A while back, I made the connection
between Neurath’s Boat and the Ship of Theseus. I thought the lack
of connection elsewhere on the Web was interesting. Only a site by M.R.M.
Parrott (MP) mentioned both terms. So I emailed him (see below), hoping he
might be a kindred
spirit. MP did not find it interesting and his reply seemed a bit snarky, especially a comment about trolling, and what
appeared to be a sig block
with a quote about stupid (see below). So I originally posted his full reply on
my blog so I could comment on it.
However, a few days ago, MP
discovered that I had quoted his email and emailed me to delete it. Guess what,
this email was snarky too. Obviously, I was pissed off. I felt like telling MP
to f-off. Instead, I made myself think about his request for awhile. Certainly,
given that he had sent the original email to a total stranger, he had no
legitimate privacy concern. As for copyright, clearly my quotation would be
within the realm of fair use, since I was commenting on it and deriving no
commercial value from it. So I decided to visit his site to see if it would
reveal something about his personality or attitude that would help me decide
what to do.
While there, I read his article on wikis, thinking
this would give me insight as to how MP felt about posting etiquette, including
copyright issues. The article contained the obligatory reference to Wikipedia, but also mentioned
a wiki I'd not yet heard of Wikinfo. To make a
long story short, it appears that MP posted a Wikipedia entry about himself,
which was voted for
deletion because it was self-promoting. MP then joined Wikinfo, partially
in response to this, where he could post an entry
about himself, given Wikinfo's looser point-of-view rules (compare SPOV
Though I do think MP's pseudonymous
self-promotion is unbecoming
(others may disagree), I do admire his independence, talent, tenacity, and
industriousness. Helping to build a spin-off encyclopedia with the posting rules
of one's choosing, rather than merely submitting to the authority of others, is
a great example of the freedom the open source and open content world is
enabling. I especially value the XML import innovation
of Wikinfo, which is a great step towards better wiki federation (e.g., I can
post MY views on subjects in which I have a POV in my wiki, but link to other
wikis for subjects in which I have not [yet] expressed a different POV). This
might come in handy for a wiki project I am considering.
In the end, given the sensitivity he displayed
in the thread re deleting his entry, I decided to honor MP's request. I post
this story here only to demonstrate that if one takes the time to get to know
someone else better, instead to returning slight for perceived slight, one can
learn something interesting and useful, and perhaps avoid an escalating
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2004 6:56 AM
Subject: "Neurath's Boat" "Ship of Theseus"
I recently discovered that essentially
(no pun intended) the same paradox has two different names, both quoted in my
subject line. Of course I googled the two phrases in quotes and your
"Generation of 'X'" was the only hit. (There's a googlism for a search
that returns exactly one hit, but I can't remember what it is.)
What struck me as curious, and hence
motivated this email, was that you did not seem to notice the connection. The
two phrases are used in distant parts of your book. Did you think they are the
same paradox? If so, why no connection in your book? If not, why not?
Given that both are fairly well known
paradoxes, I'm surprised that no one has made the connection. I guess I will
have to do so on Wikipedia and my blog.
MRM's Signature Block:
"Stupid so stupid that it goes way
beyond the stupid we know into a whole different dimension of stupid."
[BTW, this flame is indeed the best
flame I have EVER seen. -- NLG]