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Ogi, thanks for more evidence of your social immaturity, your sexist bias, your utterly self-absorbed scientific twerpitude:


[Sep. 3rd, 2009|06:24 am]

We wish to apologize for any offense caused by our survey, which was certainly never our intention. We can clearly understand how strong feelings were evoked by the specific nature of our interactions. We deeply regret this. We appreciate tremendously the invaluable feedback we've received, and certainly hope to improve our work and grow as people as a result of this experience.

No Ogi, how about you apologize FOR BEING WRONG? For doing BAD SCIENCE and CRAPTASTICALLY AMATEUR, INSENSITIVE pop social research? For pretending to know something about fields you never took even an undergraduate class in? FOR LYING?

How about YOU apologize for YOUR FAULTS AND FLAWS AND FAILINGS instead of blaming fandom?

*takes deep breath and turns to analysis*

Sorry for the tirade. I really, really hope someone Ogi talks to points out to him that THIS IS NOT AN APOLOGY. Rhetorically, discursively, syntactically, this is a DENIAL OF RESPONSIBILITY for a situation HE CAUSED. Ogi should be apologizing for what HE did, not essentializing fandom further by telling *us* what *our* response is.

Also, I particularly vomit at how he (& poor Sai who is either an even bigger coward or a total tool of Ogi) hope to "grow as people." It's not just that they should grow as *men* and as *scientists* since in both those areas they are clearly at a very immature stage, it's that through this and other choices of words, they RESTATE AND COMPOUND their sexism and colonialism. Throughout this pathetic and completely unprofessional excuse for an apology, they emphasize their agency over fandom. They characterize fandom as a passive mass, an object, an only vaguely seen - and not worth seeing - group who they just spent many hours with, but failed to get to know in any way.

So instead, they deliver an apology that is a nonpology (or as I've also heard, a nopology). They post a text that is all about them, to a group they can't even bother to name, using discourse that frames fandom as composed of hyperemotional women who have no qualifications, no intelligence, no humanity, no rights. Their discourse establishes this binary us-versus-them schema in a way that reaffirms Ogi on a number of levels and devalues fandom in all. It does this in a number of ways; let me show you them!

ETA: now revised, with subheds and better summary. I'm workin on it!

ETA: Their apology is was here:
Ogi's journal has now been deleted. But never fear, screencaps are here!

Let's take a look, starting with their conclusion. There are eight main points this discourse makes:

  1. Ogi and Sai are the only characters in this story, the only people who count.

  2. Fandom is depicted as not existing in any way that would be normal or human.

  3. Fandom is driven solely by emotions; it is irrational and not under proper control.

  4. People in fandom are not individuals, and thus their dignity or preferences do not count.

  5. Ogi and Sai, the Scientists, are hard working, thoughtful, active people: the right kind. Fans or fandom, by contrast, are passive, aimless, unthinking; not doing anything that matters.

  6. Ogi and Sai are really *good* people, with loads of moral values and deep sincerity. Take their word for it. Fandom, OTOH, is crazy by "nature." Women are just like that.

  7. There is nothing to apologize for, and if there was, they didn't mean it, so it doesn't count.

  8. The technology of the discourse shows Ogi as more comfortable with monologic communication (he talks and others can't respond, as in his nonpology) or asynchronous and thus semi-monologic communication (others can talk, but he doesn't have to respond until, unless, and only as, he chooses, as with the survey and his selective answering of comments). Fandom is dialogically constructed, through synchronous or near-synchronous, mutually engaged discussion. Ogi's preference is for an unbalanced relationship, controlled from his side. Fandom exists by distributing power, with a community of practice that keeps knowledge slowly circulating and renewing. Mutualistic dialogue is key.

  9. OKAY, on to the dissection. Serious sociolinguistics, aka discourse analysis, ahead. (Relax, it's just looking at words. There is no math, no footnotes, and I didn't use pomo-poco-psycho-lit-crit jargon even once!)

    1. The apology paints Ogi and Sai in a good light: as people. As normal citizens with lives and jobs and a future. Unlike fans.

    In the closing sentence, which is the most memorable part of any paragraph - the punch line - Ogi characterizes himself and Sai as people; specifically people who *work* and *have experience* and experiences. In other words, the kind of people who run society and get things done, who count as 'real people' with a vote and a job, who speak and are listened to. Who have privilege. Who are men, and thus real. Those are "people."

    2. By contrast, fandom doesn't do anything and never goes anywhere. It simply isn't real. It's not "people."

    The wording of the apology presents no picture of fandom as busy people doing things, whose time was wasted even by these other people called Ogi and Sai. It simply leaves fandom to the side, as some unnamed or unnamable mass. Like animals or a swarm of insects, fans don't have lives but just reactions, no brains, just "strong feelings" that get stirred up, maybe out of control. Ogi could have said "we know we said stupid and wrong things and didn't listen to people here on LJ," he could even have said he should have listened to Shaggirl because she did warn him and he can see how she got jumped on for his SurveyFail. But that would give agency to these other people, would describe an interaction between equals who each have voice, have a right to speak, to be seen, to be listened to.

