For most of us trolls are the bane of our existence. They bother us online and make the comments on news sites virtually unreadable. Banish them to hell I say.
And then I ran across this TEDx talk by Whitney Phillips:
I still don’t like trolls but Phillips has opened up a new way to think about how behaviour on the Internet is legitimate and useful. On the continuum she describes, trolls (by her definition) are not cyber-bullies or harassers. They are participating as active agents in a public deconstruction of our society and some of its values – if in a most irritating manner possible.
Phillips has done lots of work in this area, strange as it may be. Like all good research, it will twist your head around a wee bit. I recommend having a look.