Friday, August 19, 2005

Blogger CYA

Dawno brought this up.

She says:

"I get CNet news alerts in my email daily. I feel a need to stay on top of certain techie news because of my job at a high tech company. Today I got a news alert and the headline was "Blogging to be Free" by Curt Hopkins, director and founder of the Committee to Protect Bloggers.

I found my self nodding my head when I read, "Newspapers, even individual Web sites, are relatively easy to shut down. But what can't be shut down is a self-perpetuating system like the blogosphere. What our experience has shown is not that a single organization, the Committee to Protect Bloggers, is a threat to tyrants, but that blogging itself is. Blogging's culture of sharing, quoting and linking has created a radical redundancy for powerful ideas." I've mentioned here and there about my fascination with the communities of interest being built in the blogosphere and even though my circle of online acquaintances, i.e. my community, might be somewhat small they have online friends who blog who have online friends who blog, etc., nearly ad infinitum."

Curt Hopkins, in C-Net's "Blogging to be Free", asserts:
"Iran has imprisoned more than 20 bloggers in the last six to eight months. But it is hardly the only villain. Bahrain, a relatively liberal country for a hereditary Persian Gulf monarchy, imprisoned three moderators of BahrainOnline, a bulletin board service, including the chief, a blogger named Ali Abdulemam. Ali and his two co-moderators were also subsequently released on their own recognizance after a similar effort by Bahraini bloggers and the CPB. China has a huge number of cyberdissidents behind bars. Security police in Malaysia and Syria have hauled bloggers in for interrogation."
It's not quite that bad, here in the States.

However, blogging in the Free World is not without risks, or sometimes consequences.
There seems to be a pretty common perception that blogging is becoming a risky thing to do.
Google turns up a ton of news articles about all this.

Then there was the whole nanny-getting-fired thing, not so long ago. I sort of followed the story in Making Light and Bitch Ph.D.

The recently infamous Dr. Richard Scott Nokes*, of Unlocked Wordhoard, discussed blogging as an academic.

It's been discussed widely elsewhere, too. There's already a Legal Guide for Bloggers, online.

I'm not sure what to make of all this. My instincts suggest that perhaps there's more going on with these employer/employee relationships than the employee's blog--but perhaps not. Keeping your job is powerful motivation to keep your mouth shut--and it always has been.

Staying out of prison is much more powerful motivation, as is avoiding torture.

Perhaps it's all been discussed to death, already. That's okay. It never hurts to float the issue across the surface of our thoughts now and then, especially in the context of the ongoing discussion we've been recently having, regarding technology, community, and interpersonal dynamics--perhaps it will serve to prevent us from becoming smug and complacent.

(*ed note: Dr. Nokes thinks The Silmarillion is boring. This pronouncement resulted in worldwide virtual protests....or, well, actually a couple of other bloggers and commenters took mild issue. Dr. Taylor at PoliBlog comes to Dr. Nokes' defense. To be perfectly honest, I've never been able to force myself all the way through the Sil--I keep falling asleep and having to start all over. I'm keeping my head down about that, though. Meanwhile, it's all been triffic good fun to watch.)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for spreading the word! Although I go on a tangent from it in my musings about blogging and First Amendment rights erosion using as an example the issue of employers and employees, the reality that bloggers in authoritarian states are in real danger of prison or bodily harm is what CPB is all about and it's a worthy cause.

p.s. I bought Sil back in the '70's and still haven't finished of the miniscule number of books I can say that about. The blogosphere may now flame on...*shrug*

Anonymous said...

sorry about the serial posting here but I went over to Prof. Nokes blog and this quote "For example, I really, really hate when people post pictures of their cats on the internet. You post a cat, and I will probably both delete the cat and make insulting comments about its appearance."

I got a really good laugh out of that. Anyone who frequents AbsoluteWrite might have seen my avatar...

Lisa Spangenberg said...

In my Sekrit Identity as an IT-for-instructional-purposes pro, I've been following the blogging and employment stuff for a while. My personal favorite idiotic statement about it is the one from a month or so ago in the Chronicle of Higher Education, which said don't blog if you want a job teaching in higher ed, and then, about two weeks later, another article in the same publication said "blog about your scholarly book."

