Wacky ‘Flaming’ Wednesday

Duration:  Wednesday only – February 17, 2009

This is a twitter assignment.  It is actually a flaming competition (old Net style).

Please use the hash tag for all your competition entries (#smed10) so that I am able to find all the tweets.

Remember Chapter 1 of the Cluetrain Manifesto:

The Internet became a place where people could talk to other people without constraint.  Without filters or censorship or official sanction — and perhaps most significantly, without advertising. Another, noncommercial culture began forming across this out-of the-way collection of computer networks. Long before graphical user interfaces made the scene, the scene was populated by plain old boring ASCII: green phosphor text scrolling up screens at the glacial pace afforded by early modems. So where was the attraction in that?  The attraction was in speech, however mediated . . .

Consider that these early denizens of the Net were, for the most part, young, brash, untrained in the intricate dance of corporate politics, and highly knowledgeable of their craft. In the prized and noble older sense of the term, they were hackers, and proud of it.

Many, in their own assessment if not that of others, were net. Gods — high priests of an arcane art very few even knew existed. When disagreements arose over serious matters— the correct use of quotation marks, say — they would join in battle like Old Norse


“Jim, you are a complete idiot. Your code is so brain-damaged it won’t even compile. Read a book, moron.”

Today, we tend to think of “flaming” as a handful of people vociferously insulting each other online. A certain sense of finesse has largely been lost. In the olden days, a good flame war could go on for weeks or months, with hot invective flying around like

Rhetorical shrapnel. It was high art, high entertainment. Though tempers flared hot and professional bridges were sometimes irreparably burned, ultimately it was a game — a participatory sport in which the audience awarded points for felicitous disparagements, particularly well-worded putdowns, inspired squelches.  It was not a game, however, for the meek of heart. These engagements could be fierce.  Even trying to separate the contestants could bring down a hail of sharp-tongued derision. Theories were floated and defended with extreme energy and enthusiasm, if not always with logical rigor. Opinions tended to run high on any given topic. Say you’d posted about your dog. And, look, you got a response! “Jim, you are a complete idiot.  Your dog is so brain-damaged it won’t even hunt…”

If you’d happened to see the first version of the comment to Jim, you might grin at the second. If not, your mileage might vary. But the point is not to extol flame wars, as amusing as some could be. Instead, it is to suggest a particular set of values that began to emerge in what linguists might call a well-bounded speech community.

On the Net, you said what you meant and had better be ready to explain your position and how you’d arrived at it. Mouthing platitudes guaranteed that you would be challenged. Nothing was accepted at face value, or taken for granted. Everything was subject to question, revision, re-implementation, parody — whether it was an algorithm, a political philosophy or, God help you, an advertisement.

Now here are the rules:

  1. You must start with a quote – but you may not use the any of the big books – the Bible, the Torah or the Koran.  (This is not a religious war / jihad).
  2. Then trawl for the hash tag #smed10 and find someone else’s quotation to insult while insulting the person as well – it must be directed @name of person.
  3. Insult as many people as you can – both directly or insult someone else’s insult.
  4. Your remarks must be clear, easily understood and must be clever or sharp witted.
  5. You may not swear at the person or insult their mother, father, religion, or family (No HATE speech please) – we can now insult each other without being RACIST.  Right.
  6. You are responsible for you own comments, even if this is an assignment.
  7. The person with the cleverest, funniest remarks will win a prize – I am working on it.  Winner to be announced next week.
  8. Remember it is not about the number of insults but about the wit of the insults.  And the insult potential of your original quotation.
  9. Have fun and remember to remain friends.
  10. You could write a blog post about the experience – perhaps pick your own winners.

I will keep you posted (pun).  May the best wit win

“Weak, Marian, Weak.  You need help, no actually you are passed help. There is no hope.”


You have enemies?

I just love this Winston Churchill quotation:

“You have enemies?  Good.  That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

So how many enemies do you have?  What did you stand up for?  What have you done?

How hard is it to follow instructions?

Honestly,  following instruction is actually very difficult indeed, irrespective of how old or how young you are.  A friend reported last year that one of the comments on her daughter’s primary school report read:  “M has finally learnt to follow instructions.”   

