How oral culture is turning editors into pterodactyls

I’ve had editors on the brain since this post of alarming‘s last Sunday:

[T]he comment from the modbots chez GU warning us to refrain from mentioning Mr. Swords may well have been a wind-up but parallax has just been deleted […] for mentioning him in connection with this Gaelic bit of verse.

I’m extremely anti the concept of martyrdom – there are two sides to almost everything – but the GU is going about this in a very dumb way. [my highlighting]

Most bloggers seem to be blaming the moderators (and modbots) of The Guardian’s books blog for the flurry of comment-deletions there that have been turning threads into nonsensical hyenas’ dinners. But it’s editors who give mods their marching orders. Trying to understand the curious decisions of these GU übermenschen lately, I’ve been straining to imagine what thoughts might be at the front of their minds.

I’d say it’s a safe bet that the rise of the blogosphere is their biggest worry — that, thanks to competition from bloggers (no, not this site, of course), it isn’t only their pensions that are no longer safe but their salaries in – who can say whether it’s one year from now or five? A thought-fragment from Ishouldapologise, who is also Phil Hall , posted on his site at the weekend, has stayed with me:

If you fill your words with life . . .

And that was related to a thought-stream of his on this site that led him to say, about The Guardian’s arts blogs,

I don’t even start off by reading the article. I read the commenters.

That’s exactly how I travel on that website, now – and I’m sure that ISA and I are representative of many, if not most, other readers there. I love the way not just distinct but quirky, untameable personalities blaze through the comment sections, and am increasingly irritated by the bland, sausage-factory taste and smell of too many above-the-line posts homogenised by the clicking of winged editorial fingers.

I’m sure that there will always be readers for polished and immaculate texts that require exceptionally skilled editors. I’m guessing, though, that there are going to be fewer jobs for editors than there are now, the more we revert to something closer to the oral culture of our most distant ancestors, and retreat from the book-based civilisation of the more recent past.

That’s not my idea. It struck me as exactly right when I came across it here, last December :

. . . Lance Strate, a communications professor at Fordham University and devoted MySpace user [. . .] says he is convinced that the popularity of social networks stems from their appeal to deep-seated, prehistoric patterns of human communication. “We evolved with speech,” he says. “We didn’t evolve with writing.”

The growth of social networks — and the Internet as a whole — stems largely from an outpouring of expression that often feels more like “talking” than writing: blog posts, comments, homemade videos and, lately, an outpouring of epigrammatic one-liners broadcast using services like Twitter and Facebook status updates (usually proving Gertrude Stein’s maxim that “literature is not remarks”).

“If you examine the Web through the lens of orality, you can’t help but see it everywhere,” says Irwin Chen, a design instructor at Parsons who is developing a new course to explore the emergence of oral culture online. “Orality is participatory, interactive, communal and focused on the present. The Web is all of these things.”

For centuries, most members of the ruling class were distinguished by their grammatical and elegant prose in letters and other communications. When necessary, the powerful hired scribes and editors to hide their inability to rise to the highest standards.

No longer. Casual and even sloppy prose is now the badge of power:

[B]osses tend to have the poorest spelling and worst grammar, conveying the sense that they have better things to do with their time.

[. . .] If your e-mail messages are late, unevenly capitalized and sloppy, you could be C.E.O. material. If your e-mail messages are earnest and combative, or if you run them through spell-check before hitting send, then you may be destined for middle management.

No matter what trend the statistics show today, I’d guess that editors everywhere sense a diminishing future demand for their services. The GU books blog editors, driving away bloggers with ever-more unreasonable moderation policies, have been reminding me of drowning people seeking control, who tighten their grip – disastrously — on would-be rescuers.

What most mystifies me is why their subconscious model for the running of the books blog appears to be a school, if not quite a prison – when it should surely be a pub, a scintillating dinner party, . . . a a 17th-century London coffee house, why not? Why should conversations between grown adults require supervision and correction?

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23 Comments

Filed under Censorship, Editors and editing, The Guardian

23 responses to “How oral culture is turning editors into pterodactyls

  1. Hi Wordy,

    I think for me your last paragraph proved the most fitting. The passion for deletion is what I find humorous, annoying and even compelling in no particular order.

