August 19, 2003

Cites & Insights, and the politics of power

Walt Crawford has just released the September 2003 edition of his "Cites & Insights" publication.

Buried at the very end of the newsletter is the following poignant item:

The One that Got Away

The original title for this perspective was "The politics of weblogs." It ended with a one-page essay on "The politics of prominence," based on an unfortunate recent incident in the blogosphere.

In the end, there wasn't room for that essay -- and I could never get my commentary in a form that would serve you and didn't upset me. So why include this non-item?

Because, despite my comments in the other weblogging Perspective, I do believe there's one rule that every blogger should follow, at least if the weblog involves comments by or about anyone other than the blogger.

You know the rule: It's found in nearly every philosophy throughout history. Something about treating other people as you'd like them to treat you.

Unfortunately, the more I thought about this incident, the more I believe that -- for some Very Important People -- there's an escape clause related to the definition of people (worth treating as people.)

And I don't want to write about that.

I completely agree. But I want to note the critical practical difference in the above between statement of values versus statement of fact. Specifically:

Statement of values: "treating other people as you'd like them to treat you"

Statement of fact: "escape clause related to the definition of people"

That is, there's a vast chasm between what people should do, and what they actually do. And the implications of this difference can be very painful (as we see!).

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in politics | on August 19, 2003 08:06 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Thanks, Seth--and I agree with your final para.

You can probably guess *what* incident I was trying to write about... and a side-effect is that respect for a certain law professor has declined significantly.

You know, actually, my experience is that most "real people" do follow the prime rule most of the time. I think if that wasn't true, we'd have complete chaos (instead of the current mostly-livable chaos).

It was the final conclusion--that, for some Very Prominent People, the definition of "people" is different--that finally killed the item.

Well, that and my ongoing attempts to keep the zine down to 20 pages an issue.

Posted by: Walt Crawford at August 20, 2003 01:18 PM