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Rant: IMO

January 26, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Before reading this post, you should probably watch this video.

Done that?

If you didn’t, here are the points that I want you to have taken away from what Bob said. (1): That (on the internet) any one thing must have a rival something(s). (2): If you say something about any one thing, you must say something equally about all other rival somethings.

Remember – from here on out we are dealing with opinions, not facts.

(1) appears to be an assumption people base on man’s inherent competitive nature. After all, how can something be good unless there is something bad to compare it against? How can you win unless someone came second?

In a sense, that’s the curse of innovation. New things are designed to be better than old things. Anything we assign values to will show clear improvements, like how my current computer has 2GB of RAM compared to 256MB. HD TV has a better picture quality than SD. Cars no longer require hand-cranking. We store food in a firdge instead of an ice-house. Technological improvement is designed to bring efficiency.

The downside is now people are comparing things without trying to. The assumption is because everything is innovative, everything must be (or at least trying to be,) better than something else.

Internet arguments look like this. P is ‘like apples’, and Q is ‘like oranges’. 1 and 2 are two different people.

1: P – I like apples. Apples are pretty neat. (1 has stated an opinion true to 1 so long as 1 believes it.)

2: If P then Not Q – You’re saying you like apples, but what about oranges? Are you saying apples are better than oranges?

The answer at this point should be “no”. What that means is “there is insufficient evidence to prove ‘if P then Not Q‘”. Remember, only person 2 has added Q to this equation – 1 has the right to deny Q’s entry into the statement. What actually happens is one of these (because ‘no’ is mis-interpreted or maybe 1 rose to the bait);

P>Q – Affirmation of 2’s statement.

Q – Affirmation that Q is true.

Both responses lead down a very slippery slope. Remember innovation – there is a want for something to be ‘best’. That’s why we have favourites. The first statement leads to the argument P<Q in response; in which one would have a debate with no winner. The second statement would pose the question of either P>Q or P<Q is true in response – leading back to the first statement.

Why does it happen? Not everyone thinks logically. Sure, you probably think logically at certain tasks, but arguing logically is often something people claim without understanding.

You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

Where is this going? Well, here is the main point of the article coming up – the use of the letters IMO. We’re getting there.

So, you’re got a lot of people thinking this train of thought (P>Q), and it’s entirely natural. Probably they’ve already internally rationalized it, decided on a few key points they would be unwilling to concede. At which point a debate springs up on the internet fora because somewhere along the way people forgot that-

Opinion =/= Fact

Actually, it’s more-or-less ingrained in us to believe things in text (and include television and radio because it’s just a technological innovation in sharing information). Back when reading was a learned discipline that not everybody could perform, and writing even rarer, only things worth reading were written down, and they were for the other few people who could read. Generally they were laws, teachings and history. All opinions of course, but scholarly ones.

Now, most people can read and write. Information bombards us through various forms of media. However, text on the internet is the same as text in a book, on a newspaper, as an overlay on the television. It’s all text. Maybe we’re hardwired to believe its all coming from somewhere important. And because we can all write, most of us seem to think we deserve to be heard. Hell – I’m writing this blog!

But the matter is, people are taking those statements from other people and interpreting them as data. If X amount of people say P is better, and Y amount of people say Q is better, then whichever is larger of X and Y is correct. (Proof? People’s Choice Awards.) Because there’s that need of innovation – there needs to be proof of innovation, that we are moving forward. Both sides will present some sort of argument saying their thing has more positive qualities, or that qualities possess a greater value than the other thing.

And this is fine. Most things can be quantifiable. And when looking at a specific focus (like price or energy usage), values return a clear winner.

The crux of the issue is people comparing entertainment. Yes – people having these debates try to assign VALUE to OPINIONS. (Watch a debate, wait until someone says “X likes this” or “X said blah blah blah”) It probably doesn’t need to be said that everyone – even within the same demographic – likes different things.

It’s apparently not hardwired into people to remember that posts on the internet are opinions. Stating P changes from ‘I believe that I like P’ to ‘I state that P is the best’. And then, said quantity of those opinions become data to decide which is best.

And (finally) this is why people write ‘IMO’ into their posts. I don’t know why. It seems redundant. People should be BETTER than this. It should be the opposite – people should be citing sources and saying This Is Fact (TIF) instead! ‘IMO’ appears to be a way to try and avoid having your opinion count as data – even when everyone else is only spouting opinions.

And if you remember the video at all – the points about fanboys were summed up quite nicely, so just remember that bit. I think I’ve said my piece stated my opinion.

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