Ommmm, Ommmm: Pundit Zen

November 21, 2021

I read “How Twitter Got Research Right.” Okay, Twitter. Short messages. Loved by a comparatively modest coterie of Left and Right Coasters. Followers. Blue. Management hate from the rock star professor Scott (buy my book and invest in Shopify) Galloway. Okay, Casey Newton. Verge-tastic. Silicon Valley savvy. Independent journalist. Budding superstar with Oprah’s staff checking him out.

The write up explains “got right” as a fine expression of business savvy. The write up offered this observation:

Twitter hosted an open competition to find bias in its photo-cropping algorithms.

I think I failed a college class because I was unable to find a suitable definition for the concept “mea culpa.” I think the instructor was unhappy with my one word research paper which pivoted on the acronym PR. I was supposed to write down something like a person or entity says something that is one’s fault. (See, I am writing in a gender neutral way.” Ommmmm. Ommmmm.

In the shadow of this “real news” Silicon Valley essay, I think the proper term is apologia. As I recall from another course in which I wallowed in academic desperation, an apologia means “speaking in defense.” I wonder if I ever finished reading Plato’s Apology.

Somewhere in my lousy college education I learned about the dialectic or motive force of an action that creates a thought or reaction. The subsequent events go off the rails, and the actors do the explaining away thing.

What’s up in the Twitter mea culpa / apologia event is that social media have been quite significant in several ways: Amplification of certain information and providing a free, unfettered mechanism to whip up frenzy. (Some examples come to mind, but I shall refrain from writing their names because stop word lists….

To sum up: Quite a rhetorical tour de force, and I don’t buy into the Twitter is trying to do good despite the got right assurance. Ommmmm. Ommmmm. That’s the sound of regulators calming themselves before actually regulating.

Stephen E Arnold, November 22, 2021


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