Monday, March 01, 2010

Persona Problems

Still from Ingmar Bergman's 1966 film 'Persona'Was a busy end of February here at Hard-Boiled Poker, highlighted by that trip to help cover the NAPT Venetian. Spent the weekend catching up on various things, including reading through emails and listening to a few poker podcasts.

Among the latter was that highly disappointing 2/25/10 episode of PokerRoad Radio in which the “B-Team” (Jimmy Fricke, Bryan Devonshire, and Court Harrington) kicked off the show by offering a mostly misleading, unfocused criticism of some of the reporting done from the NAPT Venetian.

Am not gonna rehearse all of the details of what was said, nor explain the obvious irony of trying to support a charge of unprofessionalism with misquotes, misattributions, and profanity. (Also, I’m probably a little too close to the situation here to be entirely objective about it, anyway.) Read here for details, and see the comments, too, for further reaction/apologies/etc.

Speaking of misfires, there was another one among the items I found when going back through my email box. Again, others have commented on this one at length and so I’m not planning to do much more than just mention it here -- that recent “special invite” to bloggers from PokerStars to write some posts about the upcoming Spring Championship of Online Poker in exchange for a ticket to play in an event. (By the way, click here to see the newly-revised schedule of SCOOP events, which takes place May 2-16.)

I’d noticed this email in passing last week, but only read it more carefully after the Poker Grump told me more about it when I saw him at the Venetian. The title of the Grump’s explanation and response -- “Thanks but no thanks” -- gives an idea of what he thinks of the promotion. Readers of this blog have no doubt already read the reactions of other poker bloggers, too, to the invitation to write not one but five separate posts containing particular phrases (with links) in return for a $22 SCOOP ticket.

Most of those who have written about the offer appear to have concluded the invite didn’t seem to represent a fair exchange -- i.e., less than $5 per post (and we’re not even talking about actual money, but a non-transferable tourney ticket). Some additionally pointed out how the offer implies a kind of disregard for poker blogs’ editorial integrity -- as though these were just so many words fired off into the intertubes, the primary purpose of which is to affect search engines or attract click-throughs and not to communicate actual thoughts or ideas.

Again, as with the PokerRoad incident, my instinct here is both to be disappointed and to recognize that having come into the debate a little late, I’m not seeing a lot of point in participating further in the piling on.

There is one common theme in both items, though, that might be worth pointing out. Something to do with that weird disconnect that occurs when people communicate online -- via blogs, emails, podcasts, news sites, what have you. This is going to be hard to put into words, I think, but I’ll try nonetheless.

When we read or hear something online, it often seems like it takes a conscious, extra effort to appreciate the “reality” of the person communicating those words and ideas. That is to say, our instinctive response is not the same as occurs in more direct forms of interaction, but rather to take what we are reading or hearing as the product of a “persona” or “character” or something not necessarily fully human but mediated in some fashion that necessarily affects how we react.

I fully realize, by the way, that I am trying to communicate this idea to you via a persona (Shamus). Bear with me, though, and believe that what I’m saying represents a real idea thought up by a real human being.

Because of this “ethos displacement effect” or whatever you want to call it, people are much more willing to criticize or fail to appreciate the significance of a real live human “author” whose thoughts and ideas are represented by the words. The same effect tends to fuel the flame wars in forums, or cause chat box crack-ups. Not believing you’re communicating with a real live human tends to lessen the urgency to be humane.

Seems to me both of the examples of less-than-ideal-communication listed above could be said to have demonstrated this phenomenon in different ways.

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Blogger Oddqueens said...

Hey there bud, after the abuse you received from the 3 amigos I thought it apt that I finally leave a comment here. Not that a comment from an unknown Irishman is vindication for your writing or anything and I'm sure your nto looking for approval or validation from anyone but I thought it would be nice to let you know your appreciated. There are a number of blogs i read religiously. Yourself and Pauly over at the Tao of poker are two of the most hard working literate and entertaining blogs out there. I've been skulking in the shadows reading your blog and enjoying the tournament coverage as well as the poker observations and am very much appreciative of the job you guys do. Keep up the good work

3/02/2010 6:52 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Much thanks for the kind words, Oddqueens! I actually wasn't the target for the criticism referred to at the beg. of the post, although as I say I was disappointed nonetheless.

I should also add more specifically here that I was glad to read the apologies of Devonshire and Harrington over on F-Train's blog, and to hear Devo's mea culpa on the 2/26 PRR show, too.

3/02/2010 7:06 AM  
Blogger Oddqueens said...

Yes I realise now that F-train was indeed the one slighted bit of a blurry morning for me here! :-) too many blogs read! But in any case I do enjoy reading both you and F-trains blog, along with Pauly, CK, Al etc!

3/02/2010 9:54 AM  

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