Saturday, March 12, 2005

Hotspot #6: The Scurrying of Ants on the Trail

I was really going to write this hotspot yesterday, but then I was so upset that I decided it wouldn't be a good idea. I do after all, have a policy of not posting when I'm anything but calm and logical, and every time I've violated my own rule, I have always had cause to regret it and see a better way I could have done things.

It's been a turbulent week for anything with the word "Keen" in the name. There is of course, the molehill that was the Keenspot Gay-Newsbox thing raging on in Comixpedia and WebSnark. And there was the ruckus over the wrongful termination of a certain popular Keenspace account which was the reason I was too upset to hold a brush yesterday.

Let me repeat that: I was too upset to hold a brush. I was too upset to draw. Despite forcing myself to, the only thing I could achieve out of drawing was a bunch of wriggly sketches because my hand was shaking so much.

And that was really what tore it for me. I'm not the sensitive artist type, but for something to bother me so much I cannot not draw comics is just too much.

So I took a step back and looked carefully at what it was I was upset about.

Then I stopped and started laughing hysterically.

When I was younger, I used to play a lot with ant trails. I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with this, but colony ants do their communication using chemical pheremones sprayed on the surfaces they travel on to form a trail. The ants then follow the trail and stick to it until it changes.

I used to like messing with them, by disrupting the pheremone trails. Generally wiping a finger across it is enough to disrupt the column. Then at the point where you've wiped the trail, you'll get a bottle neck of confused ants, scurrying around in indignant circles, unable to carry on.

Eventually of course, there's going to come along an ant that realises: "Hey waittaminute... the trails continues just right over there. All I have to do is cross over here without making a fuss and I can be on my merry way!". And so it does. And all the other ants realise they've been scurrying around for nothing and follow suit.

From the point of view of the outside observer (me), all this scurrying was all very entertaining.

And I'll wager from the point of view of anyone outside webcomics... hell, Keenspot or Keenspace, if you want to be specific, all the scurrying about that has been occuring the past week in is every bit just as ludicriously entertaining.

So love him or hate him, Scott Kurtz was right on this one.
Edit: I've been told the above sentence is incredibly vague. Sorry. What I meant: he was right as in this was blown ridiculously out of porportion.

One more thing I'd like to mention: I'm not the type that likes making a fuss. And I realise from the comments made by various people in the Websnark post, and in the livejournal and Keenspace Help Center, this is a quality that may not endear me to many people.

You know what? I don't care. I still prefer to keep my head down and keep going.

But this does not mean I will not make a fuss if I have to. It just means I prefer to find less disruptive ways of doing things BEFORE I turn to the last resort of making a fuss. I prefer to sort out things through emails and private messages BEFORE whining about it on my livejournal or blog and giving it up for lost. I prefer this because I find it a better way of doing things, and speaking practically, it's a lot easier to rectify a problem if your don't tar and feather the person responsible for screwing up before you give them a chance to make up for it.

It's probably too naive and noblistic to survive in the real world, but fuck that. It's the way I do things, and I'll keep doing that as long at it survives and I do.

There's also the issue of crying 'Wolf!'. I'm a final year university student in a very socially active university. I swear, every month or two they have some sort of protest or campaign to challenge some injustice. Whether it's the "Fuck Bush" campaign or "Save the Lecturers" or "Gay Rights" or "Jesus believes in Atheists", I'm sorry to say the frequency of the fuss they kick up has desensitised me to these issues so much I no longer care or participate, even if the issue being campaigned is something near and dear to my heart. Just because it's yet another protest campaign, I stop listening to it. Period.

So no, I don't want to be an ant marching along in the column, but if I have to be one, I want to be the ant that realises the trail is just a finger's width over there, steps over the broken line, and keeps on moving.


  1. I keep thinking I should offer to buy you a drink next weekend, especially on seeing stuff like this.

  2. You've got a good point, Ping--too many people get too damn worked up over things that're pretty inconsequential, when you think about it.

    Hadn't heard about a Keenspace account getting terminated. Guess I should go check the forum more often.

  3. yeah... what's the goss? i can't see anything on GD over at the keenspace forums...
    and good thing counting to 10 there, ping - it's always best to cool off before posting something, amazing what a bit of perspective can do! :D

  4. I only got worked up by one thing: It's PHEROMONES, Ping!

  5. Mos: AAaah! I shall die of embarassment! ;)

    Guys: the ruckus was in Help Center, THAT's why it upset me. But oh well.

    And ants rock. One day I shall do a comic about them too.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. *revises* Blech, saying nothing at all IS the best policy.

  9. Don't worry about it.

    I think the problem with this is knowing when to not comment, when to 'make a fuss'. The wrong thing at the wrong time = a mess.

    I consider Eric a friend, but though I personally disagreed with his post the matter, I didn't bother to say anything because there were so many voices posting their opinions already, and it was not needed for me to say anything at all.

    I do respect him for being able to recognise his mistakes and apologise for it though.

    Of course, part of me still wonders if I had said anything it would have made a difference.

    Realistically though, probably not. So I make comics and write my essays instead

    In retrospect, my philosophy and low-profile approach probably won't get me wanged by Penny Arcade, but I think I can live quite happily without that ;)

  10. I actually wondered what I started with that newspost on Comixpedia. Although before posting it I asked on the editors email list if they thought it was news worthy as well as getting Xerxes to check the post before it went up.
    I must admit that I'm impressed by the Websnark discussion, pretty levelheaded. As opposed to the Keenspot forum one, although that seems to have less to do with the newsbox issue and more to do with Kurtz and Bobby Crosby locking horns and P-A pouring nitroglycerin on it.

  11. The websnark discussion was much more of a discussion and less of a flamewar.

    Ironically, this whole matter could have died down a few days ago, but apparently the urge to not just let things be without pouring rabin fans on the mixture was too strong. Now it's getting to the point where even people who couldn't care less about the parties at hand HAVE to know about it because everyone is talking about it.