Friday, October 12, 2012

Deconstruction Roundup, nudging closer to reality

OK, the Board Post has had enough time at the front of a the line, time for something new.  Though just to keep the reminder in people's mind since we're just getting started here, the deadline for submissions for the weekend post is 2000 GMT on Saturday. Which is 4:00 PM on Saturday EST/EDST and 1:30 (AM) on Sunday in India.

Anything since the 15th of last month is fair game because we haven't had an official weekend post in a long time, and if you miss the deadline but have a submission, send it in anyway. Try to make the deadline but if you don't we'll see what we can do.

Also, for anyone getting sick of all this set up meta post stuff, the first real content post is scheduled for tomorrow.


Ok, onto the point of this post.

The reaction to the idea of a deconstruction round up, insofar as there has been one, seems to be generally positive with a few people pointing out mistakes that we don't want to make, which means that all that we need to do at this point is gather a list of deconstructions and not make those mistakes.

In order to gather a list of deconstructions I'm asking that, in the comments, people tell about every deconstruction they know about that they even vaguely suspect someone somewhere in the Slacktiverse might be so much as slightly interested in. So, more or less, tell us every deconstruction you know of.

Not making those mistakes is going to be a trickier thing to deal with mostly because there's multiple possible ways to go about it and not all of them will be the best, some are probably downright bad ideas.

Basically all mistakes brought up as things to avoid stem from one thing: We do not want a post were we weekly link to someone who doesn't want us linking to them. That would be bad.


The general solution offered is to ask, and my plan is to send out emails to the deconstruction makers asking just that. I'll do it using the group account just to make sure that there's no possible confusion about whether I'm talking about the weekly post being here or at my personal blog.

I don't think there's any disagreement with that part of the plan. Here's where things could get tricky: What should the email say?

Obviously it should ask the question of whether or not they would prefer we don't link to them. Other people have pointed out that saying this is a new site under new management might make it so that people with animosity toward the old site wouldn't mind being linked to. It has further been pointed out that a link thread allows people to comment on something other than the original site (one of the goals of this project, in fact, given some people's problems with disqus) which could mean that people are commenting on the deconstor's work in a place beyond their control, and we might want to bring up that fact in case the deconstructor didn't make the connection.

On thing is, we don't want the email to be an essay, if they read it then we're talking their time and time is a precious thing indeed. So we want to say all of that concisely. Figuring out how to do that would be a good thing to do here.

But that is not my primary concern.

My primary concern is this: what should the question be? Specifically, should it be opt out, or opt in?

What we're trying to figure out is if they mind, should we only assume they mind if they say, “Yes, I do mind,” or should we assume they mind unless they say, “No, I don't mind.”

This matters. This matters more than somewhat. This is an important thing to figure out. So, in addition to the other things I've mentioned, we need to figure out which it's going to be in this thread.


I, personally, prefer it to be an opt out situation and I'll explain why:

Now any attempt to pigeonhole multiple and diverse people will inevitably result in failure and oversimplification, but for the sake of simplicity I'm going to oversimplify by pigeonholing multiple and diverse groups of people.

There are, more or less, three groups we need to consider:
1 Those who want us to link to them.
2 Those who do not care if we link to them.
3 Those who want us not to link to them.

If we link to the people in the first group then we're happy, they're happy, everyone wins, no one loses, let's throw a party.

If we link to the people in the second group then we're happy, they don't care, some people win, nobody loses, the total amount of good in the world has been increased while the amount of bad has not, let's throw a party.

If we link to the people in the third group then we fucked up, they're pissed off, everyone loses, no one wins, the soda goes stale, the ants get the pizza, and we sullenly walk away with our heads held low; dejected.

Basically, as I see it, what we need to do is to find a way to maximize the number of people in groups one and two we're linking to while minimizing the number of people in group three we're linking to.

I think that works best if we have it be opt out.

My reason for this is fairly simple: we want to link to people who are indifferent. It gives us a more complete index of the deconstructions going on and, because they're indifferent, doesn't bother them in the least. It's not exactly a win-win, but it is a win-[not-lose]. So if we link to indifferent people that's a good thing.

But, if they're indifferent, what are they odds they send an email back? They're indifferent. They don't care. Why would they care enough to send an email? If we choose to do it by opt in we'll probably end up losing most of group two, a group we'd rather not lose.