    Instead, Ogi & Sal are the only people in this text. Their personhood and rightness is reinforced by noting (in the final sentence) that they grow and learn. That confirms that they are humans, alive and learning and doing things and progressing - all crucial to the definition - while fandom is simply out there somewhere, an unchanging, not noticeably human group that just mills around until occasionally, when poked with a sharp survey, it reacts by erupting into "strong feelings." Like an anthill or a volcano, its movements are random, not directed by a human's brain, or are only caused by the scientist who comes along to study it. Like the animals that Rene Descartes said are automatons without souls, or the dogs that neuroscientists sometimes dissect, the object of their study, fandom, only counts insofar as it is "data."

    3. This faceless (or not worth facing) mass is driven by feelings, not thoughts. Like some hysterical woman or weird alien, it might be "out to get" Ogi. Or it has evil, "purported academic" leaders.

    The text defines fandom only by implication and in passing, as this unseen somebody that took "offense." But Ogi immediately adds that this was "certainly never our intention." These two points, in combination, elevate the reaction into an overreaction, so that it is both unjustified *and* out of control. The only other way the group is acknowledged is as having "strong feelings"; not thoughts, or words, or reasons, or justifiable objections. But only out of control emotions, like sterotype little children or again, animals, or lunatics: in short, a misogynist's caricature of hysterical women. (And of course, all of the fans who they learned are not female or women as they define it? They're what Ogi calls "girly," too.)

    Those "strong feelings" may even be interpreted as free-floating, detached: something that Ogi is baffled by, that he can barely conceive anyone is saying them, let alone why. It's not unusual to see this in the "nonpologies" of bluffers. They detach the outrage and other signals of fail from themselves. For example: "I noticed some strong feelings but they have nothing to do with what I did". They detach from the other people involved, too: "Strong feelings were evident though they're just words on the page; if I had a beer with anyone involved, they'd totally be my friennnd, cos everybody iz.." And if this doesn't make the whole thing just evaporate, there are always some Evil Nasty People to blame it on - such as the "anonymous, purported academics" Ogi blamed in an email to Shaggirl.

    Under this second interpretation, Ogi's failure to acknowledge the reality of the people he disparaged and insulted with his essentialism and survey fail, is actually the sign of someone completely unable to accept the reality of others around him. It's an extreme narcissism or solipsism (warning: IANA psychologist, and only a middling philospher) that leaves him hard-pressed to understand where this *emotion* stuff is coming from. Some could suspect sociopathy (but IANA psychologist, I'm a discourse geek, so bzuh).

    A third insight from outside the nonpology text arises from Ogi's protests to Shaggirl that he is certain he shares fandom's values and his insistence that his research design is perfect, we just don't "understand." Hundreds of us in LJ are all interrogating him from the wrong perspective, because of our stupidity, or the sinister influence of those "purported" academics (dude, it's not a fake; *nobody* talks this way without *years* of academic indoctrination!). His paranoia about "sabotage" also supports this third interpretation.

    However, his posting of the apology shows a clear intent to engage with fandom, but to do so from a position of power and invulnerability. He's happy to talk TO fandom, he just doesn't want to have to listen. He knows fandom is there, he just wants it to shut up and obediently be what he fantasizes it as being. (Or, as he already told his publisher it is.)

    4. By not directly addressing fandom - or allowing replies - the nopology denies the individual dignity of the people he harmed.

    The wording doesn't directly admit fandom, or the many fans who talked to them, exist. "We can clearly understand how strong feelings were evoked," it says, but not in whom they were embodied. Fandom is not named; no fans are named; there is no one in this text but Ogi. No one but Ogi (or his Ogi/Sal plurality) has identity and individuality in this discourse. Since in the US, individuality is the basis of all rights, this means only Ogi and Sai really have the right to be offended, to discuss it, to do anything. Fandom, as a faceless non-being, is not only not looked in the eye and apologized to but rather, via some hand-wavey passive tense work, pushed completely off the stage. But that's alright, because a non-person, as Ogi constructs them, doesn't count.