    I once worked in a Muslim country as a fashion journalist where circulars were often issued to magazines and television studios on all the taboos that would count for photography, print ad/ advertising commercials and drama productions
    that would be summed up as official government censorship.

    In spite and yet…
    all my former colleagues, editors and even of competitive magazines and such would push the boundaries boldly and brazenly.
    Editors would at least try to get in the forbidden word or picture and would create a rationale – just in case we were questioned – as to all the technical reasons why a picture would hold…for example a nude as a classic sculptured work etc. Meaning art & not lust.

    Many times, government officers would turn a blind eye and it was only when a magazine would go totally overboard with semi-nude shoots and such, that everyone would receive another warning letter.
    Even a magazine’s permit would not be revoked until after repeated warnings. What an exhilaration when anything taboo did go through.

    Perhaps and this a strange thought I admit but perhaps, censorship wears its magnificent crown of leadership only in those strict religious countries that give it life force. Because in such situations, it works naturally as a science, even I daresay over time, as an art form. You know all the rules and the challenge lies in how cleverly you could break them for freedom of expression.

    But in the media you mention where there is no strict religious governance and no reason for such rules, censorship lives like it would in a cowboy town and dominates as an individual power game. It’s lawless and quick to draw its guns.

    I see for instance, that on the books blog, rules are hardly fair, they command double-standards, the moderation is not consistent, and I sense prejudice and favouritism even among moderators. Even where is a call for no racist comments to be applied, sometimes, the bloggers who post pieces do it themselves, although subtly so. When you read between the lines, it’s all there.

  2. suzan having been accused of being an anti-semite on another arts blog by someone who detected sinister meta-texts in my use of the word massive and then discerned even more foul meta-meta-texts hidden within my attempts to make it clear he was talking nonsense I would hesitate to infer that anyone was racist on the GU blogs unless they came out with someting quite blatantly so.

    For some reason the speed of the medium, coupled with our collective ability to not be entirely clear has the effect of overcooking the messages posted. I recently had an exchange with someone on the visual arts pages where it was always cordial but also never 100% clear that he wasn’t just taking the piss.

  3. Appreciate your thoughts, Alarming and they make good food for thought certainly.

    I wonder though what could be made of remarks in pieces where bloggers on the G. Bks blog – not posters – complain as to why literature in Asia isn’t established in its brand of vernacular languages and translated for the world but would instead be presented in English straight from the Asian writer’s hand or even when non-caucasion writers who write of their individual cultures for the West are seen as being parochial. However, I recognise that my earlier comment may have been too harsh.

    regards

  4. You have a point here Wordy.

    The current editor used to post far more than she does now, which is very rarely, and when she does post, she gets next to no comments, which must affect her, and the obvious suggestion is that there is an obvious correlation between the decreasing frequency of her posts and the fact that when she does post, she gets no comments.

    This maybe offers some explanation for the lack of tolerance, that the editor sees it as a them and us thing, and i if they are getting the hits without comment, this also will explain it. If they do not have to rely on the interactive side of the platform, if their traffic is increasing even though the poster count is down, this will explain why they do not care. The new platform is a lot less user friendly in time and everything, and if they are only interested in traffic, and that traffic is increasing regardless of the posters’ activity there, then they are laughing and will continue to treat the posters in the way they do — to be patronised at best and treated as irritants if they get too lippy.

    If however there traffic is down due to the lessening of comment, then the editor will be professionally concerned about losing her job. If this scenrio is closer to the truth than the first one, then it is usual in situations like this for the bosses to sweep away the dead wood and bring in new brooms who they think will build a more vibrant gaffe.

    You i imagine will know wordy, where to find out the traffic figures for GU?

    If we have a look at them, then we can get a true picture.

  5. wordnerd7

    === then discerned even more foul meta-meta-texts hidden ===

    Phew! . . . And even on the surface, there’s so much to think about in the comments here that I can’t possibly keep up.

    Yes @Suzan, I agree that the last paragraph is at the heart of the moderation mystery.

    @Des:

    All-round fascinating speculation and analysis. Thank you. About this . . .

