The weightlessness of the internet
Posted by Gautam
Article on the NYT about the unpublishing of posts on Violet Blue by Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing. I guess people notice it in blogs like BoingBoing because that means dropping off a huge Google Juice source into your site. The article however doesn’t explain exactly why Jardin took down the posts.
The issues here are clearly larger than the material itself, which amounted to at least 70 or so posts by one of the site’s contributors, Xeni Jardin, in which she referred to the writings of — or simply gave a shout-out to — Ms. Blue, who is the weekly sex columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle and a former friend of Ms. Jardin. (For the number of posts, I stand on the shoulders of David Sarno of The Los Angeles Times’s Web Scout blog, who has tracked the dispute attentively.)
But in this case, what looks like a personal spat has turned into a cautionary tale, one that reflects the odd and influential community that has grown around Boing Boing. The site, which began as a fanzine in the early 1990s, calls itself “a directory of wonderful things,” and its readers can appear particularly intense. Theirs is the intensity that comes from discovering that, indeed, there are other people who like to create detailed drawings on an Etch-a-Sketch or collect 100-year-old fantasies of what the future might look like or rage at the encroachment of technology companies and the government on personal privacy.
For all the damage to reputations the Internet can cause, perhaps the greater anxiety from online communication is the weightlessness of it all. The whole World Wide Web can seem like a hall of mirrors — nothing tangible, no binding, no watermarks, no notary public seals. Where, exactly, is it? How do we know any of it is true?
Ms. Jardin said she did not sign up for the heaviness of being a publication of record.
“It’s still kind of punk rock,” she said. “The part that still freaks me out is that it is such a huge thing. Part of what people love about Boing Boing is that I can post whatever I want. It’s super fast-moving.” She added: “The huge impact it has, the whole thing that makes it this thing, is that it is so lightweight.”
About GautamGautam is a HR professional interested in how emerging technologies are impacting work, careers and organizations.
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