Saturday, April 25, 2015

iDUBBY: How to Handle Trolls in Social Media

I found this picture on the web and it captures the spirit of trolling: an ugly cuss who quite enjoys vile, who will use the politics of personal destruction early and often even when the topic is abstract and there are no personal issues in play. They collect information, twist it and then in short quick bursts piss in the punchbowl.

I call this fellow iDUBBY to remember how one handles him. With most social media platforms such as Facebook, there is an order of operations that will get rid of iDUBBYs when they invade your space.

  • i - ignore: Ignoring them is the first operation because you need to establish if they are a troll or if someone is just getting online before they have their coffee. Everyone farts as Benjamin Franklin said and ignoring it is better than a conversation on that topic. Unless you are very funny but then you might start a round of counterfarts.
  • D - Delete: Do this because you don't want a counterfart conversation and you don't want the comment in your post. Some think it rude so don't be oversensitive either. Simply being offtopic is not really a delete offense. Guide them back to the conversation unless they persist.
  • U - Unfriend: If you establish to your satisfaction this is a troll or someone who goes personal when uncalled for or is repeatedly making things smelly, you should uninvite them to the party. Now this is the first really truly personal move you make that cannot go unnoticed. Also some people bring out the troll in you. It may be family, a friend, but the fact is something in the relationship doesn't work online for you or for them and it is best if you don't talk in public. Remember that unfriending doesn't stop them from seeing posts you make as Public posts. They can search for your name on Google and the posts will be there. They can still message you so if you want to converse one on one, it is still possible. So think of it as the good fences make good neighbors policy. It may not be personal; just smart networking.
  • B - Block: Blocking is the nuclear option. When you put someone on a block list you are stuffing them into the negative space of the social coordinates. You not only don't want to chat, you don't want messages that unfriending still permits. You don't want them to see your posts on other pages. You don't want to hear them inhale a breath. Blocking is death for the dead as the movie spook said. Use this sparingly if ever and if you find you are creating a long blocking list you may wish to take a long look at yourself in the social mirror to see if you are attracting trolls. Blocking is for exes who refuse to let go or real enemies who hate your sock collection. This is for the boss who spies on you or the co-worker who collects dirt. Sad but so, this doesn't always work because people acquire false name accounts and then whatever you post publicly is still there for them or you friend them again. A careful consistent use of the filtering options on Facebook, for example, is the best strategy for handling conversations. If you don't want it on the five o'clock news, don't say it. If it is sensitive, keep it among close friends. If you want to start the fight, go public and put up your Mortimer and Randolph.
  • B - Boot: Booting is after a block. You go through previous conversations, blogs, etc., and delete every comment, post or fart the troll or you ever made to each other. In other words you de-reference them so that search engines won't assume a relationship. It is drastic and tedious to boot someone. Sometimes the person you want to boot is you.
  • Y - Yell: Ask for help by reporting them to the site administrator. Most social apps have dialogs for doing this. Try to limit yelling for cases where a person goes so far over the line from being a troll to threats of violence, etc. Don't hesitate to do it but don't use it for punitive measures or politics. Then you will become the troll.
  • Social media implies a responsibility to preserve your own reputation even if it means shutting up. It also implies a responsibility to be smart and non-reactive. Again, sometimes the person stayed too long at the nachos and dip bowl and then failed to slip outside for a smoke before moving on to the anchovies. Best to tolerate what is not too odoriferous or move next to the band where the noise drowns out the heavy sighs.

    Sunday, April 19, 2015

    To The Guy Who Says Streaming Doesn't Hurt Musicians

    As in every part of the economic culture there is a class war between upper and lower classes. If one is at the top where the money is still good, stuff is curated and served up on platinum platters and the impact of the streaming services is felt as a lifestyle hit. The A-listers want more. They may need more but to be sure they want more.

    Some such as Percy Sledge watched their incomes evaporate not because of streaming but because Sledge's one big hit was recorded before 1972 and copyright law today makes it impossible to collect. So where Michael Bolton got the money (and Percy did not begrudge that because he liked the cover), Sledge got zilch. Nada. Before he died Percy was being taken care of by friends in Muscle Shoals who played help gigs for him. Levon Helm was hurt by streaming and piracy. Once again, the music tribe stepped in to help but it was tough and is still tough for his widow.

    The top tier is trying to organize themselves to compete and having a hard time of it because the image they projected for so long is working against them. It is simply hard to feel sorry for Madonna with her leg on the table trying to look young or a guy who walks on stage wearing a mouse head. They look spoiled and that doesn't make a good case for paying more money for their music if it can be gotten for less from legit but shady streamers. Good luck with Tidal but the zeitgeist is against it.

