Fire for Effect: Consensus! The Truth Killer!

This is the improbable seventh salvo in Michael Rutherford’s regular column, Fire for Effect. Without any further ado, take it away Mike…

I keep trying to write this installment of FFE, and you guys on the blog keep changing reality… so then I try to re-write this installment… and you change reality again.  I’m behind, and I know it… so piss off.  Originally, this was intended to be an appeal for readers to submit new material for the Manifesto.  Then Andes, and Prasad started cranking out articles and I had to adjust.  And that article from Infinity was an excellent bolt out of the blue.  Bang!  Boom!  Doors flapping in the wind… Fresh air, and discourse.  Also, I’m going to throw out a preemptive acknowledgement to Vitreolum, because he also seems to “get” what I’m trying to say in this article.   What am I trying to say in this article?  Well, that’s in the article isn’t it!  What do you think this paragraph is called: The preview paragraph?  The introduction?  WRONG.  This is the namby pamby excuses paragraph.  You will find no real substance here fools!  So enough with all my disclaimers, qualifiers, and excuses.  Steel on target!  Fire for effect!

Keith and I agree on a lot of stuff, that’s why he lets me run my mouth so much here. But we disagree on some stylistic issues (like when Keith is WRONG for example).  For the most part though, we strike a harmonic cord.  And, many of you constant readers, seem to agree with us.  You are here because our tone, or our focus, or our slant appeals to your sensibilities.  So… we all agree on a lot of points and tend to downplay differences.  We agree with one another… a lot.

This climate of agreement or consensus is fine, wouldn’t you agree?

You are now entering the thesis paragraph.  Please pay attention.  While consensus is fine and good… it’s not the best, or most important, super ultimate goal in life.  In fact, consensus can be quite dangerous.  The desire for consensus can hurt dialogue, obscure important truths and in the Lego Hobby, it can curtail growth and inclusion.  We should guard against its seductive nature, and in fact, our hobby is best served by a culture that embraces not consensus, but rather which embraces the chaos of discourse and discord.  It’s true in much of life… but today I urge you to examine the hazard of placing consensus before discourse, as it applies to our Hobby, and specifically, right here, how it applies to our conduct on this blog.

Debate.png

Now I don’t mean to dump on consensus here.  It’s not a vile or weak thing.  It’s not a “false virtue”. In fact, it’s a crucial and often lacking ingredient in any endeavor involving more than one person.  Consensus allows for participatory decision making, progress, unity, focus, team, commitment, sacrifice and lots of other cool stuff.  Consensus gets us past awkward issues like conflict, loss of face, embarrassment, and isolation.  Consensus gets “us” all into the same club house, and keeps the “them” outside, in the rain, with the zombies.  It puts the right sign on the door.  Consensus is inclusive and cozy. In the context of our hobby, consensus is essential for activities like conventions, LUGs, and even on line forums (what?  It’s both good and bad?  Is that possible?).  Consensus feels good, and so… we tend to seek it.  It’s not a crime.  It’s perfectly natural.  But “natural” is not a synonym for “best”.  Picking at your own scabs is natural, and what did our mamas tell us all about that?  Keith, sorry… your mama probably didn’t tell you… but don’t pick at your own scabs, it causes scarring

keep out.jpg

Consensus is important, and the desire for it is very human.  It can be constructive.  But is can also be a seductive poison.  Consensus Poisoning (CP) happens when we value consensus to much.  When the need to be in agreement moves us to compromise our values or moves us to squelch the messages of others.  (no, I don’t think we do that on The Manifesto… but we easily could).   CP is an easy condition to deny, easy to ignore, and absolutely deadly to any forum concerned with the pursuit of truth.  We agree with everything we say, and we are doing all the talking… the perfect incubator for a raging case of CP.  El Manifesto may be a comfortable room full of comfortable people who are slowly and comfortably succumbing to CP.   Some of you may be thinking:  Consensus Poisoning?  Don’t you mean Groupthink?

Well, no… but almost!  Groupthink doesn’t quite fit here because The Manifesto is not really an organization that makes decisions.  Sure, every member of the reading audience is a decision maker, and sure… we would like to affect your decisions (editorial slant and what not).  But the decision making WITHIN El Manifesto is fairly autocratic.  Keith is the owner, chief editor, and El Alcalde.  Anybody else pretty much just offers opinions or recommendations.   Decisions about the blog might be made collectively from time to time, but only at the Alcalde’s sufferance.  So, no… I’m not really talking about Groupthink in the purest sense.  Although, it is a deadly and pervasive condition that affects many organizations and you should read all about it right here in this short concise article!

No, for our purpose today, let’s stick with our invented malady: Consensus Poisoning.  But let’s do take a look at two of symptoms of Groupthink I just stole from the above link:

  1. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
  2. Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.

bay of pigs.jpg

As I said, Groupthink is more about “decision making”, as opposed to my focus today, which is “dialogue and Discourse”.  I highlight these two Groupthink symptoms, Pressure on dissenters and Self –censorship… because they overlap with CP and are the most relevant to what DOES happen on The Manifesto: Discussion.

Discussion is a mainstay of this blog.  Discussion, entertainment, and maybe a small slice of actual information or news… brought to us by our readers, mostly in support of goal #1, Discussion.  Most of us would agree (Yet again!  Cursed agreement!) that we do discuss LOTS of stuff here.  Brother, we got nothing if we aint got discussion!  So maybe… CP is not a threat here huh?  I mean, maybe we have a healthy climate of aggressive debate.  Open exchange of conflicting ideas… maybe CP isn’t really a thing here… Look at Prasad on the pen, and guys like Vitreolum keeping us honest.  Look at Infinity jumping in with both feet… Looks like we got CP beat… Wrong answer!

Because discussion itself is the beating heart of this otherwise ghetto little blog… we the citizen readers must be even more vigilant against CP than we would be other sites.  Other blogs show pics of new product.  They may have a fairly conformist culture, or a culture that dampens conversation… but so what?  You go to those sites to see pics of new product.  Once that’s done, that site has accomplished its mission.  But here?  If we lose the fragile guttering flame of discourse?  Then we have to join primitive man on a Quest For Fire!

QUEST FOR FIRE.jpg

Remember, CP is like ground water around a dry basement.  Not a problem today, but always trying to seep in through tiny cracks… an ever present tendency.  I don’t complain about CP on El Manifesto right now, so much as I urge vigilance against complacency and the CP that follows right behind.  It’s a comforting belief that CP is not a threat on The Manifesto, but in reality, it’s always a threat.  And dismissing the threat, only increases the hazards likelihood exponentially.

I suppose the good news is that when CP is recognized (when, not if) it is easily treated.  TRUTH cures CP in a heartbeat.  Right now, I think The Manifesto is pretty good at truth.  I would give us a strong B, maybe an A minus in “Truth”.   We say lots of stuff, and then we talk about what we say.  Everybody has their say, and with a very few exceptions, people are not censured.  (but yeah… even we have to maintain a small, one cell “thought prison” for people who want to use El Manifesto as a platform for crazy talk.  Such is modern life).

So truth is an easy cure.  Truth is not found through the rapid establishment of a consensus. In our shared tendency to seek consensus, we often trample the truth!  Truth is not comfortable.  Truth is not the product of back slapping and “atta boy” rhetoric.  Truth is not always elegant or funny (but humor is one of truths favorite tools!).  Truth is not the BIG part.  Not the husk or the shell.  It’s the TINY part in the middle, the hard core.  A large group usually finds the truth through discourse (and discord!).  Argument, debate, even a little eye gouging at times… often reveals truths not initially known to either party when they started talking.

As I mentioned, Discourse (and Discord) is one of the corner stones of The Manifesto!

Discourse is something we seem to have lots of here on The Manifesto, but CP is an insipid toxin!  You don’t taste it, or smell it.  You don’t’ even feel it!  But you can PREVENT it.  In fact, ONLY YOU can prevent it!

Ony YOU.jpg

I wish many more readers would write stuff for this blog.  All credit to Simon, Ted, Achintya, and Infinity, your stuff is great!  Your insights, humor, candor… it’s the basic food stuff sold in the market place of ideas!  But I would like it if you guys were reduced from the excellent post of “Major Contributors” and relegated to the also cool but lesser post of “Trend Setters”.  I urge more readers to write stuff that you believe!  F popularity!  F common practice!  F the police!  Sting was better on his own!  Then spell check your stuff just like I never do… and send a draft to Keith.

fade_rautha.jpg

REALITY CHECK… BRACE FOR IMPACT… REALITY CHECK… BRACE FOR IMPACT…

Keith has to edit stuff.  He edits every word on this blog.  He has to!  He is responsible for every syllable that gets posted here, and he TAKES RESPONSIBILITY for the same.  Keith will edit, and that is good.  You think my spelling and punctuation are bad?  Foolish Samurai!  You have no idea how many juvenile errors Keith scrubs out of my shite before he puts it up!  So yes, Keith WILL edit your submissions… and yes, you WANT him to!

Second point: Don’t be an over sensitive Nancy about it!  He almost never hits the content.  Unless you’re going to try and post some crazy social, religious, political, gender, giant insect, or Mega Block extremist tripe… you’re inspired insights will survive the editing process!

So shut up and speak already!

