« Ticket or Trophy? | Main | New Federal Budget Cuts Are "Here" »

September 22, 2004

Comments

kind of related question...saw the report on NBC news last night crediting bloggers (and rightly so) with bursting apart the CBS story and acknowledging that this represents a signficant new element of how journalism must now operate...i.e., bloggers are becoming important and powerful.

The question (I do have one) is what responsibilities go along with this importance? Should bloggers, who can influence such events, be able to continue to operate anonymously?

I appreciate the desire for anonymity (although, I've never felt the need for it myself) on blogs, but if we're gonna change the course of history and all, what rights do those affected by our actions have?

Should bloggers, who can influence such events, be able to continue to operate anonymously?

Anonymous political speech has a long and proud history in the United States. Indeed, the benefits of such speech outweigh the potential harms, and folks are perfectly free to look at an anonymous blogger with greater skepticism than a known blogger.

But, then, you'd probably expect me to say that. ;-)

"The Still Quasi-Anonymous Blogger Named Von"

Anonymous political speech has a long and proud history in the United States.

Cites? I'm having trouble coming up with anything that has the same power blogs now do.

Edward: two words: Federalist Papers.

Yup...thanks, hilzoy.

More recent examples?

Or is your point, we're in an equally dangerous time and anonymity is again necessary/useful?

The Still Quasi-Anonymous Blogger Named Von

Hey, it's not your fault some of us don't know your true name. Or (no offense) really care all that much.

Hey, it's not your fault some of us don't know your true name.

...quoth "Slartibartfast." ;-)

Edward, how about pretty much any article in The Economist? They're all anonymous. Sure, there are specific names on the magazine's masthead, but the pieces themselves have no name assigned to them; every time I read the cover story I'm reading the work of an anonymous author. What about editorials? Editorials from the NYT, the Post, all of them come without a byline, and these are some of the most valuable bits of real estate in print. Should we be just as skeptical about all of these authors?

With anonymous blogging, the mystique is taken away. I'm a blogger, you're a blogger. We know all it took to get us on the web was for us to set up something with Typepad, or Scoop, or (for the broke, desperate and lazy among us) a Blogspot account. The anonymous print opinionist, however, comes with the background impression of insitutional authority. He or she is writing that piece because they were, we presume, carefully vetted, whereas there's no theoretical quality control standing between a blog post going up other than the moment Charles Johnson hits "Send."

This has less to do with anonymity than it has to do with the accessability of the web. The ability to become an instant pundit overnight is one of the great strengths of the net; it also means there isn't a support structure of "real" people vouching for your credibility.

8p

Hey, I'm not anonymous. Lots of people know my secret identity. Even more people don't care, which is why my name...is not important.

Good points Iron Lungfish...and they certainly expand my understanding of the issues (so thanks!), but to play devil's advocate just a bit longer here, what's missing---from my POV---in the parallels you draw is still an avenue to accountability.

If the anonymous writer of an Economist piece gets it so horribly wrong that sales suffer, the editors can replace him/her. If the anonymous editorial of the NYT is judged to be libel in court, the paper will have to pay damages.

Are there similar ways to hold anonymous bloggers accountable?

but if we're gonna change the course of history and all, what rights do those affected by our actions have?

The right to be skeptical? ;-)

I'm anonymous. I prefer it that way, after a couple of nasty incidents back when I was not so anonymous. But, apart from concealing my identity (and I'm sure that if a government agency urgently decided to find out who I was, they could - not that I'm encouraging them to, of course) I speak what I see as the truth, and give my honest opinions. And I figure I have a right to maintain my privacy, even if I were lying through my teeth. ;-D

The only point at which source becomes important is when the source is claiming to have some inside authority or some especial right to speak. At which point you may fairly ask, "Where do you get that from?"

But, everyone's got a right to an opinion. And until or unless you are charged with a crime, there's no way to compell you to give your right name or any other means of identification. I choose not to do so.

Holy crap. I think I agree with every single part of that.

The End Times must be near.

The End Times must be near.

3rd November. ;-p

"And until or unless you are charged with a crime, there's no way to compell you to give your right name or any other means of identification."

Unfortunately untrue.
I can't remember enough of the details to even google it, but there was a case in the last year where a rural man refused to give his ID to a cop in some random stop. He was never charged with anything, but the court ruled that he was obstructing something or other. The ACLU got involved, but I recall the end result being bad. That he could, in fact, be compelled to give ID at the arbitrary say-so of a government official.

Comrade.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad