Garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) in the field of computer science or information and communications technology refers to the fact that computers will unquestioningly process unintended, even nonsensical, input data (“garbage in”) and produce undesired, often nonsensical, output (“garbage out”).
It’s a critical concept, so let’s reframe.
Great in, great out (GIGO) in the field of computer science or information and communications technology refers to the fact that computers will unquestioningly process intended, sensical, input data (“great in”) and produce a desired, often sensical, output (“great out”).
Negativity has it’s foundation going back to Rome. Our founding fathers were experts at publishing troll like political slander. From “American President: A Reference Resource” by the Miller Center at the University of Virginia:
“A good deal of mud was slung on both sides, much of it aimed at Jackson’s marriage, his violent escapades, and the incidents of ferocious discipline and of disrespect for civilian authority that dotted his military career. Adams men painted him as a grasping and bloodthirsty character, a budding tyrant in the model of Caesar or Napoleon, whose election would spell the death of the republic. Jacksonians branded Adams as a corruptionist, an aristocrat, and-ridiculously-a libertine.”
I want to engage you in singing another tune. Think in positive terms with respect to a (possibly valuable) negative input. I wish to engage with you, my audience, in this this effort. Change GIGO to be Great In, Great Out. in contrast to Garbage In, Garbage Out. To illustrate this point, please allow me to show a very negative input justifying a positive change. If you get this call to action, feel free to skip the next two paragraphs.
The recent Huffington Post blog “The Obsession With Negativity in the Cyber World” highlights how we have created a world of consumers whose output is largely negative. How did this happen? It’s not all garbage in is it? If we are the audience taking seats in this online theater of life why do so many of us respond to the play in a manner that creates such strife? Trolls may be another form of culture as this study points out; Simple Vandals or a Unique Social Movement ? A Psycho-Sociological Discourse on Internet Trolls. In short, Trolls will be trolls.
Comments and reviews devolve into critiques and muses by trolls and those who drift off topic. Empowered by anonymity and technology, many have jumped onto the stage creating a second act of sorts. Another play in livid counterpoint often without a point. Discordant melodies striking cords of discontent in creators and consumers alike. “Fire!” screamed in the theater of ideas. A cacophony of discord leaving the creators aghast behind the curtains of content as the performance fades, leaving only the memory of fire and its remains. If we claim not to be entertained by this kind of grandstanding, why do we line up for seats to the show?
We did this to ourselves. By creating venues where discourse and civility can be lost behind anonymity, a crescendo of self righteous observations and opinions tower over creations with the dark shadow of false superiority.
“Virtuous or Vitriolic: The Effect of Anonymity on Civility in Online Newspaper Reader Comment Boards” concluded that 53 percent of anonymous comments included language that was vulgar, racist, profane or hateful. By comparison, about 29 percent of comments on sites that require commenters to use their names were deemed uncivil.
Comfortably above it all, insurmountable and righteous in subjective opinions ,trolls climb into our midsts. Comments rain down like so many socratic memes upon creators, operators, and the like. A troll’s song of one, intended for no one, yet subjected to everyone. A negative refrain with a melody of righteous indignation hailing the king of darkness and discontent that has no face or name. Yet, many find it ruling us in many ways, some we don’t fully comprehend. Yelping consumers running in the streets, rabid and wild, all the while decrying the state of our state and the garbage it collects. That’s the negativity I wish you to reject.
Find a new voice. Educate to eradicate hate. We have the technology to build a better audience. But it starts with you. Create a new attitude where you level your comments with creative suggestion. Create great input and the output will great, too. GIGO. We are creating exponential amounts of data,with the same assumptions of the past. The loss of editors, validators, and a definition around what is authoritative has opened up creativity to the masses. To what avail? Can we be our own self-policing advocates? I think so, and it’s up to you!
We no longer rely on “media” for our content, we have a new master and it’s the masses. Global media consumption info says it all. More people are online consuming every day. Many of them commenting in anonymity.
It’s time to create platforms that eradicate the hate. It’s not that trolls are the masses; they are the one who have come to the party first. Our goal should be empower a collective shush and drown them out.
What do I propose? A new way of acting that will lead to new technologies. If we demand better, we get better. Don’t bother fixing what is broken when we can create anew. There is a place for all manner of dialog, vitriolic and viral if need be, so let’s empower our audiences with new tools. It can be done. Let’s build Great in to get Great out. In closing, I want to make a clear challenge to my technology friends. This medium needs new tools and we can build them. The world has changed. We are better for it, but we need more powerful tools to exploit it.