An Unnecessarily Deep Dive into the Online Comments of Mike_Smith

Architects were once regarded for their acumen to envision the future. The city of tomorrow!

We are continually surrounded and immersed in architecture. From our houses, to the offices we work in, the strip-malls where we buy our discounted cotton socks, and the tiny shack in the middle of the lumber yard’s parking lot where we buy our Morning Java. However, there has become a rift, a new paradigm, in our visions for the future. The Digital Divide.

The digital divide is more appropriately a schism. A vast ravine. Where Silicon Valley, and technology mavens are determining our future environments. Indeed, Reality and Virtual Reality are becoming nearly indistinguishable.1

However, architects are idly sitting on the sidelines. We believe that if we use the crappy Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard goggles to look like a complete dork while touring a 3D building, then we are leveraging technology – and therefore are immersed in the conversation. When in fact, we are not designing the experiences we are viewing, but instead are touting the latest advancements to the View-Master toy we had as children to view Disney fairytales.

Architects only design 10% of the buildings in America.2 However, architects have developed an inherent skill-set that includes: human psychology, spatial volume, and circulation. Using these tools, architects become the curators of the built environment. Without curation, there is no order – no ease of navigation.

Facebook was recently criticized for curating their Trending page by blacklisting news articles containing Republican politicians. Thus, Mark Zuckerberg held a round-table with many leading conservative pundits to “resolve” the issue. BUT the internet NEEDS curation. Furthermore, Facebook’s Trending algorithm is already curating content. It, biasly, determines the most frequently shared stories, and sorts these rankings while discarding any illicit content.

By pretending to be completely open – it actually just creates more noise. Curation allows for the separation of information from this noise. I often do not want to read the most popular Hollywood Gossip; I want personalized, curated, news delivered to my electronic devices. Furthermore, everybody knows that the most popular articles are not the most-informative, or best-written. They are snippets. Link-bait listicles.

If architects are the curators of the built environment. I ponder, who is curating the digital environment? Who is separating the information from the endless expanse of white noise? The internet should allow for unknown, remarkable, content to be easily discovered. But right now, digital content is mostly an extension of reality – you still have to actively engage and network with the right people, and many people, to ever have your opinions heard.

Can Apple revolutionize news, the same way they revolutionized the iPod?

Since this is my blog. I’ll just answer my own rhetorical question. No.

Apple has curated news, but it’s fucking awful. Yahoo News is awful. But at least it’s easy to scroll through all 53 click-bait articles. Apple’s curated news only ever lists mundane news from The Washington Post. It’s supposed to contain an intuitive algorithm and curate news articles to what you previously read – but I have never liked any news article. Pocket and Instapaper send newsletters with smart, popular articles. This is the sort of curated news I actually read; however, their sources are usually from the same websites – and I already read all The Atlantic articles. However, Atlantic has a sister site called CityLab, which SHOULD be perfect, but often has crappy writing and uninspiring articles. Mostly, I just wrote 600 words because I want to easily read thoughtful CityLab-esque articles – not from CityLab.

Even though architects curate public spaces – people ultimately have to congregate to make these spaces successful. Indeed, another untapped void in the internet realm is the comment section.

The comment section should be similar to a public square, where the masses congregate around the previously read article, and further develop an interactive discussion.

However, the comment section is like several large city commission meetings simultaneously occurring in separate rooms with people voicing their disparate opinions. You can hear the public speaking in turn, with a few people shouting. But then instead of people responding directly to the commissioner’s agenda, some people begin cursing and lambasting the previous commenter’s remarks. This continues on for awhile with more people not talking about conservation easements and water-rights access, but instead how Dasani water tastes disgusting. Furthermore, since there are several rooms of simultaneous discussions, you may want to jump over to see what those other commenters were saying. In the digital world this is easy. It’s like having the court-reporter list all of the conversations arranged in sequential order. I can either start with the first comment, or the newest comment; however, most of the comments are worthless. Therefore, you can up-vote (or like) comments to demonstrate the value of certain comments. But instead of just clicking the up arrow – you have to create an account.

What the Fuck! I don’t want to create an account to join the discussion, I just want to highlight one person’s valuable comment.

Therefore, the people up-voting are already the same people in the conversation. Which is probably fine in South Korea, where 25% of South Koreans have blogs. But in America, most people are spectating wallflowers who are privately interacting – yet never engaging in the conversations.

