Appropriate Not Appropriated

Appropriate Not Appropriated

HOY2: D236

Wednesday Wonderer

I was watching my usual morning movie this morning, which, if anyone’s curious, was Ant-Man. This, of course, is not about that movie, but just as an aside, I do find the thing quite entertaining. It’s one of my favorites of the MCU simply because it’s really lighthearted, and Paul Rudd was a surprising choice that I think worked out surprisingly well. But again, this is not about that. As the movie’s credits were rolling, I was overcome with the intense sensation to experience the new Black Panther trailer. I had seen it once at this point, but I needed to watch it again because something was gnawing at me.

 

The thing I so thoroughly enjoyed about the trailer was the soundtrack. If you haven’t seen the trailer, the music in the thing is a kickass beat of a, most definitely, hip-hop nature –that’s the part that made me wonder. When I watched the trailer the first time, I remember thinking, “Holy shit, that beat is so sick.” Immediately after that thought, I had this thought, “I hope some non-hip-hop-affiliated white guy didn’t produce that track.” The entire situation was quickly forgotten because the lifemate and I were in the throws of Game Four of the NBA Finals, so unfortunately, I did nothing about the latter thought … until today. Read more

Striving, Striving Forever To Be More …

Striving, Striving Forever To Be More …

|how.odious| Year Two: DAY ONE HUNDRED FIVE

2017 February 03 [Friday]

Friday Feature

 

Doing it right
Everybody will be dancing
And we’ll be feeling it right
Everybody will be dancing
And be doing it right
Everybody will be dancing
When we’re feeling all right
Everybody will be dancing tonight

If you do it right
Let it go all night
Shadows on you break
Out into the light

If you lose your way tonight
That’s how you know the magic’s right

(Bangalter, T., et al, 2013)

 

There’s a really good chance that these lyrics have nothing to do with what I am going to write today; the reality is that I think they [the lyrics] are pure, simple genius. However small, nonetheless, there may be the semblance of a connection, which will end up revealing itself as the reason why this song has been stuck in my head for the past few days when mulling what I should/would/could write this week. I want to take a break* from my “‘Victims’ Who Make Victims of Us All,” series because the amount of necessary research has become substantial, at best, daunting, at worst, and since the availability of the research I require proves difficult to acquire, I am now in the process of determining exactly how I will procure the reading I need in order to further my studies on the subject. Thus, for the time being, I have come to a small, perhaps albeit important realization about my life and my role within it. To start, I must admit that I have done absolutely no research for this post, and so, everything said here is and will be pure conjecture sprinkled from time to time with vague observations.

When I consider the vast landscape of “What People Create,” I think that YouTube is a great place to look to supplement an understanding about what people “do” these days. Despite whether or not whatever someone’s creating depends upon or uses the video medium, there seem to be many participants who also use the video medium to share/spread their productions. This willing participation within the video-making medium, when the medium of creation is not video, must mean something. I don’t know what it [the meaning] is, nor do I really want to explore what it might be, but I will just off the top of my head for the sake of … [entertainment?] … faux-intellectualism. Hmmm … a presupposition is about to impose itself … People don’t like to read, but they still want to “know things,” but they’ll only work so hard to be able to know those things, and one could argue that video is easily digestible, so the more easily digestible something is, the more attractive it becomes to the person in search of knowing things. Maybe some people don’t actually want to learn anything as far as “knowledge,” but they do want to “be in the know,” which usually means being “hip” with whatever the current “hop” is of the era, year, month, day, hour. Okay, that’s my big assumption. I said, “assumption,” so back the fuck off!

Now that I’ve gone there, I will backtrack to my original thought, which exactly contradicts everything I am about to say. There is no original thought. No, wait, that’s not true. Shit. Where was I going? One moment please … oh shit, that’s right. So, when you observe the popularity of various types of YouTube videos, one thing is made apparent. The most viewed [by the billions] videos are all fully original creations: Music Videos. That’s obvious to me because music is something that people usually participate in on more than one occasion in their lives, again, a pure assumption or is it a presumption? I will consult the Google … it’s a presumption. Wait, maybe it’s a presupposition? Dammit … one moment please … no, it’s a presumption, but now I will state another presupposition: YouTube videos can be deduced into around five [maybe fewer, maybe more, again, I have not thought this through] categories of participation.

