7/13/12

Turning Internet Nasty Into Money for a Cause

Image [cc] Helico
While having an off-the-cuff Twitter conversation the other day with my friend Sarah Glassmeyer, regarding if technology and open access can transform us as a society and make us better people. My tweet was joking about how 95% of librarians believe that Open Access publications is delivering benefits to society, and that they support Open Access. My snarky addition to this was to add in "and the other 5% are really mean librarians!"

I received an interesting view from Nicholas Schiller on how he thinks that technologies may advance, but jerks will still be jerks regardless of the technology. Although I understand his reaction (jerks will be jerks regardless if they weld a club, a gun or a keyboard), but I'm still one that believes that in the end, we all would tip the balance of things against the jerks, and allow the better parts of humanity to win. To back this up, I'll point out two stories. The first was actually brought to my attention by Nicholas Schiller, and the other was how someone was wronged, twice, yet the good in society helped turn that into something impressive

Anita Sarkeesian and the Misogynistic Corner of the Gaming Industry

Schiller pointed directly to what happened to Anita Sarkeesian when she attempted to conduct a Kickstarter project for $6,000 to produce a video on five common stereotypes of female characters in video games. The backlash to this project was unbelievably viscous, but the backlash to the backlash… made me think that there is some hope for us after all. It also reminded me of another story where good triumphs over evil, and in the end makes me feel a little bit better about humanity in the age of the Internet.

You can read more about Sarkeesian's story at her website, but the breakdown of the situation was that there were some members of the gaming community that did not like even the idea of someone questioning how female characters are stereotyped in video games, and they left thousands of demeaning and misogynistic messages, and let loose with a horrific barrage of images, denial of service hacks and messages across the Internet against Sarkeesian and her project. It exposed the worst aspects of one part of our society, and the whole situation was a black-eye on the gaming industry, in my opinion. Especially since some idiot in the gaming world created a game that allowed the player to give Sarkeesian a black eye.

The backlash to the backlash, however, was something that we could be proud of. The bloggers and online media picked up on what was happening to Sarkeesian, and exposed what was happening as a pure hate crime toward someone that hadn't even created anything yet. They placed a spotlight on the gaming industry and its dark little corner of men that "just don't get it" that someone might think that the way they display and treat women in their games may be offensive to others. Most impressive, however, was that Sarkeesian's previously subtle $6,000 project became a huge $159,000 project supported by nearly 7,000 individuals across the globe. Kind of a reverse Streisand Effect for Sarkeesian, and a win of good over evil against those attacking her.

I think that this video does the best job at explaining good vs. evil in this situation:


Matt Inman, FunnyJunk, Stupid Lawsuits, and $211,223 for Charity


I'm sure that most of you have heard of Matt Inman of Oatmeal.com and his pointing out that the website FunnyJunk was taking his material off of his website and repackaging it as its own without any permission. The reaction from FunnyJunk was to sue Matt Inman for some asinine reason. So, poor Matt not only has his content ripped off… he has the pleasure of dealing with a lawsuit from these jerks asking for $20,000 because he pointed out their actions. It was enough for most of us to scream out WTF!??!

Luckily for the better nature of humanity, Matt Inman did something that turned a twice bad situation into one that created 211,000+ good situations by raising donations for charity to spotlight the stupidity of what was going on, and expose a jerk for being a jerk (in this case, both FunnyJunk and the Lawyer, Charles Carreon.) The pièce de résistance was Matt taking photos of the cash he'd raised in the shape of a big FU to FunnyJunk (I'm sure he was just attempting to spelly FunnyJunk and ran out of stacks of cash.) So, good can triumph over evil plus give them the finger at the same time… I'm cool with that.

Both of these situations show us the worst and best of the Internet and Humanity. Luckily, good seems to be winning.

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5 comments:

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Robert Jones said...

Well, you have a very good point of you here.. Jerks will never be always a jerk!

Anne Roberts said...

Faith in humanity restored! But seriously though, this is a really good post. Thanks for sharing!

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Matt Bates said...

Commenting in a bit late here but I don't think "reverse Streisand Effect" is the right term. If anything, what happened with Sarkeesian is the same exact phenomenon, but instead of censorship attempts being the cause of heightened publicity it was trolling and hatefulness.

In any case, I don't think the Streisand effect is necessarily a bad thing.

 

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