@alyaza@beehaw.org

internet gryphon. admin of Beehaw, mostly publicly interacting with people. nonbinary. they/she

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Against Disruption: On the Bulletpointization of Books (lithub.com)

I’m not saying that all self-help is bad. There’s always been an audience for short and snappy self-improvement books (there’s a reason why there are only 7 Habits, not 70), and that’s just fine. But I do worry about a larger phenomenon that I’ll call the bulletpointification of books and media....

alyaza,
@alyaza@beehaw.org avatar

i wonder if the best way to think about self-help as a genre is as a sort of placebo genre, where the act of engaging with the genre is a more useful act toward whatever you want to do than actually reading any particular book.

alyaza,
@alyaza@beehaw.org avatar

well, these aren’t mutually exclusive—and anti-homeless architecture is very harmful to everyone, not just the homeless. it often strips public spaces of amenities like benches, bathrooms, or even just any space in which you could conceivably loiter for fear that that they’ll be used by the “undeserving”

alyaza,
@alyaza@beehaw.org avatar

Some will say “take wins where you can get them,” but I would not call this a win at all. Might actually cause a backlash against the homeless population over there.

being homeless is criminalized de facto in most Washington cities and if you polled the public on Hitlerite solutions to the problem a majority would likely agree with them. taking “this might cause a backlash” into consideration here is accordingly pointless; the backlash already exists and already actively informs policy for the worse. it’s incumbent on people to fight back against that by pursuing better policy, of which this is one.

alyaza,
@alyaza@beehaw.org avatar

That is a very good point to which I have no counter-argument. In fact, if we look at BBC as an example, they’re publicly funded and maintain high credibility and a high degree of press freedom.

while i haven’t looked into it particularly, i’m also sure there are ways to de facto public-fund media while still creating separation from the state if you’re really worried about that. like, there probably isn’t just the single way to publicly fund media and you have to either accept that model or not publicly fund media, right?

alyaza,
@alyaza@beehaw.org avatar

oh i should probably be clear i’m using generalized language here and more building off of your point than responding to you specifically, lol

alyaza,
@alyaza@beehaw.org avatar

and allowing citizens to directly vote on funding, so that it’s not about appealing to whoever the current administration is.

my worry with this is that it’s not obvious there’s public alignment with the kind of journalism that’s needed and the kind of journalism that’s wanted, and further that this directly incentivizes attempting ideological capture of the media (which is part of what’s gotten us here).

alyaza,
@alyaza@beehaw.org avatar

Ultimately, trusting in democracy means you have to trust people to choose what’s best for themselves (with protections against those choices hurting others).

well then i think the disconnect here is pretty simple: i absolutely don’t, and i think the past few years have borne this out repeatedly. i think it’s trivial to mislead people into voting against their best interests and that the public voting in a way that harms them has been a repeatedly-occurring, inarguable problem in most existing democratic states throughout their history. so i have no issue with this.

alyaza,
@alyaza@beehaw.org avatar

Misinformation does not discredit democracy, it discredits the state apparatus that either allows- or conducts- the misinformation.

we don’t agree on this for a variety of reasons, so i just reject the premise here and what follows from it.

So then I would again ask, who do you think should determine what kind of journalism is ‘needed’?

i’m pretty content to trust journalism as a collective institution to produce the sort of necessary journalism for a healthy civic society—it’s been doing just that for a long time even in the absence of the readership to financially support it. (things like ProPublica would not exist if journalism was incapable of doing this from within)

alyaza,
@alyaza@beehaw.org avatar

ProPublica exists precisely because of the public directly deciding which media organizations should receive funding; they’re a donor-funded non-profit.

ProPublica exists in large part off of grant money, large philanthropic donors who believe in its journalism and very generous backing from the Sandler Foundation (which i believe gives it on the order of $10m a year). it does not really exist because of the kindness of individual small donors that you’re using as shorthand for the “public”, and if (as you suggested up thread) the public at-large was asked to fund ProPublica at the scale it currently operates, it would almost assuredly be non-viable.

So just to be clear, are you advocating for news media to not be publicly-funded, or are you advocating that all news be publicly-funded?

i think it’s perfectly fine for all news to be publicly funded, yeah

alyaza,
@alyaza@beehaw.org avatar

So anyone could create a news organization, and publish anything they want, and receive public money for it? That seems like it would massively increase the amount of misinformation being thrown at voters, making them even less informed?

this seems like an unfounded logical leap from the premise of government involvement, when the far more likely answer is this would become less likely due to the ability to directly regulate news media. you could probably make the public funding contingent on meeting certain editorial or transparency criteria to curb what you’re describing, for example–this is, to a degree, the model of the Dutch public broadcasting system.

alyaza,
@alyaza@beehaw.org avatar

You might want to shape society into a certain way, and you might have compelling reasons for it… but it’s still an attempt at imposing your social model over others.

everybody wants to do this whether they admit to it or not (or whether they even think that’s the case or not). “you want to impose your social model over others” is simply not a meaningful way of assessing the world–by necessity and definition, the world must operate under someone’s social model, and obviously if i didn’t believe my social model was the best for the world i wouldn’t advocate for it to begin with. in my case, i don’t even have the luxury of moving to live under the system i want–i did not consent to living in a capitalist social model because i think capitalism is an exploitative economic system that is destroying the world, but there is literally no existing country in the world (besides maybe Cuba, which is under immense economic pressure at all times to liberalize its economic system and be like Vietnam or China) i would consider to be outside of that model.

alyaza,
@alyaza@beehaw.org avatar

The world could operate under a model shaped by the continuous contributions of everyone, without anyone necessarily imposing or convincing others to adopt their particular model.

what you’ve proposed here is not dissimilar to Stirnerite egoism and the issue with that is: Stirnerite egoism is exceedingly idealistic (to the point where almost nobody but Stirner has ever believed in it), so your proposal seems likewise troubled. arguably it’s not even possible–i would contend for example that you’re still just describing an ideology you want to impose on everyone else, and you have fallen into the trap of assuming it escapes the thinking you’re critiquing.

alyaza,
@alyaza@beehaw.org avatar

There is no trap here, a society built on consensus, is whatever the individuals freely identify as positive for them. The biggest issue, is how to provide people with enough information so they can decide by themselves whether (for example) paying 5% more taxes in order to build some thousand miles of railroads, is something positive for their goals, or not.

this is what i mean by you falling into the trap of assuming what you’re proposing is distinct from anyone else imposing their ideology or social model on people. consensus necessarily begins and ends with people agreeing to a shared set of prescriptions on how society works, which is imposing both ideology and a social model through and through–it doesn’t stop being that because it’s agreed to or because you can hypothetically opt out of it. the Zapatistas operate under essentially this exact form of governance (and with the ability to opt out at any time) and if you described that as not an imposition of either social model or ideology that would be silly both to them and to any observer because the Zapatistas have very clear prescriptions of both.

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