You can see my collection of links about fired for blogging and my other collection of links about blogging policies; I think they need to be considered in a shared context.

And yes, it scares me to see how much we, increasingly, have in common with countries I used to feel a great deal of compassion for because they couldn't even contemplate public statements about, well, much of anything.

Mac said...

Dawno--it's a good link, and that's how the blogosphere is supposed to work. :)

Shameless plug: Unlocked Wordhoard's first post is a sort of statement of intent, and a general reclaiming of the idea of the role and responsibilities of the public intellectual, worth reading and thinking about for bloggers.

While I could wish the good Dr. Nokes was a bit more of a flaming lefty, I find myself oddly elated that there are reasonable, intelligent, and sane conservatives out there. At the same time, it really is not a political blog.

The cat thing? Heh...

Lisa, it's absolutely marvelous that you store this stuff online and share it--thank you! It's rather like being given the keys to your fabulous brain.

I hadn't seen the Higher Education articles. I must go and read them, and roll my eyes for a while...

Schroeder said...

UPI reported that the FBI was monitoring the web during the election season. Now, I don't mind almost anything law enforcement does to get the bad guys (as long as it's not an unjustified invasion of privacy - that's what search subpoenas are supposed to be for) but who are the bad guys? The FBI has historically had a hard time figuring that out, haven't they? Monitoring web content? Well, it's out there. It's public. It's really no different than if they wanted to watch what you were doing walking down the street. But, can they do anything to you if you haven't broken any crimes?

Anonymous said...

I hope I live up to standards as a reasonable, intelligent, and sane conservative. :-)

Anyone hear the NPR piece on All Things Considered about the High School that got rid of textbooks and replaced them with laptops?

Mac said...

I heard that, Dawno--but are you seriously asking me to believe you're both a conservative AND you listen to NPR?

Anonymous said...

Yep, I listen to NPR on our local public radio station KQED. I like to keep people wondering.

Tish Grier said...

hmmm....I want to challenge people on the perception of *so many* getting fired for blogging...

recently in the NY publishing game, a young woman wrote an "anonymous" blog titled Jolie in NYC. In this blog she dished about what it is to be a young assoc. editor for a big magazine's beauty department. She whined about wanting her "dream job"...and, strangely, she was "fired for blogging" just on the eve of getting her dream job...

But the poor thing was on FoxNews and several other news shows the next day, had her press agent's information on her blog in the New York minute after her outing, and now has a book deal.

Strategic blogging to get fired to get the big book deal. I saw how this girl maniuplated the system to get what she really wanted--not the dream job in beauty editing, but the dream job book deal.

What I always say is "don't believe the hype" when it comes to all this crap about how so many people are being fired and so many people this or that. What we may be seeing is people sadly trying to use blogging like it's a lottery and their blog will be the Next Big Thing.

As for what the Chronicle of Higher Education says--well, it shows they, too, are buying the hype around blogging. It has also been posited by Robin Good that blogs should be used to judge a writer/journalist's credibility. When the medium itself is shifting and going thru all sorts of changes and phases, and only 6$% of the pop does it, to use blogging as a guage of any sort of credibility is very premature.

Also, always re-consider anyting said by a search engine such as Technorati. All the various search engines are competing for popularity and fear their own extinction, so they, too will bang the drums of sensationalism just to get people stirred up. The best info is from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The rest is just promo.

Mac said...

Tish--I agree, to an extent, that the recent uproar about getting fired for blogging is more complex than presented, in many instances.

The more I pull on individual threads of these stories, the more other circumstances tend to come to light. In the case of the Nanny storie of a few weeks ago, for example, frankly I thought the employers sounded like a frigging nightmare, to begin with.

If the nanny hadn't been blogging, they'd have found some other reason to fire her.

Tish Grier said...

There's def. more to the nanny blogging story than meets the eye... and I think it's important to generate intelligent conversation about this kind of stuff in the blogosphere and not to just chime in with how msm interpretes the blogosphere. Too many of the "top" people, who are in some way connected to msm, are not looking for the story underneath because they either don't have the time or are feeding other machines. It's up to us fleas in the Technorati tail to do the speculating and spelunking.