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Eric: The razor blade in the masthead just makes the site complete.

A clever name for a website, tying it back into the website's mission, is a difficult thing in today's day and age. I lucked out with "Websnark.com," for example. As I said over the weekend, I assumed someone would already have taken it. However, even as evocative as Websnark is as a name -- and I do appreciate it -- it's somewhat misleading. We're not snide first and critical second, we're critics and editorialists and essayists first and snide second or third at the most.

So, when I ran into Christopher Wright's Eviscerati.org, I was impressed, both at how intensely evocative the title is, and how well it ties back into what he's trying to do.

Wright is rightfully best known for Help Desk, a long standing webcomics gadfly that's been one of the best satires of Microsoft I've run across. Well, Wright is bringing his savage wit and focus to Eviscerati.org, now, and I can see I'm going to be a regular reader. The title is a conflation of the verb "eviscerate" and the neologism digirati, and stands for those cognoscenti who have seen the great golden promise of the web, then seen the execution of that promise by snake oil salesmen and Amazon.com, and grown surly. From his site's mission statement:

So you╠re looking for the soft underbelly of this so-called ¤enlightenedË age, and you╠ve got a very sharp stick. While the white hats are out there finding ways around onerous encryption restrictions, and doing everything they can to defeat the technical impediments to our freedom, you are out there trying to knock down the social ones. I know you guys (and ladies) and I salute you. You are not the digerati █ those shysters, those prophets of a false god called ¤computing.Ë You are the eviscerati, and you will not rest until every stupid idea put forth by corporate stooges, political flaks and self-important twits has been exposed as empty, meaningless drivel. And you╠ll do it in the most painful, scathing, and sarcastic way possible, because you understand that we╠ve been so beaten down by this idiotic culture that the only sensation that will get past our defenses is the sweet mixture of irony and pain.

Shine on, crazy dreamer. Shine on.

I'm vaguely surprised he hasn't elected to slap a Creative Commons license on his work, but that's as may be. Wright knows his subject and knows his philosophy and he's unafraid to be mean when they come in conflict, and that's worth reading right there.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at August 22, 2005 1:28 PM


Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at August 22, 2005 1:38 PM

I'd like to use the CC license in some form, but because I'm using comics from other Keenspotters to head off my articles, I think I need to be careful as to how I set that up...

Comment from: Chris Anthony posted at August 22, 2005 2:48 PM

Apropos of nothing, Eric, I noticed that Trackbacks have been re-enabled for some of your recent posts (three out of four since the Blondie post; the Partially Clips post is missing Trackbacks). Is that deliberate?

Comment from: Ms Saint posted at August 22, 2005 3:01 PM

I just started reading Eviscerati, and I'm enjoying it. It's interesting, his writing style is poignant, and most of it seems to be fairly important to consider. I haven't gotten too far, but there's one thing that's starting to worry me about it: his writing style is too poignant.

I just read http://eviscerati.org/?p=15#more-15 , which is about some really crazy-sounding Free Speech stuff involving Microsoft and, apparently, a lot of other companies. The point is good. The issue deserves plenty of publicity and commentary such as his. The activities he's discussing deserve us to go flailing about, enraged and frustrated, demanding justice... But he undermines himself by doing just that: he sounds as if he's about to go flailing about, enraged and frustrated, demanding justice.

He uses too many bold fonts to make his point -- and anytime extra emphasis is added to a word, there is a core emotional response that goes with it. THAT word is IMPORTANT. There is more FORCE behind the word -- it STANDS OUT and leaves you FEELING ENERGIZED. And so, the use of italics and bold can be very effective and powerful, but it can also remove emphasis from the intellectual, scientific aspect of the piece. Since emphasis is placed on that ONE word, it removes attention from the sentence as a whole and from the rational concepts behind the sentence.

In other words, his use of bold words brings a lot of emotion to a piece, but the use of emotion in a piece undermines its rationality. It makes the piece read more like propaganda than a reasonable consideration, even though that's the exact opposite from what it is.

The emotion is evident in all aspects of his tone. When discussing a counter-argument to his point (that everything he's citing is rather old, in internet terms, and therefore not as important), he says "Oh, I╠m sorry. I hadn╠t realized the computer industry had suddenly developed a conscience and taken it all back." It's a very good point: even though his citations are old, there's nothing indicating a change in behavior or attitude from the parties concerned. But angry sarcasm is a tool used primarily by those who are unwilling to partake in rational discourse, making his piece seem far more one-sided and irrational than it actually is.

So, really, what I'm saying is that his writing sounds like propaganda. Even though it isn't (in this situation, at least), nothing that sounds like propaganda can escape distrust and fear. After all, it sounds like propaganda, so how can we trust it to actually make valid points? I like his writing, and I like his subjectmatter, but I find it very hard to listen to his arguments since they're hidden by his over-emotional tone.

This doesn't really matter too much, but, oh well.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at August 22, 2005 3:24 PM

It wouldn't work even if someone tried, Chris -- but I used the quickpost feature to make those posts, and clearly it's set to enable trackbacks. I'll go in and fix it.

Comment from: Chris Bishop posted at August 22, 2005 5:03 PM

Good name! Ugly site though...

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at August 22, 2005 7:07 PM

So, really, what I'm saying is that his writing sounds like propaganda.

Hmmm. Well, I see your point, though I'm not convinced that it sounding like propaganda is a bad thing, as far as the overall tone of the site is concerned. I knew I was going to catch heat for going strong-tag-happy, though. I tried to stop, but they were like Pringles...

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