Tuesday, January 29, 2008

There is no leader of the pack. That's the point.

Let's start with what Chris Brogan told me. Actually, let's start with me. [NOON: LINK CORRECTED.] This is what I said.

@chrisbrogan thanks for http://twitterpacks.pbwiki.... announcement. what is derivation of the term "pack"?

In the course of the @whymommy post, I said this.

I'm still digesting the meaning of the word "pack"...

Chris Brogan clarified:

In this case, "pack" meant like a pack of cards. In non-sports card games, there are things like "Expansion packs" for games like Magic: The Gathering. That's probably where I got that from.

In my younger years, my games were played with twenty-sided dice, so I was unaware of the derivation.

But let's get to some other things that Chris said:

Wow. I don’t think I’ve seen something go from interesting and collaborative to reviled so quickly. Less than 16 hours after its beginnings, there are villagers with pitchforks at the gates of the Twitter Packs project.

But people weren't really worried about the term. People were worried because things were too untidy. Or too tidy. Or something.

So lists are bad? I guess if someone puts someone else on a list with which they disagree, that could be bad. If I’m on the “boring guy” list, I’ll probably feel sad. But I’m not selecting the groupings. I did ask that people try to be objective on the main page.

One list on there has spooked a few people: Identity. On that list, are races and sexual preferences and religions. I’m not sure about that page, but then, I didn’t put it up. I looked and saw that MOST of the edits for that page were done by j.brotherlove. I don’t know him well, but I’ve heard good things about him. I imagine it was done with good intentions.

But forget about how you're labeled. And, for the record, if someone puts me in the "Raving Idiot" list, I am perfectly capable of performing a subsequent edit to remove myself from said list, since I don't rave. Ask my Swiss Eurodaughter.

I seem to have digressed. (Put me on the digressers' list.) People really freaked out about the idea of being in a list or not in a list - or, to put it another way, in an expansion pack or outside of an expansion pack.

People got angry pretty quick, talking about the clique-ish nature of Twitter, of the lists being a clique, of them being exclusionary.

Think about this: ANYONE has the password, ANYONE can edit the list. (Same with Wikipedia, though there are more people there to patrol). That’s the opposite of exclusionary. Anyone can be part of any list they choose to identify with.

Frankly, I'm not a super-huge wiki person (either in the public web or behind the firewall), but I'll make some wiki contributions on occasion, if I believe that I have something to say. Which reminds me - I need help with the Platforms page in the Twitter wiki, in which my goal is to talk about Twitter uses that relate to the platform that you use. I think I have SMS and mobile Twitter web access covered, but are there specific issues in Mac or Linux (or Windows) Twitter access that need to be highlighted?

But I guess I don't understand how Twitter Packs could engender so much hostility. So I read Grant Robertson's take, which led me to Connie Reece's comment:

Race, religion & sexual orientation added to TwitterPacks? Really going too far. Notice: I'm removing my name/company from the wiki.

Obviously I felt differently about the "Identity" list, since I added my name under the "Protestant" category. (Inasmuch as there were only two Protestants before I joined, I felt it wouldn't be prudent to add a "Lutheran" group, or an "LCMS" group.)

Yes, I acknowledge that the "Identity" pack COULD be misused, but as far as I can tell it HASN'T been misused. And even if it WERE misused, the Net tends to be self-correcting about such matters. (Of course, once the Borg ganged up on the misuser, the misuser could then start his or her own wiki listing all the Borg idiots who restrict freedom bla bla bla...dang, this is like Usenet and the Cabal (TINC) all over again.)

With one exception (the Oracle people), I chose not to add people other than myself to the Twitter Packs list, even when I thought they wouldn't object. For example, that same "Identity" page had a "Mormon" category with no Mormons listed. I had recently read Louis Gray's obituary for Gordon B. Hinckley, in which Gray publicly stated he had been a Mormon since birth, so I obviously could have added him, but I didn't.

So why did I add the Oracle people? Should I have created the Database Pack? Does Justin Kestelyn want to be so narrowly defined? Are the database people that I forgot mad that I left them out?

I hate when I second guess myself.

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Chris Brogan said...

So you've hit on it all, really. Your opinions match fairly closely with what I think about the whole thing. Today? No grumbles that I've seen. And more edits to the pack list. So, is it bad? Maybe not. Is there a better mechanism? Surely.

But hey, we innovate. We grow. We learn. It's what we do. : )

Ontario Emperor said...

I see two legitimate questions here:

1. What tool is right for a particular task? @conniereece:

...A wiki was the wrong format to do this in. Should have been a blog post that asked for recommendations.

2. What level of control is appropriate for a given information source? @yndygo:

...hate the fact that it's going down paths I feared might happen - good intent doesn't always result in good outcome :(

The second question in particular is one that I face every day at my day job, especially regarding the balance in the needs of our business unit vs. the needs of the entire corporation.

louisgray said...

I've got nothing to hide. What happens If I'm in the Mormon category? Would it be assumed I comment frequently on "Mormon topics"?

Ontario Emperor said...

I think people would be disappointed, since there are many bloggers (including Louis Gray and myself) who don't restrict ourselves to one particular topic. For example, I only remember one time in which Gray commented on a "Mormon topic."