A tale of two venues

One blogpost, published on two different sites, resulting in two wildly different comment sections. The difference? Anonymous Apple attack squads.

If you work with professional video you know Dan Rayburn. On Friday he wrote a post at Streaming Media, pointing out how many consumers wish to discount the costs content producers must incur to double-encode video and develop dual control interfaces. There were some objections, from screen names like “Bobby” and “James”, but only 13 comments.

Over the weekend the blogpost was republished at Seeking Alpha. This weekend copy drew 130 comments… after being linked from macsurfer.com. These comments were not only more insulting, but some kept on posting and posting half-a-dozen, a dozen times.

There are many stupid objections which have already been debunked — mouseovers, battery life, “apple=open adobe=proprietary”, and so on. Worst, for me, are the personal slurs on Dan and other proven video pros like Jan Ozer. Apple’s little attackers do not need to listen, they do not need to have any idea what they’re talking about — they only need to keep speaking to drown others out.

Crowds are directed to sites to shout down any opposition. Keep an eye on macsurfer.com to predict which “inconvenient truths” will receive abusive comments. We don’t need to publish the words of those who speak pseudonymously… we do not need to spend far more time listening to them than they to us.

The culture of Apple is flawed. They are secretive and authoritarian, and attract (among others) angry little submissives who then act out on others. We should listen to them, but not unduly, not more than they listen to others.

The Golden Rule has arisen spontaneously in almost all human cultures. If you believe some people do not follow it, then the usual reading is “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” But if you believe that all of us do, in fact, follow it — that the universal Golden Rule is descriptive, rather than merely prescriptive — then such abusive commenters are treating others as they themselves wish to be treated. Finding an ethical middle between these readings is our challenge to resolve.

My thanks to Dan, Jan, and all those many others who “speak truth to power” and are personally attacked as a result. The mob’s power, while sharp, is small and weak, and shall not stand. Truth will out.