Sometimes The Medium Is Indeed The Massage

March 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

By Gene Linetsky

…The book itself is 160 pages in length and composed in an experimental, collage style with text superimposed on visual elements and vice versa. Some pages are printed backwards and are meant to be read in a mirror. Some are intentionally left blank. Most contain photographs and images both modern and historic, juxtaposed in startling ways...
The Medium Is the Massage (from Wikipedia)

To be influential, a text doesn’t need to be coherent, well-written, grammatically correct, or even fully comprehensible. The recent post by a Quora newcomer (referenced here earlier) is one example. The US Constitution is another. Pretty much any religious text would be in that category, too.

The original is arguably TL;DR. But its voice captures the raw emotions — and perhaps confusions — that must be shared by many recent Quorans.

Here’s my attempt to condense it, paragraph by paragraph. How many of these statements can you honestly disagree with?

P1. Quora is founded by a notable guy, has an entry in Wikipedia, and is hyped as a big deal.
P2. I am an assistant professor of social media and feel that I represent a large group of new users.
P3. Quora is not a repository of knowledge. Rather, it’s a smug elitist’s self-promotional playground.
P4. This turns me off.
P5. Robert Scoble changed his opinion on Quora from positive to negative, which prompted a retort from Dan Kaplan, which means that Quora is full of contradictions.
P6. Quora opened the floodgates, got scared of people bringing in their massive followings, and closed them.
P7. Quora early adopters don’t like Quora newcomers. Not wise.
P8. Quora admins screwed up. They and the early adopters weren’t prepared for the newcomers.
P9. Quora moderation methodology feels like snubbing.
P10. My own initial experience on Quora was not good.
P11. Wit is exalted, humor is discouraged.
P12. I like humor better.
P13. PeopleRank doesn’t seem to account for irony, wit, or humor. And the overemphasis on grammar is unfortunate.
P14. Elitism is the enemy of personality and community-building.
P15. Lengthy answers are encouraged, yet isn’t brevity a virtue?
P16. Quora’s ranking algorithms are suspect.
P17. Editing should be more about substance and less about form.
P18. Editing on Quora seems to be inconsistent and there’s no commonly accepted style guide.
P19. Molly McHugh has something to say about Quora vis-a-vis social media insiders.
P20. There are notables, principals, professionals, and other educated and accomplished people on Quora, but mostly it’s all about technology.
P21. “Social media” is not well appreciated.
P22. Quora is similar to other social media platforms but surpasses their limits.
P23. Quora is closer to Wikipedia than Facebook or Twitter.
P24. Quora is too young to be an alternative to Wikipedia, and with its current attitude toward newcomers, it will have a hard time.
P25. I overcame my first impressions and stayed.
P26. My students feel that they are not eloquent enough for Quora.
P27. There are many choices in new media. Quora is just too much work.
P28. I wish more Quorans were like Marc Bodnick. He told me that the Quora Review is not affiliated with Quora. Yishan Wong ignored my messages. I thought that the Quora Review is the public forum of Quora and expected that my contribution to the democratic debate would be of interest.

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