Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Let's Find a Reason It Can't Work

The Internet is hard on ideas. It's hard on people who express ideas. OK maybe I mean people who participate in conversations (and rants and flame  wars and stuff like that) on the Internet are hard on ideas. And it is not enough that they don't like something - everyone must dislike it. If the idea doesn't work for them it should be destroyed completely least it find a foot hold with people it does work for. Internet forbid that other people's needs/wants/desires should be met.

OK now you're wondering what I am talking about. Let's take an example from current events. Have you been following the discussion about Amazon's Kindle - electronic book reader? (Take a look at some of the comments over on Scoble's blog here and here or this review that makes the Kindle look like the second coming of 1984) The venom that is coming out is amazing.

Now I can see problems with the device (I'd like to be able to give away a copy of a book when I am done with it for example) but I also see opportunities (I talk about some educational possibilities in my other blog) as well. Its a version one product after all so there are bound to be issues that need work and things that will change and even unexpected consequences that will have to be dealt with. But are flame wars the best way to respond? Apparently on the Internet they are.

My wife doesn't like the idea of the Kindle BTW. She loves here books in paper. And that is fine - no one is going to stop printing books anytime soon and they probably never will. But shouldn't people have alternatives? Shouldn't there be more than one way to read a book? Well not on the Internet apparently.

On the Internet if someone disagrees with out they are not just wrong, misunderstanding or someone with different needs. On the Internet someone who disagrees with you is either an idiot or evil. The last time I attracted the critical eye of a big name blogger his fans called for my firing because anyone with my opinions was obviously too stupid to hold a job. Yeah that convinced me I was wrong.

What is it about the Internet that makes flame wars, insults and over the top arguments so attractive? Is it the pseudo anonymity? Is it the lack of physical connection? Or is it just that so many people are able to jump in on your side that starts an avalanche of negativity? Probably a combination of things I guess.

But it doesn't have to be that way. People could jump into a discussion and add positive comments, make suggestions for improvement perhaps even find common ground that relationships and improvements can be built upon. That seems to take more work though. Sometimes you have to look a little harder to find the good things in products, companies, ideas, and people who initially turn you off. You have to think about things. You have to make an effort. Jumping up and down on an idea and calling people evil idiots is just so easy.

If an idea survives all this then it goes on to great success I suppose but I worry that a lot of ideas with potential never get the chance to be fine tuned and improved but are killed in the early stages of life. Sigh.

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