Monday, January 08, 2007

Shirky vs. Economics vs. The Value of First Hand Experience

The Clay Shirky battle rages on, even after some lengthy "my Dad can beat up your Dad" forays and continuous bashing across the many outlets afforded to those with a voice and an ounce of blog *fame*. The conversation is difficult to follow and I am certain that Clay's reported initial "reporters beware" point has been lost. Most recently, I found Tristan Louis' analysis interesting albeit still lacking any meaningful discussion past the numbers, the bloody numbers.

I was wondering how Clay and others might report on, say a street performer that draws an inordinantly large crowd at Washington Square. I suspect it would be completely devoid of any mention of the performer's talent, or lack thereof, or of the bewilderment in a child's eyes, or even of the inpsiration the performance afforded an otherwise downtrodden passerby.

Instead, it would bark about the relatively low numbers given the size of the venue, and yelp about the fact that most of the observers were merely tourists, or homeless or hookers. It would wax poetically about the same performance last week that drew a far smaller crowd in the middle of a rain storm perhaps even include snarky snippets about the fact that the week before several on lookers even cried ... silly tourists trapped in the media hype of a street performer.

And the closing paragraph would include a video of a "reporter" attending the next performance, behaving badly - rudely - inappropriately - mocking the strong cultural tendencies of the onlookers who object to his behavior, and ignoring their suggestions and explanations to what might constitute true participation and engagement ... silly reporter.

I know it's the first impetus of an economist to start building a model, but it is too early and pointless for number crunching to draw meaningless conclusions. A true reporting and understanding of the Second Life phenomena takes a more than a ride around the block in a 32 prim Pontiac to understand. If you want a balanced analysis, Gwen says it best here.
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