Tony Pierce talks to people for a living. They tell him about how life is these days, what jobs they do, what challenges they face, and what they make of the crazy world around them. As a longtime resident of LA and blogger extraordinaire, who better to hear from during a pandemic to learn how life is for Angelinos. We discuss things like how LA feels today, what is good about working from home in this crisis, and how people are coping in different communities. We also look back on our glorious past and how we got here internet-wise. Also safe places to park your plane or new car. Today on the podcast, we spend the hour with the great Tony Pierce!
This website started as a blog in 2002. Back then it was the early days of sharing, personal diaries online, leaving and responding to comments; ongoing conversations. All these years later, after the dawn of podcasting and youtube stars, social media and viral content, live tweeting and instagraming- things evolved from a very exciting and seemingly limitless new world for communication and understanding, to a fickle world of hearing only what interests you and tuning out everyone and everything else. The world got smaller, while also becoming a place we don’t trust or yearn for. People could communicate with everyone and anyone, but usually end up posting a few photos of a baby, a pet, or a something temporarily amusing. Long story short: it is not quite the world it looked like it might become in those early days of personal publishing and new tools for expression. It has become.. something else.
But you’ve heard much of this. One thing there is no shortage of on today’s internet- commentary about the state of the internet. This alone has, over there years, inspired me to stop writing. In a world where everyone is expressing themselves, everyone is sharing, everyone is looking into their technology in search of — something, we don’t know what- my gut reaction is to close the browser and forget about writing words on a screen. What’s the difference, won’t it all be scrolled out of relevance really soon anyway? Lately, I’ve found more joy in the comfort of my home, sharing a good meal or laugh with my partner, gathering with friends as often as possible in person, than I have toiling over what to write in the next paragraph.
I’m somehow reminded of the old Timothy Leary (via Marshall McLuhan) quote: “Turn on, tune in, drop out”, though I’m sure like many recycled quotes, I may not completely understand the themes of self-reliance and consciousness that I think he was recommending back in the 60’s. But if he meant in any way looking inward for meaning and solutions to problems, then that is very much we’re I’ve been over the past few years. Not looking to any institution, leader, or movement of any kind… I’ve sought the answer within. And that journey continues, but it is nice to write on the blog like old times, regardless if anyone is reading.
For the first time in several years, Tony and I hit the record button and look at what has happened and what is happening both in terms of our online lives and internet-media in general. And make no mistake about it, I credit Tony Pierce among the top sources of inspiration when it comes to self-expression on the internet and here on my website. So beware, compliments will be thrown around!
This site… or blog if you prefer to call it.. is fast approaching its 7th year in existence.? The podcast, soon to be on its 5th year. And even years before any of this, I edited my own little website on a long forgotten service called geocities, where I would write news commentary. And the one constant throughout all of this, besides my concern for the world and the fact that many of you were reading along even back then, has been a place for comments.
Comments on the internet, especially on published work (personal or otherwise), have long been the source of a lot of promises, praise, and condemnation.? The idea that anyone can write what they think, be it an angry gut reaction or a well thought out respectful criticism, or of course the occasional praise… it can all be a part of what you see on the site and what the content producer has put out there.? Its arguably the key ingredient of what makes a blog special. Arguably the future of this internet we’re all a part of.? Despite many sites out there deciding against comments or having to turn them off eventually do to some extreme or minor problem that could relate to harassment, what some people call hate speech, or just general irritance…. still a huge amount of sites, this one included, have managed to chug on.. comments and all.? Moreover I often think that my comments section is a good place, a mostly open and welcoming space where you can add to, comment on, or argue with something I’ve said or done.? Some just use it to say hello or make me laugh… sometimes a very uplifting occurrence.? Sometimes though, I’m bothered by a comment, by disrespect, or even by something I said without thinking something through.? Still.. the comments section rolls on.
This was the topic on the most recent episode of On the Media (3rd segment in the show), questioning what good comments have done news sites and blogs, versus what difficulties they may have brought. As usual I could have though of some better voices to have included in this segment. Especially net natives and freedom fighters like my friend Tony Pierce of the LA Times and the Busblog, who could have told them the beauty and occasional horror of the comments section. I would have also told them to talk to my dear Bitch Phd, another seasoned veteran who has (what I would call) a very special relationship with a VERY active comments section.
I digress, I do recommend the latest edition of OTM specifically for the focus on comments.? Even beloved/behated NPR voice Ira Glass tells of his experience.
Maybe you have your own take on news sites or blogs and how they manage comments.? Or perhaps, about the comments on my site.? If so, you know what to do…