On the other hand, people who don't want us to link to them, those in group three, actually care. We're saying, “We'd like to do this thing,” and they're thinking, “No, I do not want you to do this thing.” Which makes me think that they'd be much more motivated to send an email. All they'd need to do is hit “reply” type “No.” and hit “send” which, if they've got feelings on the issue, is probably something they're prepared to do.

Also, it's not like this is a one time thing, if all goes well we will be linking to any recently updated deconstruction on a weekly basis, so it's not like this is the only chance for people to say, “Don't link to me,” if after our first post someone says, “Don't link to me,” we simply won't link to them.

If we mess up in the direction of linking to people who want us not to link to them, they'll have plenty of opportunity to tell us that we messed up. If we mess up in the direction of not linking to people who couldn't care less, they'll never tell us we messed up because they couldn't care less.


In a lot of situations I think opt in is better than opt out, but in this case I think opt out would be better.


But that's just my opinion and I can see space for serious debate on this point, and what we need to do right now is settle the issue of whether the message we'll send will be opt in or opt out and then, once that is settled, decide what the email should actually say.


  1. I concur, for a different reason: the web works on links, and linking doesn't need permission. Anyone who has something available is already explicitly making it possible to link to it; you're already going a step above the normal standard by asking at all.

  2. Oh, it's definitely not a question of what needs to be done to link to people. We can link to whoever we want, it's entirely about what we want to do and, also, bad blood. Some people who do excellent deconstructions left the Slacktiverse and, based on comments since then, a non-zero number of them do not like the Slacktiverse at all. (I really have no idea on how many exactly.)

    Collecting their links for a deconstruction would be the best thing for the goals of the deconstruction post. We don't want to leave out perfectly good deconstructions.

    But do we really want to be linking to people who don't want us linking to them? In general it's not a problem, and indeed standard procedure (it's how people point out "Look what X said, don't vote for him."), but in this case the connection is a lot closer to personal. That changes things somewhat.

    That's another reason why I favor opt out. I'm not overly concerned about linking to someone we have no connection with and having that be a mistake, these things happen. But I would rather not do something that people will take personally in a bad way. And I think people who would would be more likely to reply with a, "Don't do that," than not.

    1. Sorry, I wasn't being clear. The key to what I was trying to get at was the last sentence: you're already being a level more polite than is considered normal, and being a level more polite than that (the default-no case) strikes me as unnecessary.

    2. No, no, you were clear. I understood, I just wrote that long post anyway.

      You were perfectly clear. No need to apologize.

  3. No links from me. The only ones I know of are those by Ana and Fred, and you already have those.

    One further suggestion. You're going to be picking up a lot of deconstructions/analyses/whatever in the middle. If index posts for these exist, it might be an idea to link also to those indeces, so that people can, if they wish, pick them up from the beginning.


  4. A quick note: I will be AFK today, but I'll send in submissions tonight. Apologies.

  5. @I'd been meaning to make a list of deconstructions I knew of, but I forgot. Thanks for reminding me:

    Left Behind - Fred Clark
    Twilight, Narnia - Ana
    Left Behind: The Kids - Mouse
    Edge of Apocalypse - Apocalypsereview
    Babylon Rising, Soon - Heathen Critique
    50 Shades of Grey - clevernamepending
    Elsie Dinsmore - PersonalFailure
    This Present Darkness - yamikuronue

    Some of these may be done, some of these may be dead, I'm not the best at keeping on top of things.

    Anyone have others to add to the list?

    1. That should read "@TRiG" followed by a line break or two.

  6. Yami is also doing Easily Amused, which is a sort of rom-com in book form.

    I'll go look through my RSS feeds.

    Ross is doing Captain Power, a cartoon that I gather is fairly obscure even amongst people who were alive during the 80's. Personally, I have never let ignorance of the source material stop me from reading.

    Amarie has also started 50 Shades of Grey, but between school and more school has only finished the first post. Hopefully she will have time to return to it at some point.

    Omskivar is doing Eragon.

    Nathaniel started The Caves of Steel (by Isaac Asimov), but has only done two posts on the subject four months ago. (He has made several posts since then, just not those.) I don't know if he's planning to return to them.

    I'm not sure if this counts. It's not a single book or series (though they do mostly have something in common), but it does seem a similar sort of thing.

  7. Question: Is this specifically for deconstructions in the sense of critical analyses that take a generally negative view of the work in question, or is it for any ongoing series of in-depth critical analyses? Would, for example, TARDIS Eruditorum count?

