Brave, Rafael, very brave

Rafael Behr has a quick look at the issuessurrounding the Max Gogarty entertainment roadshow. Unsurprisingly, many points he makes are missed by the many of the commenters. Which is a shame, as there are some good ones in there, not least tackling the myth that the web is some benign, happy community.

Sadly, many people think that just sticking something up online is enough to show they’re engaging (whatever that is) with the web community (whatever that is as well). Ok, not everybody has a good understanding of web usage (and nor would you expect them to), but if you’re looking to use the web for something in a big way, you better know like hell what you’re getting yourself into, and that internet stuff has a tendency to take on a life of its own. [I’m being deliberately vague here].

I like Rafael’s summing up on his personal blog:

“There is nothing intrinsically democratic about networks. The web is not civil society. It is something else. Not sure what.”

And that’s one of the joys of the net.

It sits nicely alongside Tim Worstall’s comment on his piece:

“”The network itself is amoral.”

Exactly: as are markets. Indeed, the network is a market, one of opinion.”

And my genuinely, hand-on-heart-send-me-to-Thailand-with-a-gap-year-student-if-I’m-lying last word on Max Gogarty, to tie this poorly made argument together.

I have no problem with Max writing badly on a topic that has been done a million times before on a blog on the internet. I just get a bit miffed when a national newspaper thinks it would a) make a good column, and b) pay him for it. There’s a lot of good opinion out there, both in newspapers and in blogs. There’s also a vast pile of rubbish in both as well. And for both, those that get their audience right and can string a pretty decent sentence together do alright, and those that are truly bad either get pulled up, or no hits.

I’m still hoping Max resumes blogging somewhere. It’d be interesting to see what, if anything, he’s learnt from his rather bruising experience, and if it makes his writing any better.

UPDATE: This genuinely is the last word, I promise. I didn’t buy the Observer yesterday, so missed the article about poor old Max in what I’m assuming was the main paper.

Firstly given where Max is heading to, isn’t the choice of phrase from his dad about a “tsunami of hate” somewhat, erm, unfortunate?

Secondly, why is this even a news article? Yes, I’d be surprised if Emily Bell and A N Other (Rafael in this case) hadn’t blogged about it, but that article didn’t do anybody any favours. Somebody, somewhere doesn’t understand that the majority of the ire seemed to quickly move from Max onto the Guardian itself and the travel editor who commissioned the piece.

Yes, some of the comments directed at Max was unnecessarily vitriolic, but the same could be said for a good proportion of comments that wind-up on Comment is Free every day. But there were a lot that were funny, and almost all made the same point: the article wasn’t very good. And that point seems to have been lost in the resulting melee. 

UPDATE 2: Sorry. I’m a liar. But Tim Ireland is quite good on this.

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1 Response to “Brave, Rafael, very brave”


  1. 1 ourmanwhere February 18, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    I have a problem with the Guardian blaming everyone for this and treating its readers and commenters like dirt.

    They need to learn some lessons and get their head of out their North London arses and re-engage with their readership.


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