CONvergence: Rebecca Watson ruins everything

I noticed something shortly after the very well-received Don’t Feed the Trolls panel at CONvergence’s SkepchickCON, once ZOMGItsCriss posted the video. People who otherwise have never seen the level of anti-Watson hatred that her mere existence incurs, were surprised and angered by the fact that the comments on Criss’ video largely ignored the fact that there were five other panelists present. As such, Watson only comprised a smallish fraction of the discussion — and yet, some folks’ comments ran along the line of “why would I listen to That Skepchick bitch whine hysterically about nothing for an hour? She should get raped so she loosens up, the prude whore.” (This is, of course, a composite of real comments on that video. Edit: For skeptics of this exceptional claim, like “…” in the comments, click this to see a Youtube comment that’s very, VERY similar.)

That sort of shit was exactly our point, and it appears to have catalyzed at least one bystander to radicalize against that sort of trolling.

The last night I spent in Minneapolis, Skepchick Kammy held a barbecue at her place for the participants of the SkepchickCON track. At one point, Kammy’s son pressganged his parents into moving the attendees into their driveway so they could set off the remainder of the fireworks (left over from the celebration a few days prior, when Minnesotans celebrate Three Days After Canada Day in a sweet, but odd, gesture to your neighbors to the north). We pulled our chairs out from their back yard and set them up to watch the firework display, and I found myself setting my chair up near enough to Watson to pronounce loudly:

“Well, I was really looking forward to seeing this firework display, but now that I’m stuck here next to Rebecca Watson, it’s just ruined for me. I mean, who wants to listen to her sit quietly for an hour?”
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Jay Smooth on feeding trolls

This actually makes an excellent companion piece to our Don’t Feed the Trolls panel in the SkepchickCON track at CONvergence.

Ill Doctrine: Why I Will Feed The Trolls If I Damn Well Want To from ANIMALNewYork.com on Vimeo.

At Jay Smooth’s blog, he adds a few salient words:

One of the main reasons “Don’t Feed the Trolls” falls short as a universal pat answer is that it assumes one’s only possible goal in speaking up would be to induce a change of heart in the individuals doing the trolling. Many of the stories people have shared in response to this video illustrated how speaking up can be a net positive for your community as a whole, regardless of whether it inspires some epiphany in the trolls themselves. Gauging the usefulness of speaking out strictly by tracking whether a miraculous troll epiphany occurs is often missing the point IMO.

It’s almost like he knew the ins and outs of our specific fight! So uncanny!

Feeding the trolls almost never happens in isolation — if it’s a single person attacking you singly, you simply ignore that person and move on. But these attacks are often public, and include “pig-fucker” charges (by which I mean, charges designed to force you to rebut, rather than because they’re actually true) that the public gets to see.

Sometimes you need to counter spurious argumentation, to put that argument’s metaphorical head on a metaphorical pike to show others exactly how it fails and why you shouldn’t use those lines of argumentation in the future. It’s almost never about changing the troll’s mind, because their mind was often made up long before they ever deigned fit to visit your post; countering trolls is for the benefit of those who come afterward.

Coles Notes and alt audio for Don’t Feed the Trolls

Matt Lowry was so kind as to post his notes on the Don’t Feed the Trolls panel, which while it’s not a full transcript, certainly pulls out a lot of the relevant details.

In Canada, you call that a “Coles Notes”, after the Coles bookstore from whence these synopsis books come. I hear in America, the same idea is called CliffsNotes. I like Coles Notes way better, not the least reason being the unpretentious space included between the two words.

I’ve also done an alternate audio recording from the panel, so if you’re interested in the original take by Cristina Rad’s friend which is uploaded to Youtube presently, but don’t have the tech to hit Youtube at the moment, or just want to grab the mp3 for posterity, you can use this podcast doodlybopper like what I done used for the other two panels.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Also, here’s the mp3 link (20 megs) if you’d like to download it for later listening. Again, lose the -lr if you want a 128kbps version that doesn’t add much in the way of lost audio.

Don’t forget to visit Cristina’s original at her blog in case the ridiculousness in the Youtube comments didn’t do it for you with regard to rampant trolling and misogyny.

CONvergence: Growing Up Online

The second of my three panels from SkepchickCON at CONvergence. I grew up online and was probably in the first generation that would have had the opportunity to spend all of my formative years on the internet (if you include that hairy period where the “internet” was a series of BBSs and the connections you made were over 300-baud modems).

This panel discusses the difference between “online” and “meatspace”, e.g. that there is no real difference, just that “online” is a sort of shadow-culture that evolves in parallel with “meatspace”. We also discuss flame wars and their genesis, which Stephanie posts about in greater detail.
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CONvergence: Doctor Who fan repairs his timeline

I’m going to try to write about a few of the thousands of little interactions I had while attending the SkepchickCON science/skepticism track at Minnesota’s annual CONvergence — the continent’s largest entirely fan-run sci-fi/fantasy/fandom convention. This year’s convention had just shy of six thousand attendees, and practically every panel in the Skepchick track, in convention rooms that seated ~125-150, was packed and in many cases standing-room-only.

During a convention of this size, you overhear lots of conversations about lots of different things, most mundane, but some truly interesting. During a group lunch, I learned the tale of a man who, eighteen years ago, missed a chance to meet Sophie Aldred — Ace, one of the Doctor Who companions of the 7th Doctor. He had gotten an aluminum baseball bat of the same style as Ace’s signature, and though he had it at a convention where Aldred was doing signings, was too shy to ask.
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My CONvergence schedule

I’m on three panels at CONvergence this weekend, in the Science/Skepticism track. I have no idea what panels I’ll be attending outside of these three, which I have to attend by virtue of having a spot on them. So this is all I can confirm right now.

*record scratch*

Wait, I’m on panels!?! WTF!!!
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Vacation! Blog entering low-power mode now.

While I’ve spent other work vacations claiming to put the blog in low power mode, but still managing to keep blogging at my usual rate, there’s a good possibility that for the next two weeks my blogging activities will be significantly curtailed by all the preparation and socializing that accompanies attending CONvergence.

I am very likely presently in the air on my way to Minnesota right now, assuming nothing untoward has happened (planes delayed, pilots being Raptured away mid-flight, etc). I might have a thing or two to write while I’m in the air, but I also plan to try to finally read the beta copy of Kelly McCullough’s new book so I can tell him in person what I thought of it. Yeah, the harassment fight has been keeping me from other duties. I suspect he wouldn’t mind though, considering the nature of this all-consuming conflagration, and the frequency with which he attends conventions.

I will, as usual, attempt to keep some interesting stuff pumping into my blog, but the chances of hosting a knock-down-drag-out fight over some piece of my personal philosophy is significantly lower as a result of all the time I plan on spending catching up with friends and making new ones.

Once in Minnesota, I understand I have more beers to try. I didn’t quite get through all the beers on offer last time there. I should post my notes on the last set, so I clear my “beers I’ve tried and haven’t yet blogged about” queue. I’ll also probably rely pretty heavily on working my way through some of the blog fodder backlog from links people have been sending me. But all that aside, it’s well possible I may not pay as close attention to the blogosphere as I have recently. If you need me for something, those of you who really matter already know how to get a hold of me.

And if anyone needs to pass along hugs to Stephanie Zvan, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Yay vacation!!