These Categories of Trite Participation are as follows:

  1. Curator
  2. Critic
  3. Commentator
  4. Copy-catter
  5. Aspirational [to be part of one of the above]

Now, how to define these categories and how to know under what category a particular video falls. The videos with billions of views are always music videos by original creators. People love music [an assumption], music is enjoyed on a regular basis [a presumption], thus, people repeatedly “watch” music videos mostly because that’s the best [free-est] way to repeatedly listen to music they love [the presupposition]. Other popular videos ranging in the millions to hundreds of millions include popular music, mind-blowing awesomeness and videos that are either of the moment or hit a chord with the population as a whole. Videos with tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands are also considered popular and thus are popular but with the caveat that [assumedly] the success of these YouTubers depends solely on their constant, consistent participation. And finally, those with a few thousand views or fewer [obviously] are aspirational participants. I think that some people use YouTube solely for the purpose of video storage with no hope of being YouTube famous or popular, and that’s reasonable. Here, today, however, I am speaking about those who use YouTube as a medium for [the semblance of] creative endeavors.

How do you categorize the types of videos that you come across on any given day? Well, it’s pretty simple. Original creations seem like they must be pretty easy to spot with straightforward signifiers. The reality is that they actually are not, and the reason for this is because ALL [presumptively] YouTube generators claim to be “content creators” who are [assumedly] creating original creations, but this, in fact, is not true. Thus, I will point out a few well-known types of videos that will help flesh out the Categories.

Number 1: Curator

These types of videos are of the “compilation” genre and are pretty straightforward, you know, Fails, Cats, Basketball highlights, Top 10 [Fill-in-the-blank], and Best Of [Whose-a-Whats-It]

Number 2: Critic

These videos are usually disguised as instructional or intellectual endeavors, but really, they’re just being the critic, you know, anything within the beauty or fashion realm [they’re choosing shit and then sharing it with you under the guise that they’re teaching you shit; it’s pitiful], the self-proclaimed “nerds,” “dudes,” “bros,” “bitches,” who condense so-called “knowledge” into digestible tidbits that you can then share with your friends to seem smart, satirical videos of other types of videos *cough “Shmonest Curtailers,” and the blatant critic who sits down in front of a camera and babbles on and on about how she knows and realizes so much more than you … wait a minute … shit. Critics are the best! *wink nudge*

Number 3: Commentators

Again, these types of YouTube practitioners are fairly easy to spot, they’re called vloggers. The impetus of their “creation” is to film themselves doing something and then essentially commenting on THEIR OWN FUCKING LIVES! What the fuck? Arguably, no actually, by the standards of subscriber statistics, the most famous of all YouTubers would definitely fall under this category. If you don’t know about whom I speak, then all of this is probably just gibberish nonsense, which it is anyway, anyway. Satirical videos usually fall under this category, as well, because they see the genre and usually want to comment upon its ridiculousness or, less often times, genius.

Number 4: Copy-catter

These sorts of videos fall under the, official mind you, title of “cover bands,” think that ever-growing-in-popularity a cappella group [although they are trying to branch upward into being Original Creators], or basically any form of video that plainly reiterates something that’s already been done or is currently being done or is the “thing” of the moment. Think cooking channels, those videos where people are asked to participate in something uncomfortable while we all watch, the participation in a “challenge.”

Number 5: Aspirational

Uh, I really don’t think I need to go into further detail. Okay fine, they aspire to be one of the above, duh.

The problem isn’t that these Categories of Trite Participation exist, and they don’t only exist within and on YouTube. It’s a general categorization of participants who participate in creative endeavors. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a whore, I mean, a curator, critic, commentator or copy-cat. I mean, they’re significant, just look to the Tube! It’s all right there; people love it! It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re important, however. The problem is that I definitely do not want to be part of it. Why? Well, the overwhelming reason is that all of the above types rely on one very specific thing: The original creation of others. Curators simply pick and choose among various original creations and put them all together under a themed heading. Critics only have something to say because someone else did all the legwork, which they [the original creator] then made available, and now the critic, having done nothing him/herself, tears apart how good or bad that creation is/was/will be. Commentators also rely on the doing of others or else there’s nothing on which to comment, and in the case of vloggers, they edit their daily lives so that it may fit inside the packaging of “Me,” so that they may then comment on themselves, which is so obviously contrived. And then, the copy-cats are so dependent upon the original work of others that they would have nothing to do without them. The point is that all of the Categories depend fully upon the creations of true, original creators, which means that a participant who falls under the heading of any of the Categories cannot, in essence, be a creator; they’re just so meta but not meta-creators … it’s more like they’re meta-disseminators … that’s not a word … it is now!