    === You i imagine will know wordy, where to find out the traffic figures for GU?

    If we have a look at them, then we can get a true picture. ===

    .. . Much as I love being credited with such powers, . . . do we really care about them, now that they have shown how little they care about what we think or feel? Why not concentrate on launching and interlinking our own ‘talk shops’ . . . as you say. Hope it’s alright for me to borrow that, now and then. 😉

  6. wordnerd7

    Interwebbing . . . not interlinking, . . .sorry.

  7. Pterodactyls or fire breathing pterodactyls?

    Wordy – or should I call you Ottoline.

    If you are likening our collective blogging to the cafe klatsch of pre war Vienna. Yes please.

    We have the coffee and we have the little klatsch.

    By the way, Susan, I have linked to your blog, I hope that’s alright and I’d like to link to Alarmings and Des’s.

    After I get the life as obituary out of my system am going to rejoin the book blogs, but as a sort of swooping hawk-like creature. I think we should make a point of cross linking.

    Speaking of @artpepper, the famous Kuwaiti poet, when’s he going to get his damn blog up. Does deadgod have a blog?

    Here’s a Kuwaiti joke told to me by an exotic lady wholived in Kuwait for ages:

    A Kuwait man goes to heaven and St Peter greets him and he goes into heaven, but none of his family or freinds are there. And he asks St. Peter.

    “Where are they?”

    “I can’t say”, says St Peter.

    “Please,” said the man. “They are my family and friends, I need to know.”

    “OK,” says St Peter, “but only a peek.”

    So a parting opens in the clouds and a hole appears and the man looks down, down right into hell.

    “Only a peek, says St Peter.”

    “Alright, says the man.”

    And there they are. His family and friends – partying, fornicating, getting drunk and high, shouting and having lots of fun.

    “Just like Kuwait!” says the man, and gathering his Kuwaiti robe he leaps into the hole.

    There goes another one, sighs St Peter.

  8. ISA, thanks. I’ll link yours to mine as well. And I’m going to pick up a couple of Middle-Eastern jokes out there from somewhere in the Red Sea and Wadi Rum just for you. Never heard before type of jokes, when I get back and you can claim exclusivity. 🙂

  9. Hi isa, no problem, i will link you and wordy and anyone else who so desires.

    if anyone can supply me with a place where i can find the gu traffic numbers, i will be very grateful, as i am going to stage a rooftop protest about it, very very soon !

  10. BaronCharlus

    The power of the editor certainly is diminishing.

    My agent forwarded an email from a commissioning editor who rejected a novel of mine last year. He was full of praise but noted (and I paraphrase) ‘twenty years ago we could have given this to an editor, published and allowed the author one or two books to really develop. That time isn’t there any more’. The point was, the money is no longer being given over to developing new authors via the stewardship of an editor. This means new manuscripts that are polished (although not necessarily more original or even better written, I like to tell myself) may be favoured as they require less investment in terms of development.

    And yes, Wordn, I’m aware this indicates – with regard to my burble on the other thread – at least one way in which the publishing industry seems to have changed for the worse in the last few decades.

    I should add that some MSs I have read, from other writers I am acquainted with, have been submitted to agencies/publishers (even to a publisher via an agency in one case) in the most shocking condition in terms of grammar and page layout. Aspiring writers must accept that better editorial skills are now a required along with wit, insight and the ability to entertain.

  11. BaronCharlus

    @des

    ‘stage a rooftop protest about it’

    I literally – no hyperbole – cannot wait.

    Just don’t dress up as Spider Man.

  12. About you BC, about you and all the rest of my professional enemies trying to sabotage my dream. I know, i know what you’re about BC, finkin yiza gonna stop me becomin famous, elbow me out the frame. Well yer norron!!

  13. Baron, I don’t work in publishing so have no insight there but you only have to look at the amount of students doing fine arts degrees these days and compare that number with the amount who did fine arts degrees thirty year’s ago ( I mention that number because that’s when I was at art school ) to realise the numbers have grown and grown. Unlike 30 years ago students these days are also taught how to develop their careers once they leave so are generally clued up on who to target.

