Collective Noise

Yesterday on Twitter I responded to Forian: There is a fine line between involvement and adding to the collective noise. Looking back at my tweets from the past two weeks, I realized that I’m the kettle calling the pot black. The content that I placed out there simply adds to the noise and doesn’t have anything too productive or change-making to it. And petty complaining increases the noise level further.  Being involved is not commenting on every single blog post you read or making your opinion on all matters known to anyone who will listen. Being involved is contributing a fresh idea, a new perspective, or explaining a dissenting view in a constructive (rather than condemning) manner. Comments of “Yeah! I agree,” add nothing to a conversation. I make no guarantees for comments on my own blog, but I will always restrain myself from adding drivel to another’s blog. Agreement is great, but state the reason why. Disagreement is better since learning will happen (so long as the ears and mind remain open).



Sara Written by:

I'm an Information Architect and Taxonomist in the greater Philadelphia, PA area. Mad about metadata. Incessant organizer. Knowledge monger. Information seeker. Wisdom chaser. Curiosity has yet to kill this cat!


  1. Eric Lane (Mercruwaxing)

    I hope I articulate my point well. I know what I want to say, but not quite the jargon to say it succinctly an correctly. (In other words, this is a stream of consciousness brain spew.)

    What you seem to be against in your post, a lack of distinctive arguments beyond “I agree” and to a larger extent people adding nothing to the shared debate through their blogs and websites, is natural, necessary, and unavoidable in a world of social media. It is also overall positive thing. While there are negative aspects of it

    First off, social media, and a blog is a social media in that it calls on it’s readers to respond, requires even short statements. They are reviews of the authors work that can then be used to improve or change the content of the blog. Imagine a blog getting 10,000 hits but no comments. The writer will not know what the people think or why they are looking at the blog. The 10,000 hits contine, then fall off a cliff. What happened?

    Old media got reviewed in other old media (Think the New York Times Review of Books) and people voted on it with their money. Newspapers would get letters to the editor stating why they agreed or disagreed and dropped the subscription. They could then make adjustments to the content. TV has almost constant focus groups for it’s shows, even the current hit ones. Websites have the comments, no matter how “pointless” they seem.

    Another thing that “I agree” statements do is allow social networks to build. People gather together in public spaces based on shared interest. Showing up is a way of stating your interest in something. Just showing up to a website, however, only shows the website owner you have a passing interest in it. By responding you let others know you are there. As your posts increase and your name becomes more “known” to others you get a little more cache as a fan or contribute. Your “postings” count increases – especially noticeable on message boards – and people are more likely to pay attention when you do have something to say based on their familiarity with you.

    Conversely, always stating “I agree” and never adding anything gets you ignored after too long. You become just the loyal follower in the corner. Happy to have you but easily overlooked.

    Blogs, Twitter groups, message boards, etc. naturally overlap in a great deal of content. There are 21 book groups within driving distance of me. They all cover the same thing – books. They all do it in a different way. I’m checking out the selection and community of each to see what one is the better fit. So say “crooksandliars” and “Daily Kos” post the same content. You can see the style of each and see if it fits. Good ones will remain, the bad ones will die. Good and Bad being relative based on the interest of the people, of course. In that way it’s much like Neilson Ratings.

    There are drawbacks to new media. In many ways it’s still sorting itself out. What I think you are against, though, appears to be necessary things for this kind of media to work the way it’s intended.

    • 2009/01/07

      It could be my lack of articulation (it was almost 3 a.m. when I wrote this post!) because I agree with what you wrote. My beef is mostly with the “I agree” without commentary. The why is an important part to the commentary and guides content-creators for their next posts.

  2. 2009/01/05

    I agree.

    I don’t know what’s worse someone just conforming to a participatory level by stating “i agree” or the horrid blatant negativity hidden behind anonymous posts on so many message boards/web sites/social networks.

    personally if someone leaves a comment no matter how small..i dig it. Although I’ll admit I hated when I posted artwork on deviant art and would get an enormous response of “that’s cool” and that’s all that would be said. No constructive criticisms, no dialogs. it’s like..hey I’m glad you like it..but WHY do you like it ?

    so i think i agree with you sara…or should i not state that “i agree”.

    • 2009/01/07

      Yes, the ever-important why is much needed. Thanks for stopping by!

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