Honestly, I swear to the good lords of rice cake, I watched a certain YouTube “nerd” comment on an “intellectual’s” critique of hipsterism in an attempt to criticize the criticism posed by the critic, with a severe lack of critical thinking, which is essential for critical thinking, when he failed to even touch upon the argument within the critique of hipsterism (Puschak, 2012). The “nerd” instead whined like a little hipster that the writer made an overwhelming generalization about a group of people and that nothing can be gleaned about an individual when taking into account an entire group of people, which, by the way, had nothing to do with the writer’s original criticism that hipsters live ironically (Wampole, 2012) but had everything to do with the “nerd” being butt-hurt by, you guessed it, criticism!, which ultimately proved the writer’s point. And mine, ah ha!, see what I did there? I embodied the role of critic and criticized the criticism of a YouTube critic who criticized the critique of a critical writer. See, falling into one of my Categories of Trite Participation is so easy! Ugh, whatever, you get it, they’re pointless! Except they’re not pointless because it’s all so significant because so many people participate in the ingestion of this pointlessness, which, in and of itself, makes the entire meta-dissemination effort significant but again, not necessarily important.

Thus, we have come to my conclusion. Since I absolutely do not want my work to fall under any of the aforementioned Categories, I’ve come to the realization that I have to work a lot harder than I’ve ever wanted to work before, and now the retroactive relevance of Daft Punk’s, “Doin’ It Right.” If you’re “doin’ it right,” there ought to be some knowable signifiers to validate and prove with no presuppositions that you are, in fact, “doin’ it right.” For Daft Punk, “doin’ it right” means that “everybody will be dancing.” YAS! What are those signifiers for me personally?; I have no fucking clue. I will say this, though, if you don’t already know, I am currently working on my second novel. The one thing I can say without a doubt and a little pride is that I know this is an original creation. How? Well, no part of it falls under my Categories of Trite Participation. Whether or not I’m “doin’ it right,” however, has yet to be determined because I don’t know what the obvious outcome should/would/could be. The easy answer is that I’ll become famous because my book gets published through the traditional publishing route, and everything is awesome. This may not be the signifier, though, because what is the role of publisher?, Curator and Critic. Thus, as I end this post, I’ve come full circle in realizing that there’s no escaping the leeches who exert their significance by merely meta-disseminating the hard work of true creators. So then why do anything? For starters, here’s why: The birth of a seriously kick-ass, mother-fucking great song [an opinion] born of original creators who fight for their need to always be “doin’ it right” [a presumption].

 


*I will eventually return to my “Victims” series, but to know when exactly is impossible.

 


 

References

Bangalter, T., de Homen-Christo, G.M., Lennox, N. (2013). Doin’ it right [Daft Punk ft. Panda Bear]. On Random Access Memories [Ampex reels & Pro Tools tracks]. New York, NY: Columbia.

Puschak, E. [Nerdwriter1]. (2012, November 24). Vlog #41 – What’s so bad about hipsters? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/B7pM4T4AKEc

Wampole, C. (2012, November 18). How to live without irony. The New York Times, p. SR1.

‘Unskilled and Unaware’: How Not To Be Stupid

‘Unskilled and Unaware’: How Not To Be Stupid

Friday Feature

|how.odious| Year Two: DAY SIXTY-THREE

2016 December 23 [Friday]

“[Ignorance] more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”

– Charles Darwin (1871, p. 3) à la (Dunning & Kruger, 1999, p. 1121)

As an aspiring writing, the toughest thing about writing nonfiction is that I tend to stray into rant-type territory, and at this point in my life, I ought to be a better writer, which ultimately means, I ought to be able to say something without being all, what’s the word, bitchy?, about it. Thus, I’ve done a little due diligence and have an interesting little topic about which to write [rant … no … write … not rant … ]. So, here I go.

ffday63ignorance
*caption below

For years, I have been frustrated by how seemingly crazy [stupid] some people act and behave, and for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what exactly “it” was. You know, that sort of Gertrude Stein-ism of wondering if there’s a “there there”? After basically writing and writing and writing about how I just can’t stand people who are, to put it bluntly, stupid, I realized that that’s probably not the best way to approach dealing with the frustration. So, I opted for a headier approach and began reading and conversing about this frustration with real people. Then, one day, the most perfect thing happened. My long-time life-partner “dropped a bomb on me” (Simmons, Taylor, & Wilson, 1982), when he sent me a link to a study about all of the things I could not prove yet constantly felt.

The link was to a research paper entitled, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments,” which was published back in 1999 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The whole point of the study, conducted by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, was to test whether or not their argument, “that when people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it,” holds true (1999, p. 1121).