This is actually a remarkable achievement, and not one that I have mastered yet.  I find that there is a strong link between not following instructions and critical thinking.  It is clear to me that critical thinking and blind obedience are mutually exclusive. 

I have never in my life been in a situation where blind obedience was beneficial.    Aah yes,  the malady of  blind obedience … Let us count the ways it hurts us.

  1. It allows for the suspension of thought, I have a brain but why use it.  TS Elliot writes of The Hollow Men.  “We are the hollow men /we are the stuffed men/ leaning together / headpiece filled with straw.”  It is a shame to have a brain and not use it.
  2. It creates a false sense of security in which one simply follows –  lemming-like, sheep-like. Where oh where is your sense of direction, your sense of self and your sense of purpose.
  3. It creates an acceptance that someone else is in control of your life, that you are not 100% responsible for you – so now you have someone to blame, other than you, if you fail.
  4. It creates an excuse “it wasn’t my fault.”  This is only OK if you refuse credit for the good stuff as well.
  5. I could go on… and on… and on.  But being brainless is no excuse for being boring.

I find it particularly difficult to follow instructions that are arbitrary, or “somer”.  (That is the critical part of my brain).  I want to know why I must do something, I want to understand the terms and conditions, the limitations of the instruction, but primarily I need to know WHY.

I find it difficult to follow instructions that are not universally applied.  

I find it difficult to follow instructions that invade my boundaries, intrude upon my sense of self and privacy.    Infringements into my space always generates outrage (and in some instances a tantrum or two).  My response is, and will always be,   “Get you big fat grubby fingers out …”

Case studies – Social Media

Where are the social media case studies?  It was during April 1999 that Cluetrain.com went live stating ” a powerful global conversation has begun.”

Now where are the case studies?  There must be social media case studies.  Wisdom gained, Mistakes made, Where oh where are they?

If you have an example or would like to share information or ideas for a case study, please comment on this post.

Topics for 2010

Each week for the next 35 weeks, you must write a(one) blog on one of these topics, listed below and one blog on your own topic as well. (100 words minimum per blog).  Your blog can be any genre – but it must be coherent and have some sort of structure.   You may write more blogs of your own if you wish. 

You must comment on all your team’s blogs during the week.  You must submit a mark for each the blogs that you comment on.  Pay attention it works like this:  Write 2 blogs per week.  Read and comment on 6 blogs per week.  Mark 6 blogs submit the marks to me. (Out of 10:  Give reasons for the mark).    Tip:  You must stay updated and I will mark different blogs in different weeks.

1. Designer PR?

2. Two people come out of a building and into a story.

3. If I were the boss?

4. What is the colour of the wind?

5. Fish falling from the sky.

6. We are afraid of the wrong things.

7. We are what we do.

8. How do you step from the top of a 100-foot pole?

9. No all who wander are lost.

10.  The sound of one hand clapping.

11.  It is a poor idea to lie to yourself.

12.  Wedding cake-in-the-middle-of- the road.

13.  It is better to practice a little than talk a lot.

14.  Feelings follow behaviour.

15.  Try a cliche

16.  Our greatest strengths are our greatest weaknesses.

17.  Every day is a good day.

18.  The elephant in the room.

19.  Write a list: the 10 most unexpected consequences of being online.

20.  What motivates me?

21.  List your top 200 achievements.

22.  “Rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read” (Frank Zappa) – Comment

23.  A skill set called leadership.

24.  Andy Warhol said, “In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.” You can’t choose the 15 minutes but why would you be world famous?

25.  How hard is it to follow instructions?

26.  Have you figured out the second head fake?

27.  “Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when you only have one idea” (Alain).

28.  You cannot chase two rabbits at the same time.

29.  Conventional is a good fallback position isn’t it?

30.  My big fat BIG dream.

31.  Write your bucket list / 100 things to do before you die?

32.  Why I have conversations?

33.  My favourite Cat in the Hat book is [fill in the title]; because…

34.  Watch this space.

35.  The last lecture.