    With that amount of stuff being thrown at them no wonder editors, people who run galleries/theatres etc. etc. can afford to pick out the hit singles rather than nurture individuals.

    It has to be said as well that the system of nurturing also encourages terrible nepotism and closed shop practices. I suppose one just has to hope that talent will out.

    A nice use of statistics to end up with – 30 years ago there were 40 professional Elvis impersonators , last year there were over 3,000. If this continues to grow exponentially by 2020 a third of the world’s population will be professional Elvis impersonators.

  14. wordnerd7

    === A nice use of statistics to end up with – 30 years ago there were 40 professional Elvis impersonators , last year there were over 3,000. ===

    Now why didn’t I ever think of that?.. . My whole life, an utter senseless waste, @alarming — . . . was my first thought, reading you on this driving holiday, trying out blogging from the road. (Would Kerouac have written as he did, if he’d had an innerrrnet, I wonder.)

    That’s a very good discussion of publishing . . . censorship, etc.,,, I have a thought or two to contribute, which I’ll try to post as soon as I can.

    @ISA, I’m voting with you — for @3p4 doing the Hamlet soliloquy next. . . And I liked all your words describing his Richard. Don’t think I’ve ever heard a rockin’ Bard? before.

  15. wordnerd7

    @Baron,

    === The point was, the money is no longer being given over to developing new authors via the stewardship of an editor. ===

    And yet there are millions to spend on advances to celebrities incapable of giving us engaging thoughts, let alone writing. Surely you’ll agree that this is a relatively new phenomenon in publishing? . . . This is only the surface of a superficial answer, all I can manage at present . . . And no, I’m afraid none of your posts yet qualify for sharing Longueurs with me — there are far too enjoyable.

    @Des, would you like those Gu statistics broken down by poster, and if so which name should I use to look you up?

  16. Hi Wordy.

    wow ! wow !

    Warning – HIGHLY EXPERIMENTAL –

    do not read unless you want me to be yr prophet!!

    . it’s not the statistics relating to the frequency of usernames posting, but the monthly, weekly, whatever chronolgical units of traffic they have there.

    I have seen mentioned before, the traffic level, something like so many millons a month, and i am wondering if there is a site with the figures, to gauge a more accurate picture of how the staff will be feeling.

    . the measure of success or otherwise, i would imagine, is based on the number of visitors, and if that number is rising, then i will know the reason for the lack of official GU love towards us minions, is because we are just a miniscule amount of their rising success. However, if the traffic is decreasing then that means – if the decline is a shocer and plummeting – heads will roll eventually, as the staff aint doing there job of drawing in the potential consumers – and this will also account for the uneven behaviour of stressed out staff with job security issues.

    But this gaffe is great, and you are getting more comments than the blokes bog, and i have noticed that since atf has dissappeared, instantly there was some magic went with her (or him). S/he went after the argey bargey on O’Riordan’s last thread, after i had defended him (or her) – at length for the first time in my career as a bore there, after s/he had stuck up for me.

    Atf, when s/he first appeared, it was last summer (2007) and though i have long forgotten what topic the thread was, s/he was getting a lot of heat from her (or his) colleague posters, everyone laying into him (or her) with the usual demonising in pedestrian rant – and i will never forget, witnessing this and always being a lover of the underdog, and some visceral quality in her (or his) language which betrayed what i took to be a deeply passionate human reality (as i read it then, back then, back in the day) — I tossed out a sentence of support, along the lines of, *don’t let them put you off anytimefrancis, keep at it, you’ve just as much right to speak as they are.*

    And this i think is why s/he became such a vocal and crucial supporter of what it was i did there, back then, before i had sacked the entire team and become an intellectual proper. I always maintained that atf, the fat taf aft, gave balance to one’s ship and set the bow level on a sail to Segais Well within, purpose of these last eight years ranting into a void, and i also always maintain that one perfectley crafted satirical barb or word of praise from atf, anytime, (also Nihoulihan on the blokes bog and Angel at literature lovers) was worth a thousand, million billion from any of her rivals, and to have her on your side was all it took to conquer that blokes bog.