    In case the impact of losing record sales revenue isn't completely clear, some years ago when working on web standards I debated those who said this was a good thing for music and musicians telling them that in the future the big bands would be the old bands that made it in the seventies and that ticket prices would be $300 a seat. They said it could never happen. The following is a screen snap of an online ticket ordering form for The Eagles courtesy of Michael Buffalo Smith.

    A little depressing, eh? I underestimated by a factor of three.

    At the bottom where the overwhelming vast majority of us operate, the ones the curators refer to as "strictly second rate" and are desperate to curate away, the results are mixed. We have to produce independently, watch our pennies and so folks such as I have to scramble and burn 401ks to bury our parents. We see pirates taking our music and streaming it out of Russia, shrug and move on because we can't fight them. Our best gigs are brew pubs that will pay 75 dollars a man a night because otherwise we are working for tips.

    We can try to punch through the Nashville-We-Only-Work-With-the-Best crowd that turned Chet Atkins' Music City (a generous man) into a ten year town. We are told if we offend the wrong person at any step, we are done in that town. We are told we have to "write only with the right people" and anything we organize locally that helps locals, they send their representatives to take over. ASCAP/BMI/SESAC are johnny on the spot to collect fees even if all the songs are original and unregistered. They threaten small rooms needed to keep the beginners alive. They are the Mafia For the Labels. Reverbnation and YouTube get our music out there and whatever rate we are, we aren't curated into oblivion to satisfy the social warrior agenda of some industry maven who can't play a note but knows what he or she likes and everyone must like what they like or "it isn't good music". Meh.

    For the lower class, these are better times than ever as far as distribution but we won't get paid same as the A-listers.

    No matter what class we are in, artists are the losers. Almost all of the publicity you are reading right now about this is designed to help the major labels who are simultaneously buying up the streaming services, making deals and passing none of that to the artists while also asking for more of their touring income. Talk about gang rape; this is buggering by the bundle.

    Music is a brutal business with hands out everywhere to take money from the artists. If the top tier is feeling our pain down here, well, they at least get to moan and cry in their Escalades drinking expensive vodka and telling us we need each other. That would be nice but I'm not holding my breath. I'm selling my mom's furniture, clothes and cookware for pennies on the pound because the man at the funeral home gives us six months. Not sure what happens after that. I don't think he can return her. Whatever.

    Where money is concerned, we are not all in this together. The haves and have nots of the music business are still pretty much glaring at one another and that won't change. When they beg us to sign their petitions for new laws but can't explain how it helps anyone but the one tenth of one percent at the top, we shrug and go back to fighting each other for the brew pub gigs. As Waylon Jennings once said when criticized for his disregard of Nashville, "Man, I was just trying to survive."

    On the other hand the comp-sci industry and the dumb-asses who think they have a valid opinion in the face of the largest hijacking of cultural wealth in history are most certainly the villains in this piece because at least we are producing something and they are taking and gouging eyes out. Like all class wars at some point the peasants will put pick axes through their skulls metaphorically or otherwise. Those servers out there aren't fortresses. Right now Google, Spotify whoever are protected by the rigged laws of the US of The Big Banks and Bought Senators. But there are third world countries where such laws don't exist and where there is plenty of hungry technical talent. Imagine a sharable app that has only one job: to ping the hell out of every streaming server it can find, an app that can be hosted outside the US, and which for those who are sympathetic can be put on their machines and run in the off hours the same way the SETI app was run.

    Would I write such an app. Heck no. Even if I had the chops, it is war of money on money and anyone in the middle without the money would be phaser fodder by the time the first server goes blue screen. But as an analyst, I think it inevitable that some will. Consider the Richard Clark speech recently where he apologized and confessed the Internet and web applications are a cybercrime wet dream. There is no securing it and certain agencies who insist on putting their biggest secrets on web servers are stupidly manned. And of that, I am certain. But as the kids say, Whatever.

    At some point negotiations break down and all hell breaks loose because the greedy and smarmy fail to understand we may not be in the same classes but we are on the same Internet. And they can be hurt.

    I think the artists will still get fucked because when it gets down to it what the best of them and the rest of them care about is their art. Like Lenny Breau they aren't good at taking care of themselves and can end up at the bottom of a swimming pool strangled by persons unknown but probably their wives because they can't quit and they can't pay the bills.

    And if the streamers and schemers and curators and mental masturbaters don't get that, may the bird of paradise fly up their noses. They suck.

    Respectfully of course. We wouldn't want to offend them. :)

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