Thursday, November 11, 2004

Pandagate

It looks like Pandagate (lame name, but who's got anything better?) has come to a thrilling climax; but ultimately it is all over. It's time for the participants to move aside, and the historians (well, those with too much time on their hands and reckon that every other topic has been done to death, Arafat-style) to move in. Ariontheweb is close enough to too many of the participants to not feel comfortable getting involved, but I freely admit that I have been watching from the sidelines with plenty of interest and jaw agape.

There are oodles of blogs covering the ins-and-outs-and-who-said-what-to-whom-whilst-dressed-as-a-panda, and I won't attempt to be a player. But the question of how it came to be is an interesting one.

This dispute was not a right-vs-left dispute, a simple dichotomy that explains much of the conflict on the web. This one was a battle of egos, where two, and later more, people chose to escalate a dispute rather than seek to resolve it. At numerous points throughout, from the early days of the sparring Alexes (Lew and White), through to the Danby intervention, the Bolt intervention and finally the Crikey intervention, there was an opportunity to de-escalate the dispute and keep things nice, but each time a mix of pride and ego got in the way. In the same way that the MAD philosophy kept the world in relative peace during the Cold War, participants would have found that there was mutual benefit to be gained out of keeping cool.

After all that has gone on, it seems likely that no participant (other than perhaps the man with the big reveal at the end Robert Corr) has come out looking good. Miranda - and Alex L - has no doubt learnt plenty from it all, although remains now blog-homeless after owning her own place and then later shacking up on the now defunct Two Cents. Marieke Hardy is likely to be just as outrageous, although she played some seriously dirty games if she had anything to do with the mysterious-and-non-existant solicitor Stephen Hollis. Bolt looks like as big a goose as usual.

So can we write it off as just a bit of exam period hijinx to pass the time, or does it say something more? It says plenty about the contagious nature of the internet, that allows a petty dispute to take on monumental proportions with great speed, and as it does the chances of everyone escaping dignity intact are lessened. Think of it as a school yard brawl: what starts as a couple of kids yelling insults soon gets ugly once a crowd gathers. So maybe that's the lesson - all of us who sat around watching it should have moved on, kept our noses out of it, and let the participants sort out their differences. So it's all my fault??

UPDATE, 11/11 12:15pm: On further reflection, it seems unfair to conflate the early sparring between Alex 1 and Alex 2 into the later saga that was Pandagate. Instead it's helpful to keep em separate, with the Misha Schubert article being the natural starting point. It is useful background information, though, to consider the funny-buggers being played in the week before it all started, with Alex L/Two Cents in a serious and potentially ligitious battle which saw a concerted attempt to see a blogging rival sacked from their employment. Sound familiar?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have to say that this article is well below your usual standards, AOTW. Who and what the hell are you talking about? You might know what Pandagate is, but nobody else does! If you want to be a blogger, try to speak to the masses - to the common man; not just to "insiders".

If you really HAD to pontificate about such an obscure matter, then you should have started by telling your readers what the bankground to story was.

N.

-A. said...

Thanks, N, as always in the language of customer service, I'll take your comments on board.

There was this paragraph, though, which gave 14 different ways to find out more:

There are oodles of blogs covering the ins-and-outs-and-who-said-what-to-whom-whilst-dressed-as-a-panda, and I won't attempt to be a player. But the question of how it came to be is an interesting one.

Click on the links and enjoy!

AOTW

Anonymous said...

wow, it takes a lot of chutzpah to think you can comment on the pandagate debacle without becoming another "player".

every other person who has typed the now immortal neologism 'pandagate' onto a blog has leapt into the pandagate-pool hip-deep, unable to hold back a few words of contempt for at least one of the parties involved.

Though i have to say i disagree with one of your diplomatic-cum-condescending insights. "This dispute was not a right-vs-left dispute"? i thought this is what it EXACTLY was, except with no pesky politics to get in the way. it was a right-vs-left dispute in its purest possible form.

a bunch of people, who i'm sure are otherwise reasonably humble and self-effacing, saw this as a right-vs-left dispute, and thus felt their left/right views rightfully afforded them a sense of unconditional righteousness, and thus allowed their ego's to roll around in a dirty blogspat with the abandon and glee of pigs in proverbial shit.

this reductio ad absurdum of political "debate" plays almost as self-satire, but i think we have a lot to learn from it on how we wage our political battles.

since two-cents is now indeed defunct, i want to repeat my favourite quote from the debacle. it comes from rohan d'souza, "you're playing with the big boys now, marieke". cracks me up every time.

anyway, loving your blog as always,

-m

Robert said...

it seems likely that no participant (other than perhaps the man with the big reveal at the end Robert Corr) has come out looking good.Thanks, I think.

Btw, the "big boys" line came from the fake lawyer, which makes Rohan D'Souza's repetition all the more entertaining. They really got sucked in -- desperate to believe in the conspiracy theory.

Alex said...

IMO, everyone that touched this seriously, got burned somehow-- even if it was just an unwelcome realisation of the absolute malignance of some of the shit that was going on.

When people start trying to get you sacked from your job, you're in a little deep. ;-)