Hey, gang, sorry I’ve been neglecting the blog this weekend, but I’ve been off at Skeptech, and this has been a very busy conference…maybe a little too busy. The roster of talks and panels started at 9am, and Friday and Saturday they went on until 10pm, and it was maybe a little too densely packed for my taste…especially since there were all these interesting people to talk to. And then they’ve all been such interesting subjects as well…
One particularly interesting technological development was that there were two screens at the front of the room: one big one for the presenter to use, and a smaller one on which a twitter wall was displayed — all the silent conversations using the “#skeptech” hashtag were continuously displayed, which meant there was a constant flow of commentary from the audience sharing the stage with the speaker. It was rather cool — I’d like to see more of it at more conferences. It certainly made that hashtag explode with content.
It could also be abused, unfortunately. We seem to have a dedicated corps of fringe jerks who like to poison conversations they aren’t participating in. The same idiot anti-feminist/pro-harassment nonsense was going on with trolls on the #AACon13 hashtag, and we got some of that here, too. Two factors prevented it from being a big problem, though: one was the sheer volume of twitter comments from legitimate, involved attendees swamped out the trolls. Another (and it’s too bad no one used it as an example in the panel on anonymity and censorship) was that the displayed twitter wall used the Tweetdeck application, which includes a global filter option. Ha ha: all the slime trying to whine about harassment policies and throwing shit at various attendees didn’t appear on screen.
I just think all the “brave heroes” of the troglodyte faction ought to know that. Their activities are doing a fabulous job of further alienating themselves from the people who are actually active in atheism and skepticism.
By the way, I also have to tell JT Eberhard something. One of the points he made in his Hacktivism talk was that there is no such thing as a bad idea, and contrarian that I am, I immediately thought of lots of counter-examples. Burning churches, for instance, would be a bad idea if your goal is promoting secularism. But another bad idea is spamming conference hashtags with bile and noise, just because you can. Especially since, no matter what your cause, you’ll be perceived as damage and the tech will route itself around you.