    S/he and me, a female daemon soul trapped in male flesh, she was the tabla rosa on which to learn from, as s/he was the only one whose gender was never revealed, and though i had a hang up about annonymity a while back wordy, (and for which i owe you an apology for the episode when i behaved in an appalling fashion toward you, back in the day when the Write and Recite, was full on literate WaR) – fat taf atf aft on the boat, lead me to see, our gender in the lettered art, is irrelevant, as it is the mind which appears in print, and atf, though i am biased, i think s/he became by far the most eloquent and critically incisive voice on the blokes bog, and it is only now with her not there, i too understand — the game is over now.

    This is because the swim done, the sails lowered, the wind no more in front, but behind, an important location, destination has been reached and it is in the mind, the s/he of you and me and all of us. Reality, the existential nous of something deeper and which without my deepest dearest atf to play with, i see now how common, how plain, how trivial and minor the gods whose gobs flop their bluff from above the line on a blokes bog, really are, now that i have arrived at a space within only lithe boned psychological sweat of hard intellectual graft, greases for one to slip into eloquence, now and again.

    And atf, s/he was instrumental in learning and assisting on the journey. Who, who but atf speaks with the authority of Shakespeare and does ee cummings better than eec himself?

    Who, who but my dearest darling fat taf aft on board the craft of Literacy, can be quoted as an authority and not look out of place on any page in print or cyberville?

    Who, who but atf, made the magic on the blokes bog, and now s/he has withdrawn, laughs with one here as an absent pal, in all truth the only user there (apart from wordy) who i have genuine human feelings for, as a real person. And one who i need not meet, a psychic relationship with the s/he whose sidhe is the shee of thee and thou, me and you, all of us here today at this auspicious event, of my appearance, delivering from evil, the planet as yr prophet, dearest deepest darling Reader/s of the sidhe love here within the reasonable mind of a woman, trapped in a man’s body, wanting only to union with the Boss, sprint the seven tine stag and make love with you Taylor, alarmed not as we peel naked at the Art of lovemaking installation on Ancoats high street, LS Lowry, the heathen mass, we, we loving them Baron, Lord Charley, Wills, Slotter and Her Maj lined up to recive our blessing, naked, naked singer, soldiers, spies and tilors ranting into the deep dark ink veined night — that is how i want your mind today, and you too deepest dearest darlings of the one true religion i am setting up, as yr prophet.

    Come, come, let us be as one who – now s/he has gone – knows my worth, and that slow, slowly the prow of our new found make believe, cast out, deviled, derided, used as a common lampost, has regained the power and the glory, for i am the Word, the Truth and the Light, Wu Tang Love, found worthless, No ! no ! yes, yes, take me to the Tale or to your temple and let us love again, sweet breeze in Mandy cove, you erastes, me eremenos. Let me learn at yr godhead and disquise the light.

  17. wordnerd7

    [sorry, I put this in Adding Sound to Fury . . .by mistake]

    And yet, @ISA, Ackroyd can make history so vivid that if you think of historical biography as a fish dinner, you can still taste exuberant backflips and wriggling in his — whereas most of the competition reads like dried Ocean Catch nuggets, ‘guaranteed 30% fish protein,’ that I’d feel guilty about serving to any cat of mine. It’s been years since I nibbled at the the AL Rowse ‘required reading’ of a close relation, so this is no criticism of him, specifically. . . I come only to praise Peter A. — who never seems to use the same recipe twice, and whose seasoning can be original and bizarrely spot-on. (Would you seriously disagree?)

    @Des, I see that you’re on top form and of course I want you to be my prophet, o great Ooooolmaaaah, why should you even have to ask.

    Yes I’ve noticed that the PotW in particular has been like a mausoleum without atf — though it has to be said that I almost never go there, so am hardly the most reliable judge. . . But she did bring many a thread to life for Gu above-the-liners lucky enough to have her help — even if that was sometimes done by sounding off . . . boomboomBOOM! . . . about fireworks and iPod boomboomboom. . . Read me as agreeing with you: they badly need her help at Gu.

    I read you as you intended, when you asked your question about traffic stats for Gu-blogs. Alas, as shamelessly as I bribed my moles in the Towers, they refused to answer your question directly… Have tried again, and this time all they will reveal is that there’s a pitched battle at Gu between the sub-prime post/comment-bankers (SCBs) and the editor-mods (EMs).

