What Web 2.0 really needs is a global “turn off comments” switch

I love a lot of things about “Web 2.0.” Websites just look better, for one thing, and I firmly believe that “form” is a key part of “function.” The increased interactivity both between user and site and between user and other users has made the whole thing a lot more engaging.

But some people seriously need to shut the hell up.

I love the fact that many sites allow readers to comment on their articles. And I often wish more people would post comments on my own site. (I have to assume/hope more people are reading it than just those who very… very… rarely post comments.) But sometimes, especially when the topic inspires a passionate response (often involving Apple, love ’em or hate ’em), the worst thing I can possibly do is allow myself to get sucked down into the vortex of asshat ramblings in the comments section. And I have a perfect case in point here today from Technology Review.

I happen to be an Apple fanatic, I can admit that. But even if I didn’t love Apple, the iPhone would have won me over. In fact, going into the Macworld Expo keynote where Jobs first announced the iPhone, I met the rumors of an Apple phone with cringes and revulsion. Why would Apple make a phone? I wondered. What a stupid idea, I was convinced. But by the end of the keynote, I wanted one.

I still don’t have one, although I am presently contemplating it. Once I had actually used one, I was even more convinced that it was the greatest invention of the computer age. Opening it up to business apps and third-party developers is going to release the deluge. So I found the TR article interesting, but I seriously wanted to crush my skull in a vise after reading the first comment. And it just got worse from there, even with the commenters I agreed with. And yet, like with Katherine Kersten, I just can’t… stop… reading… them! HHFFRRRGGH!!! (Suddenly, I think I understand what that means.)

S.N.P.J., PA

This is the kind of random stuff I just love.

A few weeks ago I spent some time reading about Centralia, PA, a town that has dwindled to almost nothing over the past several decades due to an underground fire in a coal mine that has been burning there since the 1960s. I was just once again reading the entry on Centralia in Wikipedia, and I found this line interesting:

Centralia is now the least-populous municipality in Pennsylvania, with four fewer residents than the borough of S.N.P.J.

OK, there’s a borough (a distinction for municipalities that does not exist where I live, but basically, in other words, a “town”) in Pennsylvania called “S.N.P.J.”? I had to find out more about this. So I did.

S.N.P.J. stands for Slovenska Narodna Podporna Jednota which means “Slovene National Benefit Society.” OK, nothing wrong there (and I am trying not to think about Borat). But what’s really crazy about it is that according to the 2000 census, the municipality has a population of zero (although the borough itself claims 13 residents), which makes a little bit more sense when you understand its history:

The society applied to have their 500 acre recreation center in western Pennsylvania designated as a separate municipality in 1977. The S.N.P.J. borough was created so that the society could, among other things, get their own liquor license. North Beaver Township, Pennsylvania, the municipality in which the center was originally located, restricted the sale of alcohol on Sundays.

Wow. That’s almost as crazy as the guy I knew in California whose last name was Church, who filed paperwork with the IRS to get himself tax-exempt status. (Apparently, it worked.)

Well, the borough may be sparsely populated, but it (or at least, the organization behind it), does have its own website.

Recursive reading…

…or something like that.

I am presently (well, almost finished) reading John Hodgman’s book, The Areas of My Expertise, which I first mentioned here.

Something strange happened somewhere in the middle of the appendix to the paperback edition. The book actually mentioned the exact store in which I had purchased the book. What’s more, the store was mentioned inasmuch as the author had called the store to determine that the store carried no copies of this book!