Tuesday, January 24, 2012

- All The Insight... None Of The Trolls

Much of what I comment on comes from the various nooks and crannies of National Review, but I try to restrict the direct cross posting to those things that I feel I can add something substantial to. You don't need me to repeat things you can as easily read for yourself in "The Corner".

I confess, the people there are so smart that they don't often leave a ton of meat on the bone. So there are occasions where I find myself so impressed with a an essay or a particular insight that I end up doing little more than pimping for them. If anyone were paying for any of this I'd feel worse about it. But as it is, I find my conscience can handle it. "Me being impressed" may not seem particularly substantive to you, but my friends send me stuff all the time, and I think of that as doing the same.

This item is a bit of an exception though because I think it casts the past two posts into particular relief. Here is Jonah Goldberg discussion the NRO "Corner" moving into it's second decade. I think most people view the corner as a big time serious intellectual powerhouse for the right. It's a place where intelligence and applied expertise are valued above all other things.

This offers an interesting contrast to a place like Freerepublic where the value of both intelligence and expertise has been discounted to something very near to zero. On Freerepublic, if you are a retired military non-com who has never done anything but soldiering, you are treated as if your opinions have the same weight on something like physics for example, as someone who has a Nobel Prize in the field.

This is the product of anonymity. Anonymous web posting takes away accountability. And just like liberal policies that do the same to real life, they foster so much unproductive behavior that finding productive things becomes harder not easier. In truth, that's why I started this blog. I wanted to be in a position to take a little more credit (or blame) for my ideas, without having to cope with all the unproductive (or really... counter-productive) noise of FR.

I don't write this blog anonymously, but I do make it tough to find me. My full name, town of residence, and employer can all be found in these pages if you take the time to look. I do that more out of paranoia springing from my mis-spent youth than anything else, but it does also cut down on the hate mail. And having received death threats in the past I like to at least make it take some effort to track me down.

But the broader point about the Web is that I think the age of anonymity in political discourse is coming to an end - or at least fading to an irrelevant sidebar. While places like FR which allow anonymous posting increasingly fade to backwaters, (where even supporting one of the two leading Republican candidates is considered too leftist for them), National Review and the corner have shown a greater diversity of opinion, and have gained substantially in influence.

Personally I think that can only be a good thing.


ikaika said...

thanks for your service. I appreciate Radio Free NJ for pointing me towards resources like the Corner.

Good Work and keep up the insightful commentary.

frithguild said...

A couple of years ago Don Lusskin posted a gadget that used a random number generator to select phrases like "shorts better cover," "institutional accumulation" and the like. Perfect for posting at Raging Bull or the Yahoo boards. Hilarious.

I look at the posts at FR mostly for their humor value and because it aggregates news that is of interest to conservatives.

Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...

In regards to anonymity via an online persona:

Its necessary in this day and age. I have had mine for over 13 years and I use it to allow myself to speak freely while protecting my employment prospects and possibly my life.

Years ago, there was one blogger I like to read. Like yourself, he was a gun enthusiast and spoke of various topics in length (from a Rightwing POV). His most famous (or infamous depending on your political persuasion) essays involved his time living in Africa or on the American cultural scene. He didn't hide his identity though, which caused him to have a job offer pulled when the employer did a web search on his name. He became basically unemployable in his field for quite a while.

After that happened, I saw the need for a certain level of anonymity online. Unfortunately, it also brings out the worst in people, causing the online world to be infested with trolls (or worse.. death threats are never fun.. yes.. I have got them too in the past).

Lenny Lenape said...

NRO vs FR is a great contrast. FR is more of an echo chamber, while NRO is the "red pill" that shows people the light of conservative ideas.

My girlfriend was born south of the border, raised in San Francisco, and works at a big NYC ad agency. She has been surrounded by liberals her entire life, but was never interested in politics.

Recently, she became a huge fan of Paul Ryan, and occasionally listens to Mark Levin. She has grown more aware of the ignorant opinions expressed by her liberal friends. So she asked me to recommend some websites to help her intelligently discuss the issues. I included Krauthammer, Noonan, Sowell, and NRO columnists like Victor Hanson, Derbyshire, Jonah Goldberg.

I purposely left out commentators like Coulter, Breitbart, Malkin, Erick Erickson. Believe me, I love them all and greatly respect their invaluable exposure of Democrats lies and corruption. But unless you already agree with them, the average unpoliticized American would be turned off by their partisan inflammatory bombthrowing.

Tom said...

Sowell is my hero, Derbyshire is my friend and I couldn't agree with your other assessments more. If I steal that "Echo Chamber vs the Red pill" line at some point in the future, please don't be too shocked. (I'll attribute it if I can remember)