August 24, 2005


I've been reading some things this week that, independent of the debate at hand, which I'm not passionate enough about on either side to wade in on, raise other important issues around protocol and expectations among bloggers.

In my interviews with CEOs this week, I was speaking to an executive blogger who started blogging relatively recently. We were discussing people spouting off in posts and in comments and what the perception is when this happens.

I'm afriad that any dissent is quickly--just as it has become in American Politics during wartime--dismissed as having been uttered by a wacko, a troll, or someone who has no class.

As blogging becomes professionalized, expectations around conversational ettiquette have changed. It's no longer okay to 'talk off the top of your head,' you are supposed to fact-check. It's not okay to call someone an idiot, especially if you only half mean it, because if you utter such claims Google will decide that you are the everknowing, everloving authority on idiocy, something you never intended when you wrote: Dude, stop being such an idiot. But nonetheless, you become Google's Dr. Phil of Idiocy.

Early in blogging, we did nothing but talk off the top of our heads. That was the point--the whole medium was specifically tailored for talking off the top of our heads. Then, most of what we did was riff, and a good dose of name calling turned handshake was all the proof we needed that we cared about the other folks here.

And so blogging grows up. And it's not okay to call out something as wrong. You have to say, I think it's wrong, the facts show that it's wrong, or 38 percent of whomever have indicated that they think it's wrong.

What about me just saying, in my own online home, without qualification, that it's WRONG, and the next person saying, NO here's why it's RIGHT, and the next person saying, it's kind of right and kind of wrong but you're not taking into account THIS, and so it goes.

No. Can't do that anymore. We are expected to qualify our statements, to be fair and balanced, to temper our tempers.

I don't want to be fair or balanced.

I want to be me.