Watch the Birdie not the Hand: Scandal in Weblogging

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

There’s pile-ons, and then there’s pile-ons. Just when the people who owned Techmeme tried to generate a controlled burst of activity related to Loren Feldman, Shel Israel, and some stupid puppet (actually covered by the Guardian as news, to the ever lasting embarrassment of the British), the real story was going on elsewhere, and not a hint of it anywhere to be seen. It was only when both Rafe and Seth posted on the recent BoingBoing/Violet Blue thing that I became aware of the latest fooflah.

BoingBoing no longer loves Violet Blue and has unpublished several posts related to her. Considering that Violet Blue seems, at least to me, to be a “BoingBoing” kind of gal— equal parts sex and narcissism—I was rather surprised to see such behavior from a “freedom” loving rag mag like BoingBoing. Surprised, but not so much that I would do more than read the Boing Boing post and then move on.

What stopped me and caught me long enough to read more and even comment here was what Teresa Nielsen Hayden wrote in the post at Boing Boing:

Bottom line is that those posts (not “more than 100 posts,” as erroneously claimed elsewhere) were removed from public view a year ago. Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her. It’s our blog and so we made an editorial decision, like we do every single day. We didn’t attempt to silence Violet. We unpublished our own work. There’s a big difference between that and censorship.

(emph. mine)

I really dislike the all too frequence happenings of, “I know something awful about this person, but am above providing all the details”, sort of smug self-satisfied innuendo, which serves not only to generate attention, in a carefully controlled way, but also to leave it to the reader’s fevered imagination as to the heinous nature of the act committed to deserve such disapprobation. If you’re going to condemn publicly do so explicitly, cleanly, so that the other party at least has a fighting chance to defend themselves. Not this air-kiss-slap that passes too often as honorable behavior in Silicon Valley.

behaved in a way… What did Violet, that bad girl, do? Did she sleep with an entire Catholic School boy’s choir? Knowing BoingBoing, the crew would look on this with favor. Maybe she kicks kittens. She does wear spikey shoes…does she kick kittens?

Perhaps Violet Blue secretly voted for George Bush. That might be enough, but how would the BoingBoing crew find out, unless Violet Blue got drunk on lemon drops and spilled the beans.

However, I should have remembered who the parties involved are with this little contretemps. According to several comments, the issue could be related to the fact that Violet Blue had trademarked her name, and then sued a porn star for using itWho Violet Blew, indeed.

Oh. My. God. The infamy of the act. If this is true, then of course what else could the Boing Boing crew do but wash the Blue dust from their hands and disavow all knowledge of Violet. After all, a person who sues to protect their name is only one step away from supporting the AP. Or worse…the RIAA.

Living in Missouri, where we don’t understand these things, I have to think there is more to this than Violet Blue suing to protect her name. However, all we’re left with is the words, hanging over all, the Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her. Petty words that demonstrate that perhaps being unpublished by an organization like Boing Boing is an actual testament for your character, rather than against.

Two grown men fighting over a puppet, unpublished posts, and the quarrels of the rich and famous…and all we had for entertainment in Missouri this last week was a flood.


I would be remiss if I didn’t point out one of the worthwhile comments made in the Israel/Feldman puppet fiasco. It was from a site called Hacking Cough, authored by Chris Edwards, who wrote:

Feldman called the puppet “more real”: a classic bit of legerdemain. Israel was very real during the whole spat. He was angry. He was upset. He wanted to get even. Faced with what Feldman was doing to him, what would you want to do? Social media’s advice: be real, be honest.

But nobody believed the advice. The sensible advice to Israel was to bottle it up, act nice. And that probably would have worked. Had Israel gritted his teeth and pretended that he really loved the puppet, he would probably have come out of the whole episode more famous and better off. In other words, ignore Naked Conversations: Be inauthentic. You can’t blog or tweet your way out of a crisis any more than you can knit your way out of a burning building.

In other words, ignore Naked Conversations: be inauthentic. Very astute observation.

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