[Air-L] trolls and Aspergian "sufferers"

Dave Karpf davekarpf at gmail.com
Sun Aug 5 18:10:12 PDT 2012

Without engaging with the substance of this debate, I'd like to offer up a
simple cautionary observation:

AoIR is a community of professional researchers/teachers/academics.  People
develop reputations within that community.  Those reputations cast a shadow
upon future interactions, as all reputations do.

Particularly for members of the community who are earlier in their career
and don't have a body of work that they are otherwise known for (read:
graduate students), it's worth keeping this in mind when contributing to
the list.  Someday you will be applying for academic jobs.  People will see
your file and remember you from your contributions to AoIR.  That can
either be an asset or a burden.


On Sun, Aug 5, 2012 at 7:49 PM, Thomas Jones <tajone02 at syr.edu> wrote:

> Elijah,
> Calcanis doesn't need to pass muster as "research", nor was his
> observation about such behavior referenced as such. You act as if only
> researchers are privy to make socio-technological observations. That is
> disappointing.
> You say that:
> "Having one person with a loud-ish voice compare internet behavior to
> Aspergers syndrome is highly obnoxious.  Having people who should know
> better repeat the statement is just unconscionable and bordering on 'vile'."
> Interesting... Researchers been doing this since the the dawn of time, and
> too, have been labeled as "obnoxious", "unconscionable", and "borderline
> vile". Though such assertions have usually come from the ignorant and
> close-minded, more telling of yourself than of me, or Calcanis.
> No one has "flattened / construed" the issue down to trolling as being
> "Aspergers-driven". Such a lack of attention to detail is concerning from a
> researcher, especially when conveyed in such a condescending tone. Had you
> bothered to not only read, but attempt to understand the basic premise of
> Calcanis' assertion, you would have understood what he was saying - a
> tragic misstep in your response.
> Calcanis asserts that people who do most of their communicating online end
> up *mimicking* Aspergers because they are imposing, by the vehicles of CMC
> (keyboard, monitor, text, etc), many of the same disadvantages of those
> with Aspergers, on themselves due to the inability to recognize non-verbal
> queues through said vehicles. In short, text lacks context - this shouldnt
> be a terribly prophetic to anyone on this list.
> The recognition of non-verbal queues is an issue that
> computer/software/internet engineers have been striving to add to CMC since
> the computer/email/internet's inception. What, exactly, do you think the
> point of emoticons was for? Why, exactly, do you think we have evolved from
> emoticons, to audio and video in online communications?
> We have moved, in a non-inclusive pseudo-chronological list, from Usenet,
> message boards/IRC, instant messaging, blogging, photo-blogging, video
> blogging, tweeting, and now rolling them all into collaboration apps such
> as Skype, WebEx, etc,, and now vocal AI queues like Siri. Aside from the
> technological maturity of the infrastructure, it was to add context to
> communication.
> When context is removed from communication - nonverbal responses, facial
> expressions, etc, - so is recognition of, and/or use of empathy. Lack of
> empathy in social/digital communications is evidence of, and/or often
> categorically described as the behavior we understand as "trolling". Some
> engage in this behavior willingly and cognitively, others are oblivious -
> the results however are still the same - that person is a "troll". This is
> not a catch-all explanation for the vast spectrum which is trolling, nor
> was it ever intended to be, but it is an observation with merit.
> Regardless of the "validity" of Calcanis' status or quality of work as a
> "researcher", categorically rejecting the notion that he may have a point
> is absent traits of any sound researcher. Investigating such claims is the
> point of research, and there has been no clear consensus on this particular
> issue. Interestingly enough, you rush to judgement.
> As far as engaging my faculty, there are no need for straw polls where
> open minds exist.
> Thank you,
> Thomas Jones | Graduate Student | School of Information Studies
> http://about.me/othertomjones
> Syracuse University
> Hinds Hall
> Syracuse, New York 13244
> t 919.809.9454  e tajone02 at syr.edu<mailto:tajone02 at syr.edu>
> ischool.syr.edu<http://ischool.syr.edu>
> campaign.syr.edu<http://campaign.syr.edu>
> On Aug 5, 2012, at 5:59 PM, Elijah Wright <elijah.wright at gmail.com<mailto:
> elijah.wright at gmail.com>>
>  wrote:
> Clearly I should have paid attention to this thread a while ago!
> That being said, I'm going to [safely] assume that neither of the two
> previous respondents have heard of what Jason Calcanis coined as "Internet
> Asperger's Syndrome"? While it is still an ongoing, vibrant discussion of
> diverse perspectives, its underlying premise is certainly feasible.
> This should get you started:
> http://calacanis.com/2009/01/29/we-live-in-public-and-the-end-of-empathy/
> http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=59a_1247115195
> Calcanis doesn't pass muster as "research" , in my honest opinion.
> He's in the venture capital, startup, yell-loudly-at-people and get a
> story posted on TechCrunch-or-whatever, scene.
> Having one person with a loud-ish voice compare internet behavior to
> Asperger's syndrome is highly obnoxious.  Having people who should
> know better repeat the statement is just unconscionable and bordering
> on 'vile'.
> Thomas Jones | Graduate Student | School of Information Studies
> http://about.me/othertomjones
> I think you should take a straw poll of the faculty at Syracuse and
> see how many of them will agree that it's okay to flatten / construe
> internet trolling down as being Aspergers-driven.  This is one of
> those things where even *asking the question* is likely to get you a
> very hostile reaction from many folks...
> The results should be entertaining.
> --elijah
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Dave Karpf, PhD

Assistant Professor
George Washington University
School of Media and Public Affairs

davekarpf at gmail.com

Author of *The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American
Political Advocacy<http://www.amazon.com/The-MoveOn-Effect-Unexpected-Transformation/dp/0199898383/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_1>
 *(Oxford University Press)

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