the same thing about John Brunner. Fortunately we're not in Snow Crash. Or Schismatrix.

In any case, you have to wonder about the idea that flooding the world with money will make the world a better place for everyone. It does, to some degree, but only when you can trade money for other stuff. If there's too much cash around, you've got to do something with the surplus to keep hyperinflation from swamping the world. Maybe those $21 trillion stuffed in off-shore tax havens is simply getting it out of the way before it gets toxic, rather than people stockpiling it...

170:

Actually, it could be much worse - maybe it is, I mean, a John Brunner novel?
Pussycat.

James Tiptree Junior ......

171:

Win8 seems to be shaping up as the worst ever Windows for PCs. I will stick with 7 until MS no longer supports it. By then they will either have a decent version (9,10?) or I will move to whatever google is offering, which in around 5 years ought to be interesting.

172:

At the risk of being deleted by Charles, here is Naomi Wolf on why the Assange rape case is so strange.
http://markcrispinmiller.com/2011/02/eight-big-problems-with-the-case-against-assange-must-read-by-naomi-wolf/

173:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/23/women-against-rape-julian-assange?cat=commentisfree&type=article

And you needn't bother to ban me. I've already removed your blog from my feed for your attitude here (and I mean your anti-reader attitude, not your anti-Assange one). But do read the article: you might learn something.

174:

Maybe people are angry because it is becoming blatantly obvious that nobody of importance really gives a shit anymore; We have a global one-party system and The Party only cares for the 0.001%!

Globalisation has turned out to mean: "One bowl of rice per day - maggots are EXTRA" for workers, "A corporate jet, a pension rich enough to be a fraction of the BNP of a smaller OECD country, and a golden parachute giving a 6-digit bonus (and a cushier job) for running the business into the ground in an impressive way" for managers - in order to be "competitive", of course.

There is no-where to go for people who disagree: In Denmark people finally voted out the old "conservative", government, the new "socialist" government moves into office and ... just continues right on with the bank-friendly, neo-liberal policies that people just voted against.

We have politians who whine and whinge in public about some "damaging" legislation, yet when the vote comes around they vote for the legislation they ranted against knowing that when election time comes, the voters may forget while the sponors and the party will not.

The prime-minister tells different stories to different authorities in order to minimise her personal income taxes - yet raise taxes for workers while publicly talking about the "duty we all share to bear our part of the burden".

People, who still have jobs and things to lose, go on the net - the "designated free-speach zone" - to vent.

175:

I agree. The mask is finally being dropped. We are not living in some liberal democracy where freedom and the "will of the people" are of paramount importance. We are living in a soft tyranny for the benefit of the (very) few. A few whose corruption, greed and incompetence is so vast there is nothing to match it in scale since the Roman Empire. Instead of jail they are "too big to fail" and only the poor are rich enough to bail them out, time after time.
Slowly the freedoms we had are being whittled away - all for the best possible reasons of course. We see the USA lecturing the rest of the world on Human Rights - a nation that kidnaps and murders foreign nationals without due process of law, has secret detention centers around the world, holds prisoners without charge or trial and uses torture. And other Western governments are complicit (eg Sweden). The hypocrisy is staggering.
The whole thing stinks so bad that even ordinary people are beginning to notice, and realize they are powerless to do anything about it.
Message from just about every government (except Iceland) - you are fucked, and we don't care because you don't matter and cannot do anything about it.

176:

Dirk @ 171 & 175
HUGE numbers of people, especially busnisses are still using WinXP (as am I) & regard it as the best (or @ least least-worst) Win-product since NT ... and we don't want to change.
What will happen when MicroShaft stopp supporting XP?
Will large numbers finally go over to a form of UNIX - and which one?
Will businesses go open-source using a Linux variant & LibreOffice?
Could be very (Chinese) interesting.
- also: fajensen @ 174
It's that bad in DENMARK ... (as well) ??

Thing is, Dirk, everyone .. a lot of people are in agreement on this.
We have a common cause with some very unlikely allies - the moderate wing of the Libertarians, for one, are all whingeing on in very similar vein, which I find interesting. And some of the people iN "Occupy" - though they are largely hopeless, as they seem to consist of liars and stooges of various failed &/or murderous causes, some of which I have listed below in my "replacements list"

But.
HOW does one overthrow such a system, without putting something worse in its' place?
And again we are supposed "Democracies" so revolting against it is going to be, err, difficult

The potential visible replacements are:
1: communism - as bust & corrupt & murderous as would be expected of any theocracy (which it is, of course).
2: (esp in the USSA) an open theocracy - also applies in the "Arab" world.
3: some form of (non-commie) "state socialism" - how nice - back to the poverty & grim bleakness of 1948 Britain.
4: corporate-fascist states - Russia is the poster-boy for this one.
5: a modern feudalism - in progress here with the devaluation of academic credentials, coupled with the enfeeoffment of the workers through student & other carefully-crafted debt-burdens, thus tying people to their "lords"

Anyone got any NEW, workable ideas?
[ Dirk, were you & some associates working on something, & how do you/they intend to avoid falling in to any of the traps I've listed?