Tortured artist… you people kill me… “Oh the Gods!  That blood stained editor has crushed the fragile flame of my thoughts under his jack booted right foot.  The horror!  The horror!… Think, re-think, write, and re-write already you filthy rabble!  Your thoughts contain truths… so share these truths already!  In fact, don’t just share them.  Impose them upon us!  Force your beliefs into our resisting minds with well-crafted arguments and persuasive examples!  Stick your truths into our brains as you would a bayonet into the chest of a remorseless invader!  If it’s the truth, it’s not an attack.  It’s badly needed aid!

You might ask about some administrative details at this point…

“What about the administrative details?”

Ah yes!  So glad you asked!

Write your article/essay/rant using your preferred program and send it to Keith through the contact form on this site, Flickr or Legomankeith@aol.com.  Include any pictures, videos or links you want embedded in the article.  No pics?  No problem!    Keith will pick some pictures for you!  (No!  How dumb are you?  You’re comfortable with Keith picking your pictures for you? It doesn’t end well!  What if he asks ME to pic the pics?  How do you think THAT will work out for you?)

So let’s summarize and ensure shared understanding by using a… using a… using a MISSION STATEMENT!   YES!

MISSION FOLLOWS:

WHO: Anyone except Matt rowntRee

WHAT: Writes an article for publication

WHEN: As soon as possible

WHERE: on El Manifesto

WHY: In order to fight Consensus Poisoning and support an ongoing search for TRUTH with discourse and discord!

Ah!  I thank that phantom Prometheus, who did steal the science of MISSION STATEMENTS from the blood-stained gods and who did then delivered it unto our unworthy and mortal hands.

I know that CP seems like a distant threat from where we stand right now.  We already have discourse, and discord.  We already have a pretty low threat environment.  We we we… lots of good stuff.  This place doesn’t suck ass.  I know that what I’m saying is counter intuitive.  Especially with the excellent new articles we just ran, and the excellent reader author point/counter point tradition we have established.  I got all that.  And I agree (yet again!  Ah the gods do mock me!).  But have a little respect!

Wait.  Respect?  I think we have that already… No, I don’t mean respect for one another.  I don’t mean respect for the people who are here, now, on this blog with you today.  I mean look back across the bow.  Look at the fleet of derelict vessels rotting at anchor behind us.  Blogs and LUGs and Web sites that were once busy, and are now empty and lifeless.  Why?  Why were they once mostly at mostly decent, and now totally dead?  Were they peopled by idiots?  Staffed entirely by morally weak or corrupt dullards who lacked vision and all succumbed to their own evil ways?  NO!  That is a stupid and simplistic assumption.  We should respect the people who built many of these groups.  We should respect what they built, and we should therefor “respect” the seriousness of whatever destroyed so many of them.  Respect for those who have gone before us is not just a romantic thing we say… there is a reason for it.  They built cool sites, and now many of their efforts have ground to a halt.  Respect the notion that these groups, or LUGs, or blogs succumbed to difficult challenges.  Many now dead sites were once banging joints!  Now silent.  Why?  What will stop us from the meeting the same insipid fate?  Not but our culture.  That’s what I mean when I say “have some respect”.  Respect the architects of now dead sites, and respect the serious nature of the threats that took them down and that stalk us even now.

Another angle.  El Manifesto seems to have a pretty good bead on discourse and discussion.  We do it, value it, and enjoy it.  OK.  True enough… as far as it goes.  But how many people in the hobby still don’t speak here?  Why not?  How many train heads?  Why not?  Castle heads?  Why not.  Bionicle folks?  How many people out there read this blog and still feel they can’t really “Open up and give those bellicose wind bags what for?”  I think we have established a tone (a pretty good tone actually) but… the stronger the tone gets, the more “Not any other tone” it becomes.  I like flavor and character.  I don’t want to write for a blog that is the Coors Beer of Lego Blogs (lacking in flavor, but generally inoffensive).  Character matters.  But while we enjoy it, let’s not forget the passive way it can “block” or “stymie” input from new comers.  Look at the number of first time comments we had in the wake of Infinities article.  Great!  But why only now?  Why are we not attracting more new commenters?  There is no ONE reason.  And I don’t say it IS BECAUSE OF this one thing… I only want us to remember the importance of celebrating new and contrarian perspectives, and the importance of trying to live up to an ideal of an open forum.  It’s hard to do, and easy to screw up.

getPart.jpg

I think this is the vaguest FFE I have written yet.  It’s certainly proven to be the slipperiest topic to grab a hold of.  We are not yet suffering from CP.  In fact, right now, I think we have it on the run.  But I also don’t think we are so unique in this.  Things like tradition, convention, and “the way we do it here” are all notions that grow stronger over time.  They also contribute to CP.  I just wanted to try to get out ahead of it.  If you’re still reading at this point, then I have exceeded my expectations.  This entire article is more about a cautionary message than about identifying a current problem.  As I mentioned, the truth kept evolving as I tried to write this piece.  If I’m off the mark, I know I can count on some of you to sock it to me.  Poke my eye out with a stick, but I had to take a stab at this topic.  Orthodoxy, complacency, casual exclusion… the notions haunt me, maybe not because they are so vile and distant, but because they come so easily and so quickly.  If you think they’re not in your kit bag… I council another inventory.

