This is a bit overdue. I’ve been feeling this way for a long time but couldn’t really put my finger on it until tonight. I’ve caught myself engaging in negative behavior more and more frequently, most often taking place online but even occasionally in person, and I don’t like it.
I remember the joy of tech, of a time before every conversation about programming had to turn into a language debate, when the only thing that mattered about a tool was that you could build something cool with it. Now it seems like almost every conversation turns into some sort of competition or confrontation, political or ideological debate and it sucks all the joy out of the work.
There’s so much good work to be done, and a lot of it going on. I think that social networks and media are very powerful tools for good, but in the last few years they seem to be more effective at propagating negative broadcast messages, and like a flat ethernet network, these storms can drown out important data.
To stretch this analogy into the absurd, I considered finding a way to firewall or VLAN these networks to improve the signal-to-noise ratio, but it quickly became obvious that this is a futile effort. The topology doesn’t make it easy, and the nature of the nodes in the network make it nearly impossible.
So as usual the most direct approach is best, and I’m planning to bow-out of these systems for the foreseable future. Instead I plan to concentrate on the mountains of work avaliable which clearly contributes to a brighter future, and do what I can to avoid incuring drag. There will always be negative influences, but it’s become clear to me that none are as extremely lopsided than the modern-day AOL’s we’ve constructed at the cost of the robust, independent, syndicated media we had before the dawn of Myspace.
I’ll be posting updates on my progress here, which is likely to lead to improvements in this site (eating your own dogfood usually has that effect). If you’d like to stay in touch, perhaps you’d consider joining up (just send your first post to firstname.lastname@example.org ). I’d love to hear what you have to say, and I’ll have time to do more in-depth reading now that I’ll be off the 140 character feedbag.