Meet the Gender Genie. It takes a bunch of text, preferably in excess of 500 words, and provides you with an educated guess as to the sex of the author. It has an accuracy level rather conservatively suggested by its creators to be about 80%. It's controversial as all hell, and so far it's my pick for the invention of the goddamn year. Endlessly useful.
So anyway, I got a long and considered email from Julian Barendse. I've mentioned Julian before; he's one of the lucky beneficiaries of that bizarre sequence of events we at Melbourne University lovingly refer to as our 2003 student elections. He's also on the National Executive of the Australian Liberal Students Federation.
I'm happy to report he admitted to me that he is also the vile individual who used this blog for his own political gain, taking it to the MUSU Elections tribunal as some kind of corroborative evidence of Pride's campaigning while banned. Well, I don't know shit about that one way or the other, which should be palpably clear. If anything both sides' stories seem rather suspect to me. I equally don't know shit about the Right's plagiarism of a left-wing work for their campaign material, nor do I know shit about the bribe offered to More Beer! to pull out of the elections, that was apparently caught on videotape, and apparently consisted of some 25,000 bucks in Union funds. It should be clear that I'm at the mercy of the emails I receive, and I do thank Barendse for sending me an alternative view.
The thrust of Julian's email was that my analysis was too one-sided. Did anyone reading it think it wasn't? Does Julian think that somehow I should be constrained by a journalistic ethic to write a "balanced" story? This is a blog -- prototyping (like its millions of brothers and sisters) the media of the future, where everything is opinion and nothing is fact, and everyone must filter what they read according to their own prejudices and critical thinking skills. For some people that is a nightmare vision of the future -- these people have a bizarre faith that what they receive right now from the media is "information" because it is formulated in neutral phrases that betray no overt opinion. But then you have Fox News, and Michael Moore, who take this corrupt format and push it to the very bounds of credulity. You know, or should know, there are no facts; merely perspectives at best, and we are all better off for the disclosure of prejudice. Everybody else in the world has to preface an opinion with "I think"; god knows the media should too.
I'm open about what I don't know, I make it very clear I am interpreting what I have experienced and investigated and been told in order to make sense of it. I hope I convey the idea that I think very deeply about the things I write -- I do.
But I don't feel at all obliged to dig around for some way of exculpating the people I disagree with in order to conform to some bizarre twentieth-century notion of "balance". And I don't ask you to agree with me. That's why I coded up a comments system -- at the bottom of each individual post you are invited and encouraged to disagree with me in front of everyone. You can set the record as straight as you like. I want you to! Open and disclosed provision of perspectives and experiences and hearsay is how we all become better informed.
The gender quotient of Julian's email:
Joseph | 29 Oct 2003