I just want us all to think about where truth is found, and to celebrate the clash of ideas in the arena and the spectacle of influence achieved … over the soothing din of a harmonious banquet and the torpid stupor that follows… leading eventually to silence and the death of though.    Wow bummer!  I think I need to watch some more Monty Python or something… Geez.

Espartaco.jpg

 

Think.

Re-think.

Write.

Re-write.

Submit.

Attack!

 

32 thoughts on “Fire for Effect: Consensus! The Truth Killer!

    1. Well shit, that’s not so bad. Winger from Stripes? I’m used to being compared to a Daleck…

      https://theawesomer.com/dalek-voice-changer-helmet/386/

      Yea… I know that there are loads of people out there who disagree with the stuff we say. And we do get a lot of juice out of the conversations in the threads that follow the articles. So it’s not like we are met with stony silence or anything. It’s just that I know lots of people disagree and provide their arguments only to audiences they already know agree with them. It’s really the norm for public discourse. Agree with the speaker, or remain silent. We are OK in this regard as a group. Lots of disagreement, and that’s healthy… but I still hear the deafening silence of all those who read and respond in wordless disbelief.

      Like

  1. I can see how this FFE topic got derailed a bit with the recent McFlurry of articles and commentary. Had to adjust the “call to action” message to more of a “stay vigilant” vibe I suppose…

    Consensus Poisoning – I think it is still here, just a rose by another name….

    Were the comment barrages in the recent articles ACTUAL discourse, or some group-think mob trying to beat their authors into submission of the Borg Consensus?… “Your premise is bad, and you should feel bad!” “Minifigs rule, and scale-models drool!” “Conform!”… to drive this this “discourse-in-disguise”, should authors then chose to write articles against the perceived consensus? Do we add that flaw that people want to pick apart? … Should I have titled my first article “Squidman is Dead!!!”

    Having the regularly scheduled Friday Night Fights is a good gut-check on the level of CP in this Matango Island hide-away. How are each of us viewing these builds that have stepped into the MOC-tagon? Do we have consensus? Are people’s opinions bending or breaking?… It’s always a good place for new commenters to step in and start to get their groove-on too.

    Like

    1. Regarding that minifig article, it wasn’t so much the premise as much as the article being poorly written and poorly argued. I got way more out of the comments section from people who agreed with the premise. There were good arguments on both sides and that’s why there were so many replies to replies to replies.

      Like

      1. Chris,

        Yeah, the conversation was king on that one. But no article at all means no conversation right? I am inclined to agree about the quality of the argument, but I feel it’s unfair to just leave it at that. If I were Prasad, I’d be thinking: Poorly argued how?

        On that note:
        1. The scope of the assertion was to broad. Instead of “Detrimental to Lego”… he should have gone with a far more specific assertion like: “Detrimental to accuracy in MOCs”. With an assertion as broad as the one he chose, defending it is almost impossible because… it’s so big! It’s like trying to defend Europe when your playing Risk. It can be attacked from every direction! A specific assertions is more easily defended than a broad one.

        2. Definitions. Make them clear, and don’t change them. If you feel that you have to change a definition in order to keep defending your thesis… you should probably concede the point. The author took some hits in this area of the argument. As he tweaked his definitions, his argument seemed to became a “moving target” changing and morphing as it went forward. Say what it is… and keep it what it is… and if that puts you in a box, you might just be defending the wrong hill top.

        But. But but but… His position was presented, and that alone has value. Most positions are never actually presented. They are held in silence, and at best, they are “presented” through practice. Argument by example is a powerful thing, and I’m a big fan. It’s when we don’t talk about a thing… but rather, we just DO that thing. It’s an approach, and I’m down. But forcing your beliefs into a cogent argument (going from practice to the abstract) and then presenting them to a wide open forum… that takes some salt (or in my case, it merely takes 50 years of bitter old age and a total lack of regard for the fact that I’m yelling at the wind). Prasads article earned it’s place here, and that’s for sure.

        Weather or not he refines his tactics in the face of recent experience is another question.

        Like

      2. Yes, I should have mentioned that it did succeed in its goal of starting a discussion, quality of the article and author’s comments notwithstanding. And yeah, bravo for even putting something out there. I just hope the next one is a bit more polished.

