Blogsisters invite

I received the nicest invite to join Blog Sisters from Jeneane Sessum. As much fun as this organization looks to be, I’m going to have to keep my weblogging to the two existing blogs or I’ll never finish the damn books and you’ll have to listen to me bitch about living on the streets and blogging from the San Fran public library. However, I plan on being a regular reader and comment dropper.

There were several different responses to the “weblogging criticism” topic, as it can be called. Jonathon does own it, but others such as Mike (who elected me mayor, BTW), AKMA, and OnePotMeal have added deft and talented touches to what is a non-trivial and difficult topic.

However, it was Victor who put this whole thing into perspective for me, and he really wasn’t necessarily a part of the “criticism” discussion.

As he and I chatted in his comments related to a posting where he was basically blasting Cluetrain to ribbons (and dragged my name into the mix at one point, the bad boy), he mentioned “You mean it’s like a Sunday lunch?”

Say what?

Victor defined this expression to mean sitting around lunch on Sunday, getting into heated discussions on “…any topic under the sun.”

It’s a Sunday Lunch. There is a world of meaning in this simple little phrase, isn’t there?

With this expression, criticism has now removed it’s fat ugly butt from the realm of “You’re an idiot, you lack sophistication, you’re not smart, and your weblog design stinks…and so does your breath…and your mama’s breath, too!” (a connotation somewhat due to the association with Dvorak’s unfortunate comments), and has now plunked its much cuter, slimmer, and firmer little ass into the realm of “You have said something interesting and I don’t necessarily agree — let’s have a grand old time talking about it, shall we?”

It’s a Sunday Lunch — this works for me.



Nothing like throwing my own self into the pot of hot, boiling oil, but I know I’m going to get slammed big time for the following:

A big number in Daypop yesterday and today was the now unemployed Heather Hamilton, who lost her job because of her weblog postings (also more at MetaFilter and check Daypop for numerous citations).

I do sympathize with Heather and hope that she finds something that she likes quickly. And I do agree with her that she should post whatever she feels comfortable posting — as long as she realizes that there are consequences to her actions. When Heather states the following:

As for those of you who think I was stupid to post things on my website about my job and about co-workers: I refuse to live in fear. I refuse to be censored.

I’m right there with her…as long as she’s aware that these postings can hurt other people or herself. I, like Heather, can write anything I want with this weblog and that’s true power. However, with the power comes responsibility.

In some ways this follows from earlier discussions about weblogging and criticism, but the issue goes beyond personal feelings of hurt — it enters into issues of personal freedom and censorship, and when one can safely cross the line in what one writes. This is a serious question: can you write whatever you want within a personal weblog and not be penalized for it? I’m not talking about getting somebody angry and they stop talking to you. I’m talking about being fired, being sued, and even being jailed.

A weblog is not the same as a personal paper diary, which no one will read unless you allow them to read it. It is a online publication that can, as we found out from our very missed friend, Allan Moult, be granted an ISSN as a publication similar to Time and Newsweek.

Within this weblog, if I were to say (and to any authorities listening, this is purely hypothetical) “I want to blow up so and so”, then chances are someone’s going to be keeping an eye on me, or be at my door. We’ve learned through too many incidents with kids and schools that not listening to rants such as these have dire consequences.

If I were to say (and to any O’Reilly people listening, this is purely hypothetical) “O’Reilly books are so lame”, then O’Reilly has a very real right not to have me write for them, rather than give me all the opportunities I want (in point of fact, I love the O’Reilly folks, they take very good care of me).

There are consequences to our actions. If Heather says the following about VP of her company:

I hate that one of the 10 vice-presidents in this 30-person company wasn’t born with an “indoor” voice, but with a shrill, monotone, speaking-over-a-passing-F16 outdoor voice. And he loves to hear himself speak, even if just to himself. He loves to use authoritative expressions such as “NO! NO! NO! IT’S LIKE THIS!” and “DUDE, NO! YOU SHOOT IT LIKE THIS!” because, well, he’s a VP and must be an authority on something, right? Lately he’s been an authority on patently grotesque facial hair patterns.

Well, she’s going to get fired. After I read some of her postings, I hate to say it, I’d fire her, too.

Heather has a right to say whatever she wants on her weblog, as long as she’s willing to take responsibility for her actions, and accept the consequences of same. I may admire her for the courage of her convictions, but there’s a key element to that concept and that is courage. Taking a stand without any possibility of negative reprecussions, or refusing to accept that you may be held accountable isn’t really courageous, is it?

In reading through the many citations referencing Heather’s site, I found the following at Blog Hit:

Heather of dooce’s recent troubles really has me thinking about the nature of my blogging. I lay it all out here. I talk about drinking, drugs, all the nasty things in my life that I wouldn’t want a prospective employer to know about.

Honestly, I don’t see myself censoring anything I talk about here. It’s my personal space, done on my personal time, and would never affect my performance at a job. You can’t live in fear of expressing yourself publicly.

What is there about weblogging that seems to give us all the impression that our personal space is surrounded by an inpenetrable force field that separates our personal lives from our professional? If you’re doing something that violates company policy, such as drugs, and your talk about it online, you’re going to get fired.

