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Posts Tagged ‘critique’

“Getting the story out first” often means what you’re getting is improperly researched half-truths. Take the swine-flu for example: Every day the news stories I watched and read would contradict their own announcements the day before, the media built up its own hype until it got to the point that the only real news left was the fact that the media had over-hyped it all. Like no one saw that coming. In a culture where everyone seems to have a blog, “getting the news first” has become a near impossible goal for any internet outfit. And, dare I say, a less admired one: I’d rather hear the story an hour or so later than everyone else if it goes towards making sure that what I read is accurate (and well-written would be nice too!).

It seems to me that the long-term successful online blogs and publications are going to be the ones which have integrity and researchers – ones which employ people to do more than “type fast”. As Twitter and Plurk grow in popularity (though from what I’ve read recently the retainment rate is hardly stellar), news has become anyone’s game. People seem to spend more time reporting life than living it lately, so it’s not a pleasant trend to watch, and not one I’m keen on joining in: Blogging is as far as I go on the “wow I just blew my nose” minute by minute reporting of existence.

It all reminds me of this extract from an item I referenced a while back, called Why Facebook is Just Plain Wrong: “Devaluing friendship aside, Facebook also encourages an unhealthy culture of voyeurism and laziness. Sitting in a restaurant recently I overheard a table of Gen Y’s talking about what a great night they were having. Several chirped up to say “we should like totally Facebook this!”. Thankfully sanity prevailed as one sensible soul said “how about we experience it for real?”.”

Social critique aside, it is happening, and is effecting people who report news for a living. I can hear you complaining that surely it’s not effecting the professional news outfits, I must be extrapolating too much from comparing the quality and depth of research of your everyday blogger to professional news outfits… Hmm, how about you go read this first. It’s about how one guy used Wikipedia to fool some major news agencies, and he didn’t have to try particularly hard either. My husband has been telling his students off for using Wikipedia to do their university research for a good few years now, I’ve told him to use that story as a warning about the importance of proper sourcing. Maybe the journalists need to go back to journalism school for a refresher course too.

So this is where we end up: Magazines and newspapers have been struggling to compete with a world of news-now online media. But they shouldn’t be trying to; they should be finding their own niche in reporting with fully researched facts, with integrity, and with talented writers. In a way that sets them apart from us everyday bloggers. Similarly though, online news outfits who do it for a living are going to have to think beyond the “we got there first” mentality. Sure you need to be speedy with your news, but if it takes a little longer to get it out because you had to talk directly to the effected parties first hand, or had to confirm your sources, and (gasp) check your spelling, then isn’t it worth the delay? It’s also very important to know whether what you’re saying is fact, or opinion. Because claiming opinion to be fact not only makes you look unreliable, it also exposes you to defamation suits. And those aren’t fun, for anyone involved.

Like I said in a previous post, in a world where it is becoming easier to contact famous people who do famous stuff – especially in our own field of Second Life where we’re all just an IM or notecard away – there are fewer reasons for bad reporting, and resorting to the “he-said, she-said” that still seems so popular. If people won’t look into matters themselves though, or at least be willing to admit that they haven’t done their research, it leaves it up to us the readers to point out that we expect more. At the very least, it is up to us not to perpetuate the short-comings of others by piling on our own opinions of things that never actually happened (or happened in such a different way than reported, that it as good as never happened). There will always be a market for that tabloid style of reporting, but it’s not one I’m interested in. And I only hope those who insist on following it, know what they’re encouraging and how foolish and nasty it will make them look when they treat what those outfits say as if it was truth.

Life’s too short to read crap.

Hopefully, incidents like the Wikipedia one I linked to above, will sink into public knowledge. And we all get a little wiser for it.

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I spend more time on Flickr, dealing with my SL art, than I actually spend in SL. So to some extent, the things that happen and get said in Flickr matter just as much to me as what happens in my SL life.

Recently a friend from SL joined Flickr and started looking through my pictures. He favourited some, which is great and puts me in my happy-place. And he commented and put notes on some about things he liked or found humourous in them, which is also in the “yayness” category. But. He also critiqued a rather large number of my works. By “critique” I mean he added notes to them about things he’d have done differently, and comments about what I’ve done wrong. Such as that I should have used the thirds rule, I should have cloned, removed certain parts of the image, and so on.

Now he meant well, I don’t doubt that. But it was the wrong place to do it, misguided, and arguably cruel. And I want to explain why, because having spoken to a friend about this, apparently my view on the matter is highly contentious.

First off: “The wrong place to do it”. If you want to critique an artwork on Flickr, and the person who’s done the art has not expressly asked for or hinted at wanted critique, then the polite place to do it is via private Flickr mail rather than publically under or (even worse) on the art itself. I’ve been told by another friend that Koinup provides an option you can select to say you want your work reviewed, to me that sounds like a sensible solution.

Secondly: “Misguided”. My art is a constant progression. Early on all I did was take a picture and post it – no editting. As time went by I started using the inbuilt Picnic program in Flickr to edit my pictures. Eventually (much later) I started using Gimp (which is like Photoshop, but free). Even though I now use Gimp and heavily edit my pictures, there is still a lot I do not know and am constantly learning about the art of picture manipulation. Now, to look at my earlier works and say I should clone certain areas and make various other technical changes, when back then I didn’t have the skills or knowledge, and indeed the pictures are up for me to look back and realise how far I’ve come, is for the commenter to miss the point. There’s a further consideration here as well about commenting on pictures when that person wasn’t there when the picture was taken – it’s very easy to look at someone’s picture then freely comment, but they are unaware of issues like prims and other people in the shot that you’re trying to exclude when you took the shot, so “I would have done x” is not the most helpful or informed stance for a great many pictures taken in SL.

And finally: “Cruel”. For me, my SL art (as I’ve said many times to many people in many places), is my outlet. It is a very important way in which I voice unspoken emotions and unburden my stresses, it has a vital calming and relaxing influence in my life. Often my SL art is a very personal and heart-felt out-pouring. Not all of it, but definitely a chunk of it. So when someone decides to tell me how I should have done my “out-pouring” differently, and adds a bunch of notes on top of it about where I’ve gone wrong, it – quite frankly – feels invasive and like an attack on my emotions and my expression of myself.

There is some art that I want people to openly critique, but I actually ask them to and in pictures that are set private for them and me only to view. I am constantly upgrading my picture skills through tutorials and experimentation, so I don’t actually need or want the average person coming along and telling me what to change, I’m already working on it, and each picture is just a record of that progression, not a claim at perfection.

The briefest of looks through other people’s comments on my and other art-works would have made clear to this person that people don’t use the comments or notes to “fix” other people’s work, but (as a general rule)to say rather if they admire it and what about it they liked, if anything.

It’s all comparative to using the comments section in this blog to “fix” my spelling and grammar. Would you do that..?

There, rant over. You may return to your usual programming.

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