        Like

    2. Agreed (Ah… damnit!)
      The Friday Night Fights are not only a good chance to see excellent MOCs, but also a good yard stick for the climate on this site. A good chance to see the climate in action. Not a complicated idea, and not overly creative in format. But it is exactly that consistency that lends itself to iterative comparison. The 50 yard dash is always 50 yards. It’s the same event over and over, and that makes one iteration easily comparable to another iteration. Its simplicity does not detract in any way from the pursuit of athletic excellence. And so it is with FNF. As we enjoy the MOCs themselves, we can also observe our own behavior. Not a bad thing at all.

      As for the dense blocks of comments that characterize these last few articles (first and foremost… awesome!)… No, I don’t think the emergence of a consensus within those comments is necessary the same as CP. As some have pointed out, an authors take on a particular topic may resonate or contradict MOST peoples opinions. When that happens, there will be an unambiguous trend in the comments. Well, that’s to be expected if FIRST, authors take clear positions on topics, and SECOND, most folks disagree. Not the same thing as when members of a group begin to withhold their opinions until they can see which way the wind is blowing and then jump in with the trend in order to “fit in” or to “avoid a ruckus”. THAT is the beginning of CP.

      Like Prasad and his Minifig question. He got kind of mobbed… but not because the readers here want to fit in. It’s just that… people really like Minifigs… AND/OR… people who don’t like them tend to ignore them. I think those perspectives were entrenched well before he published his article. So… what? The mobbing was legit? Well, in a sense yes. It wasn’t the result of any under the table bullshit about hammering the author (don’t take no shit from nobody Prasad! I got your back!). He just published a thesis that was largely unpopular.

      I mean, to his credit, despite the lack of adherents to his thesis, Prasads last offering did stimulate a good amount of focused dialogue (yeah, some cat calling too… but there was a lot of genuine back and forth talking as well). And as is so often the case here on El Manifesto, the article was eventually eclipsed by that dialogue. That’s NOT a ding against the author! It’s pretty common here (yeah, no shit the conversation is better than the articles! Have you read the crap that we published here?).

      The article is a catalyst, but the dialogue is the real productive process… the process that leads to the desired end: Greater shared knowledge within the hobby. Is consensus PART of shared knowledge? Yes. As I said, consensus is not the devil. It’s just not the end all be all.

      Good comment, thanks man.

      Attack!

      Like

  2. WHO: I’m someone that is not Matt rowntRee

    WHAT: I want to write the other side of this FFE: CP: the LUG or contest running implications … the Ender’s Shadow of this thesis and flush it out the story even more

    WHEN: when I feel like it.

    WHERE: on El Manifesto. Duh.

    Like

    1. Simon,

      It’s five Ws man… one for each finger. It’s Rutherford simple. So what’s your WHY?

      Actually, screw that question… make me read it in the article with everybody else.

      “The” other side? Sure there is only one other side?

      Lay it on us!

      Like

  3. This is a bit of a “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” talk where we’re both the men behind the curtain and the ones that shouldn’t peek. Afterall we’re all here to have fun, but doing this in such a way to keep things from becoming stale seems more like work than fun. Yet, should things become stale, there’d be no place to have fun in.

    That aside, I can only agree on all counts here. Consensus for a place of discussion is pretty much the same thing lack of critique is for builds. There’s only so much npu! you can drop and receive before boredom sets in and you can either keep circling in the same spot, blissfully happy with agreement, or move on and find something interesting. It can definitely be fun for a while to be on the same page with everyone on everything (especially for the person that initiated the conversation), but then what?

    On a very basic scale, as long as two opposing views exist and both “owners” are willing to express them, the show will go on (or at least has a bigger chance to).

    On the other hand, argument for the sake of argument or to keep things interesting is even worse than consensus.

    Same goes for articles, without them there’s no dialogue. They are the heart that keeps the whole thing running.

    As for fresh blood for the slaughter, the more the merrier. But then again, the thing which attracted many of use here, the openness and both embracing and challenging of trends and … well pretty much everything about this hobby, may be the very thing that drives away part of the audience or only makes them silently observe from a distance. We can only hope everyone that has something to say will do so.

    On an completely unrelated note, I like the idea of this article, and the way it evolved around “the action” happening on the blog to make an obsolete draft relevant. Bonus points for Sting in the most epic junk armor ever.

    Like

    1. Yeah, you got it.

      It’s not either this OR that. And yeah, the opposing tensions are built into the system… There is no “safe” formula that we can set, and then ignore. The dynamic NEVER stabilizes.

      “Consensus for a place of discussion is pretty much the same thing lack of critique is for builds.” Right… but then… argument for arguments sake is also crap. No balance. No safe default setting.

