09 December 2005

If you haven't got anything good to say about anyone...

...you should be a blogger. It seems that Mena Trott, the president of Six Apart—which makes Movable Type, one of the more popular blogging systems—doesn't really get it. At LesBlogs in Paris she took bloggers to task for their incivility.
She’d like to think that bloggers can be different, that they could change to all be “so darned nice” and that this would automatically lead to positive stories that will bring more people into blogging. Yeah right. Not in Britain they won’t and, I suspect, not in many other countries either. Maybe California is different. (And we mustn’t forget that more bloggers equals more revenue for Trott’s company.)

Specifically, she didn’t like people who say nasty things behind people’s backs yet are pleasant face to face. She coined the term “two-facedness” to describe it. She is disappointed that some people are so different to their online personalities.
The attraction of blogging for a lot of people seems to be the opportunity to be someone else online. I think she's missing the virtues of role-playing. Admittedly, blogging falls somewhere between D&D and real-life conversation, in that bloggers do talk about real people and companies. Part of the price of free speech, though, is that others get to say what they want about you, and it may not always be what you want to hear.

The audience was chatting on IRC about the speech as it was being given:
At this point in the proceedings the backchannel was on display. A “this is bullshit” comment from a backchanneler called ‘dotBen’ tipped Trott over the edge. “dotBen. Who’s dotBen?” demanded Trott. To a collective gasp, he promptly stood up and identified himself.

“All day yesterday you’ve been an arsehole,” said Trott, spluttering and stumbling her way to “why the fuck?”
Here's the kicker: dotBen is, or was, one of Ms Trott's customers—you can read his version of this story here. And Ms Trott has blogged about it as well here and here. They both seem to be pretty "darned nice" about it all.

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