177:

The key is the separation of power and corporate influence and/or Big Money. The idea of religion being a major governing force of the state would today seem repellent to most people in the West. Ditto the military having a controlling hand or veto on policy. The same should apply to economic/banking interests.
There are a whole raft of measures we can suggest for accomplishing this, that will be unveiled when Zero State follows up the launch of the Consensus with its first manifesto release in a few weeks.

178:

Dear Greg - I disagre with your labelling and characterisation of what has and has not worked.

Furthermore you are ignoring the one major factor in them not working - human beings. Nothing works properly when humans are in charge. Not to mention that the different ideologies are after different outcomes in the first place, so exaclty how well they worked depends upon your viewpoint.

Face it - there are no new workable ideas, or won't be until we have more technological change. E.g. if Kurtzweilian and others ideas of nanotech and strong AI happened that would change the game completely and offer radically different approaches to the issues of individuals, freedom, resource allocation etc. But at the moment we're still in the same formations as a century ago, just with extra bells and whistles and maybe changed from imperial to metric measurements.

Dirk's comment on separation of power and corporate power/ influence is only what has been on the minds of many for the last 80 years and more. The problem is how to do it and then maintain the system longer than a generation.

179:

A significant amount of that seems to have appeared after ElevatorGate.

180:

Charlie,
Phil Plait has made similar observations: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/08/20/the-silencing-of-hate/

181:

HUGE numbers of people, especially busnisses are still using WinXP

Yes. But I believe the last stats I saw had the Win 7 installed base larger than both Vista and XP. And Win 7 is fine.

open theocracy

OK I'll bite. I know what a theocracy is. But what is an open one?

As to the folks in the US who want a theocracy. Their notoriety far exceeds their numbers. Far far far.

And those who advocate such a thing don't seem to read the Bible very well. The Israel theocracies of the Old Testament were all a disaster. Most people who've read them in any depth take them as a lesson in how NOT to organize a government.

182:

The question is what will XP and Vista users upgrade to? If I were advising a business, it would be to 7 not 8

183:

guthrie
You claim that I am/may be wrong as to what has/not worked, but then fail to enumerate your supposed complaint.
"Put up, or shut up" is the phrase, I believe?
Yes, humans are in charge, it is fallible and not perfect.
SO BLOODY WHAT?
Produce some counter-examples, or show my errors, or eff off!
And if that isn't an internet snit, I'll eat my hat.

David L @ 191:
"open theocracy"
A guvmint that is publicly based on specific, and controlling, religious principles as its' guiding paradigm, I would have said, anyway.
As in christian-dominionist in the USSA?
Is that clear enough?

P.S. to Charlie.
IF the assertion that Karl Rove (see post #172 by Dirk) is involved is correct, then the whole question of J.A's. prosecution becomes very dark indeed - as murky as the USA guvmint's actions in "Merchant Princes", in fact!
Um.

184:

http://www.swedishwire.com/opinion/8165-karl-rove-key-player-in-swedish-wikileaks-probe

"Rove himself says on his Karl Rove and Company website that he has been advising Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. It’s well-known in Sweden how Rove has helped Reinfeldt lead the nation’s Moderate Party to election success over liberal competitors who previously dominated the nation’s leadership.
...
Going further, the Swedish web-tabloid daily News 24 published on Dec. 26 an article, “Karl Rove helps Reinfeldt to manage Julian Assange.” News 24, which says it’s the ninth best-read online news site in Sweden, cited as evidence my Huffington Post column and a similar blog by Alabama-based legal commentator Roger Shuler. News 24’s Swedish readers helped flesh out the story in their comments. Shuler today wrote on his Legal Schnauzer blog, Daily Kos and elsewhere, “The Rove/Assange Story Hits the International Press in Sweden.” Shuler provided a translation of the Swedish story and links to other materials."

185:

Its not a Brunner-world coming up. Its Womack's "Random Acts of Senseless Violence".
Worry Not. Wonder Not.