    Ogi is not apologizing to people, not even to a community. The apology is a fill-in-the-blanks form letter, only the name of the injured party wasn't written in. Yet there are many ways to know who was offended by SurveyFail, and to know them as particular, distinctive, entities and people. There are the 2000 plus LJ users who Ogi says (to shaggirl) took their poll, and there are the several hundred unique, highly individual LJ users who took the time to explain to Ogi and Sai why and how their survey failed, on both Ogi's and Shaggirl's journals. There are Shaggirl and Mecurtin and their flists, the individuals they snookered into helping them prodigiously, for well over a month. These are all real people whose online identities are clear; people whose time was wasted, whose lives and concerns were caricatured and disparaged, whose privacy was threatened, whose community was disrespected and whose dignity was abused. Ogi addressed people by name in many of his comments, but there is no effort here to apologize to any of them, or to the community of fandom on LJ whose individual responses comprised this cumulative fail. Rather, the vague hand-wavey reference to the somebody something that might be related to those "feelings" simply reaffirms the message of their apology's last sentence, that Ogi and Sai are *people* but fandom is not. Fandom is just some stupid group of misbehaving lab rats, or doesn't really exist, or just doesn't count enough to mention.

    5. There are active, upright, sensitive, truthful, thoughtful Men of Science, and then there are fans. The verbs tell the story.

    The verbs describing Ogi are cast in active voice to emphasize that he and Sai, men and scientists, are active, ideal people. As active-verb users, they are the kind of people who *do* things, who rationally determine each act and decision, fully in control of themselves (not driven by subliminal lizard-brain emotions, oh no): "we wish" and "apologize," "we understand," "we regret," "we appreciate," "we hope to improve [our work] and grow". My, what active and energetic and above all, rational people! Thinking people, H. sapiens, whose ability to understand things proves [his] humanity. Civilized, as well, showing a range of subtle emotions and the capacity to select each appropriately (as by posting this solves-all apology). And speaking, like the Rhetor and the Orator from time immemorial, who by addressing a group not only establish their competence but their entitlement to be heard.

    In contrast, the passive voice is used exclusively to describe the people they barged in on and insulted: fandom is little more than feelings that "were evoked" and offense that was caused, resulting in feedback that wasn't even directly given, but rather simply "received" by Ogi and Sai (hardly anything exists unless it involves them).

    6. Ogi and Sai are being blamed unfairly. Their intentions were pure. They are the kind of sensitive sincere people capable of deep honesty and tremendous appreciation. Fandom - meh. Not in the picture.

    The focus of the apology is on Ogi and Sai's sincerity and good intentions all along. They "never" meant anything but good, and they "certainly" know that's true. They're "tremendously" appreciative sorts. How could anyone be angry with people who are so pure and noble? One problem with these words is that their hugely assuring sound isn't matched by any concrete proof. They're assertions: emotional, self-serving, self-focused on Ogi and Sai, and unbacked by any hard evidence. Their actions were the opposite of these words, disconnecting the text from the historical world, so that it describes only an aspirational world that existed previous to their encounter with fandom or perhaps parallel to it, in a mental mirror that showed them only as they wanted to seem, and never doing what they did.

    Previously on his LJ Ogi asserted that they wanted to "help fandom" (those ungrateful stupid fans) and to do "science." (This might possibly have been a get-out-of-jail-free card for some things they did and said, if it had in fact been science. The neuroscience Ogi talked about was never, however, outside his text.) The effort to construct Ogi/Sai as a noble and sincere soul is untroubled by any acknowledgement of errors. These are not just the only real people in the picture, they're really *good* people. This is not an apology but a defensive assertion of being too nice to be blamed; a weaseling effort to swap a history of smiles for a trail of blunders among which one very evident intention was to deceive, by associating the aura of science and the name of a prestigious university with a personal, profit-driven plan.

    However, there is no mention of specific missteps and outright misdirection except for stating that those "strong feelings were evoked by the specific nature of our interactions." The "specific nature" of our interactions not only doesn't detail who was involved in those interactions (it could have been only Ogi and Sai, again nothing to do with those irritable fans), it finesses the details in word play. The word "specific" is not itself pointing to any specifics. There are no specifics being apologized for, but using the word can give the impression that Ogi thought about this problem very hard, that he knows exactly all that he did wrong, and the preciseness of the wording is all the assurance we need. The word is certainly all we get.

    "Nature," however, rings a bell (though not a Pavlovian one). Is it truly "nature" that is at fault here? Did "nature" make the Survey Fail? Or, looking at the word in its phrase, is it that the primitive "nature" that according to Ogi, controls women, this nature caused the strong feelings, so that Whoosh! like a hurricane, those women simply blew up out of control. The Noble Scientist was unprepared for Hurricane Fandom, for the primeval lizard-brain unable to grasp Science, and our frenzied maenad ways. Nature made fandom, and fandom is out of control; Ogi is lucky to have barely escaped with his data. This sounds a lot like Ogi's sff novel in progress. Think about that.

    7. Everyone will have noticed immediately, of course, how they completely avoid responsibility in the opening of the text.

