You're reading a lot more into what i'm saying than I'm actually saying. :)
that new voices, even untrained ones, are incapable of bringing new and unexplored perspective to an aging debate
I never said that, and it's not something I *would* say; the greatest power of the net is that it allows voices that would not ordinarily be listened to to be heard, and that it provides people with exposure to things outside their normal mien of existence. It's particularly good when people from different cultures use the net to share their experiences and to learn about each other.
However, there are constructive ways to do this and non-constructive ways. A discussion that consists of people chanting "the US is evil because it wants to attack Iraq" and people chanting "Europeans are stupid cowards because they don't want to attack Iraq" isn't going to teach anyone anything, and it's not going to allow the people who believe those things to explore where each other are coming from and develop an understanding of why they believe what they do; it's simply going to polarize people into camps that don't listen to each other.
That can be fun for the participants, especially for people who know that that's what's happening and are playing with the people who don't; that is, in some sense, the essence of trolling. But it doesn't lead anywhere, and it certainly doesn't bring about *any* form of 'new insight'.
I think what's bothering me here is that K5 seems to be slowly sliding from a 'discussion' site where we all respect each others integrity and are interested in exploring ideas and thought-processes, into an 'argument' site where the first reaction to views one doesn't share is to belittle them, or their owners, or to become angry; where the *argument*, and the thrill thereof, is more important than the *discussion* and the understanding of ideas and viewpoints.
In my view, that becomes a caricature of what the site originally was --- and is far less in the interest of the 'new voices' you are calling for us to listen to than the discussion I am advocating is.
This *may* be a transitory thing; it's entirely possible that the quality of discussion will increase over time, and that the angry, almost vitriolic discussions of the recent months will subside. And it's possible, even likely, that loud, heated arguments will expose people to ideas they hadn't encountered before (the people *watching* the arguments, not the people participating in them). But I'm skeptical.
Sometimes it seems to me that that's *worse* than what it was in the past; other times it strikes me as just being *different* ... and the existence of change is the only truly immutable thing in the world, and while that change may sometimes be *sad*, it's usually worth the effort to look at what is emerging and see the beauty in it, instead of focusing on what came before. But even so, the fact of change does not mean that some things cannot be preserved, or rather some *aspects* of things; I consistently vote against poorly-written articles by native english speakers as part of an attempt to do that, and I find it frustrating when people like you assert that quality of writing is irrelevant, it's the ideas that matter --- at least, when the 'ideas' you say matter represent nothing new; when they *do* represent something new, i'd be more likely to agree with you.
We have at our finger tips the most powerful instrument for social change that has ever been devised, the natural nemisis of propaganda, the great info-equiliser
I agree with you to a certain extent, and to a certain extent I disagree: the net is only the natural nemesis of propoganda *if people are willing to check references*. If people are not willing to research the issue, and simply believe what they are told, the net becomes the natural *ally* of propoganda --- of all types; the rapid spread of holocaust denial on the net demonstrates this. I vote against numerous political articles because they strike me as being propoganda --- completely unresearched presentation of individual belief as *fact*; unless i'm willing to take the time to do the research to refute it, the best thing I can do is vote against it as being propoganda. But again, as much as I want K5 to be an open site, I find it frustrating; sturgeon's law turns out to be oppressive in some ways.
and all you can do is whine about how it was better before it was in mass use.
I can see why you would think that from what I wrote, but that is *not* my position, and never has been; a glance through posts i've made to meta articles in the past would verify that. The spread of the net, and it's ability to foster communication between people, is a *good* thing; it could in time become the backbone of the most vibrant social revolution in the US since the 'great awakening'. But that's true only if people are actually interested in *communication*; and what worries me, as I said above, is that the communication card is being turned into the argument card here, to almost nobody's benefit.
is a whole, new net-generation that needs to be taught, and it falls to us to do so
I find it amusing that you accuse me of arrogance after making a statement of this nature; who are *we* to think that we have anything to *teach* newcomers? Aren't we all equals, engaged in the sharing of ideas and thoughts, and in the communication of worldviews?
I think it's pernicious to assume a holier-than-thou attitude whereby "we" are here to teach some nebulous "them" about the way the world works. And I think that's related to my complaint about arguing; if everyone is here to teach "them" what's "right", then nobody is here to listen, or converse, or understand one another, and there is no room for anything except angry debate --- and the assumption that everyone who disagrees with you is stupid, or evil, undercuts most political debate in the US, and most political debate at kuro5hin.
How is that constructive?
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