186:

The question is what will XP and Vista users upgrade to? If I were advising a business, it would be to 7 not 8

You really think there's a question?

187:

David L @ 191:
"open theocracy"
A guvmint that is publicly based on specific, and controlling, religious principles as its' guiding paradigm, I would have said, anyway.
As in christian-dominionist in the USSA?
Is that clear enough?

You've defined a theocracy. What does the word "open" have to do with it or modify the concept?

188:

David L
"open" in that "they" publicly admit their guding principles are religious, and usually a particular sect of whichever religion they are pushing.
EG: The wankers who set up (their version of) the "ten commandments" in front of US state courthouses (?)/ legislative buildings (?) recently.

At least you are warned.

189:

David L
"open" in that "they" publicly admit their guding principles are religious, and usually a particular sect of whichever religion they are pushing.
EG: The wankers who set up (their version of) the "ten commandments" in front of US state courthouses (?)/ legislative buildings (?) recently.

At least you are warned.

190:

Arrgh!
The dreaded "fail-&-double-post" has got me now!

191:

For "certain purposes" (which may or may not relate to CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN), XP (or NT4) is still indispensible here. We've also upgraded a few machines to 7, and apart from the "certain purposes" where we can't get software with the required functionality, and/or device drivers, 7 is no worse than XP.

192:

Furthermore you are ignoring the one major factor in them not working - human beings. Nothing works properly when humans are in charge...if Kurtzweilian and others ideas of nanotech and strong AI happened that would change the game completely and offer radically different approaches to the issues of individuals, freedom, resource allocation etc

Arguments like this always remind me of theist arguments about the intrinsic fallacy of human beings and why we need the divine.

There's been a wealth of socioeconomic change in the last century and there is huge potential for change in the way that we run our societies. We don't need to jump straight to "AI Gods will fix it with N@N0b0tz!!1!" when discussing what could change in the future (I'm not accusing you of this but your comment reminded me of those that do.

193:

7 is definitely better than XP.
So good in fact that I cannot imagine what would be better from a user POV. Obviously later iterations of OS will have to handle massive parallelism but apart from that the user experience is about as good as its going to get IMHO.

194:

I suspect that AI gods *will* fix us in the not too distant future whether we like it or not.

195:

I suspect that AI gods *will* fix us in the not too distant future whether we like it or not.

I'm skeptical that strong AI will be around any time soon given the current state of research and the magnitude of the complexity required.

196:

I'm reading that at the moment, actually. Spooky. ps, Mr Dryden can I please go and see Robert Johnson live? I promise to bring my chainsaw.

197:

Strong AI is not needed to utterly change society - "weak" AI could do so quite easily.

198:

Indeed, any software capable of acting intelligently towards it's task makes a change from before. But that misses the point of the criticism towards AI worship and human debasement, especially as an argument that humans can't achieve (with the subtext "there's no point trying").

199:

Sure you can. You do have access to Tesla tech right?. Chainsaws are good but you'll need firearms too, unless you stick to Re-Gooded terrain.

200:

AO, I'll probably pick up a couple of Russian pieces on the way. Immediate ballistic ability nonessentialled.

201:

The mallet of loving correction is ready and waiting.

Cloned, borrowed or stolen? Does Scalzi know?

On the topic at hand, I haven't noticed appreciably more anger than usual apart from that associated with US politics, though if there has been a measurable increase, it would not be altogether surprising. The global economy is still moribund (petrol prices round these parts just hit an all-time high) & it would be difficult to remain positive if a negative situation persists & people's coping mechanisms run out of stamina. But there have been a few rays of sunshine as some of our industries are reporting improvements in their businesses and an increase in optimism.

202:

C'mon, Charlie.
Time to give us your ideas on why!

P.S. I forgot to add old-fashioned dictatorships & kleptocracies making a comeback in my list - think Belarus or Nigeria ....

203:

I've noticed a bit, and I have to say I've seen waves like this before-- as I suspect you have too, Mr. Gracious Host, given your longevity on the net. The thing is, Facebook wasn't as big for the last waves that I noticed, and I strongly suspect it's helping to amplify the current wave. (Not to mention that for those of us in the US, the run-up to the impending election isn't doing anyone's mood a favor.)

204:

I politely disgree with Mr Meyer ... I've been using the Web since 1993/4 & this is really bad.
There is something else "in the water" so to speak.
Maybe the realisation that Marcus Aurelius is getting old?

Specials

Merchandise

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on August 20, 2012 8:35 PM.

Random questions, mostly about US travel was the previous entry in this blog.

New Guest Blogger: Kari Sperring is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Search this blog

Propaganda