    The wiggle wording of "any offense" raises doubt that anything bad even happened. Further distance from responsibility is opened by stating it was "never our intention." Refusal to admit that offense *did* occur, that it was in fact Ogi & Sai who *gave* offense, admits doubt instead. Making the harm into offense, and the offense into just a hypothesis, is to propose that the reader bear in mind that perhaps no offense even occurred. This also nicely suggests the irrationality and unbelievability - or insincerity - of any fan who imagined it.

    Following up immediately with the irrelevant (and unverifiable) assertion of their good intention adds another common way to duck responsibility. Before working with more writers, the "intentional fallacy" should be added to the reading list; the impact of their words is in their interaction with the reader's response, not simply their hope as the speaker. However, by espousing an outdated and invalidated theory of communication, one that assigns all initiative, intention, and agency to the "speaker" and casts fandom as simply a passive "receiver" (to be penetrated by this seminal research of the Mighty Phallic Science of Ogi and Sai :-), Ogi and Sai let themselves off the hook, painting themselves as people whose sincere, clear and benevolent statements were mysteriously misinterpreted by an audience who are stupid (or were misled by those interfering uppity academics).

    8. The larger discursive context shuts fandom out, shuts it down, and shouts it down.

    Finally, stepping back from the immediate text itself, one notes its imperious isolation on a page with all previous interaction removed or, at least, taken away from the access of many of those who wrote it - the fans who commented on their plans. There is also no reply enabled.

    Ogi and Sai have retreated to a soapbox, a pedestal from which to issue one last sermon to the passive worshippers they hoped to attract; or if you will, a tiny fortress tower from which to drop one last water balloon. By denying any conversational exchange, they again reinforce their position as monologic authorities, those who speak but don't have to listen. Scientists who deliver expertise to the ignorant and needy masses, because *they know everything*; they don't need to listen and learn. They cut themselves of from the stream of discourse in this last effort to control it. Like their Boston University websites, this is an "interactive" technology being rigged so that no one can interact.

    Ogi and Sai's survey gave a similar illusion by inviting fans in with conversational language and a colorful, catchily-worded ad that spoke to fannish interests. But surveys are not designed to be conversational; rather, they narrow the options of anyone "talking" to them so that the entirety of each topic is diminished to a few bare answers, which the scientists pore over later and reassemble into figures as they choose. The survey-taker has no choice, or only the choice of answering as told, or quitting and not answering at all. The survey is surveillance; the scientist's Gaze penetrating the complex world of the community and stripping it down to the "naked truth" - as the scientist chooses to measure and produce it.

    Fans did not want to conform to Ogi's expectations, forced onto them by the narrow assumptions of his survey. Normally their choice would be only to not take it, and as they did, to alert others to its problems. But LJ lets fans break out of the Panopticon and with Ogi on LJ, to completely break it down. By opening an LJ and using it to explain the research (i.e., to post monologic mini-"lectures" on the research, and in responses to comments), Ogi subjected himself to a cyberstructure in which fandom is at home. The scientist's traditional form of control, surveillance from a remote and untouchable place over the landscape of his research domain, slipped out of Ogi's grasp when he decided to research fandom on LJ. LJ is not designed for monologic one-to-many speeches, like a blog or webpage; nor for the scattered, disorganized many small one-to-ones of a threaded forum. LJ allows the many to talk back with the one, and the one-to-ones to be linked and gathered so that they have both the power of the many and the personal richness of the one-on-one. Meta tools add further structuring, so that people can move rapidly through the community along the conversational lines of their choice. Journal privacy controls and multiple accounts (on and off LJ, but especially at the "AUs" of IJ and DW) allow still further ways of spreading out for comfort but even more ways to stay in touch (through, eg., automatic cross-posting and overlapping reading lists or friends).

    ... and I have no grand operatic concluding paragraph. Let's just say that LJ and fandom are their emergent form of life, and Ogi didn't seem to think about how he was coming into a community where his "house" is on *our* streets, and once he opens the doors to us and invites us in, we're going to come over and tell him when he's playing his sexist music too loud.

    Fandom used Ogi's LJ and his Survey in different ways than he planned. Ogi did not adapt.

    Now, he's left as he came in: abruptly, with no clarity or reliable truth, and still wanting to run the conversation and dictate who everyone is. So long, and thanks for the LOLZ!

    Still don't have the Ken Jennings' link where he recounts Ogi's saying another man couldn't do good math because he was "girly". Also, there is recently some good work coming out on the discourse (or rhetoric, or politics) of apologies and the nopologies that Americans are so very, insidiously, good at. I can find these if anyone is interested. And I should think if this is worth working up as a more polished essay instead of this ranty rambly draft. But you tell me: R&R! *g* Also, any other points it should include (or not) of course!
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