    The highlight of a PowerPoint presentation by the SCBs is said to be a set of charts labelled The Swords-bin-L Effect (confirming your intuition, yet again.. . phew!) . . . A more-or-less accurate summary of what they show: the day after an SbL appearance, in whatever guise, books blog traffic has a little bounce of about 10%. Then, after slow-on-the-uptake bloggers read BillyM unveiling ‘ComMod’ or ‘Joan’ etc., with a subtle ‘Is that you Des?’ query, the numbers go screaming upwards & traffic remains at 50% above normal for the next two days or so — until the EMs get to work with their poison pills, hatchets, etc.). . . . after which frenzied posts from bloggers protesting about your, sorry I mean, S-b-Laden’s removal, lift the totals (in the pattern of the last two years) to a giddy 150 % of the normal hit-count . . . until it’s clear that EMs are going to persist in their obtuseness. Then the charts typically record a slump to between -10% and -50% of normal for the next few weeks.

    Now Des, I hope you’ll agree that these are tastier leaks than the ones you asked for.

    @Baron, if you are here today, please don’t give up on me. I’ve been trying to shrink my answer to your wonderfully thoughtful posts to digestible proportions.

  18. 3p4

    cif traffic

    the main cif page has a top ten list,a year ago the top of the list would have 300 posts,, the next 3 around 200 or less and the other six on the list
    maybe 200 between them,,
    those numbers are at the least double now and even triple,,the proportion of Books Blog posts in this overall volume of traffic is miniscule,, the top ten list is drawn from a catalogue of 50 new threads a day with an overall “available at any one time ” list of ,, ,,well ive no idea,,i find a new blog theme everytime i go wandering around the GU site,,

    Argument is Process><Agreement is EventEnd

    most topics have their resident “yeah but,,says who,,onyer bike,,” poster who has to have the last word,,they do make for long threads but not for a satisfying discourse,, the same essential cast
    appear on long threads on any topic,,religion middle east,,gender issues free speech government

    the thinker
    the snob
    the grannie
    the child
    the sycophant
    the specialist
    the asbo boy
    the passing stranger
    the samaritan
    and the good common folk,, the snob the sycophant and the asbo boy provide the quantity,, the others provide the quality,, and usually most of the “delight”,,

    i cannot think many posters who plays for england
    who ever gets the attention that the argentinian players can,,a dubious rational for fame,,

    all the nets a stage
    all the people fish
    the troll is a man
    with a lump of bait
    in his hand
    and a hook
    and a line
    and a sinker
    a book and
    a ryhme
    and a thinker

    Potw and PPoems readers have a de facto blinkered view of their own significance in the overall scheme of commercial importance,,

    none of the poetry thread contributors have any
    premier league standing except for choochoo,,
    who is a major name of long standing on religious threads,,
    i expect to see parallaxview on other threads but the rest of the poetry names i only see on books blog media entertainment threads,,actually no i also see freepoland occasionally but less than i did a year or two ago,,battle fatigue freep ?

    the first time i wrote this text it was longer but i forgot the rest when i clicked the wrong goddamm
    goshdarnitrudewordsin foreigntongues PIXEL and
    promptly zoomed off into the netosphere,,aaarrrghhhh,,

    my new favourite word,,(from a purely lexico/poetycotheses* pov)is,,,,,,

    , “va-jay-jay,, ” gosh ! thats twee!

    *so what ?yeah i made it up,,where d’ya fink they come from ?poetycotheses,,poetycotheses,,poetycotheses,,poetycotheses,,poetycotheses,,poetycotheses,,poetycotheses,,poetycotheses,,poetycotheses,,poetycotheses,,poetycotheses,,you an’ose army ?

    fun

  19. 3p4

    aaarrrghhhh

    so thats how its spelt ! 3-3-1-4

    so thats official,,all those in favour ?

