Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Going Web Incognito 2.0

Yesterday on NPR, Brian Lehrer discussed online discussion, Blogs, comments, and anonymity.

Does anonymity on the Internet facilitate free speech, or drag discourse down to the level of the lowest common denominator? Ian Clarke, founder of The Free NetworkProject and the new website Thoof, and Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur, debate the issue.

The show centered around two website founders debating the pros and cons of Blogging and commenting anonymously. Ian Clarke took the 'libertarian' view that one should have the right to publish online anonymously if one so chooses - and let the online 'market' or 'readership' sort it out.

Andrew Keen disagreed, contending that an informal, agreed upon standard should be introduced whereby all sites would require full disclosure of a writer or commenter's identity. Keen was quick to note, however, that he did not endorse legislation to this effect.

Perhaps one of the most notable recent occurrences of anonymous commenters gone wild are the vitriolic lamentations for the many missed opportunities by militants or blood clots to kill Vice President Dick Cheney found in The Huffington Post's comment section. Comments, such as:

3. So near and yet so far. Close but no cigar.
“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can... ”
Come on , little blood clot that could.
June 07, 2007 at 05:39pm PM EDT

18. Die *sshole.
June 07, 2007 at 05:54pm PM EDT

50. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, he dies!
June 07, 2007 at 06:27pm PM EDT

I called in to the Brian Lehrer Show and actually managed to throw in my two cents about the topic, but suffering from a moment of sheepishness, neglected to plug my own blog. Oh well.

It's an interesting discussion, and worth a listen.
Update: What about John Mackey's disgraceful behavior.


Will Hinton said...

I interviewed Keen last night and discussed some of these issues with him....thought you might find this interesting.

Andrew Keen interview

Nick Brunetti-Lihach said...

Thanks, I'll check it out.