There needs to be Curated Comments! I even thought about purchasing the domain name Unfortunately, it’s already taken. But it’d be great to have a feed of insightful articles with selected comments related to the article; where the highlighted comments actually further one’s knowledge on the issue.3

Sure. Many sites use Disqus, where you can view commenters prior discussions. Or Gawker’s sites use Kinja, which is also supposed to be a commenting discussion board. However, I was led down a rabbit hole after trying to locate prior discussions of ╰( ´◔ ω ◔ `)╯< Elizabeth Warren G.

Elizabeth Warren G. now goes by the Kinja screen name ╰( ´◔ ω ◔ `)╯< Donald T.Rex – who has the username of manolocatastrophe. However, manolocatastrophe appears to also have used the screen name Manolo Catastrophe with the username theitalianator (because I’m assuming she is an Italian translator from the future sent back in time to continuously post on Gawker’s message boards). However, a deeper dive may have revealed that theitalianator also used the screen name Esmerelda Foofypants when she was a moderator for Kinja’s predecessor comment platform: Clashtalk, which was a spinoff of Crasstalk (where she went by the username @Empress), which was another website spinoff by a group from the Crosstalk forum.

How the hell are you supposed to develop an online presence with constantly changing names? You don’t go into Target and sign up for the Target Red card, but, “Sorry, the name Brady Ernst is already in use by another user. Is there another name I can place your account under?” Uhh. Maybe try thefreshprinceofbozeman_11? Now every time I want to get 5% back at Target, I just have to remember what my new name is.

Architecture has established a set of rules within the built environment to allow everyone to easily get around. There is a grid, with large arterial streets, and smaller connector streets, and sidewalks for pedestrians, and buildings fronting the street. All of these visual cues allow for one to interact with their surroundings. But architects4 didn’t design the digital world. The internet seemingly built the flying car without building any sidewalks.

I don’t know what version of Internet we are supposedly on, but Version 3.0 needs to develop infrastructure to the rural areas. There needs to be pathways and an inherent “set of rules” that is intrinsically known at birth – where everyone has a voice and anyone can be discovered. But online comment forums haven’t evolved since AOL Instant Messenger. There still are Moderators who yell at you for not following their asinine rules. For instance you can’t post an alternative question within the same thread of another question – or else you get publicly scolded online by the Moderator. You’re 30 years old, but it feels like you are sent to the Elementary School’s Principal’s Office.

The internet should be open for everyone, and it shouldn’t feel like you have to belong to a secret underground society just to interact with others. Sure, the internet is great for like-minded people to congregate into small, or large, communities – and this can develop into real-life conversations and relationships. However, most of the people interacting online are the same people you avoid in the grocery store – loud, obnoxious people you don’t want to hang out with.

Which leaves me with a really long introduction… in an ill-fated attempt to connect the relevance of architects within the digital world – just to get to Mike_Smith.

Silicon Valley Housing Crisis Is Creating Economic Bizarro-Land by Hamilton Nolan was an interesting article about the housing crisis in San Jose, but the following comments may have been more interesting – (and they definitely have occupied too many hours of my time.)

6/7/16 10:35am

I’m all for building more housing. When do we have a conversation about having fewer people?


    •  → Sean Brody
6/7/16 10:44am

Right, people in Bozeman, MT should breed less because there are too many hipsters in Williamsburg and Silicon Valley. Got it.

*A slightly misguided comment, but Bozeman, MT! That’s where I live too.

6/7/16 11:28am

U.S. and Bozeman population have more than doubled since the 1960s.

Changes in the workplace in large and small urban areas as well as in agricultural mean less work for all those bodies.

So yeah, people in Bozeman ought to be considering the future before producing large families.

6/7/16 11:41am

So you want the people of Bozeman, who can see out to the horizon across expanses of empty land in every direction, to adopt a one-child policy. Good luck with that.

*Whoa. We don’t live in an authoritarian state, but Bozeman isn’t a backwater town either. Have you seen the ridiculous amount of development occurring? Plus, Bozeman is one of the more populated and liberal towns in Montana, where a lot of people choose to not have children or have relatively small families.

At this point. I wanted to know who Mike_Smith was. If he commented on a housing crisis article, and was also from Bozeman, then maybe I could find other relevent articles Mike_Smith had read and commented on. Who are you Mike_Smith?

6/7/16 3:22pm

I picked Bozeman out of a hat; I sure the hell don’t live there. They could talk to each other with tin cans and string for all I know.

*A deep dive into Mike_Smith’s Kinja account revealed all of Mike_Smith’s past discussions. This was posted in response to the same article, but was somehow still Pending Approval.