  20. freepoland

    Battle fatigue is probably right, 3P4.
    I’ve been offering wisdom, flippancy and mild scorn on cif more or less since it began. I used to muck in on any literary, philosophical or educational topics that struck a chord before the books blog existed, and in particular on prisons topics, because I know about prisons and murderers and the like. And then Erwin James came along to write interestingly from experience on gaols and punishment, and I liked to support him. But several things happened which pushed me into poetry corner where I could suck my thumb and, I suppose, be a little and comfortingly creative.
    Blogging has changed in the last two or three years as a cultural phenomenon, the Grauniad has clearly become much more target-focussed (though I’m bloody sure they haven’t a clue about generating profits), and I can’t be bothered to do all the scrolling you need to keep up with the (far too many) cif threads, many of which are trivial. The machinery is crap, slow and boggy.

    Now I like a bit of trivia, esp if it’s related to things like the area I live in (near Berwick) or the wickedness of dogs or Cumbria or the paucity of custard tarts or the defects of memory in spiders, anything like that, or matters I used to know a lot about (C17 sermons, Wordsworth’s shaving mug, fraudulent distance universities in the Mediterranean, defunct water authorities, early English dictionaries) … but they crop up rarely, and are usually written by people with a paucity of flair ( e.g. Martin Wainwright is weak and predictable on Northernness).
    So much for the articles. But the respondents are often or usually dullards. There are some who express themselves interestingly even when you know what point of view they will put across. There are others who just write well and you don’t care what they think because it’s a pleasure to read them. There are a few mavericks (ISA is one) who are annoying and often wordy, but a personality shines through that makes you feel they are human. But for the rest, 95%, they are gross, as a wee lass called me the other day, and I don’t give a shit what they think, and the expression of their view on the Guardian’s site is of no consequence to anyone whatever. Maybe it’s just therapy of one sort or another.
    And I’ve got to an age where I am exhausted with the use of the medium to convey the constant expression of unimaginative opinion. Opinion that is not that interesting or even important. And with the net’s anonymity, there is always the suspicion that most commentators are hypocrites.
    On the poetry thread, however, there’s another dimension. You say, 3P4:
    they (poetry contribs) have a de facto blinkered view of their own significance in the overall scheme of commercial importance …
    but maybe the opposite is the case: poetry is not significant … but it may be something like, say beautiful, ornamental, stylish, witty …. but it’s just poetry, nonetheless. At least it’s more than just a self important opinion, and even if it is, the maker has taken trouble to express it using some kind of articulate model, rather than just splenetic words.

    Interesting points about traffic: you missed off the large category of professional contrarians.

  21. 3p4

    great post freep,,an exact match for my feelings,, the pro contraries are inherent in the head bully boyasbosyco persona,,wml,,presd,,nadav,,MAM,,
    these prevent the main stream threads from developing nuance,understanding and agreement,,

    (poetry contribs) have a de facto blinkered view of their own significance in the overall scheme of commercial importance …

    wasnt meant in a derogatory tone 🙂 some where up above des is pondering editors circumstances and motivations,,i am saying you cant judge the city by the neighbourhood,,(eds work for the city)

    “At least it’s more than just a self important opinion, and even if it is, the maker has taken trouble to express it using some kind of articulate model, rather than just splenetic words.””””

    so near and yet so far,,for me i choose to see it as
    ‘only’ a self important opinion,,with no chance of being anything else,,a great equaliser,,

    the maker has taken trouble to express it using some kind of articulate model, rather than just splenetic words.””” ahh thats why i hang around so much,,i have had enough splenet to last a life time
    and some of the articulation is splendid art and creativity,,in fact there is the essential difference
    tiresome threads destroy,,satisfying threads create,,
    one of our issues does seem to be
    when the
    creative craft
    mutate into
    splenetic dafts

    freep this may be of professional interest to you (i assume)

    http://www.finchden.com/

    particularly the 1956 book and the essays,,probably qualifies as trivia as well,,

    nerd,,can we have html widgets please ?clicky bits that do it for me automatically,block,,italic,,etc

  22. 3p4

    freep ,,remember THEE most creative poster on cif
    THEE most popular who sparked infernos of protest when erased ??? and never included any spleen at all,,

    jimihendrix,,we miss you jimi ,,a textual virtuoso,,

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