On Pseudonymous Blogging

>> Monday, June 8, 2009

A long comment posted by me on donlephant in regards to the use of a nom de plume to blog.


I read through the comments on the last post but didnt see a response to the central assertion i made. Namely that the cost in losing the good work done by pseudonymous bloggers will outweigh the benefit pushing them off the Internet. With the anonymity you have the ability to get the insight and benefit of people who would normally not do it. Why isnt that side of the calculation taken into account? You seem to be inordinately focused on the random anonymous hit piece, which i believe is actually rather rare. Especially considered that to have any impact at all the hit piece has to come from a high traffic yet anonymous site which, in the event the piece constituted libel would be subject to service of process and the destruction of anonymity.

I side with tully and his focus on the failure of relying on the idea that a name provides authority. you have one example in your post

"# Think of it this way: if every Sunday, The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal printed just one anonymous op-ed that slammed and slandered your favorite politician, would you think as highly of either paper as you do now?

# If not, then why should we not respect bloggers more when they put their names to their opinions? Not that we can force anyone to do anything, but we don’t have to take them as seriously, do we? And we don’t have to commiserate with them when a political rival outs them."

the problem here is that your not linking the fact that they dont put a name next to the piece with my loss of respect. I lose respect because the paper prints trash whether there is a name associated with it or not. Im not going to be excited because today the paper is printing trash by DeLay or Pelosi. I just dont think the name is what is important, a crappy argument by president obama isnt accorded more respect simply because it comes from him. If it cant stand without the name shouldnt we question the value of the contribution?

The idea that peoples names instead of their ideas are what is important plays a big role in the general crappyness of the media. Why is Newt Gingrich on TV everyday? He has a name. He is a "serious person". In reality he is a failed lawmaker from over a decade ago who isnt relevant to the future. If he had a pseudonymous blog would his ideas be taken seriously? i doubt it.

the last paragraph seems wrong in many ways,

The weight of the argument is hurt by the anonymous/pseudonymous nature of the author b/c the opposing viewpoint can take to other channels of communication and/or the argument will have to be taken up by people who can champion it via those channels, thus diluting the message.

does it really? Many things have come from the blogosphere and make it into the general discourse. Once its in the tm it doesnt particularly matter where it originated as long as its substantiated it some way. Strong messages have to be carried by many people not just the originating source. Think of campaigns, the sheer number of people going everywhere they can to carry the message. it didnt come from them but they are perfectly capable of defending the idea and the intellectual framework behind it. Messages become diluted when people cant adequately explain or defend them not because the original source isnt out there to do it.

Also, regardless of how you feel about the media, they’re out there everyday doing their thing and pushing everybody else to be transparent. So if you think bloggers can do the same thing behind an identity curtain, I’m sorry, but you’re mistaken. There’s less credibility in posting anonymously simply because of the mechanics of the media. Perhaps that will change in the future, but I don’t see how.

Are they really pushing for everyone else to be transparent? Is there now a general rule against anonymous sources? I dont here about the multitude of conflicts of interest that people in the media have. remember that whole military analysts employed by the dod thing? How did knowing their names and the media's supposed push for transparency work out while they were selling the war?

In the last post i asked you about the removal of anonymous sourcing or all anonymity of the Internet. I was not trying to say that you hold these positions or even like them in the least. my point was to say that the arguments in favor of outing bloggers work in those cases as well and that there isnt really a good line to draw between supporting the outing of bloggers and supporting the end of anonymity on the net generally. Credibility for all, accountability for all.

Again as a matter of policy, why is supporting the outing of anonymous bloggers thereby suppressing speech and ideas superior to supporting pseudonymous blogging?


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

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