If you want to have a blog, have a blog, PT.1 (On the 'Ethics' of Blogging)

Okay, so as I mentioned previously, this blog got its inception and name because of a post written by Scott Bellware, noted Fragile Agile fascist.

And I was going to write something about that, but, well, I got kinda busy.  And no one cares what I think about Scott.  *I* don't care about what I think about it. 

And I had this idea about combining it with a long rumination about Usenet and Babylon 5, and why Scott Bellware was David Stinson (more on this later), but by the time I got the URL and the SubText stuff installed, and so on and so forth...I just dropped it.  It was all mostly personal nostalgia anyway, and if I wasn't interested in my own Nostalgia, then really, no point to it.

But with the current cut-over at CodeBetter to the new design, Scott's latest hilarious inanity, and my noticing that Sam Gentile, noted producer of 'New and Notable' has gotten into the comment deleting game (though for completely different reasons), it got me thinking back to those good ol' Usenet days again, and so, what the hell.  Here's goes.

There's a moral to the story, and I'll put it right here up front:


If you are going to create a blog, there are rules

The rules are not 100% hard and fast, but there's a real basic one: not counting the obvious exceptions (which we'll get to, but include spam, porn, and death threats), if you are going to have an interactive, conversive blog, you *don't* delete comments.  Ever.  If you want to have a blog-lite, where you spout off about whatever interests you (like Babylon 5, for instance), you can have a monologue, call it a 'mono-blog', and if that's what you want, fine.

But if you want to have an actual blog, one that plays by the rules of the blogosphere and produces the kind of rich content that only comes from letting readers interact with the blogger and themselves, you can't decide to police the comments based on whether you like them or not.

Is this an ethical obligation?  Are there practical reasons for why one needs to follow the rules?  Is this just my opinion?  (The answers to these are: 'maybe', 'absolutely' and 'no', respectively).

And what the hell does this have to do with the Narn, anyway?  Time for a trip in the wayback machine of personal nostalgia, circa 1996 (or 1997, I forget), and the television show Babylon5.....


AOL sucks, Usenet is weird, and jms is online

At some point around 1996, I was graduated from the Ph.D. program in Philosophy at the University of Miami, FL, broke, and running the computer network for a company I was hired to create a Education and Training program for (and was their HR manager....I have no idea how any of this happened).  I had always been a computer nut, but now was being paid for it.  So I dived into Windows NT, Slackware, BeOS (god rest its soul), OS/2 Warp (god help us all), and a whole host of things.

And I'm not too proud to say that I created an AOL account to get connected to this 'internet thing.'  Of course, we all know now that AOL was the Internet shackled and crapped up through their flashy proprietary stuff, but that is what the Internet looked like.  And all was well.

Until it became clear that if you actually liked the stuff, you very quickly surpassed the monthly hour limit, and ended up paying by the hour, and the monthly bill came and blew away the budget of a recently graduated poor slob.

So AOL had to go.  I ended up getting a 'real' internet account through Netcom, and after moving to them, logged onto the Internet and, it seemed empty.  Where was all the flashy proprietary stuff?  What was this surfing thing you needed to do to find content?

At the same time, I was really enjoying this science fiction show called Babylon 5.  Great characters, great stories, a long story-arc, a whole lot to love.  So, when surfing for content, I looked for stuff about that.  And found Usenet.

I'm not going to go into an explanation of what Usenet is.  Look it up. Suffice to say, it was....noisy.  A wild combination of great conversation, angry invective, juvenile insulting, etc.  And I found a group of people that loved Babylon5 as much as I did.

It became clear after a while that the creator of Babylon5, J. Michael Straczynski, was an online presence.  But not on the unmoderated Usenet group.  At first, I didn't know why, but it became pretty clear why shortly, as I discovered this thing called 'moderated' newsgroups.  And that's when it became interesting.

More to come...................

posted on Thursday, April 26, 2007 11:07 PM Print
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