Still, where’s the line in what you can discuss without fear of being jailed, sued, or fired? I should be able to say, and have said, that Bush is an idiot, and Ashcroft scares the hell out of me, without reprecussion — unless I happen to work directly with both.

Would I fire someone for exposing past drug use or personal difficulties? No, and I would hope that most companies wouldn’t be this shallow. As we have seen with Diveintomark, firing a person because they talk about recovering from past addiction is not only morally wrong, it should be illegal. However, this is not the same as Heather’s situation, as Jan Karlsbjerg has noted in his weblog.

Would I fire someone who makes racists comments online, or pokes fun at his or her co-workers, and says negative things about the company, or talks about taking drugs? Chances are, I would. Does this me an iron-clad member of the establishment? Maybe.

This, is a discussion that needs to happen among the weblogs, if only to serve to remind us all that we don’t write in a vacuum — people read what we write.

It’s interesting but talks about accountability in a related posting. Among the comments was:

And if you send an anonymous email that results in someone getting fired, own up to it. Innocuous, generalized comments are one thing, emailing someone’s boss is taking things to an entirely different level.

This is directly related to Heather losing her job, because a person sent an anonymous email about Heather’s writings. Yet, there is an accountability that Heather must also accept herself, for her own writings, something we all need to understand. You can’t pick and choose accountability or responsibility based on a “we’re webloggers and we stick together” attitude..

We are what we write. No one forces us to write anything in our weblogs, and we have to accept responsibility for our writing as we do with all of our other actions in life.


Weblogging as novel

Weblogging is the world’s greatest novel, written by me and about 10,000 of my closest friends.

Mike Sanders opened up a discussion about blogging communities today, which happened to fit perfectly with some thoughts that have been kicking around in my tired brain.

He mentioned the A-list bloggers and defined them as a community. I agree with Mike on A-list, but not community — community requires interaction and Cam and Meg and others of the A-listers seem to me to be strongly singular in their voices. In particular I see Cam as a man who is proud of being the lone wolf of weblogging.

I am part of a specific community of webloggers who I’ve come to know and admire. They are my friends as much as fellow bloggers. Unlike the A-listers, our weblogs take on the aspects of cooperative writing, with one person starting a conversation and others adding to it, within comments, weblog postings, or both. The effect can be profound, rich, and rewarding; a feedback loop that can send you at dizzying speeds throughout a loop of interconnected nodes.

In Mike’s posting he quoted a snippet from an email that Jonathon wrote:

I love this group. Being a member is one of best outcomes that flowed from starting my blog. I’m not sure how I became a member and I don’t know who all the members are. That’s very important to me. The amorphous quality of the group. It may well be that if you sat us all down in separate rooms and asked us to list the members, we would each come up with radically different lists. That makes it incredibly beautiful and special — because it means there are no barriers to entry and no possible sense of exclusivity.

Jonathon speaks for me with this paragraph as much as he speaks for himself — beautifully done.

Lately, though, I’m finding that, as with any new colony, the frenzy of early formation is now gradually giving away to a calmer and more mature community, attracting newer, vital voices just as the more mature members are becoming quieter — more thoughtful in our postings, perhaps posting more infrequently.

This quietness isn’t because of lack of interest in our weblogging community; it’s because the community is mature enough that we don’t have to post all the time — we’ll still be here when each of us has something to say, in our own time, and in our own way.


A-List and Metafilter

Poor Mike. I imagine he didn’t know what he started today with his posting on community, especially his reference to the A-List and MetaFilter.

As expected the MeFi gang picked up on the posting. This is a good thread to follow, with many good points.

There was also some similarity to the kite and the fickle wind described in one of my previous postings, in that Mike was picked up and slammed to the ground again and again. However, this is also a MeFi trait at times when the beast is irked — no offense to MeFi folks in the crowd.

I did some pick up of my own about “community” in my previous posting, and I find that this community thing can be “you there and me here”, and never the two shall meet at times. I would like to think that this weblog is good for a general audience, but I know that I’ve fallen into insider speak more than once. Still — this is my weblog, and I can use insider speak if I want to, can’t I?

(However, I am not happy about my previous posting aside from the reference to Jonathon’s email note, which was excellent. I won’t pull the posting, but ignore it and go to the “don’t post about your co-workers, your boss, your illicit love affair, and your drug use in your weblog” posting that preceded it.)

On to other things — I took some sunset photos of interesting places along the Embarcadero by my place. I thought I would post a few for your edification. One of the photos is of Pier 23, a biker bar that plays reggae and jazz, and which wouldn’t serve me yesterday. Maybe the place is run by MeFi and they knew I was a weblogger?

Bay Bridge and Boat

Pier 23 -- don't go here
Fog City Diner -- classic diner


Morpheus Shut Down

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

And over at John’s the discussion is about the shut down of Morpheus, software based on Fast Track, as is Kazaa.

I believe I mentioned this last week that any P2P network that has iron – no matter how minute – in the cloud can be shut down. I will refrain from saying I told you so. Well, no, I won’t refrain from this. I told you so.

Update: more on this story at ZDNet.

Question: Can you shut down a Gnutella network?