FAQ or Fiction (Was Scorecard Mentalities)

Natasha Vita-More (natasha@natasha.cc)
Tue, 19 Oct 1999 17:16:38 -0700

A business or organization's FAQ takes on a responsibility to those who read to be an accurate reference guide. This is its purpose - to answer frequently asked questions. The Internet contains a multitude of FAQs and those who refer to the FAQs are there to learn. A well written FAQ conveys ideas clearly and as accurately as possible.

When a FAQ contains information that is false, it may cause confusion to the reader or even damage to the organization or business. Unless the intention of the FAQ is to misguide and misrepresent information, there is an understanding that what we read in a FAQ is truthful. From reviewing numerous FAQs on the Internet, it seems that most convey a reliability rather than a fallacy about information.

Why would anyone dismiss the reliability of a FAQ, and why would an organization or a business not care about the truthfulness of their Web site's FAQ? What would the payoff be? Could part of a payoff be that if no one is given credit for his vision and work, then everyone is credited?

When I stumble into a line of thinking that seems off target, I refer to Carl Sagan's _The Demon-Haunted World_ because he talks about the subject of facts and fallacies so bravely and boldly.

"...where ignorance is bliss,
Tis folly to be wise" (Thomas Gray, from _The Demon-Haunted World_)

If I am interested in a subject, I want to know the origin of ideas on that subject and enjoy learning how the ideas were formed and continue to develop over time. I enjoy a learning about creative and daring thinkers through biographies or autobiographies, and also how others are drawn to his/her ideas.

I appreciate reading a transhumanist FAQ that clearly reflects where ideas came from and how they continue to develop over time.

Damien Broderick writes about scientists and artists in response to Doug Bailey's rant:

>A long and honorable tradition rewards artists and scientists with peer
>recognition, and one way of adjudicating how much of that anyone gets is
>their acknowledged priority - the first to build a new gadget or publish a
>new idea, or even a new and usefully-organizing nomenclature.
>So I'm not ashamed at feeling pleased with myself whenever someone cites my
>possible coinage of the term `virtual reality', even though I didn't do
>anything to further the technology. If we are not allowed to gain some
>small satisfaction from our scorecards in this way, a large part of our
>traditional reward is filched from us. And it's not even as if it costs
>other people very much to pay us in that coin...

Sounds quite reasonable to me and I'm pleased too. Coining words is not grandstanding, it is being creative.

Some people have an inclination for novelty, or reworking old ideas, or being synergistic with varied information. Some people have a vision and work on it and present it in a book, film, lecture, image, song, etc. When someone takes the time to think and rethink data and compile it in a format and then put it out to the public, this person or people are "working." The creativity that they produce is valuable and of value to them. To disrespect this process of creativity and production might be suspect. One may not agree or even dislike the vision or the resulting product of such vision, but to dismiss it as unnecessary seems ignoble.

T.O. Morrow writes:

>(snip) Someone who
>fails to credit his predecessors can hardly expect like treatment from
>others. Secondly, they promote their work very discreetly. It's a touchy
>practice, since academics regard too much self-promotion as rather tacky.
>Thirdly, they forego overt enforcement their "credit rights," counting
>instead on third parties (albeit sometimes coached privately ones) to gently
>remind the relevant audience of who merits proper credit for an idea or good
>So it goes in academia. I cannot vouch for the arts or for other fields
>face analogous problems. Query whether a more formal system would work
>better. I doubt it, given the difficult line-drawing problems.

Since most of the arts are based in academia, it follows a similar practice. Since much of the arts are based in grant type institutions, it follows the path of academia. However, it's been decades since I was in academia, and I have no idea what the climate is now. In the "art world" where we artists produce art as a livelihood, we tend to play fair because of personal reputation and because of business. In the film community, the Writers Guild protects ideas, and fine artists have representatives who protect our interests. In the development of ideas and recreation of ideas, the policy is to give credit and take credit. Most artists appreciate the compliment because we gain recognition as having been an inspiration. This is probably why there are so many accolades and awards in the arts. And, in a way it is beneficial because it reminds the audience or public of how ideas have been generated and influence many people.

But, what I do sense is that both Damien and T.O. appreciate being acknowledged for their ideas. Along with this comes a responsibility -- an integrity.

As transhumanists, we often discuss self-responsibility. Self-responsibility starts with the self and trickles out into the world through what we think and how we act -- ideas and actions. To discount facts and replace them with fiction, or to belittle facts because one assumes that *anyone* is getting off on it is reducing the position of responsibility to a meaningless stance.


Natasha Vita-More: http://www.natasha.cc To Order the book: Create/Recreate: The Third Millennial Culture

Transhumanist Arts Centre: http://www.extropic-art.com Transhuman Culture InfoMark: http://www.transhuman.org