      “We can only hope everyone that has something to say will do so.” and that’s the truth. We can’t MAKE people say a dam thing. All we can do, is attempt to entice them into comment. And with comments, I think we do OK. Articles though… for a while we were beginning to think we wouldn’t ever break the code and get some contributions (save Simons Shiptember series which rocked). Then we got a surge. Tomorrow maybe a slack tide again. Who knows.

      The Sting pic was a zero risk fall back option. How can you go wrong with a pic like that? I want to do a life size mosaic of it someday.

      Like

  4. Comment silence COULD be taken as the complacent CP scenario, but I think the “Pain Scale” also applies too. How much pain (i.e. level of disagreement) do you have to feel with an article’s premise until it compels you to comment? It was a bit “tongue-in-cheek” when I said all our comments were trying to get the authors to conform to the consensus… it was more like our personal pain scales were turned up to the point where we had to say “ouch”.

    It’s like that “old chestnut” of how companies have their employees take the Myers-Briggs personality test, and inevitably an “extrovert” puffs our their chest afterwards and starts saying “How do we get the introverts to speak out?”… and soon after that an introvert slaps them back with a “by saying B.S. comments like that!” An introvert may sit back when things go smoothly (a consensus scenario), but will indeed feel the call to “control the action” if things start to go off the rails (blowing that “fear of reprisal” theory). If it needs to be said, SOMEONE in this crowd will say it… and likely if it doesn’t need to be said either…

    Like

    1. Good point. The emotions that compelled me to first speak on line in this community were not positive. I was reading and reading and agreeing and disagreeing for months… in silence. And finally, I read what can only be described as an utterance of such a jackassy nature as to literally eclipse all other thoughts until I could respond. It was a totally negative thing that moved me first to speak.

      And yeah, I know you weren’t serious about the BORG stuff, but I wanted to lay those points out there anyway. Ham fisted I know, but I wanted to get those points laid out there.

      but yeah, in THIS crowd, right NOW… we got this. For me, this article (what was left of it after reality caught up with it and crushed it like a beer can…) was more about acknowledging the danger of being self satisfied. Resting secure in the knowledge that “we got this”. Or worse, thinking that “we don’t have those problems here”.

      Myers-Briggs… oh… it has begun! That topic… despair! We give all of our students the MB in the first week of class. It’s OK. I think it’s good for stimulating self assessment sort of thinking. Thinking about who you are and how you learn… But I have two major gripes with it.

      The first is not really fare to the MB, but its related to your observation. The MB types are not (NOT… TOTALLY NOT… Not even a tiny bit!) about better or worse. Stronger or weaker. Desirable or un-desirable. Companies and government agencies always want to try and align those stupid four letter codes with the requirements of various job descriptions. This equals leadership, and that equals follower, and this other code equals innovator, but this one other code is good for janitors… on and on. Fact is that shits not that simple! Never has been. Extroverts DO NOT make better leaders. They may gravitate towards jobs that allow them to project, and that may superficially make leadership positions attractive to THEM… but extrovert does not mean effective leader. History is full of very effective introvert leaders who knew how to motivate others, capitalize on strengths, compensate for weaknesses, and focus individual efforts to achieve desired collective results. MB guys know this… but companies and the government agencies that pay for those tests? They often don’t get that at all!

      Second, MB only tells us about what learning style WE THINK WE LIKE. It’s not really objective at all. It’s not measurement of how you learn. It measures how you respond to descriptions of learning styles. A perfect example is Spock from Star Trek. Que macho es el Spock? El Spock es muy macho! I love that guy. Sitting in his room, in silence… got some incense burning… maybe gazing into that 1970s disco infinity mirror thing on his wall… figuring out cold fusion… then he walks down to the rec room and he’s the life of the party, strumming dope tunes on his harp thing… plucking at the ladies heart strings at the same time… SPOCK baby! Spock is the man! So… if you ask me how I like to learn about stuff (like on the MB test) I might gravitate towards answers that invoke “Spockish” notions. I might SAY I like to collect facts and form logical hypothesis in a clear linear manner… because I WANT to be like Spock right? But in reality, I’m an artsy bohemian who learns mostly by trial and error! I learn not logically, but experientially. I don’t SAY that… because that makes me sound like a dirty hippy. But I hate hippys! I will put answers that make me think of Spock… Honesty to self not withstanding… I think MB measures how we WANT to learn more than how we ACTUALLY learn. Who we want to be more than who we actually are.

      Somebody once said that we are what we pretend to be, so we must be very careful what we pretend to be. Well… I can pretend to be Spock all day long, but in the end, I have more in common with that grubby hippy! Kiss my ass MB!

      Oh, and… Montgomery Scott is by far, the best officer in that whole psycho crew!