  8. That's a good question. I... um, don't know.

    And there's sort of a conflict of interest when it comes to me making the call. Because if things that aren't generally negative count than we can add my work on .hack//Sign and Deus Ex so it's definitely in my best interest to say yes because I could always use some signal boost. (Mind you they'll still be in the weekly round up either way.)

    Some stuff was going to be double counted anyway* but I was never thinking that I'd be one of them so I never had to ask, "Am I supporting this because it's the best idea, or just because it would help me?" And I've never been good at answering that kind of question.


    *When Ana, for example, makes a decon post it would presumably go in the weekly decon post and the weekend roundup because it is both a decon and a post from a member of the community.

  9. I think it's good to have both positive and negative critical analyses of pop culture because pop culture inherently has positive and negative aspects. Even Ana's posts (especially those not about Twilight and Narnia) have positive aspects in them. For example, I love her redemptive reading of The Little Mermaid. Although if we're including all critical readings of Doctor Who, we might end up with a whole post of Doctor Who, as much as I love TARDIS Eruditorium. (Amanda Marcotte also does a weekly feminist breakdown, and there are a couple others as well.)

    Cory B. also writes one on Atlas Shrugged.

  10. I concur that opt-out makes the most sense.

    I also think that a wider net is better. The more the merrier; if someone thinks it smells like an ongoing deconstruction, add it to the pile.

    Mind you, I'm not the one doing all the work for the round-up, so I can say that pretty easily. :)

  11. I'll admit, I have a vested interest in my question, too. I'm working on something. (Those of you who have me friended on Facebook already know what it is...)

    I'd put Orange Couch/Amanda Marcotte, Flickfilosopher, and You Know Who in the "review" category rather than the "deconstruction" category. They're more "this is what happened and how I felt about it, and here's some speculation on what might be happening," as opposed to "this is how the work constructs its reality and, thus, reflects issues in how its originating culture (or the viewers culture) constructs reality." On the other hand, I'm with Anna, casting a wider net is better than a narrow one.

    (Also, storiteller, thank you thank you thank you for introducing me to TARDIS Eruditorum! It is the best thing ever!)

  12. Since consensus seems to be for inclusion, I've got two, then:

    TARDIS Eruditorum ( Critical analyses of every episode of Doctor Who and numerous spin-off media. Updates Mon/Wed/Fri, and currently done with the classic series and working through a selection of the New Adventures novels, so there's a LOT there. Seriously one of my favorite things on the entire Internet.

    My Little Po-Mo ( Critical analyses of every episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, by me. Updates Sundays, and currently done with the initial two-parter. So you can... catch up... quickly? Yeah, I got nothing. But it exists! And talks about weaponizing friendship! And Equestria Daily ignored my link submission, so this roundup is my only hope of getting some actual discussion going...

  13. If we're talking MLP deconstructions, InsertAuthorHere (popular mlp fanfic writer of the 'My Little Alicorn' series) did lengthy deconstructions of all the episodes. (season 1) (season 2)

    They're all done, but they're an interesting and intelligent read for those interested. He'll probably resume them once season 3 starts.

    He's also done reviews of the characters too,, which aren't quite done yet. His other big review was of the 'Lunaverse', a highly popular collaboratively written universe on the site, at (I'm a member of that group too). Even though it wasn't a fully positive review, I still liked reading it. It went into a lot of detail on what he did and didn't like about the world, how he felt it compared to the canon, etc. :-)

  14. That brings up something that I don't think we've gotten into. Finished deconstructions. On the one hand, not something for a weekly post, on the other hand, maybe a good thing for a first post. "These are ones that are done that you might have missed, so you might want to look at them. These are ones that are in progress, we'll keep you updated on a weekly basis of their progress."

    So we shouldn't rule out collecting finished deconstructions.

    Question though, do you think we should send opt out emails to the authors of finished deconstructions? We'd only be linking to them once, not regularly, so it's not the same thing. Personally I'm really only concerned about the opt out thing with the handful of people personally acquainted with the community, for reasons already described.

  15. Actually, that reminds me of an idea I had for a weekly post: cool communities on the Internet. People could write about communities they are in and why they enjoy them or find them helpful. It could be a good resource, both for serious things (if someone is in a support group for a medical or social condition, for example), creative things (if someone's in an awesome writers' forum), or frivolous things (if someone thinks they've found the best lolcats forum out there). I could do an early one (I'd probably write about the Lunaverse group mentioned above, since I know there's a few MLP fans here).

    As for the finished-decon question, I don't think we need to worry about emails for those. Unless the authors have actually indicated they want to keep them within some subgroup, I think its fine to link them.


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