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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Pull on your hipwaders. The underbelly's deep.

If you felt the earth rumble sometime last weekend, it was merely the publication of Mattathias Schwartz's piece in the New York Times magazine on Internet trolling.

You roll your eyes, you think this is not news. Everyone knows the internets are filled with dickwads who purposely bait people into confrontation by being willfully obnoxious. These are not the people Schwartz is talking about. He's concerned with a much more sinister brand of muckraker, and you can read the piece for yourself to get the story on them.

One troublesome point, though. For all the 'old media hate' that the troll community spews [Encylcopedia Dramatica depicts it as a rotary telephone receiver getting shoved up someone's ass], why would two of the most notorious practitioners not only agree to be interviewed, but be photographed? Sucking it up to spread the message to a wider audience? But can you still be subversive once everyone's in on the joke?

The article also mentions troll crew Anonymous' recent forays into activism by hacking the Church of Scientology. That experiment is still ongoing.

Also worth noting, and something Jonathan Kay points out in the National Post, is that an article like this could not even be considered without the bankroll of an old media behemoth like the NYTimes. Good journalism is the result of tying up your shoes and getting to the story, which most bloggers [present company included] don't have the resources to do. But with the Times paying your travel expenses, why not fly to Oregon to check out how these people live?

Point being: columnists can be replaced in a heartbeat by anyone with a computer. Reprters, the ones who actually get off their asses, are more difficult to substitute.

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