      Like

      1. I forgot…

        I want to be Spock… But I am the dirty Hippy…But Myers-Briggs makes me look like Spock… I end up working in R&D…but I should work in Human Resources…

        Like

      2. I had never seen that video before… and it has changed me. I’m a better person now. Thank you. I mean, I’ve seen the unfortunate music video, but never the splicing into classic Trek. I almost wept. The power, the raw emotion… what can one say but MATANGO!

        Like

      3. T’was luck that I stumbled upon that splice. Was just searching for one with good audio/video resolution.

        As an aside, during some customer relations training I took way back when, we actually learned a stripped down, 4-quadrant version of the MB. Don’t remember the name, but it was really useful in application. It was split by “Objective Driven vs. Relationship Driven” and “Expressive vs. Reserved”. The purpose was to help tailor your communication and conversations to your customer audience… And that if you use the communication style for that person’s opposite quadrant, it would drive them bat-sh!T-crazy (Social Expressives can be like nails on a chalkboard for the Objective Reserved).

        Like

    2. That’s definitely true, I need need only take myself as an example. I’m definitely more inclined to comment when I disagree than when I don’t (as long as I care about the subject). Depends on the article, but sometimes just posting in agreement feels redundant, when there’s nothing to be added or expanded. To take your contest article as an example, I had nothing relevant to add there. All your ideas were on point and it touched all the bases as far as I’m concerned, so there was nothing to be said there except Npu!… and I don’t really feel like posting just for the sake of posting. Of course, there’s also articles like the brickworld one where I completely lack the experience to have anything to say.

      Like

  5. Interesting article, no doubt, and I can see my mini figure article is becoming a hot point of discussion on here already.

    So, I think I should note, debate isn’t about convincing your opponent (in my case, the majority of the comments section of that article) but rather, to convince an audience, and start a discussion. Making someone change their minds about a position is an argument, plain and simple. It’s an important distinction, and one that explains why my article was written, why I commented, and why I’m not sure some of the commenters really understood the spirit of that piece.

    My position on the mini figure was never set in stone or as negative as the comment section made it out to be. Any over exaggerated claims against the little figure were like foot/hand holds on a rock wall, points for people to clamber onto while formulating their own opinions. My comments were attempts to clarify my position, and offer the reasoning people who dislike the mini figure might have.

    Now, the full broadsides I received from the comment section didn’t exactly scare or phase me. (I mean c’mon, I build battleships!) That worked into my point of creating a discussion. What does worry me is the fact that some people refused to concede any points that were held in agreement. Those points of consensus give us foundation, a bedrock, to start a discussion on. If you look back at the comments, I tried to make it clear that I was in agreement on quite a few points brought up by the comments. My impression from some of the discussion, however, did seem to follow an almost “gotcha” type of argument that ignored the fact that I was, in many areas, on their side.

    Consensus is just awkward. I mean how do you get a discussion if everyone agrees to exactly the same thing? At the same time, I think some basic consensus can serve a the foundation for any number of debates, a point I will try and make more obvious with my next debate article. So lock and load fellas, I’m coming after yah.

    Like

    1. What complicated things was that mine and many other critiques of that article were two-pronged:

      1.) We disagreed with your position, at least in some capacity. As you said, some of us could have made it clearer where we did agree.

      2.) We found your defense of that position vague and inconsistent. Your point seemed to be about the community at large and yet all your examples were from official product. You later clarified that the product was having an effect on the community, but that still begged the question of what effect and where. You gave no examples to back your position on supposed trends in hobbyist builds. Then, as Mike pointed out above, you changed your definitions mid-argument. Never a good sign.

      It may have seemed like people weren’t listening or trying to dogpile you, and that may be true to some extent on point 1. But I think many of us were so distracted by point 2 that we didn’t think to acknowledge any consensus. I appreciate that your article led to some good discussion and arguments from others, but I think you need to present your thesis and discussion points better next time. For a while there I was just trying to figure out what your position/argument/point even was.

      Like

  6. Yep.
    You make a good point about debate. Persuading an audience or a judge, and not necessarily the person against whom you are debating. But it’s also a slippery distinction in this particular forum, because the audience (more or less the judge) are also your adversary… for a moment. Then they are the audience again. We keep jumping in and out of different roles. El Manifesto is a far more dynamic environment than traditional academic or legal debate (Its a bit like a court room full of monkeys with robs and gavels actually!)

    “a point I will try and make more obvious with my next debate article.”

    Spoken like a true fighter.

    “Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant”

    Argue!

    Like

  7. As others have said (dammit!) we need to be wary of pure contrarianism as well. I think the main tenant to be encouraged so that things don’t go to shit one way or the other is simple honesty. Say what you mean and mean what you say. This includes being honest with yourself and how differing views should influence your own. Our culture (lofty word, I know) of constructive criticism is already an excellent reinforcer of honesty, with FNF as a weekly test.

    Everyone here is eating right and exercising, but knowing the dangers of laziness is equally important. The blog is what we make of it, so let’s make it a good one.