What they’re trying to prove is, if you’re incompetent and/or unskilled, it’s highly likely that you’re unaware of your own incompetence. Another, more-preferred and less-euphemistic, way to state the problem would be, Are stupid people too stupid to know that they’re stupid? The short answer is, yes. Crazy, eh? Obviously, I suggest that each of you read the paper yourself rather than believe what I have to say about it, but since I’ve read the paper, it’s unlikely that the people who actually should read it [those who are “incompetent”] will actually read it because, like the article states, “the incompetent are less able than their more skilled peers to gauge their own level of competence” (Dunning & Kruger, 1999, p. 1122), which means that those who are “incompetent” are less likely to think that they lack some form of knowledge, which further means that this entire Feature will seem pointless to them.

The long answer is that Kruger and Dunning conducted four different studies that tested the participants on various levels of competencies ranging from humor to logic. If you only read the method and results of one of those studies, read Study 4: Competence Begets Calibration (begins on p. 1127). After each participant completed the tests, they were then asked to rate themselves against the other participants, and then, they were asked to predict their own scores. There are many more details to the study, but I’m trying to give a general impression. Again, you really ought to read the study for yourself. The results shed light on the overwhelming consensus that Kruger and Dunning were correct in their initial argument and predictions.

The predictions were as follows:

Prediction 1. Incompetent individuals, compared with their more competent peers, will dramatically overestimate their ability and performance relative to objective criteria.

Prediction 2. Incompetent individuals, will suffer from deficient metacognitive skills, in that they will be less able than their more competent peers to recognize competence when they see it-be it their own or anyone else’s.

Prediction 3. Incompetent individuals … will be unable to use information about the choices and performances of others to form more accurate impressions of their own ability.

Prediction 4. The incompetent can gain insight about their shortcomings, but this comes (paradoxically) by making them more competent, thus providing them the metacognitive skills necessary to be able to realize that they have performed poorly. (Dunning & Kruger, 1999, p. 1122)

As aforementioned, all of Kruger and Dunning’s predictions came true. It seems as though stupid people truly are too stupid to know that they are stupid. Obviously, my writing about all of this is quite crass and probably, what’s the word, condescending?, but I’m just the messenger. Again, since the two research scientists present all of the data in a much more deferential way, you should really just read the paper for yourself. I understand that most people don’t spend their time reading the results of scientific studies, but I find this one to be particularly poignant, especially when considering the state of the world and the past few national decisions, globally, that were voted upon by the general public. The butting of heads, as it were, of the competent and incompetent arise from two very different outlooks. “Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others” (Dunning & Kruger, 1999, p. 1127).

What’s the point of all this? Honestly, I still don’t know. I only ingested all this info about ten days ago. The study seems to point at two highly conflicting issues: Both incompetent and competent people suffer. “… unskilled individuals suffer a dual burden: Not only do they perform poorly, but they fail to realize it. It thus appears that extremely competent individuals suffer a burden as well. Although they perform competently, they fail to realize that their proficiency is not necessarily shared by their peers” (Dunning & Kruger, 1999, p. 1131).

In conclusion, Kruger and Dunning suggest that they too may have fallen prey to their own incompetencies, which would mean that they are ignorant of their own incompetence. An absolutely wonderful conclusion to have come to realize. They end the article beautifully by basically saying that sure, they found all of these correlations and have results that prove their initial thoughts to be true, BUT the results also suggest that there’s really no way to know whether or not you’re competent because, if you’re incompetent, you don’t know it, which sort of means that all of this work means nothing. Ha! Amazing.

For me, as simultaneously enlightening and frustrating the entire study and research ends up being, the evidence points at something larger. To me, the study sheds light on a simple question that every person should ask him/herself, constantly, but that question can only be asked after s/he accepts that s/he does not in fact know everything, which is the crux of all the research. People are entirely unlikely to consider that they don’t know everything, especially those who know the least. Nevertheless, the question is, “What do I want to know that I already don’t know now?” And further, “How do I make sure I continue to become more knowledgeable aka competent?”

Apparently, no one can really reveal your own incompetence to you, so the answer is quite simple to me. Assume that you’re quite incompetent. Only through this acceptance and understanding of the responsibility you hold over your own life can you ever become more competent. No matter how slowly you achieve some level of competence, all you need to know is that you’ll always be incompetent. All you can hope for is to become less so.


*… not as promotion, of course, but as nostalgia (Gray, 1747).


References

Darwin, C. (1871). The descent of man. London: John Murray.

Dunning, D. & Kruger, J. (1999). Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 1121-1134.

Gray, T. (1747). Ode on a distant prospect of Eton College. London.

Simmons, L., Taylor, R., Wilson, C. (1982). You dropped a bomb on me [The Gap Band]. On Gap Band IV [7″ & 12″ vinyl]. Beverly Hills, CA: Total Experience Records.