(She also posited that I may be snarking her due to my lack of emoticons in my previous post. Typepad does not give me emoticons, so I'll just say .. I ... never .. snark.) (I think.)
She says in the blog post:
... he has some minor misinterpretations of me as a blogger--one of them being that because I use the tagline "Walking naked down the center lane of the information superhighway" on my other blog that that particular blog is a very revealing and racy blog. It really isn't. It is personal, to a degree, and I explain this to J on my comments to his post. I may indeed discuss certain aspects of my life, but even then, is there any real proof that those incidents that seem so very naked are just that. Perhaps they are fictions, perhaps they are memoir. No real way to know, acutally, unless I tell y'all.
Even so, I'm not baring a nip on either blog, so I'm not as naked as some other bloggers happen to be.
This is interesting as I was in a conference call this morning about this very thing. (About identities on line and not Trish's nip(s)...) The identities we present on-line are often context-specific, but people take them as our totality because it's the only information about us they have access to.
So when we discuss things on line, not only our words - but the political stereotypes of the topic - get passed along to us. The forum takes on its own personality, its own personna, and we get carried along with it because the original text is ours.
It's very much like the interpretation of art. Many people are disappointed to hear what the lyrics of a song were originally intended to mean because it touches them personally in a different way. Likewise, often what we put on blogs or on the net can have meaning beyond our original intent.
A big part of this discussion also involves how advertisers or corporations or preditors may exploit our writing. When I said earlier that I didn't know if that was necessarily a bad thing ... what I really mean is ... is it's bad-ness greater than a cure to make it not happen? Any cure would be to disallow some degree of public viewing of our blogs - which most blog tools allow you to do at any time.
Trish mentions that some people may not know that a blog is bogus or designed specifically to exploit people. That's true. And I would see this coming not from people like Paramount Pictures, but I could see it coming from political parties or those with strong political agendas.
We've all seen the network effects of e-mails or web stories that used latent rage to spread - even though the stories were fiction. Drudge created nearly half of the disproven "scandals" of the Clinton era on his own. But, like the enquirer, he was able to keep a minority percentage (but measureable) amount of truth or convoluted plausibility to remain "credible."
So, yes, it's not only possible, it's documented that political parties and other malcontents will use this medium to provide disinformation and mislead and hurt.
But how would one cure such a thing?
I mentioned briefly Jon's interest in this type of information for his group. I didn't do the concept justice and leaving it vague left open an opportunity for misinterpretation.
J also references a post by his friend Jon Ramer who's involved in something called
The Interra Project. Jon seems to think that collected information can be used by community leaders and civic organizations for the common good. Oh, man! is that a bit on the pollyanna side! While not a conspiracy theorist, I'm well acquainted not just with the philosophers who purported that human existence is something that is "nasty, brutish, and short," but also that man might be moral but that societies might behave in imorral ways to protect themselves (Reinhold Neibur's 'Moral Man and Immoral Society.') Organized efforts to collect information on individuals might start out being just to better market stuff and right now be super-annoying, but those efforts could evenutally lead to Big Brother Scenarios. Think of the Patriot Act and all the wrangling that went on over government access to individual's library records.
This isn't really what Jon was talking about, though I can see how what I wrote can be construed this way. Jon was talking about using tools available like blogs to help communities build and solidify. If companies that are basically clueless about real human interaction are using these tools like that ... couldn't local communities use these tools to foster community? So it's not using the same database, it's employing similar tools.
His issue is that often people don't have a clear definition of the communities they belong in and therefore their communities are weakened. Knowing who in your area supports things you are interested in can help you make better decisions on where to shop, what to buy and how to use it. This concept would (likely) get people away from the products of the monoliths that are doing the offensive data mining.
How to sum that up...
The world of blogs is an open one. As such, people will be wonderful in it and people will exploit it. The majority of users will continue to be good and a few will do some truly nasty stuff. I fear that any cure we take to expel the bad people will be more bitter than living with their disease.
Again I'm reminded of a quote from a Japanese urbanist who said:
Cities require a certain amount of grime, of chaos. If you overly plan out the bad, the good goes with it and all that is left is suburban blandness.
So, I think, it is with blogville.