    Like

  8. I think the uniqueness of this forum will prevent blind consensus not only by the reasons Mike gave and that Keith runs this place openly, but also for the fact that most of us are dissidents at heart. That’s not a good thing, it’s a great thing! We’re allowed to be such because in here it is purely opinion of which each of us truly respects. Even in disagreement, the critique culture we’re trying to cultivate cannot allow us to really gang up or rally troops. I think that it is due to the fact that Mike’s article pointing out what Groupthink is has hit each of us to some extent already. LUGs tend to venture in this direction, some more than others, and some so fitting of that definition that it’s fucking frightening, textbook even (yeah, you know which one I’m talking about.)

    I think another reason is that the articles here are not vanilla. The FFEs for sure, but even the FNFs and TfTs. The focus isn’t to be mean, although we certainly can be, but it is more to crack the whip. This culture is unique to history, we have a responsibility to make it stay. If people want to be a part of this community, THEY have a responsibility to grow a thicker skin. If not, you end up with TBB and Mocpages just barfing out product placements and clones on plates. There is only information; there’s no engagement, there’s no conversation. Frank Zappa gave the world a saying that has become an immutable belief of mine, it helps my focus on being critical and avoiding blind consensus. He said, “Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, wisdom is not truth, truth is not beauty, beauty is not love, love is not music, music is the best.”

    We may be a religion/cult of Lego, we also commune in large congregations, and we definitely have sects and branches devoted to specific dogma, there are even secret societies promoting doctrine; however, we are not a church. Our tastes are allowed to change from space to train to castle, whatever; that makes them ideas rather than beliefs. And that is what gives us the power to expand information all the way into music. The Manifesto recognizes the whole culture and applauds the cultures-of-one that have a voice. The ones that don’t speak are merely silent, not quiet. For the most part, we are introverts, the best way to make us speak is to make us disagree. And if we disagree, that is proof that we are thinking. Dissent is healthy. We not only have “dark ages” to deal with, but also a Renaissance with forums like this; and it is that dissent that brings the age of reason. We are not reaching for pitchforks and torches looking for heretics; we are systematically dissecting ourselves through well written discourse. Science!

    Like

  9. There is only information; there’s no engagement, there’s no conversation.

    Im toying with an FFE about how commercialized our communication behaviors have become, but I’m torn.

    I like to talk about communication. But it’s a universal topic. Like ethics, or safety. Communication is a topic that is manifest in almost every context imaginable, and Im beginning to feel like my focus is drifting farther away from the reason this blog exists: to talk about AFOL stuff (not universal stuff).

    Maybe I’ll do thumbnail sketches of some other popular AFOL sites instead. Focusing not on evaluation, but detailed description of the differences in focus.

    But my original point was that yes, many sites offer information only. That’s not a bad thing. Not really. It’s just their reason for existing. Who goes to Burger King to “discuss” nutrition? Dorks, that’s who! Your supposed to go there to buy food and eat. You could go there to discuss nutrition, but it’s not really the best place for that. And, you’d be in other patrons way. They went there to buy food and eat after all.

    I go there for their new Bacon King burger and a shake!

    My mind is wandering. 11:34hrs. Coming up on lunch time…

    Like

    1. Information itself isn’t a bad thing, but neither is water until you’re under it long enough. We’ve been entrenched with an avalanche of info that we can no longer discern what is actually relevant. Just read any blog out there; they’re informative, but can you say that they’re anything else? Opinions are squashed and relegated to the comment section that NO one ever reads. THERE anyways. Here, the articles are healthy catalysts; what follows is the real meat and potatoes. Just because “conversation” is a universal topic doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth the effort. Sunsets are cliche, but we still look in awe at them. Because we’ve discussed a topic for ages only means that it is still relevant. In the FOL community as much as any universal one. Or even Burger King. The conversations that we’ve been having are the same ones that every artistic commune has had since the beginning of time. There is absolutely nothing bad about discourse unless it amounts to consensus, that is when the question is dubious or the metrics are off. Preaching to the choir only bolsters dogma, quantity over quality, the loudest voice proclaiming king for a day. Erase the king, erase the choir, erase the dogma; what you’re left with is the question. And sometimes the answer is irrelevant.

      Like

  10. BTW – If the record store in “Hi Fidelity” isn’t the perfect metaphor for “The Manifesto”, I don’t know what is. The MOC’s are our Music… I’ll let Keith determine who of his store clerks are Barry and Dick…

    Like

    1. That dialogue is alarming. I can’t win. I feel like the bald guy… I feel like Jack Black… I don’t want to be either… Keith really IS the record store owner… shit, can I go back to being the grubby hippy from the Spock clip?

      Dam you sir! Dam you!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s