December 2009

Internet Meme: Pay It Forward

I like, very much, the concept of "pay it forward."

It's a bit disconcerting to

realize that the concept as currently presented, especially in online culture, is most closely associated a slight novel that's so full of saccarine that my teeth hurt just looking at the cover blurb, and a film that's actually even more annoying. Nonetheless, the concept itself is utterly fabulous. Sometimes called "alternative giving," or even "random acts of kindness,""pay it forward" has deep roots in both legal and American culture.

Internet Meme: Godwin's Law

Back in the day, in 1990, to be specific, before UseNet was transformed into little more than a digital petri dish for porn spammers, Mike Godwin noticed  a disturbing pattern. In UseNet threads about guns and gun control, those who oppose gun control sooner or later reminded those in favor of gun control that Hitler outlawed personal ownership of firearms. In debates about birth control, those who argued in favor of abortion remaining a legal option were inevitably compared to mass-murderers in the context of Nazi death camps. And of course, in any discussion around censorship on the Internet, some sort of reference to Nazi book burning was predestined.

In response to what he perceived as a method of shutting down open discourse, Godwin devloped Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies (generally referred to in shorthand as Godwin's Law):