One more post

On the issue of online behavior.

I admire what Michelle Malkin wrote. Her race and her sex have both been used repeatedly against her. No matter how much you disagree with Michelle, such responses reflect badly only on those who give them. I admire her tough stand–way to go, Michelle.

Tim O’Reilly, Denise Howell, Kathy Sierra, and Sam Sethi are interviewed in a BBC article on recent events. My only question is: why do I never get interviewed for these things? Bad breath? Too frequent mixing up of it’s and its?

Leaving aside that useless plaint (why not me, why not me), and returning to the story, Tim had the following to say:

“I do think we need some code of conduct around what is acceptable behaviour, I would hope that it doesn’t come through any kind of [legal/government] regulation it would come through self-regulation.”

There is a code already: it’s called humanity. There could never be any form of legal regulation, because the internet is ubiquitous. What laws transcend borders, such as murder, terrorism, or child pornography, already have laws and regulations in place regardless of the form of interaction.

We do not need a ‘code of conduct’ other than respect for each other and a sense of fair play. Oh, and people learn to think before reacting–to read what’s sometimes behind the words, rather than only the words, themselves.

One has to assume good intent on the part of the vast majority of those online. If we can’t, then why are we online? What fool would put themselves to such risk? My encounters online haven’t always been pleasant, and haven’t always been positive, but overall the scale weighs in favor of a populace who is generally good.

Assuming, and codifying, anything else is like those warning labels on DVDs, which assume most people accessing the disc are trying to rip it off.

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8 Responses to One more post

  1. Karoli says:

    I don’t believe we can just assume humanity will prevail. And I don’t think we have to accept being in a culture where anonymous drive-bys are just a part of life. I also don’t accept the idea that the only way to change it is to legislate it.

    There has to be a compromise, borne out of the technology itself, that will change the culture and preserve identity. I just don’t have the first clue what it is.

  2. Shelley says:

    Then people have to make a decision whether they want to maintain a public persona. People writing anonymously has been around since cave man first hacked on to the walls of the cave. We can’t track down every person who writes something ‘mean’ and demand accountability. As for actual threats, all we can do is what Michelle recommended: report the very serious ones, and ignore the others.

    There is not magic tech wand that will make people better. There is no group consensus or code or icon stuck in our sidebars that’s going to correct human nature.

    We now being forced into the role of victim has two parts: we shouldn’t accept victim behavior thrust at us, but we also shouldn’t take on the role of victim. That just makes it worse.

    The majority of people that come by have been decent. I don’t expect that to change. One or two nutcases isn’t going to ruin that for me.

  3. Allan Moult says:

    Ronni Bennett gets it all in perspective.

  4. Shelley says:

    Yes she does. I commented over on the copy over at Blogher.

  5. Margaret says:

    I don’t have any answers to why some people get interviewed and others don’t, but I’m especially disappointed that you weren’t contacted this time, Shelley. You’ve done a fabulous job of raising vital concerns and challenging questions, while making space for conversations that are elsewhere squeezed out. BBC’s loss, our gain.

  6. Pingback: Big Pink Cookie - Creative Geek » Cyberstalking and Fear Online…

  7. I admire what Michelle Malkin wrote.

    I admire your ability to surprise. That is one reason I enjoy reading your weblog. I can not predict ahead of time what you’ll say.

  8. Yours is the most reasoned and humane response to this story that I’ve seen (and, I do a lot of creative surfing for my blog…).


    ~ Alex