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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 15, 2006 6:40 AM. The previous post in this blog was Home sweet home. The next post in this blog is Prepare to laugh. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

"What's yr problem, moron."

David Pogue of the Times wonders whatever happened to internet etiquette.

Comments (15)

"The deeper we sail into the new online world of communications, the sadder I get about its future."

Although I understand the etiquette issues, may I politely say that the sentiment in that sentence is so wrong that it borders on being dangerous.
With the great media consoldation since the 1996 Telecommunications Act - a process that has choked off diversity on the airwaves for music, political discourse, and dissent - the Internet has stepped up and offered the last great bastion of freedom, with the possible exception of cable access television.

The media has veen relegated to being the public relations/propaganda wing of the corporate interests who run our government. Congress is currently trying to stamp out cable access television - always, of course, in the name of better choices for the consumer - and the Internet is next.

If they can find a way to make the Internet more of a corporate tool they will, and we should all be ready to pounce when they do. This print columnist has a right to be dismayed at what's happened online, for its effect on mainstream media, but the rest of us should be overjoyed that we still have dissenting blogs like this one to go to for a different look at what's really going on.

My fear is that we're living in the golden age of the Internet before the government with help from columnists like this, find a way to screw it up. I dread sitting around talking about the good old days when anyone could have a blog and the government wouldn't come after them. There are politicians at work right now to change all that, and it starts with a subtle campaign that something is dreadfully wrong with the Internet. What's really dreadfully wrong is in the ownership and control of the mianstream media. Consolidation and the narrowing of thought is what's wrong - leave the Internet alone.

I love you, Jack. Can you de-bar me from commenting on your site now?

Hear, hear Bill.

What has made me shudder are local reporters (who are not all that nice themselves when it comes down to it) that label people "uncivil" and then use that as an excuse to ignore what they say, even when it is important to public debate of issues that affect many. I really don't get why individual news people go along with this disturbing trend, unless it is the guarantee of a chicken on the table and a Playstation3 for Christmas. I see this focus on ettiquette as a propaganda tool and am happy to see it being challenged.

That's etiquette. (Poor spelling on the internet is another big problem.)

Civility begins and ends with the author enforcing it. If a commenter knows that personal attacks will not be tolerated and their post will be blocked and future comments barred, the policy will create that second thought before the send button is activated. I think this blog is a pretty good example. I applaud the heavy hand of censorship which strikes rude, discourteous and gratuitously personal attacks.

OK, but when difference of opinion is spun as a personal attack bye, bye journalism as a tool for maintaining checks and balances. I was not referring to anyone connected with this blog, and not to genuine courtesy and good faith monitoring , but to unchecked egomania in journalism that doesn't allow for miscommunication or human error. To me "civility' has become a meaningless term used to belittle non mainstream opinion, opinion which, in hindsight, often turns out to have been right on. Censorship of this sort has all kinds of policy ramifications.

"If a commenter knows that personal attacks will not be tolerated and their post will be blocked and future comments barred, the policy will create that second thought before the send button is activated."

I'm more of a fan of personal responsibility. A person should think twice, or maybe several times, before hitting Preview, let alone Post. I understand that host-enforced civility is a substitute for that, but it's a pretty poor substitute.

(Also, as should be obvious, I think that posting under one's own real name tends to focus one's attention when it comes to being civil. I have been uncivil here on occasion, but doing so under my own name at least means I take some responsibility for my uncivil comments.)

Since I was just talking about the government trying to change the Internet how does this grab you:
JOHN MCCAIN WANTS TO CENSOR BLOGS
THINK PROGRESS - McCain has made clear that he doesn't like the blogosphere. Now he has introduced legislation that would treat blogs like Internet service providers and hold them responsible for all activity in the comments sections and user profiles. Some highlights of the legislation:
– Commercial websites and personal blogs "would be required to report illegal images or videos posted by their users or pay fines of up to $300,000."

Gee, maybe we better stop blogging rather than take a chance.

I'm more of a fan of personal responsibility. A person should think twice, or maybe several times, before hitting Preview, let alone Post. I understand that host-enforced civility is a substitute for that, but it's a pretty poor substitute.

Spontanaeity is a terrible thing to waste.

C'mon, Bill, don't you trust the government to do the right thing?

Or are there images and videos you've posted that you're worried about? ;-)

rr: "Spontanaeity is a terrible thing to waste."

So is anonymity. They work well together, though.

No, I don't trust the govenment to do the right thing. I see images everyday on personal, free blogs that aren't legally owned as well as videos or links to videos of shows, etc...that aren't legally owned. I don't think they merit a 300 thousand dollar fine so the effect would be to chill the blogosphere.
Remember that picture of President Bush and his Dad fishing in New Orleans? I saw that all over. What if the government swooped down and fined anyone who showed that?
What about being held legally liable for something someone says in a comment? Do I have to pay because a commenter lied?
There's also net neutrality, where speed of access is sold. For example, going to the city council's site could be very fast, but coming here might take much longer.
The Net is like the Wild West. Soon it will be settled and the cattle barons will move in to try and claim the land.

"I'm more of a fan of personal responsibility. A person should think twice, or maybe several times, before hitting Preview, let alone Post. I understand that host-enforced civility is a substitute for that, but it's a pretty poor substitute.

(Also, as should be obvious, I think that posting under one's own real name tends to focus one's attention when it comes to being civil. I have been uncivil here on occasion, but doing so under my own name at least means I take some responsibility for my uncivil comments.)"

I take responsibility for what I say, civil or not, whether I use my first name, my full name, a nick name or a pen name. I am thinking about having the computer remember my full name so as to make that a non issue. But I think that in a place like Portland-that historically has been very cliquish and prejudicial- leaving names out can be just as useful in focusing debate as using them. I have found, that in our grudge mongering "kill the messenger" climate, a "politcally incorrect" name can shut down discussion and spur name-calling before the evidence and arguments are even reviewed.

And in my efforts to have a private land scam investigated, I am finding that those who are assisting us advise that we need truly independent investigators to whom local Portland names are irrelevant.

Since I first arrived in Portland 27 years ago, my initial impression that this is perpetual middle school has changed only a little.


"[...] leaving names out can be just as useful in focusing debate as using them."

Certaintly that's true, some of the time. There are some circumstances where pseudonymity would be far safer for the commenter. I don't begrudge anyone that. (Far from it, actually.)

Part of the reason using my real name works for me, I suppose, is that while I'm interested in Portland, I don't actually live there anymore. It's not like I'm gonna run into Randy Leonard at the supermarket.


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