I think in the end this British sailor kidnapping will prove to have been a big mistake by Iran.
In the short term, their goal of embarrassing Britain may have worked, thanks to the eager greediness of our news media for bad news and their anxiousness to toss barbs at Blair (and indirectly at Bush). Mission accomplished.
The observation that the internet breeds impoliteness is an old one, and I don't intend to repeat it. I would just like to point out that there is something concrete you can do, which I'm trying to do more often.
Most people don't make death threats, but I feel pretty comfortable saying that most people's contribution to the Internet is a net negative for civility. We tend to post only to point out errors, to "correct" "mistakes", to explain to somebody in detail why they not only believe the wrong thing, but are stupid for believing it. Greivance Law 3 usually kicks in for at least two people, and cascading insults are a normal occurrence on the Internet.
Consider saying something nice. I mean, really nice, no strings attached. In this environment, I find it's best to include an indication that you are serious, because a simple "Nice." will often be interpreted as sarcasm. Why not? That interpretation is statistically likely to be correct. (My preferred tag is a simple "No sarcasm.")
In the small, this does nothing to affect death threats on the net. In the large, it can change the entire tone of discussion for a community for the better.
There are some obvious practical scale concerns (if 10,000 people read something not all 10,000 need to say thanks), but right now, we're well on the side of too few nice things said in general.
I'm not fishing; I don't need it. Working iRi is pretty stress-free, as you might guess from the comment count. Find somebody under attack that you agree with, or even just somebody who wrote something you found useful, and thank or support them.
Proximal trigger: kathy sierra, or, imminent death of the net predicted, but I've been thinking about this for a while now, well before this specific instance of trouble on the net.
This is the first post of my new BlogBook, Programming Wisdom.
This initial post starts off by discussing exactly what I mean by "wisdom" in the context of programming. Non-programmers may still be interested as it is more about wisdom than programming.
- First Law of Grievances: There's always another grievance.
- Corollary to the First Law: A list of grievances can always be produced. Therefore, the information content of a list of grievances is zero, and is not useful for determining "fault" or any other purpose.
- Second Law of Grievances: My grievances are worse than your otherwise-identical grievances.
- Third Law of Grievances: Revenge never satisfies your grievance. It follows from the second law that what you perceive as a balancing of the scale will be overcompensation from your enemy's point of view. Net result: There's another grievance.
- Fourth Law of Grievances: The longer the Third Law iterates, the harder it is to escape from, because both sides will perceive the other side as ever-more in debt.
(I use "grievance" here as "a reason to hate someone or seek revenge". Something can be both a grievance and something else; for instance, an act of war is certainly a grievance, but it is also an act of war. It isn't rational to seek "revenge" for an act of war, but it can be perfectly rational to go to war for any number of other reasons; it may even be irrational not to.)
|<- Future Posts||Past Posts ->|