Saturday, April 10, 2004

Anon-o-blogging

In the Blog-o-Sphere, there is a range between two poles. On the one hand there are people who fully identity themselves in their blogs (examples include Protocols or Back of the Bais). The other extreme are those who completely hide their identities known only by a pseudonym (e.g. She). And there are a lot which fall in the middle. For example Naomi Chana and Elf do not openly say who they are, but, with a little detective work, presumably someone could figure out who they are. On the other hand some group-blogs (like the Idiots or the House of Hock) contain both anonymous and named bloggers.

Now my housemate, Jonathan, doesn’t mind blogging by name. However, both myself and the Hocker would prefer, for both personal and professional reasons, to anon-o-blog. If you know who either of us are, you can e-mail us, but we prefer to maintain our anonymity for now (though perhaps, like the final terrible episodes of Bosom Buddies where the girls know that they are cross-dressing men and not women, we will eventually reveal ourselves).

Now certain people, and bloggers (such as SIW of Protocols), are opposed to anon-o-blogging. These people are motivated by a concern, partially legitimate in my opinion, that they want what SIW called J-Blogging (and I would call the Shtetl) to be established and replace that poor excuse for journalism called the Jewish Media. They think that blogs lose validity and legitimacy when they are anonymous. However, i fear that they have a very strict definition of blogging and what blogging should and should not be.

Blogging is an evolving medium and will probably continue to evolve for another few years until it becomes established and static (like other outgrowths of new media). Part of their evolution is the belief that everything should be encouraged: both named and unnamed blogging. Especially, as the Jewish community is so small (and the Orthodox Jewish community so many times smaller), the only way many people will blog will be if they blog anonymously.

A major concern, and one that is totally valid, is how are we to maintain standards and quality in the Shtetl. If people do not feel the pressure from people knowing what they blog and having to face the consequences of what they blog, what is to stop people from writing whatever they want in their blogs?

I have spent some time thinking about this and here is my answer:

In our world, in the words of a dear friend of mine, there are fine-a-menchen and grub-a-menchen. Roughly this translates as refined people and coarse people. But, as any Yiddish speaker will tell you, this distinction is much deeper. It invokes those raised by families with healthy good (maybe Jewish) values and those raised without them.

What I mean here is that people, whether blogging in name or anon-a-blogging, will have blogs which reflect their nature. Blogs, by their discursive nature, tends to reflect the personality of the blogger. Fine-a-menschen will have refined blogs and grub-a-menschen will have coarse blogs. I trust people to be able to distinguish between blogs that are refined and those that are coarse. Between blogs which are worth reading and those that are not. Between blogs which make the readers better people and those that do not.

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