Friday, October 15

When Referees Demur (4#) -

Can adults be cyber-bullys?

I was quite surprised and dismayed late last night to notice a piece at The Guardian's "Comment is free" authored by Charles Johnson which appears to be a self-aggrandizing hatchet job on another Blogger. It comes perilously close to being an adult form of cyber-bullying.

If memory serves, Johnson was originally in business with his brother, designing web sites for other businesses and established his blog mostly to promote his web design enterprises. There's nothing wrong with that, but that's not the usual way that enterprising bloggers start out these days.

Choire Sicha, for example, worked for Nick Denton or someone else for a while and then ventured out on his own to establish The Awl; Pamel Geller's resume informs us that she worked at a couple of other publications before launching her own Blog; and Andrew Breitbart worked for The Drudge Report before launching his own enterprise.

Johnson is not the head of a publishing company or newspaper and is not the boss of other Bloggers. Pamela Geller has no obligation to obey his preferences or commands. If he disapproves of her Blog - well, so what?! No one is forcing him to read it. Johnson got a headstart on blogging because of his technical skills and he's been at it a long time. He may have been one of the biggest bloggers in California during an earlier period.

What changed? The California Blogging Landscape changed. Another California blogger came along: Andrew Breitbart, who now administrates an entire group of Blogs written by numerous contributors.

I have sometimes considered joining a Blog Cluster such as Townhall, for example. The problem is: if they don't like what you are blogging about or don't approve of your opinion, they can delete or "fire" you. One of the wonderful advantages of staying independent is that no one can fire you. But independence has its price: less traffic. Of course, you can attract more traffic by deliberating writing something inflammatory or controversial, if you chose to.

The Johnson piece seems to suggest that he's turned into a malicious parasite preying on other Bloggers. His excoriations are in vain. Geller, whose Blog I've never read, probably won't follow Johnson's marching orders. On the other hand, if she's doing something illegal, report her to the FBI and let them handle it. Maybe Johnson, at this point, cannot compete successfully with Breitbart, and Geller just had the bad luck to get caught in the crossfire.

As for the web's anonymity, Mark Twain was a pseudonym, and we haven't heard any complaints about that lately.

Full disclosure: The NY Times aggregates my blog, though not at my request. I hadn't read their cited article until today.

:: Johnson :: Comment is free ::

:: NY Times :: citation ::