Saturday, March 31, 2007

Well, I *meant* to say that...

Weighing in on the Kathy Sierra blog-crisis is one of my regular reads, Dave from Groudhog Day:
" is the network itself that made this incident possible, and the network itself that made Kathy's response to it into such a seemingly "significant" event.

But the response to date seems to have focused exclusively on individuals in the usual rush to assign blame and demand "accountability." Secondary to that has been some legitimate criticism and discussion of issues of misogyny in our society, and the problem of anonymity on the 'net. But I've read no discussion of the network itself, and its role in enabling this incident. Given how enamored we are of networks and our own cleverness with technology, this is unsurprising.

I'm not so sanguine. I think the network, while it is an impressive achievement, is not an intrinsically good thing. I think it empowers our weaknesses as much as our strengths; and flawed creatures that we are, we seem to have many more weaknesses than we do strengths.

While I may not agree with Dave's assessment of the ratio of good to bad, strengths to weaknesses within humans (either individually or as a group) that is, in fact, similar to what I was trying to say in this post:
"It makes me sad. Not just for Kathy, but for those of us who believe in the positive potential of the blogosphere and the Internet in general. What a blow to optimism and to passion to see the dark side of the Internet in such stark relief.

I fear that the online world makes it easier and more untraceable for sickos to go after the prominent people that catch their anti-fancy for whatever reason they do. Death threats have been arriving in the mailboxes of women leaders and actors and politicians and news anchors for a very long time (and men too, I should hasten to add) and just as the Internet allows us to distribute our views across time and space in a way that simply wasn't possible in the past, so too does the Internet enable hate to be the message that is thus widely and rapidly distributed.

The internet, the blogosphere...they are tools, and they have been used for great good, world-changing good, even. but in this case, and in cases dating back to the very birth of the technologies in question, they have been used for the nasty, the cruel, for the vicious, for the criminal, for the just plain mean, for the hateful.

What ratio of good to bad do you think is out there?

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