I had difficulty at first during class and at the talk connecting with Nori’s discussion. It felt very spread and vague, oscillating between his internet activities in Beppoo, his experiences in Iraq, and the “festival” style attacks he was the subjected to. It also seems like Nori hasn’t quite yet come to terms with his experience to the point of providing some of the academic commentary that we were prepared to work with. On the other hand, I think this could also be because he does not want to essentialize his experience in what has become an immensely political issue; he brings up a lot of issues in his writing, but I feel like its the nature of these particular discourses that they can all too easily become polarized. In any case, sitting in the lecture, I couldn’t figure out how to approach him.
To say that the information he left us with was superficial — yes, that was certainly partly the case, but did I expect an authoritative Iraq analysis or a damning report on internet conditions in Japan? Those things become problematic as well. Rather, Nori is certainly a resource with incredible experiences, both as a young person, an internet producer and someone who has unique experiences of Iraq, but he had no definitive message to communicate to us. However, on reflection, I don’t think this was a bad thing. For me, at least, it really highlighted the challenge it is for social scientists to make use of others’ experiential knowledge.
I did get one question off my chest in the lecture, but it wasn’t very well stated. I wondered how Nori, as someone with first-hand experience of (maybe justifiable) violence in Iraq, and who has gone through internet castigation at home, brings his experience to bear when building his portal site. Obviously, he was very excited about creating a site that expressed the locality of Beppoo, but we didn’t get a very good idea from his lecture, I think, of what this site aims to accomplish or how. And that’s not something I expect him to know, either. The ways that internet communities work are especially difficult to understand for their creators, I think, and it is the nature of a portal site that one will be forced to work at supplying certain of the consumer’s expectations; that sort of design has a proven method, and content becomes the main differentiating factor. But still, it seems to me that his experience should find its expression in the way he chooses to build online community. I didn’t want to bring up the issue of “moderating” boards, because it seems to me that there should be better ways to address the issue. One may censor statements, and one may censor people, but it seems to me that neither of those things have an entirely good result. Certainly, Nori seems to believe, and I tend to agree that, the promise of internet freedom is one of free expression, I just wonder how community can be built to help people from feeling they need or want to be so critical and abusive online.
I’m going to wrap up, although there’s much more to muse about, because I’m already a day late. Oops.