[Air-L] trolls and Aspergian "sufferers"

Thomas Jones tajone02 at syr.edu
Sun Aug 5 19:14:25 PDT 2012

I  personally don't plan to have a career in academia. Further, I value standing up for oneself and one's beliefs substantially more than bowing to naivety or censorship of "seniors", especially in the presence of behavior antithetical to the discipline of research itself.

My character and value, personally and professionally, is not so frail as to be dictated by the opinion or approval of others. I hope you understand that your credibility too is just as subject as mine as these discussions evolve.

Oddly, the behavior demonstrated throughout this discourse closely aligns to cyber bullying, and on an email list of professional academics and researchers no less. This is not the solution; this is the problem.

Do not make the mistake in assuming that because I am a graduate student that I am not already established in my career. Such assumptions, like many others presented in this discourse, are no more favorable to the credibility or reputation of established researchers either, regardless of their tenure.

Given the email responses on-list thus far, I see little professionalism or reputation reflective its spirit or purpose. Perhaps that is the problem, too much concern for reputation first, substance second.

Given the numerous off-list emails I've received in this conversation from others, I now understand their testimonials - why so many are discouraged from using the list, or have stopped participating altogether. I take this time to acknowledge them, bring this issue to light, and thank them for their support. Perhaps I'll act on their recommendation to follow their lead. My time is too valuable for such behavior.

But let's hope I need not remind you and everyone else - you too were all graduate students once. I hope your own faculty didn't censor your thoughts as much as you attempt to do here. If so, you have defeated the entire purpose of academia, an unfortunate shame in my opinion. I accept that not all will agree.

Thank you.

Thomas Jones
IT Consultant

Sent from my iPad

On Aug 5, 2012, at 9:10 PM, "Dave Karpf" <davekarpf at gmail.com<mailto:davekarpf at gmail.com>> wrote:

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<mailto:tajone02 at syr.edu>> wrote:

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
Syracuse University
Hinds Hall
Syracuse, New York 13244
t 919.809.9454<tel:919.809.9454>  e tajone02 at syr.edu<mailto:tajone02 at syr.edu><mailto:tajone02 at syr.edu<mailto:tajone02 at syr.edu>>



On Aug 5, 2012, at 5:59 PM, Elijah Wright <elijah.wright at gmail.com<mailto:elijah.wright at gmail.com><mailto:elijah.wright at gmail.com<mailto:elijah.wright at gmail.com>>>

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:

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

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.


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Dave Karpf, PhD

Assistant Professor
George Washington University
School of Media and Public Affairs

davekarpf at gmail.com<mailto: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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