In the penultimate episode of our series, Kathy Sierra tells us how one tweak could fix everything and ToE’s Chris tells us the secret origin of Facebook. PLUS #marksbros (as in Zuckerberg)  #marxhegel (as in Groucho)


13 comments on Logical Fantasies (the dislike club part V)

  1. Dear Benjamin,

    I was inspired and moved by the first four episodes of the series. I thought you collected wonderful material and developed a quite thoughtful critique of the web’s current state. After listening to your interview with Paul Ford, I went poking around the tildeverse and joined My participation with has been a transformative experience for me. I’ve been enjoying the community, the creative potential of the tildeverse, and a sense of liberation from the fixed constraints confining (but not suppressing) creativity throughout the social web.

    Unfortunately, I found this episode really disappointing and frustrating. The ham-fisted lies (I guess “fiction”, right?) about the origin of facebook are uninteresting and unilluminating. It made me wonder what fables I failed to notice scattered through the first four episodes. The aimless and pointless digression into the history of Marx’s joke seemed lame, but it was the pseudo-Hegelian nonsense that really irritated me. I’m sure there’s something important to be learned from Hegel regarding the sorry state of the social web, but your pun on absolute negation and “not being a part of a club that would have me for a member” doesn’t come close to it. You devote minutes to your jargon-laden non-explanation of that nonsense. But then you ridicule an earnest, meaningful plea that we fight bigotry and narcissism with reason. You don’t even offer a cursory treatment of what your interviewee means by “logical fallacies”!

    That criticism isn’t gently put and I apologize for the unkindness in it. I’d like to reiterate my appreciation for the first four episodes. They helped me think deeper about the problems of the web and led me to rediscover those vast swaths of the Internet that still lie outside the reaches of the commodified, normalized, toxic exhibitionism of the social web. When I speak harshly here, it is only because I have been moved by your work and had built up high expectations based on the excellence of what you had already produced.

    I hinted at this in a reply on twitter, but your fixation on the redemptive power of a “dislike” button seems strange to me: don’t you know about reddit? Reddit is content-focused (rather than person focused), anonymous by default, and you can “dislike” (down-vote) posts. I got sucked into that problematic milieu years ago (I am /u/abathologist there). It has lots of redeeming qualities (being content-focused is one of them); I created /r/futurebeats, which is generally a kind community dedicated to interesting music (at least, the music there was interesting for a time. I don’t keep up with it much now); /r/blackladies is a really wonderful community; there is sometimes very deep discussion on /r/philosophy (though plenty of shallow pseudo-philosophy too). There’s lots of other stuff to like about reddit too (is /r/podcasts any good?). But all the good stuff is hiding in nooks and crannies, out of sight and generally apart from the widespread cesspool the place has become. Though i don’t know much about Facebook, and haven’t “really” used it, I’d wager there are some interesting and kind communities there as well. So I really don’t think the presence or absence of a dislike button makes a big difference. But I could be really wrong here: maybe reddit is much better than facebook because of that button. My guess, however, is that a deliberate ethos is much more important than a button. You see this ethos in the tildeverse (Cf. the code of conduct, in ~ford’s writings, or just the general timbre of the writing and art being be produced).

    I can’t tell if you really wonder why you haven’t had a response to the, or if that’s just play-acting. But in case you are genuinely curious, I can tell you that I actively looked for signs that you were creating, or trying to create, something by that name. The domain just brings me to this page, and back to the podcast. I found no information about what the would entail, or what kind of participation you hoped for. But I kind of suspect it was one of the fantastic elements of your series…

    Please check out this project by one of my neighbors on No One Will Ever Read This But… I think it is a beautiful, generous, and very inspiring project.

    Thank you very much for your excellent work. I now listen weekly, and your thoughts and interviews are exerting a meaningful and sustained influence on how I engage with the world.

    Best wishes,

    1. Poster’s remorse! Sorry for any spite, pretense, or nonconstructive negativity evident in that comment! My take on the Hegel stuff might be off base, and maybe you meant it all more comedic than I took it, etc. I hope the the expressions of gratitude and the constructive dialog stand out more than the quibbling criticism.

  2. Alex says:

    Hi Benjamin Walker,

    thanks for the episodes on “the dislike club”. I enjoyed all of them.

    I have a few questions on “part V” and the “secret origin of Facebook”:

    1. How is the name, of the german student written? The first name “Klaus” is clear, but on the last name I’m not clear. “Schwagelzeug”?
    2. What’s the name of the interviewee? The one, that tells “the secret origin of Facebook”?
    2. Did you request a comment by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook and/or the specific german student mentioned in the story? If so, what where there responses?

    I’m asking, since I’m from Germany and know that “Facebook being based on the ideas of the stasi, just without the secret police” would be a big deal.

    Anybody not familiar with the “Stasi” is recommended to see the oscar winning movie “The Lives of Others” (see imdb).

    Greetings from Berlin,

    1. Alex,

      I’m pretty sure the “secret origin of facebook” story is fabricated. That segment seems to be a dramatization illustrating an idea that has been circling the blogosphere for some time:

      Also, the author of this post contacted Walker to ask about the story, and wrote,

      Ben was kind enough to respond to an e-mail that I sent him to ask about the reliability of Chris’ story. Result: unreliable. However, it turns out that the comedian Pete Holmes came up with a similar idea prior to the broadcast by “Chris” about Zuckerberg and the Stasi genesis of Facebook.

      So maybe Walker was dramatizing someone else’s idea about the origin story, and not even developing a new take on the Stasi-Facebook connection. tbh, I’m not sure I like the idea of having to puzzle out whether or not an interview is real or playacting.

  3. Dave says:

    Couldn’t play the final episode from the ABC site mentioned in this episode. Browsed to it on my Android phone and on my iPad. Eventually was able to listen to it by connecting my laptop and downloading the episode. You have to browse to the single episode link to get the right download.

  4. 1579 says:

    You kind of lost me with this one.

    But I would like it to be known, that I too think that the information age (so far) was one huge disappointment after another. 🙁

  5. Cleber says:

    This is just to echo what Shon said previously, even if I do not have his knowledge or good wording.

    The first 4 episodes were amazing, but somehow the conclusion has kind of let me down.

    But despite all that, there is a growing discontent everywhere over the internet, and I’m sure the Dislike Club will always be remembered as one of the first voices to put that out.

    Thanks a lot, and still looking forward to the next episode.

  6. Mark says:

    The segment with Klaus Spargelzeug really grabbed my attention, because I remember the evening of November 9, 1989 clearly, and my experience mirrored Klaus’s experience of his father coming into the room with tears in his eyes, saying “the wall came down.” Only, my father didn’t start destroying my toys. He had left [Karl] Marx behind for Ike.
    I truly appreciate the irony of this part of the story, especially since very few of my German friends and relatives are on Facebook. Those that are, use a pseudonym, in part because of the Stasi.
    The Dislike Club is strong in das Vaterland.

    1. wayne.carroll says:

      “Spargelzeug”? Asparagus thing? Sounds like Zuck was giving your buddy the the old asparagus thing right up the old Spargel Rutsche.

      BTW – Geute Rüüütsch von der Schweiz.

  7. Nick says:

    Dear Benjamin,

    As a relatively new listener to toe, the dislike club series has been my first encounter with your work. I have become an instant fan! 😀

    For some time, quite some time before listening to the dislike club, i have had concerns about social media. The dislike club helped me shead light on some of these concerns. Concerns that evetually caused me to commit suicide on all social media platforms.

    I made a blog about it (I am totally aware of the irony), feel free to read! (It is in danish, but google translate will save the day)

    Thank you for an extraordinary audio experience!

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