Mike_Smith, are you now pretending to NOT live in Bozeman? Your previous comments identified the (supposed) political mindset of a specific community – with a distinct mentality of “the Government better not take my guns, or my breeding habits!” But now you are pretending to have no insight into the place you previously were very opinionated about.

Also, please don’t criticize Bozeman’s telephone system…

I still didn’t know if Mike_Smith was from Bozeman, so I spent 2 hours reading all of his comments (still hoping to find where he actually lived) without any context of what these other comments were related to.

5/26/16 1:56pm

There are already more than four fundamental forces. People tend forget about, for instance: stupidity, boobs, bureaucracy, boobs, and boobs.

*So, are there 7 fundamental forces, or 9?

5/10/16 12:18pm

I always liked the crisp styling of the late-’80s Nissans. But I’d much rather have a 4th-gen Maxima than this one.


5/04/16 11:06am

My VW dealer service experience has been just fine.

*Good for you. But if you’re commenting online – you should write actual opinions. All of your comments are just like your VW service – they meet the status quo – and they just exist.

5/04/16 3:07pm

micdrop<mic drop>

*What is that even a picture of? Is that an actual picture of the microphone you dropped?

4/29/16 3:04pm

I recall from a defensive driving class, that the correct action to take if you think you are being followed too closely is to slow down gradually, not brake-check the guy behind you. You’d think a police office would know that.

*You’d think so… But I also don’t know how to quiz police offices?

4/14/16 2:50pm

20% is a lot, but for instance I pay 8.5% sales tax here on Long Island so it’s not crazy crazy more, plus I would imagine there are exemptions for things like food, as there are here. Yes, cars are ridiculously expensive in Europe, but they tend to own smaller cars with smaller engines to make up the difference.

*Long Island! So you actually don’t live in Montana. It’d be nice if you could actually search user’s comments, because I found this after reading about 20 pages of comments.

Now that I’ve wasted two hours. Maybe Mike_Smith has other interesting comments…

4/1/16 5:47pm

Well, relatively speaking, yes. You can actually set C4 on fire and it won’t explode. You need a detonator e.g. a blasting cap to set it off.

*So. Now we’ve learned Mike_Smith likes cars, is not from Bozeman, and also is an (apparent) expert on explosives.

1/27/16 11:47am

Waah. I don’t want to have to buy a “crossover”, or spend 40K on a Golf R, to get the 2.0T and AWD. I want a “GTI Syncro”. Why can’t I have one? Waah.

*No comment.

12/1/16 6:12pm

Golf 1.2TSI, 85 hp. Golf R, 292 hp. Ratio: 3.44:1. Mic drop…?Edit: especially if one throws in the Golf R 400…?

*Why are you still dropping you’re microphone – do you just have clumsy hands? If you drop your microphone, but nobody knows why, what do you do? Do you just wait until nobody’s looking and slowly pick it back up?

11/9/16 12:47pm

Weird, when you hover over what it calls “Nassau County NY” it highlights both Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

*Weird indeed. The internet is a strange place.

10/30/16 11:23am

Stop. STAHP.

*Thanks Mike. I need to stahp.

And If you’re the one reader that actually read this entire rambling pseudo-architecture-related post, then I apologize. Or if you actually enjoyed it, then please, leave a comment below!



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1 The animated short-film Piper that precedes Finding Dory could have been a realistic documentary on the National Geographic channel featuring the feeding habits of sandpipers.
2 I’m not wikipedia, so I am not going to bother citing my sources. But I think I’ve heard this statistic before.
3 Check out Christie Aschwanden’s FiveThirtyEight article on the psychology of comments online.
4 And I’m not talking about IT architects.


  1. LMAO. I just found this while trying to dig up something I wrote on clashtalk about synesthesia. Esmerelda Foofypants is me. Italianator is an entirely different hilarious goofball. I had to switch to Empress Foofypants after a glitchy Kinja rollout that fucked up my account. I know this post is from a million years ago, but it tickled me and I just had to comment.

    • brady ernst

      Ha. Thanks Sara, or Empress Foofypants, or whatever your real name is.
      And this post wasn’t from a million years ago!
      These are timely, relevant posts; I just haven’t logged into this site for the past half a million years or so. And I only logged in & just approved your comment because I ran into a guy named Mike Smith, and I was thinking I wrote a rambling blog post 6 years ago about a guy named Mike Smith.
      Sadly, just like the Italianator, the true identity of Mike Smith still remains a mystery.

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