Last week I read a piece by Michelle Malkin that I totally agreed with.
Today I read something by Scott Burgess
that I (sort of) agreed with. Please somebody...HELP ME!
The Burgess post was a dig at Joan Smith, novelist, journalist and feminist who wrote a piece in The Independent
about online bullying and abuse. She starts off with a reference to the Kathy Sierra story which I blogged about here
Revealing that she had been the target of vicious personal remarks and death threats for the past four weeks, Kathy Sierra said she had cancelled an appearance at a conference in San Diego and was staying at home, terrified, with the doors locked.
But her main gripe, picked up and dealt with by Burgess is that:
In a world where anyone with access to a computer can give an instant opinion, couched in intemperate or even threatening language, writing is rapidly being transformed in the public mind from a profession to little more than a typed form of speech. It is already having a disastrous effect on the status and income of professional writers, as we find ourselves under attack for continuing to assert the lasting value of what we do...In this pseudo-democratic universe, the novel that has just taken me nearly five years to finish has no more value than a blog that someone dashed off in 10 minutes. The sheer quantity of words available on the internet has prompted a false analogy with the enclosures of common land in the 18th century, in which novelists, poets and historians are cast in the role of wicked landlords.
As Burgess points out, it is GOOD writers on the web not the shit-shovellers that Smith needs to worry about and in any case she's just plain wrong. Book sales are buoyant and there is no evidence that her latest book will fail because of millions of 10 minute blog entries. It is more likely to fail because she writes the sort of tosh seen in her last sentence above.
...restoring respect for the act of writing would go some way towards creating a culture in which novelists, poets and playwrights could once again flourish.
So you see people, let's all stop blogging and give those starving poets and playrights a chance to make a decent living. Sheesh! I'll tell you what. Abuse on the internet might decrease markedly if we could all be spared this kind of nonsense from people like Smith. Of couse, a complete ignorance of blogging hasn't stopped her jumping to conclusions about what is supposedly wrong and how it should be put right. But her choice of the Kathy Sierra case is a rather unfortunate one given recent developments:
Wikipedia: After a couple of days it seems that comments and pictures on other blogs were merely done by internet trolls and not related to death threats.
And it seems Sierra wasn't just a victim:
Dave Winer: People aren't going to like this, but it's true -- when a woman asks for a riot she gets one, and almost no one comes to the defense of a man who is attacked. Who's more vulnerable? Well, honestly, it's not always a woman. Those who provided the riot Ms Sierra asked for, unknowingly, I'm sure, attacked at least one person whose health is pretty fragile. I wonder how y'all feel now that you know that. I wonder how you'd feel if that person died in the midst of the shitstorm. Someday if we don't change the herd mentality of the tech blogosphere, that is likely to happen. I don't want to be part of the herd on that day, that's why I won't join herds.
Dave Winer's piece is a much better post on this subject and should be required reading for all bloggers, especially those who find themselves leading the charge in blogwars.
But there is always hope. Sierra and the main target of her complaints, Chris Locke, issued a joint statement after having a two hour conversation where they got on like a house on fire and had a good laugh!
That's blogging for you. One day it's death threats the next it's kiss and make up.