Why IRC is crap, yet useless
After several (well, since 1989 anyway) years of experience on IRC, I still probably can count the useful hours I've spent there using one hand only. (Then again, I can count in binary.)
But the reason why IRC is interesting is that it functions as a collective subconscious. On some channels certain things pop up constantly, even though nobody really cares about them. For example, on #go.fi people talk about EGF rating points. These have no significance for any player whatsoever, unless you are a very strong. But they are a slightly-better-than-randomized way of evaluating performance. So everybody has some interest. On #joiito, most of the discussion is completely incomprehensible, yet those people feel a strange connection, and gather together at conventions.
IRC is like a common subconscious, where thoughts come and go, tucking in different directions, yet never converging. Most of the discussion on any channel is bullshit. Pure and honest crap. Nothing but the equivalent of waving your lips in the wind in the faint hope a meaningful sentence will appear, if you keep producing syllables just long enough.
But it's common crap. That crap which binds us together, and builds communities. Some people have this odd notion that "social activity" is the same as sitting in a pub, drinking beer and talking horseshit. Fine. The important thing is "crap".
All of social software is mostly about crap. This is what the CSCW folks never realized - they thought it was important to increase productivity and get more achieved through computer-assisted work. The social software phenomenon (weblogs, Orkut, LinkedIn, IRC, chats, bulletin boards, ...) is built on the notion that people wish to talk crap. They enable you to use your time idly, do nothing, because conscious thoughts (and the inevitable good ideas) rise from the subconscious soup of crap. I think that's why Wikis haven't really flown is that they are not that good places for crap: the community deletes anything that is not considered to be in line of the other contents of the wiki. They don't allow the subconscious simmer of thought in the same way as IRC. It remains to be seen how much crap will surface on Orkut or Friendster, and whether that amount is enough to allow them to survive. (I've noticed I don't use Orkut anymore, even though I am listed. There's just so little point.)
The Finnish IRC service IRC-galleria, is really a place for IRC regulars to post their picture and have comments appended to it. However, there are now many young people, who put their pictures on the IRC gallery, and then "go ircing" on it - meaning posting comments on other peoples pages on the IRC gallery, creating large amounts of anger among those who know what IRC really is. I think this is a wonderful example of "crap in action" - if you build a way for people to discuss, they will come.
The societies are built on crap. The internet is built on crap.
Crap is good. Keep talking bullshit, and while the world may not be better, at least it will be a far more interesting place. :-D
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|"Main_blogentry_070604_2" last changed on 07-Jun-2004 12:53:59 EEST by JanneJalkanen.|