Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Rose by any Other Name

The anonymous blogger, such as your truly, is all the talk in our online world these days. Tony Messenger wrote an editorial on the issue of blogger anonymity and it has sparked good discussion. To post our names or not to post our names, what shall the local blogger do?

Everyone under the electronic sun has chimed in on the subject. I would have sooner, but the wife has had me on detail lately since school is out. Been too busy with chores and a Memorial Day camping vacation to say my piece. Besides, I wasn’t really sure what I thought.

So here am I, Johnny-Come-Lately, with my own thoughts of this whole ordeal:

I think Messenger has missed the point of what a blog really is. He has confused blogs with traditional media. It is an understandable mistake. The creature known as a blog is confusing and difficult to define. Sure, some blogs are more journalistic in nature. In fact, some are part of the mainstream media – Ozarks Messenger is just one example – while others are simply personally-run outlets of non-traditional media. Those non-traditional blogs still, typically, follow the same journalistic ethics. At least they are supposed to. These types of political blogs are supposed to be public modes of information dissemination, just by non-traditional means and by citizen journalists. However, the definition of blog does not end there.

There are many more blogs out there that are not intended for public consumption. I know that sounds crazy, and maybe I am wrong here, but it seems to me that there is such a thing as a non-public blog that is published in the public domain. By that I mean a blog that is established as a creative outlet.

The writer may not intend for anyone to read it but family and friends. This person may not be looking for wide exposure or reprints in the local newspaper. While still in the public domain, the blog is for a small audience. The name is withheld to protect the writer because the blog is published in the public domain. The protection can be for many legitimate reasons. In this case, credibility and civility are non-issues. Those who need to know, do know who the writer is. Therefore they have credibility within their own readership.

This is true with me. Fat Jack doesn’t care if the world reads his blog online or in the newspaper. I write this blog out of a cathartic need for creative expression. I write for myself, my family, and my friends. Maybe that statement disqualifies me as a citizen journalist. That does not mean that I do not write about important issues facing my community. It just means that my blog is not intended for a large audience.

I’m keeping my pseudonym; it suits me fine. I don’t see why Messenger cares anyway. According to him the better blogs in this community are signed anyway. So why he cares about whether or not my crappy little blog is signed or not is beyond me.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for speaking up! The internet is all about alternative points of view, dissent, creativity, anonymity, name it.

If Messenger and his ilk have their way, we may have to invent ANOTHER internet, free from THEIR rules.

it is astounding to me when people who scream loudly for "free speech" want to restrict free speech. If you object to a blog's contents, DON'T READ IT!

Besides, what bloggers are doing must be interesting to a pretty broad audience, since newspapers are quoting the bloggers. Or perhaps newspapers are just looking for inexpensive ways to fill up space. I can hear the lawyers now: "It's OK to quote the bloggers...just be sure they sign their names so we don't have any liability."

End of rant.

Tony Messenger said...

Yo Fat Jack,

For the record, I love your crappy little blog. (Tongue firmly in cheek!).