Glad to see that Kathy Sierra and Chris Locke are getting along and have made a joint statement and appeared this morning together on CNN (I, and several others who were filmed for this, were cut out). I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to say this morning for a week and it just comes down to sadness. I’m having a tough time getting back into blogging, which is why I broke my silence with an April Fools’ joke. In a lot of ways it isn’t fun anymore. It’s a business now. Might explain why I like hanging out on Twitter more lately (no anonymous jerks named “Joey” get into my account there).
Attacks are part of this business. And mobs are too. I’m sorry that four people had their names dragged through the mud for something that Maryam and I believe they didn’t do. It makes me very worried about my comments. Am I responsible for what people write here? I’ve come very close to closing my comments up. It makes me realize why many well-known bloggers don’t have comments anymore. It’s hard enough taking responsibility for what I write here, much less what other people write. I have turned on some moderation (new posters are held until I can approve them).
Regarding attacks. There are few things that’ll quickly attract a crowd: a fight or an pileup on a freeway or a mob breaking windows. This story became some of all three.
Bloggers know this. In fact, some blogging businesses even use this knowledge to build an audience. They pick on people on purpose to try to attract an audience, which they can then sell to advertisers. In the case of MeanKids (one of the sites that attacked my wife and Kathy) it wasn’t necessarily about business, but they did want to attract a crowd around attacks on other bloggers.
This is all well and fine. If we all were machines.
I’m not. Kathy’s not. My wife is not. It’s very hard to not focus too much energy on attacks. In the past few weeks hundreds of people have come up to me at various events and said “I love your blog.” I don’t know that I can name more than a few of those people (I have business cards, though, heheh) but I can name tons of people who have said something nasty about me over the same time period. Something wrong when we give those who hate us more time and emotional energy than those who love us. Guilty as charged.
Over the past week I’ve received tons of emails from people online who gave me tons of details of attacks. Lots of bloggers hate them, but know they better not speak out against them. Kathy, last week, got MORE attacks AFTER she wrote that post than before. So, bloggers, if they are in this for the long haul, learn they should keep their mouths shut. That said, they certainly don’t appreciate the attacks. We ARE human, after all. And don’t like hearing the constant banging of stones on our screens from those who think we deserve a good stoning.
My frustration over the past week is there really isn’t much any of us can do. It doesn’t matter if you’re silent. It doesn’t matter if you are loud. The attacks will come and come often.
One thing, though, that I won’t support: more rules or laws or, even, more “guidelines.” I value my freedom of speech. This is not a “theory” for me. My mom grew up in Nazi Germany where free speech wasn’t allowed. My wife grew up in Iran, where free speech still isn’t allowed. You’re definitely not allowed to attack the government in Iran, even today.
UPDATE: Matt, in my comments, notes that death threats are not protected speech and are already against the law. He’s right that I shouldn’t tie that kind of speech to those issues. The problem is that some people are calling for expansions on those already-existing laws to other kinds of offensive speech online. That’s what I’m resisting.
I’d rather put up with a few rotten strawberries on our meme shelf than go with a system where we all need to be “nice” to each other.
That said, there’s some things +I+ am going to do.
1) Reward people who teach me something and/or uplift people and companies rather than tear them down. If you read my Link Blog you’ll see I don’t point to attacks and only link to the best of tech blogging/journalism.
2) Work harder on my video blog to expose to you companies and people who are trying to improve our lives.
3) Watch more Galacticast (yesterday’s version was funny).
Really, the only one I can control is myself. That’s how I’ll get back to having fun again. In the meantime there’s always Twitter. Where all attacks are 140 characters or less. Ever notice that a good flame is hard to write short?
PS: I’m still bummed out that Kathy isn’t blogging. I love her blog and put her stuff up on my link blog frequently and often.
UPDATE: This post leaves James Robertson exasperated. Um, I think he missed the point I was trying to make. There’s a huge difference between laws and written-down-guidelines and morality and manners. Yeah, I wish people wouldn’t attack me. But I sure don’t want to see some sort of set of guidelines or, worse, laws. Should we go with the 1950’s version of politeness? Or todays? And, are we going to be able to attack our government after such a set of guidelines gets written? How about Robert Scoble? (Not if I write it, think about that one for a moment!)