A few years ago, outspoken tech blogger Russell Beattie got a phone call at home after he angered someone with one of the entries on his site. They asked to speak with his young son.

Beattie didn't want the incident to feed anyone's fear, but I think it's worth recalling in the discussion of whether it's OK to reveal a blogger's identity, as Michael Arrington appears to believe.

Arrington's put the chill on the unnamed author of Dead 2.0, a blogger critical of the web 2.0 bubble that has become Arrington's reason for being.

High-traffic bloggers should know as well as anybody that there's a damn good reason to remain nameless: Publishing on the web makes you a target for a considerable amount of abuse. We live in an angry world, and when you attach your name and face to a strong opinion on any subject, you're only one click away from being the focus of somebody's rage.

When I popesquatted last year and did interviews in which I jokingly asked for a papal mitre, a man named Roger Cadenhead in another part of Florida had the misfortune of being publicly listed in the phone book. He received so many hate calls that his wife called sheriff's deputies to their house.

I take anonymous and pseudonymous critics less seriously than people who identify themselves, but the idea that it's OK to out them as a matter of principle is reprehensible. There's nothing the author of Dead 2.0 could say about Arrington that he couldn't refute in a forum that draws 100 times as much traffic.

-- Rogers Cadenhead

Comments

Thank you Rogers.

The Golden Rule for some thin skinned A-listers is:

Do unto others, before they do unto you.

If this kind of bullying of critics and open neglect of privacy rights continues we're going to see an extremely litigious blog world emerge. Trolling for law suits will be the next business model:

1. piss a deep pocketed A-Lister off
2. they go on a witch hunt to see "Who they hell is this guy?"
3. they figure out the breadcrumbs to your identify and "out" you by tipping off the "press" (deniability still works).
4. you sick a lawyer on them and they lie... oops.
5. prove the malice of the outting and hit them up for damages.

It will mark the end of an era when lawyers see the pattern and mine the opportunities this level of abuse represents.

Of course, we can all just pine for the good old days when you could say anything about anybody and they just needed to defend themselves using the most precious of tools:

words.

Boy, do I love words. But I may not be able to afford them against deep pockets and damaged egos.

Reminds me of that blogger that got this ugly legal letter and just published the damn thing as a defensive move. A reckless move but what else can the little guy do? Just use the incoming "words" against the attacker.

The Truth remains a viable defense against well funded opponents.

I've been considering the "Anonymous coward" meme and waiting for someone... anyone to champion the benefits of anonymity.

Thank you. You get me.

I blog from work. So, I blog anonymously. It's for self-protection and to protect my employer, my family and because it decreases my need to be so damned cautious... self-censorship is the worst barrier to expression.

I don't want fame from this exercise... just release from the constraints of wage-slave mindlessness. I can't be the only one with these requirements for participation in the conversation. There is a group with some rights to be protected in this regard.


 

Don't forget to factor in the "Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory"


 

Poor little Kathy, did thumone hurt your feelings?


 

Rogers says, "I take anonymous and pseudonymous critics less seriously than people who identify themselves, but the idea that it's OK to out them as a matter of principle is reprehensible."

Bloggers make themselves into public figures, and so do their correspondents! How anyone can think they are "anonymous" when broadcasting their identity from start to finish, is beyond me; except to blame abysmal ignorance.

Since this information is available to anyone who cares to go to the trouble to find it out -- I wonder at your statement and what is must actually mean?

I think it must be an attempt to "reason" support for your inclusion of Winer's name in your otherwise general criticism of the "practice?" Eh? A little more of the almost weekly "payback?" Or is it a shakespearian "pound?"

"There's nothing the author of Dead 2.0 could say about Arrington that he couldn't refute in a forum that draws 100 times as much traffic."

Well, he might remove his posts and then initiate a thread to hold him up to public ridicule ... that would show him, eh?


 

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